After my review of the Sezmi, Roku and Boxee, it’s time to wrap things up with the shiny new star, the AppleTV. Like the Roku, the AppleTV has a simple and easy to use interface, and is a great way to access Netflix. But the AppleTV also adds the entire iTunes video library to buy or rent movies and TV shows, so there’s tons of additional content. At $99, it’s a bit more expensive than the Roku, and in many ways less flexible.
But, along comes the iPad with AirPlay and it all becomes clear.
Virtually any video you can play on the iPad can now be sent to the AppleTV by clicking on the AirPlay button. In a household with an iPad or two, choose the AppleTV for your OTT, just for its AirPlay integration.
AirPlay lets you buy and store content on the iPad which you might watch there when you are on the road, then if you’re at home, use AirPlay to display it on the AppleTV connected to the big TV. Apps like HBO GO on the iPad can be sent to the big screen, as well as any of your stored content. Visitors bringing their own iPads with content can also use AirPlay to send to your TV. AirPlay makes the tablet the hub for all video content.
One complaint about the AppleTV is that the remote is infrared, not radio frequency, so you can’t hide the AppleTV away. But, if you’ve got an iPhone or iPad, the Remote app lets you control the AppleTV wirelessly. Clearly, they’re steering us toward a household filled with shiny Apple devices.
No matter which over the top solution you select, pair it up with Sonic.net Fusion and Netflix and you will be off to a very good start. As these platforms continue to improve and as more and more content arrives, you will probably reach a point where you no longer need an expensive cable package!