It’s been a week since I became a new subscriber to Apple TV. It’s been around for a while, but the new $99 gadget was too alluring, especially for a Mac fanboy and someone who’s ready to give up on Cable TV. On the eve of Google TV which could be another game-changer, I serve up a review of pros and cons of Apple’s latest re-creation of this product line.

A recent Wired article by Brian Chen states Apple TV is Steve Job’s best “sleight-of-hand trick yet.”

Citing remarks from one of the world’s most admired pop icons, Jobs has often stated that Apple TV is a “hobby” for the Cupertino gang.

It wasn’t that long ago that Apple TV came with a $299 price tag, but they’ve dropped the hard drive (which made it more like a DVR and TIVO) and are using Apple TV to stream popular online movie and media services and it has the potential to coordinate your home electronics ecosystem hinting of home automation.

Sure, you can rent movies, watch your favorite television shows, YouTube videos, NetFlix movies and more, but here’s a new twist. Apple TV uses the same operating system their computers, iPhones, iPods and iPads employ. That means you can operate each independently with all your Apple products across your wireless network. Access your iTunes library in your office and play the music on your surround sound system. Take your iPad to bed and control your sound system downstairs with the tablet interface, or use your iPhone to change channels and order movies.

Someone asked, “Is it the best $99 you ever spent?” Not sure about that yet, but it’s cool and if they continue to add services, I may answer yes, but it’s got a way to go.

Out of the box, it certainly looks like a black hockey puck. It’s small measuring 4″x4″ and like most Apple products, it’s a cinch to set up. With a power cable, a HDMI cable (not included) and a wireless Internet connection you’re ready to go.

The PROS of Apple TV

Ease of installation
– Out of the box, you plug it in and with an HDMI cable, you’re ready. Turn on your television, switch to the HDMI channel and you’re ready to go (assuming you have a wireless network in your home). There is an Ethernet port too if that’s not the case.

Small size
– The new modular size takes up very little room and is hardly notable in your entertainment array.

The screen display
– Apple’s user-interface is elegant and easy to operate, just like their desktop displays.

YouTube Integration
– One of my favorite features about AppleTV is the ability to watch YouTube channels on the big screen. Enter a keyword, subscribe to your favorite YouTube channels and you can watch the latest viral video or High-Definition footage from your living room.

NetFlix Channels & 99¢ Movie Rentals
– Recently, the local Blockbuster Video closed its doors and I thought I was going to have to rely on those NetFlix DVDs for a while, but it looks like that’s over too as AppleTV lets me watch movies instantly from the large Netflix Library. As another bonus, there’s a great library of 99¢ movies for those impulse “nothing on TV” moments.

Sleek Aluminum Remote
– Not that I need another remote, but the new aluminum hand-held from Apple is small and easier to operate.

Home Sharing
– It’s convenient to add your  iTunes music from your other computers using the Airplay function. All of your mac devices and operate from any platform in the house. Use your iPhone, , iPod, iPad, Powerbook or desktop to share music, photos, videos and more.

The CONS of AppleTV

Using the remote to tap out letters one-by-one.
– AppleTV’s remote is a great design, but using three buttons to enter search queries is cumbersome when you have to scroll letter-by-letter to spell your interests. A keyboard would be another device, but perhaps I could use my iPad to make things simpler than the point-click user interface.

Lack of social services
– I was disappointed to not have a Facebook integration into AppleTV. It would be nice to login to that environment to check out my stream and for others (not me), to play Farmville.

Limited Television Choices
– As a partner with Disney, there are plenty of options for ABC programming, but CBS and NBC are missing from the AppleTV lineups. That means I can’t watch my CBS favorites and if they had Comedy Central, I might be inclined to drop Cable altogether.

AppleTV is a nice addition to your home entertainment system. Especially if you’re already using other Apple devices.

You’ll love the interface. It’s simple to navigate and even has a TIVO-like sound as you click your choices. The movie rentals are among the most current movies and they even integrate movie trailers in theatres now. It would be great to see this service continually improve with new choices and a better keyboard interface, but for $99 it’s well worth the features especially integrating other Apple devices throughout your home.