updated 02:05 am EDT, Wed March 21, 2007
WSJ reviews AppleTV
The Wall Street Journal has the first review of Apple TV, the company's wireless set-top box that began shipping earlier this week, concluding that "Apple TV performed perfectly in Walt's house over a standard Wi-Fi wireless network with a Pioneer plasma TV and six different computers -- three Windows machines from Hewlett-Packard and Dell, and three Apple Macs." The device, which connects wirelessly to up to six home computers and then with a cable to a widescreen TV, runs a modified version of Mac OS X, with a "carefully limited set of functions" and has the most notable limitation of not being able to download content directly from the internet, according to the review. It also notes that users cannot adjust volume from Apple's simple remote and that it only supports televisions with Component or HDMI inputs. [subscription required]
"In our tests, it worked great, and we can easily recommend it for people who are yearning for a simple way to show on their big TVs all that stuff trapped on their computers. We tried it with various combinations of Windows and Mac computers, with movies, photos, TV shows, video clips and music. And we didn't even use the fastest wireless network it can handle. It performed flawlessly. However, it won't work with older TVs unless they can display widescreen-formatted content and accept some newer types of cables."
However, tech guru Walt Mossberg, after testing the device for 10 days, says that the device isn't for everyone because it has a limited set of functions that simply the process of transferring content from a Mac or PC to television, but faces competition from devices like Microsoft's Xbox 360, which unlike Apple TV, can download content directly from the internet.
"Apple TV isn't for that small slice of techies who buy a full-blown computer and plug it directly into a TV, or for gamers who prefer to do it all through a game console," he wrote. "And it's not for people who are content to watch downloaded TV shows and movies directly on a computer screen. Instead, it's for the much larger group of people who want to keep their home computers where they are and yet enjoy their downloaded media on their widescreen TVs."
Mossberg also notes Apple TV worked well with 802.11g networks, even though it also has the ability to work with faster 802.11n networks, but said that Apple TV did not support streaming of photos, but claimed that Apple would enable the feature in the future.
"In our tests, streaming worked just as well as playing content from the Apple TV's own hard disk," the report said. "Even though Walt's Wi-Fi network is of the older "G" variety, and the Apple TV can handle newer, faster "N" variety networks, every single movie, TV show and song streamed without interruption from both Windows and Mac computers. That even included older or slower computers. This was an impressive feat."