Should you buy the recently released $99 Apple TV gadget? Of course, it's made by Apple!
Am I qualified to give this advice? Of course, I've had it for a whole day, and have used it for a whole hour or so!
Do I, or you, need Apple TV? Of course, it's made by Apple!
There -- I've already answered the key questions about Apple TV (which isn't a television, but a little black box that streams content from the Internet and/or a computer to a TV via a broadband connection).
Two of the questions had the same answer. I wish the third did also, but I'm not made by Apple. Sadly, because if I was, I'd work a lot better and be much more fun.
Since my wife and I are iPhone, iPod, iMac, and MacBook Pro owners, I had to think for about fifteen seconds before ordering the new Apple TV on the day it was released. I wasn't all that sure about what I'd use it for. However, as with almost all things Apple'ish, I was confident that once I got it my needs/desires/cravings would expand to include whatever the heck it was Apple TV did.
(You may be wondering, as I am, "Why isn't an iPad in that list of the Apple products you own?" Beats me. I'm sure we need one.)
Yesterday I connected the Apple TV to our bigscreen television via a HDMI port. Apple doesn't supply an HDMI cable, so I had to wait an entire day after the Apple TV was delivered to get one before firing the device up. It's a testament to my 60-something maturity that I was able to handle the delayed gratification.
Which turned out to be even more delayed, because I was shocked to find that the installation didn't go perfectly smoothly.
After I entered our wi-fi password the Apple TV seemed to recognize our broadband network. But after I laboriously (more about this below) clicked in our Netflix log-in information for a test run, I was met with a screen that said something like "connecting to network."
The Apple TV never did, though.
I said "laboriously" because I had to enter username and password info by pecking my way through a menu of letters, numbers, and symbols arranged alphabetically, not in a QWERTY-keyboard fashion.
An Engadget review of Apple TV takes the product to task for this irritation. Ditto, me. The remote control buttons also were a bit too small for my hand, so I'd often find myself heading in the wrong direction on the onscreen alphanumeric layout.
So re-entering the username and password was less fun the second time around. After I got the never-ending "connecting to network" again, I went to my laptop and put in a help request with Apple.
Our phone rang in less than a minute. Apple has great tech support. When I told my tale I heard, "Hmmmm. I've never heard of anyone else with this problem. I'll need to talk with someone else."
Great. It's nice to be special. But not in this way.
Fortunately, all it took was resetting the Apple TV back to its factory setttings to get the device connected with our wi-fi network. From then on, I was a happy Apple TV camper.
Netlix has an amazing amount of free movies and TV shows available for immediate streaming. By "free," of course, I mean at no extra cost beyond your usual monthly Netflix monetary damage.
I got hooked on "24" only in its last few seasons. So my first Netlix move on Apple TV was to see how the first episode of the first season of "24" looked on our television. Answer: great. As did some movies that I clicked on from the extensive Netflix selection.
So far as I could tell, every TV show or movie available directly from Apple came with a rental cost. That's why Apple TV makes more sense for those who are Netflix users, though there's plenty of other reasons to get the gadget.
You Tube, for example. I had a good time watching cute cat videos that popped up on the "most viewed" category. It was more fun seeing them on a big screen TV than on my 13 inch laptop.
Browsing through a vast list of Internet radio stations also was enjoyable. If I ever decide to become a fan of Latvian folk music, or whatever, my Apple TV will be happy to meet my needs.
It also was cool to search You Tube for "brihines" and see almost all of my videos pop up on the Apple TV screen (a few were missing, for some reason). Now I have a great way of getting rid of visitors who are overstaying their welcome: all I have to do is sit them down on our couch and make them watch some You Tube home videos. When they see I have 38 of them, suddenly they'll say "Oh, I didn't realize how late it is."
I'll end with the bottom line of how I feel about Apple TV: it opens up a whole new world of non-productive time-wasting, which is both enticing and somewhat scary.
Scrolling through the world of free Netflix offerings, along with the even vaster universe of You Tube'osity, I realized that it'd be possible to spend a lot more time in front of our televison.
That is neither a good nor a bad thing. On the whole, I've found that what Apple entices me to do is usually beneficial for my wellbeing. For example, I never expected that my cell phone would be happily used almost entirely for stuff that didn't involve talking with other people until I got an iPhone.
So I expect that Apple TV likewise will fill a void in my life that I didn't know existed. Buy one, and feel more whole yourself.