My Little Black Box: Ode to Apple TV

I love John Gruber. He writes at and posted this the other day:

How Do People Use Apple TV?

Strategy Analytics issued a report on the “connected TV market”, predicting 4 million Apple TV sales for 2012. What caught my eye was this:

This report also found that Apple TV users are spending more money on movies and TV shows: 30 percent of Apple TV owners rented movies or TV shows, compared to 20 percent of users of other devices. “Apple is leading this nascent market, which it still considers a ‘hobby’.” says Jia Wu, Senior Analyst at the Connected Home Devices (CHD) service.

Only 30 percent? That seems crazy to me. 70 percent of Apple TV owners don’t rent any movies or TV shows?

I've got an Apple TV. I talked my sister into getting one, my parents are getting one for Christmas (it's not a surprise, I didn't ruin anything) and anyone that asks me about them gets an earful on why they're awesome. I thought I should respond in kind to Gruber.

How do I use my Apple TV?
Primarily as a Netflix TV adapter. I know my Blu-ray player and Wii can both stream Netflix. I could just plug my computer into my TV (a single guy can get away with that kind of thing). I could use my iPad and an HDMI adapter. I could get an XBox. Netflix, is not hard to get on your TV if you want it there. But the Apple TV presentation is one of the nicest (if not the nicest) that I've seen. It's not perfect, but it's simple, it's HD, and it consistently works. Not just for geeks, but for anyone. That's something I can recommend.
I stream my music to my main stereo using the Apple TV too. I listen to podcasts or stand-up shows occaionally in my living room using it. It plays a slideshow of photos of the boys, my family and friends to my TV set as a screensaver. I watch trailers for upcoming films in HD on my giant TV instead of my (to be fair, also quite large) computer.
Occasionally, I even buy or rent a movie or TV show straight from iTunes without re-entering credit card info, or worrying about spam or downloading a new player or plugin. That new content just works on my television, iPad, iPhone etc.
With the arrival of iOS 5.0, I can use Airplay to mirror my iPad 2 or iPhone 4S screen on my TV. That means games, Facebook, web videos and more, all on my TV.
I also convert files I find elsewhere to play on the Apple TV, as well as home movies I take of the boys. That's not for everyone. It doesn't matter. Look back at the list of things I do with my Apple TV and tell me if that doesn't sound like $99 worth of value.