Digital Media Receiver Roundup Page 2
Apple TV ($99, apple.com)
The Apple TV is certainly the most recognizable product in this space, and remains the benchmark of user friendliness (of course - it's from Apple). You can read my full review here, but keep reading for the short version - and how it relates to the others here.
Apple's DMR is the smallest box of the bunch, fitting easily in your hand. The metal remote has few buttons, but in typical Apple fashion, it doesn't really even need those. The Apple TV has three main features - and, honestly, offers little else. It can stream video, audio, and still image content from your computer (provided it's running iTunes) or iOS device. It streams Netflix, and it gives you access to the iTunes store where you can rent (but not buy) TV shows and movies.
The Apple TV only outputs at 720p (which is a big deal to some), though since most streaming/downloadable content is natively 720p, this isn't an issue in practice. It lacks a hard drive, and in order to play back music or videos, iTunes must be running on a computer somewhere on your home network - it can't read directly from a networked hard drive. That latter fact isn't that big of a deal, but it does add an extra layer of hassle.
Despite its limitations, the Apple TV remains a fantastic product at a fantastic price. Yes, the Roku boxes are more open, the Boxee, and WD offer more elaborate functionality, but I can only mirror what I said in my initial full review: I don't know who shouldn't buy an Apple TV. Apple haters, I guess? It's a simple product that fills a useful function, it's easy to use, it works well, and it's cheap.
Main Streaming Content Sources: iTunes store, Netflix, YouTube, your computer (via iTunes only)