“I was right,” I just emailed my husband, while watching the live blogging of today’s Apple press event. “The new Apple TV does Netflix.” We’d had a debate about this a few days ago; he said Steve Jobs would want to do his own movie streaming, I thought any TV peripheral these days was going to have to have Netflix support.
Apple TV also does $4.99 movie rentals for newer releases not available on Netflix streaming and 99-cent TV show rentals. We’re not huge movie consumers in our family, but we do sometimes call for family movie nights with rather short notice, and find we have nothing decent to watch. So these prices—and the fact that the Apple TV peripheral will retail for only $99—almost had me pre-ordering the gizmo.
Then I realized that it’s HDMI out. Only HDMI. This means a great digital signal for newer TVs. Trouble is, we’ve been hanging on to our much-loved older TV, which was manufactured before HDMI was a twinkle in anybody’s eye.
Surely, I thought, I could buy an inexpensive converter and solve this problem. Uh, no. Converter: $299. A bit much to spend for a kludge. Instead, this $99 gizmo could finally force me to buy a new TV. So that’s more like $599, plus the $99 for Apple TV, which brings us up to well over $700, including the sales tax. Re-upping the Netflix subscription is going to cost at least $108 a year. And then there are those movie rentals, say, four a month, that’s $240 a year. And all those episodes of Glee that are on past my son’s bedtime; another $20 or so a season....Apple TV is suddenly looking very expensive, at least for my family. Darn it, Steve, enough with these great new products already!
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 30 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.