Just wanted to point out a few things I've realized while looking at all my options for getting content to my TV. I've heard a lot of people criticize the AppleTV, saying that the XBox 360 does the same thing already, so I decided to give it a go to see if I could just cancel my AppleTV order.
These are a few issues I ran into that I hope will be helpful to someone thinking of doing the same (or maybe someone can give me tips on how to do what I wasn't able to figure out, especially since, being a mac user, I'm pretty unfamiliar with PC utilities):
1. Using Windows XP, Windows Media Player doesn't allow you to tag your videos the way iTunes does. When I tried adding a movie poster to a WMV file, it wouldn't take.
2. You can't use iTunes to manage WMV files.
3. The XBox doesn't give any kind of "browser" for videos. You don't get the same kind of interface the AppleTV provides.
4. The XBox doesn't categorize the videos, so all you have is a big long list.
5. On a mac, encoding WMVs with VisualHub doesn't properly enable fast-forwarding right now, so you need to find another method to get your VOBs into WMV format (unless you're cool with not fast-forwarding).
These are just of the few things leading me to conclude that what Apple is providing is sufficiently different from the functionality of the XBox360 to warrant its existence. If M$ would allow us to play MP4 files (or if Apple allowed iTunes to manipulate WMV files), then the XBox would look much more attractive because we could use iTunes to manage and tag video files and then just share them out to the 360. Alas, this is not the case right now. We have competing companies with competing stores using competing formats, so we end up with incompatible devices crippled for no reason other than to lock us into brand loyalty. It's particularly frustrating because these format issues don't matter to those of us looking to stream our own purchased content (converted from DVD), but I guess the issue is that these devices just aren't made for us. Apple's message seems to be: keep using your DVD player but from now on make all your purchases at the iTS and be happy! Whatever. I just wanted to share my experience trying to circumvent the Steve Jobs RDF (and failing miserably).