I love the AppleTV. It's my "gadget" of 2012 despite it being out for 3 years, and it's all because I'm fed up with cable TV and it's providers.
So what does Apple TV offer you and why should you care? I was able to "cable cut" (see: save money,) go after the shows I want, increase the quality of my TV watching, cut down on commercials and obtain a great library of content to watch at any time—all for the one-time cost of $99.
Plus, it looks great on my TV stand.
Toss away that $149.99 (and up!) subscription—the one that gives you HBO and Showtime—and buy only what you want via the iTunes store where you have access to nearly every TV show ever made within moments of its airing.
If you kept your Internet-only connection and even basic cable, your bill would run about $50 or so. Right there is a $100 drop in spending habits. Push that out to a year and you're looking at $1,200.
In terms of purchasing power, you would have to buy 401 individual episodes in HD at 2.99 a pop to match that. You could watch 20 different shows with an average of 20 episodes per season for that cost. At $1.99 in 480p quality. that's a whopping 603 episodes.
Plus, once you buy those shows, you control them via the Cloud for as long as iTunes is around. No DVR to fill up. No worries about On Demand vanishing episodes you haven't seen yet.
Having worked for a Cable TV channel, I can tell you each channel charges money to you, the consumer, via your cable bill. Don't watch the NBC Sports Network? You're still paying for it. Admittedly it's about $0.23, a fairly paltry sum, but you are paying it. Here's another fact: ESPN charges the most of all channels ($4.69).
Better Quality TV
There's a lot of TV I pay for but don't watch, and what is on is generally me just channel-surfing. By cutting out that extra content, AppleTV allows me to allocate that money towards other shows I want, and which I don't have to waste time looking for.
No need to DVR (and run out of space): just go purchase a season pass at a reduced price, and Apple TV notifies you when it's available. In my case, I found that I watch less junk. To say the value of my life by cutting out train wrecks like Honey Boo Boo is anything less than great is putting it mildly. (I realize many people enjoy shows like that for the fact it is a train wreck, so this may not appeal to you.)
Another huge selling point: you can cut out commercials. To not feel like you're being marketed to 100% of my day is fairly nice once you realize it's happening.
Another selling point for Apple TV is the size of the box and remote. The box is only a few inches wide and an inch tall. You can hold it in your hand! It's a vanity issue, I know, but I can't stand the huge cable boxes and how much space they take up.
In addition to that, there are various types of cable boxes and many work enormously slowly, or chew up tons of power. With AppleTV it's seamless. And that terrible on-demand menu? GONE. In its place, the glorious UX of Apple designers, looking just like your iPad. The remote is also a thin silver one with three buttons.
(I love it for its simplicity, but I do lose it on occasion. I imagine kids might break it too.)
- When cable went, so too did the ever-present, awful customer service calls or those pesky, routine "How can I lower my cable bill?" bargainings. That's a huge PLUS in my book.
- Apple TV offers Netflix access via an app on the main menu; this can also help defray your loss of shows.
- There's also 1080p streaming of video with AppleTV. I know we're led to believe we get HD tv via cable but that's not entirely accurate.
- You can even use your iPhone as a TV REMOTE (for when your kids break the other one).
- You can also stream music and photos right to your tv via Airplay. Neat for parties. Also great if you have files already.
- Start using those iTunes gift cards you get on tv shows!
It's not all upside, however. The downside is you somewhat miss out on live sports. There are app's—MLB, NBA and NHL—so you do get something. However it is area-restricted, meaning you can't watch the Phillies live if you're in town; even if they're out of town you can't. You can thank old cable contracts for that and the silly old man's notion of thinking "if it's on air people won't go to the game en masse."
Local games are available on sports apps, but after airing. And there's no NFL package. (Also, no ESPN.) Do note you can get over-the-air games on channels such as NBC, CBS and ABC, all still accessible via your tuner or basic cable, and that any other information you can get from network websites, where lots of streaming video is avaiable.
In time, more apps will arrive and things will change, because the way we consume media has changed. AppleTV may not replace every single user's TV-watching habits, but there's a target audience that is growing.