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Why the Original Apple TV is Superior to What We Get Now

/ Sep 12th, 2012 2 Comments

Apple TV
Apple TV

Apple TV

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a company released a device called Apple TV. It actually was not a TV, rather it was a hard-disk drive (HDD) and graphical interface where video content could be stored. Amazingly, you could play downloaded movies in 1080p, play your music library, and use your photo libraries. The original Apple TV is shown in the screenshot in White. You will note from the picture that the Apple TV1 outputs are both component (1080i) and HDMI (1080p).

Hopefully, you have read and enjoyed my first article on the iPhone5. This is the second of the articles about the way many Tech companies continue their income stream by providing “updated” products to keep their stock price up?

[adsense250itp]For years, people would come to my home, and as we talked and drank some wine in the living room – my Apple TV would play cool music and my photos would magically fill my 65-inch Mitsubishi DLP screen.

Then Apple decided to release the new Apple TV2 (shown above in black). It was smaller (because it had no HDD) and therefore was cheaper ($99 versus $250). The new technology was that the Apple TV2 “streamed” from your base computer to the device. Unfortunately, the wireless limitations resulted in some “compromises”… It was no longer 1080p video resolution, but the much lower and grainier 720 resolution. Picture quality was frankly, unacceptable.

My photos and movies no longer looked good! There was also “breaks” in the audio and video streams making the device seem disjointed. I returned the Apple TV2, and I went out and promptly bought 3 of the older Apple TV1’s (for my two kids and for a good friend) at a discount.

This March 2012, the new Apple TV3 was released and I purchased one as a backup in case the aging Apple TV dies. The Apple TV3 promised 1080p resolution, but still streams from the computer. It does have an improved user graphical interface, but the original Apple TV software update essentially upgraded to offer similar features.

So at $99 I bought one. Streaming is unfortunately still choppy at odd times although much less so than the Apple TV2. The Apple TV3 device occasionally reverts to 720p resolution instead of 1080p, requiring spending time to reset the device.

On balance, the Apple TV was a superior product to the Apple TV2 and Apple TV3. Having a product that worked, was superior to the cheaper current model. Again, having a product two generations removed from the original release be marginally improved (decreased in a few areas) is very disappointing.

As I noted in the iPhone5 article, as a consumer we all have choices – and one of them is not to buy at all. I did not buy an AppleTV2 (I returned it for credit). The restoration of the Apple TV3 to 1080p might be acceptable – but only because Apple TVs are very old now and likely nearing their electronic “end of life”. In our opinion the Apple TV was the superior machine.

Memo to APPLE: What are you thinking?

Greg Gibson

Greg Gibson

Lead Reviewer / Editorial Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Greg Gibson’s resume spans over 40 years in the world of nuclear engineering and technology, having received a Masters Degree in e-commerce in 1998. Our resident MMORPG expert, Greg’s ability to understand the dynamics of MMOs is unparalleled.
Greg Gibson

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2 responses to “Why the Original Apple TV is Superior to What We Get Now”

  1. Al Coholic says:

    Greg, you must be lacking in the internet download speed department because my Apple TV 3 playback has been perfect.

  2. TizzyD says:

    I agree with the direction you’ve taken. While I have had no issues with my ATV2 or ATV3–I have a repeater on each floor of my house, so that my wireless signal is nice and strong–I do believe the download model is a superior model to streaming. However, the media companies are TERRIFIED of downloaded media. They think that leads to piracy. Oy vey! I’d rather sign up for a subscription, then have the media download before the actual air time. Once that time hit, presto, the media becomes available. Simple model, and if torrents were used, the network load on the main servers would be considerably lower. The user experience would be better as well, with no chance of dropped streams. The ecosystem could even delete the video when viewed, or after a period of time, based on the subscription model. Think about how you eat…do you go to the grocery store each day, or do you go and “download”, if you will, your food for later use?

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