"Apple keeps making it better. Especially AirPlay."4.5 starson by link48010
Pros: Streams things seamlessly, simple interface, easier to work and lower power usage compared to an HTPC, and when you consider AirPlay, nearly as flexible.
Cons: Limited in native services, and not as quickly updated for new services as I'd like.
Summary: The Apple TV is a good little box o'streaming. It's built in native services is fairly small, especially when you consider the absence of Hulu Plus (which I use constantly). However, when you consider airplay on an iPad of iPhone, it is possible to view Hulu Plus content on the Apple TV using Hulu's app for iOS devices. Also, because the Hulu Plus app is now found on the Wii, a desktop client for Windows, Mac, and Linux, iPhone and iPad devices, and other streaming boxes like Roku, it looks likely that Hulu Plus will soon come to the Apple TV as well.
The device runs on less power then a Nintendo Wii which burns about 19 watts per hour (think a small compact florescent bulb) if the spec sheet I read was correct, and *FAR* less then any other device able to play as much media, PS3, Xbox 360, most Blu-Ray Players, HTPCs, and even a little less then a Mac Mini. This means compared to other devices, the Apple TV can save it's cost in power over the course of a year or two.
It is amazingly small since it has no hard drive, and make no mistake, there is no power brick hanging off there somewhere. It is dead quiet, you really cannot hear it at all, this compared to the computer it replaced which was a constant source of background noise (despite me replacing the OEM fans with better, quieter fans).
The picture quality is amazing, and beats the PC I was using at 720p and compares to my Sony Blu-Ray player at 1080p with the HD downloads. Be wary, to watch them, you need a pretty fast internet connection. However, lacking that connection, you can always download the movie or TV show to a computer with iTunes and stream it to the Apple TV.
The User Interface is dead simple and really great looking, although Netflix and some of the streaming services have fallen a bit behind.
In my experience, the wi-fi doesn't lag any significant amount provided your Wireless router meets the 802.11n standard, a G or B router won't lag videos, but it takes at least several seconds to start the video depending on how busy your network is. Over all, connecting it to Cat 5e or Cat 6 cable will provide you with a much more enjoyable and snappy experience.
So, in short:
Best results with a wired network but works okay with wireless.
Get an airplay device at the least, Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, PC with iTunes, doesn't matter what it is.
It's best with Airplay Mirroring from an iPad 2 or iPhone 4S or better (soon to include Macs running Mac OS 10.8 Mountain Lion) iPad 1 and an iPhone 4 or older will *NOT* mirror. There might be some jail breaking trick that can do it however.
This device can replace traditional TV if you are willing to work with it a bit and get the rest of the necessary hardware (Airplay device, PC to store video files on, sufficiently fast internet connection), otherwise it is best in augmenting other Home Theatre devices (Blu-ray, Cable/Satellite, etc.)