When the Apple TV first came out in March 2007, I thought it sounded pretty good, but I wasn’t convinced it would be a worthwhile addition to my home entertainment setup. In other words, I played with one that I borrowed from the office, but wasn’t moved enough to plunk down my own money to buy one.
Things changed two weeks ago, when Steve Jobs took the stage at Macworld Expo and announced a forthcoming software update and a $70 price drop for the Apple TV. The new software (free for all Apple TV owners and expected as soon as this week) promises to remove the biggest drawback of the product—its reliance on your computer for getting media on the box.
Although Apple added support for streaming YouTube videos last June, cutting the Mac-to-Apple TV cord entirely and letting users purchase and download content from the iTunes Store directly makes the set-top box the kind of product it should have been all along (as Apple’s lackluster Apple TV sales suggest).
The other piece of the puzzle, of course, is iTunes Movie Rentals, Apple’s concession to the fact that most people don’t want to spend upwards of $10 on a downloaded movie they’ll likely only watch once. The combination of reasonably-priced movie rentals and the updated Apple TV puts Apple in a good position in the video-on-demand game.
And oh yeah, did I mention the $70 price drop?
So after the keynote, I paid my $229 for a 40GB Apple TV. I set it up this weekend, and I’ve already begun enjoying it, watching movies that I’ve ripped from DVDs I already own. I expect the enjoyment to increase any day now, when the software update arrives, and the Apple TV takes a giant leap forward to become the type of product I was hoping for a year ago.