On Valentine's Day this month, my wife gave me an Apple TV, and it's the third one I've gotten in the past 18 months, which means that now every television in my home has one of these little black boxes attached to it through an HDMI cable. That level of streaming-hub acquisition might sound extreme, but it points to a probable future for home entertainment technology.
Although the proliferation of Apple TVs might make it seem like my house is completely sprouted with couch potatoes, that's just not the case.
Everyone in my home is insanely busy with work and school, and so there is not a lot of time available for downshifting into television mode — zoning out for long stretches to dumb chatter or comfort food is hardly ever an option. The Apple TV units put our digital movie library, our video streaming, our photos and our songs within reach virtually everywhere in the home for when we can settle down with a show, a movie or a music playlist.
Modules such as Apple TV, Roku and Google Chromecast offer high-quality streaming options for people who crave a simple way to get to Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime or HBO GO, along with music services.
In the case of Apple TV, all the available streaming services, including apps for ABC/Disney properties, have the same style of navigation and they don't spend inordinate amounts of time loading like the often cumbersome apps on Blu-ray players and some DVRs.
As Matthew Yglesias wrote recently in a Slate column about Netflix's quick ascendance against old-school providers such as HBO, ease and convenience often wins the battle.