Apple announced today that they are getting serious about the Set Top Box game and they want to be in your living room. They launched the new Apple TV. for $99.00. It is set to play Netflix and iTunes store purchases. The Apple Kool-aide drinkers will line up and buy this, but will it run over the competition? Since I do run my own set top box made out of an old laptop with a broken screen, I can give you some feedback on where this is heading.

What is in my set top box and what works.

My basic set top box is currently a Windows 7 laptop with the monitor cable going to my 40″ LCD TV.  I Started running Window Media Center (WMC) with plugins for Boxee.  I find myself pretty much only using Boxee and for one main reason…APPs.  Boxee can be infinitely expanded with APPs and it is pretty easy to write your own apps.  Boxee also has an online Account that lets me save links to videos on my PC and they show in my queue on my TV.

APPs coming to Apple TV -App store

Maybe not in this version of the Apple Tv, but they will have to come if they want to compete.

BOXEE ‘s key features

Boxee can stream media from your computers on your network, it supports full 1080p, it can be customized to show what you want, The apps give you so much more content than the Apple TV.

Right now the Boxee software is the best of breed. Boxee will also be launching their own set top box in Nov 2010 called the Boxee Box.  It looks cool, but the form factor will be awkward for most home theater setups.

Where is this all going?

Considering these set top boxes are just a processor and an internet connection, I am pretty sure they will all be pointless in 1-2 years.  TV manufactures are already building these streaming services in to their higher end TV, It is just matter of time when they are already in all TVs and the Features we love about Boxee or Apple Tv (if you drink the Kool-Aid) are copied by the Set Builders.