This fall, companies both big and small are betting on connected TV, but there's no real consensus on how to do it. Google, for example, is taking a fundamentally Googley approach with its own Google TV (coming this month for an as yet undisclosed price), adding search and web apps to the services you already have, like cable TV or a DVR. Boxee, the open-source, Linux-friendly community, is releasing a typically open-source, does-anything kind of player in the Boxee Box (coming in November for $200). Roku is continuing to add great apps to their budget-priced players, with Hulu support coming soon.
And Apple's revamped Apple TV is Apple all over: beautifully designed on both the hardware and software side, and excellent at working with other Apple products like iTunes and hardware like the iPhone and iPad. Want to stream your music to the living room, watch TV shows you've downloaded to your iPhone, or stream from your Netflix queue? The Apple TV can't be beat on any of those fronts.
The problem with the Apple TV isn't what it does, it's what it doesn't do. And there are all sorts of things it doesn't do. Just to name a few: It doesn't support most streaming services like Hulu and Pandora, it doesn't let you plug in an external hard drive, it doesn't let you download shows, and it doesn't offer much of a selection of TV shows or movies. Those limitations make it super simple to use, but also make it frequently frustrating.