Why you can trust TechRadar
It's really when you own an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad that owning an Apple TV makes the most sense. All Apple's devices know how to play nicely with each other, so you can use an Apple TV to mirror the screen of your iOS device and have everything it displays appear on your HD television.
The most obvious use for this is for showing off photos you've taken on your iPhone, or a Keynote presentation you've created on your iPad, but some iOS games, like Counter Strike, take advantage of this feature in new and exciting ways, enabling you to use your iPhone as a game controller while watching the gameplay on your TV.
What's more with the new version of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion due out this summer, Apple are bringing this ability to the Mac, so you'll be able to mirror your computer on your TV screen too.
If you already have all your video content in iTunes, then all the other features Apple TV offers start to make it stand out from the crowd. Renting and buying movies works flawlessly and there's a great selection of the latest releases and a large, growing back catalogue.
The YouTube, Vimeo, Podcast and Movie Trailers are all features you'll find genuinely useful, but it's Photos that we really liked the most. It makes your snaps look beautiful, with fantastic slideshow effects, and the iCloud integration via Photostream means that any photos you've taken using an iOS device automatically get beamed to your Apple TV a few seconds after you walk through the door at home. That's impressive. AirPlay is a rock solid streaming system and simply can't be beaten for reliability.
If you're simply looking for a way to stream media from your computer to your television then perhaps Apple TV shouldn't be your first choice. You'll find Apple's AirPlay system fantastically easy to use, but it's currently too restrictive, making you dance through hoops to get your content into iTunes.
In addition to the iOS app workarounds we mentioned there are lots of free video encoder programmes on the market that will convert video to the .m4a file format that iTunes demands, it's a real pain having to spend an hour encoding a video into a new format before iTunes will recognise it, so you'll be able to stream it from your computer to your Apple TV.
The Apple Remote requiring line of sight is a bit restrictive too, let's hope a Bluetooth options becomes available in the future.
If you've already got some Apple devices in your home then Apple TV is a natural fit and at this price you should really consider getting one because it integrates wonderfully with your current setup.
But for everyone else, even with the addition of 1080p HD, there's no compelling reason to buy an Apple TV over other media streamers right now.
If only Apple could sort out making AirPlay a little less restrictive this would go some way to make Apple TV a must-have product for everybody.