Perhaps because I failed to pay much attention to the 1st generation AppleTV and the acclaim surrounding it that I assumed the device was not a huge success. The functionalities of it at the time were limited so the idea of owning one was more of a supplement to whatever hardware occupied the living room as oppose to a replacement for anything.
I’ve was fairly critical of the device before buying it because in addition to the strong loyalty we’ve had with Netflix, I already felt we had enough gadgets (MacBook, iPhones & iPad) that served the basic premise of an AppleTV which is to stream content you care about. But once the smaller, affordable and refined version came around, what forced me to consider one was largely that it came as a request from my wife and I wasn’t going to deny ourselves the opportunity of owning yet another Apple device.
We’re lucky enough to have a nearby Netflix distribution center so the turnaround period for receiving movies is quick but what my wife wanted more was to not be limited to having to stream everything else Netflix offers through her iPad. Laying on our bed looking at a 52 inch TV sounded more appealing.
The one immediate change I made to our Netflix plan was that I brought it down to Streaming + 1 disc receiving. Renting all new releases from Apple can get too expensive so we’ll rely on watching new releases from that 1 DVD we’ll receive in the mail along with occasional rentals from the AppleTV itself.
Getting it all together
The setup was extremely easy. All of 5 minutes that included plugging in the cables, choosing a language, picking the WiFi and with the most challenging portion being deciding what you wanted to watch first.
Vanessa began surfing the Netflix catalog right off the bat which says a lot since I didn’t get a chance to teach her and not that I needed to. I truly consider instructions manuals on any Apple product as something they feel they need to include but that hardly anyone ever uses.
I don’t think that to get more out of the device you need to already be part of the entire Apple ecosystem but it certainly helps when you are because the beautiful integration and sharing of content between the AppleTV with what you have on your computer adds value to the experience.
At first glance, the AppleTV comes across as a very misleading because you don’t expect such a small device to completely acclimate you so quickly to how you always envisioned enjoying TV should be like. It sits peacefully beside our Blu-Ray player and cable box. My wife’s first reaction when she saw the empty box on our bed was “where is it?” With a smile I said to her it’s truly one of the devices where it doesn’t matter whether you see it or not as long as you know that it works.
That same thought brought me back to something that John Maeda said in his book The Laws of Simplicity -
When a small, unassuming object exceeds our expectations, we are not only surprised but pleased. Our usual reaction is something like, “That little thing did all that?” Simplicity is about the unexpected pleasure derived from what is likely to be insignificant and would otherwise go unnoticed. The smaller the object, the more forgiving we can be when it misbehaves.
Let me tell you that it’s yet to misbehave. In fact, it’s more high-class than I presumed it would be.