The newly revamped Apple TV is a huge upgrade over its predecessor, but in many ways Apple is playing catch-up in the streaming video space. A wide variety of product types already contain much of the same functionality, although the Apple TV has a few advantages. Here's how it stacks up.
Streaming set-top boxes The first thing we thought when we saw the new Apple TV was: Roku. The Roku Digital Video Player has been around since 2008, and currently features streaming media from a variety of services, including Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Pandora, and MLB.TV. And Amazon already has those $0.99 TV rentals--plus you get to keep them, rather than just rent. Roku also cut the prices of its line of players earlier this week; the Roku HD Player now runs $70.
The Apple TV's big advantage here is its capability to stream content from networked PCs. The Apple TV can pull music, movies, and photos from a networked computer running iTunes; the Roku lacks that capability completely, at least for time being. The Apple TV will also integrate more easily with other Apple devices using the new AirPlay standard.
Logitech's Revue with Google TV is also coming soon, but it's hard to tell how it will compare at this early stage.… Read more