Apple TV Movies and TV
Apple hopes the main thing you'll use the Apple TV for is buying and renting TV shows and movies through its iTunes service. Once the device is all plugged in and your network setup, just sign in with your AppleID (or create one there and then) and you can get purchasing straight away.
General prices are as follows:
TV to buy
SD single episode: £1.49
HD single episode: £2.49
SD full season: £4.99
HD full season: £9.99
Film to rent
New HD: £4.49
Old HD: £3.49
Films to buy:
£9.99 - £13.99
These aren't too bad in the grand scheme of things – particularly the TV prices - but you can certainly rent and buy films for less. Moreover, for us brits, it's a bit galling to have to pay for BBC content, nice though it is that you can access a surprising variety of new and old content – it's definitely a compelling scenario being able to just grab an old Alan Partridge episode for £1.49.
Nonetheless, while other streaming services, such as Netflix, Vimeo and YouTube are included as apps on the Apple TV, iPlayer hasn't yet been added. And as we heard earlier this week, iPlayer is now just about everywhere including on all three major games consoles.
What can't be faulted though is the delivery method. Assuming your network connection is decent, shows start reasonably quickly (about 10-20 seconds for the initial buffering) and seldom have buffering issues once they get going – our test Wi-Fi can be particularly buggy and we had no problems. Yes, the inference here is that the bit-rate isn't all that high, but in most situations we'd rather have a seamless viewing experience than have a broken one at top quality.
AppleTV also has a surprising knack of getting your content to look correct. Things are never at the wrong aspect ratio, or squashed into the centre of the screen. Yes, much of it is because Apple provides all the content – whether recorded from your iDevices or downloaded – but it's still noticeable that there are few hiccups.
On HD content, the step up to 1080p from 'only' 720p on the previous generation is also noticeable, especially on larger TVs. You still don't get the same bit-rate from streamed content as you do from a Blu-ray, so that final level of perfection isn't quite there, but for more casual viewing it's great. 3D is not an option though.