Recommended: AppleTV (3rd generation)

by Michael Alderete on 6/13/2013

I currently own four AppleTVs. I bought a 1st generation AppleTV used, years ago. I hooked it up and played with it for an hour. Disconnected it, and put it in my pile of tech to get rid of. Not useful.

I bought a 2nd generation AppleTV shortly after they were released, and liked it well enough. It’s a great Netflix client, and we used it regularly. AppleTV is still the best way to watch Netflix that I’ve used.1 If you have a streaming Netflix subscription, that alone makes AppleTV worth getting.

When the 3rd generation AppleTV came out, I got one of those for full HD (1080p) on the large TV, and moved the older AppleTV to the small television we have above our treadmill. And there, it found its calling.

At first it was just for watching TV shows and movies while exercising, and I still use it for that a lot.2 But when AirPlay Mirroring was introduced in Mac OS X 10.8 (“Mountain Lion”) things went to a whole new level. Now my laptop stays on my desk, and I just turn on mirroring, and use a wireless keyboard and mouse with the mirrored display while on the treadmill. I am literally doing exactly that as I type this.

It wasn’t long before this started to feel cramped. As I spent more time working while on the treadmill, and expanding the tasks I did, I began to miss the screen space that my regular desktop display affords (2560 × 1440 pixels). The 2nd gen AppleTV can only mirror a 1280 × 720 pixel desktop—half the size. The 3rd gen AppleTV supports mirroring a 1920 × 1080 desktop, much better. So I bought another, and put the 2nd gen unit into my travel kit.

Rumors continually swirl about its future, and I certainly expect to see an App Store for the AppleTV at some point. But there’s no need to wait for some undetermined future product, the current AppleTV is great, and I recommend the device without reservation.

  1. The Netflix app for iOS is great on an iPad, but it’s not a 40” screen with surround sound. My Roku 3 is hooked up to the same system, and works well, but an AppleTV with a bluetooth keyboard is a lot easier to search with. 

  2. I will walk my way through all four seasons of Arrested Development in the next month. 

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