I have had an Apple TV 2nd Generation for over a year now. The majority of that time, it was used solely as a netflix streaming provider. We did not use any of the other features. In the year that I have owned one, I have only 'rented' one movie. I did not like the fact I only got to keep it for 24 hours. At that point, you are no longer able to watch it unless you purchase the movie again. Then I found out about the jailbreak....
Project Free TV is my preferred method of watching television shows. There are over 100,000 episodes indexed there. This means that just about every season of every show is listed. The apple tv interface could use an overhaul, but as long as you know what you are after, navigating is straight forward. I have gotten caught up on Prison Break, Dexter, tosh.0, Top Chef, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and much more. It amazes me how fast they get them indexed. If dexter played last night, this morning, there are 8 different links to watch the episode.
The process of jailbreaking an Apple TV is more difficult than jailbreaking an iPhone. After several attempts, I was able to jailbreak without issues. Just like cydia is added to a jailbroken iPhone, XBMC is added to a jailbroken Apple TV. XBMC by itself did not offer any new movie channels or streaming services. After doing some research, I found out about several great XBMC plugins/add-ons that make this box the best media hub. Here are several that I have installed:
By far, the easiest method of installing all of these files is with the XBMC Hub Wizard. It takes out the need for an FTP client, ssh into your Apple TV, and finding the correct directories to install files. Once you install the Hub Wizard, it will add all the best add-ons/plugins to your media center. Once this happens, there is no need to utilize the main interface. I no longer subscribe to hulu, netflix, or any other 'paid' streaming service. Having Project Free TV streaming, without ads, in an easy to use interface, has changed the way I watch tv. I would prefer this method of watching television over the DVR. I do not like to pick up the remote every 10 minutes to fast forward the commercials. In fact, once I hit play, I do not want to have to watch any commercials or deal with any breaks.
Icefilms is probably one of the largest streaming sites for movies on the web. With more than 20,000 movies readily available, there is always something to watch. The quality is generally great, but occcasionally, if the movie is still in theaters, the quality is sub-par (generally because the recording is done with a hand-held camera inside of the theater).
The one downside to watching movies/shows on a Jailbroken Apple tv is having to wait on the shows to load. This means hitting play on the movie (and then pause again), waiting 5-10 minutes to allow the show to buffer. From there, it streams without hiccups.
All in all, the Jailbroken Apple TV is a media POWERHOUSE. I have had a google tv, a windows box hooked up via HDMI, and airdisplay from my macbook. None of these compare. Absolutely every aspect of a media box is covered with XBMC. I feel like the apple tv is missing a web browser, but if I want to surf the web, I will get on my laptop. Even at the $99.99 pricing point, you will save money renting and save a ton of time with this system.