If you're planning on buying an Apple TV, make sure you have some extra A/V cables on hand. According to the Apple Web site, the only items included in the box--besides the Apple TV unit itself--are the remote, a power cord, and the instruction manual. Indeed, a more detailed overview of the product elsewhere on Apple's site lists the cables you'll need to supply: either HDMI (which can carry audio and video to compatible HDTVs) or component video, and--if using component--a pair of analog stereo or an optical digital cable to handle the audio. Those not using a wireless network will need to scrounge up an Ethernet cable as well.
While the cash cow that is the iPod accessory business has no doubt whetted Apple's appetite for upselling all sorts of compatible add-ons--even the AC power adapter that was once included in the iPod's box is now a $29 step-up--the company's decision to sell the Apple TV in such a bare-bones fashion is a surprise. Yes, Sony's twice-as-expensive PlayStation 3 omitted the HDMI cable, but the company at least included a composite A/V cable so you could get the game console up and running without a trip to RadioShack--or having to cannibalize cables from your existing home-theater setup. In fact, I can't remember the last A/V product I've encountered that didn't include a perfunctory set of cables--you'll even find them in those $40 DVD players on sale at the drugstore. On the bright side, at least, we can be thankful that the Apple TV doesn't use any proprietary connectors--any HDMI, component, audio, or optical cables you already have will work fine.
Cables or no, the Apple TV is still listed on the company's Web site as shipping in "February." If that's to be believed, we could be seeing it stocked behind the Genius Bar by the end of the week.