The all new Apple TV is an attempt by Apple to change the way we watch content on our televisions. Instead of directly downloading content to a media drive connecting to a TV and watching – you now just stream content that is already on your PC directly, not storing anything on the Apple TV.
A good idea? Maybe? But as usual Apple have been restricted in allowing what we can stream, it’s not all bad there is a redeeming factor with Apple TV which nearly makes it worth while and it’s called Airplay, and we have a little more on that later.
So what did we think of Apple TV. We like it, the consensus on Apple TV is that we wont be handing over our media drives just yet. Steve Jobs has described Apple TV as his hobby. And while this may be nice for him, with Google TV on the way, Apple need to take ATV a little more serious.
If you were to ask, in a nutshell what is Apple TV, we would say Apple TV is primarily a streaming device, with the possibility to become so much more, encompassing:
- Apple TV is a place to rent movies and TV shows (TV shows in US only) in HD and SD format. Programs are displayed on your television in a simple elegant graphical layout, with descriptions , reviews, and previews available.
- Apple TV allows you to stream content to your television from your PC, however it is somewhat limited on file formats that are compatible with the device. You can stream iTunes music, films, TV shows (in the correct format), and photos.
- Apple TV allows you to stream content from Netflix (US), youtube and flickr.
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Apple TV Hardware
The physical Apple TV device is surprisingly small, when you pick up this little box you will wonder how it is capable of doing any of the above tasks. Apple TV is black with the Apple logo, it is designed to go unnoticed beside your television.
You can see the actual size in the above picture when you compare it to the iPhone 3GS. At the back of the device you don’t have too many ports and outlets to choose from, the HDMI cable connection (cable not included with device), micro USB, optical audio, power (supply hidden inside the device – nice), and Ethernet port, not forgetting the device is wifi (802.11a/b/g/n) of course. Apple TV has an A4 processor, similar to the iPad. Apple is not too anxious for us the know what’s inside, but ifixit tell us some interesting specs.
- A Samsung K9LCG08U1M 8GB NAND Flash chip
- The Apple TV has 256 MB RAM, the same as the iPad and 4th Gen iPod Touch.
Apple TV comes with a silver aluminum remote, which looks like a mismatch to the Apple TV (see above picture), it’s minimal to the point of being too minimal. Apple expects us to use an iPad or iPhone to control this, you can of course use the remote, but once you use the on screen keyboard to enter one letter at a time, you will quickly download the remote app for your iPhone.
The software and content
Apple TV is pretty easy to use, it really is! It requires very little information from you to get up and running. The software is pretty simple navigation, although for typing anything you need an iOS device like an iPad, as previously mentioned.
Is Apple TV just another way for Apple to sell us their iTunes content? Yes of course it is, but in my view Apple TV has huge potential to change the way we currently separate online content from television, but they better watch their backs as Goolge TV is right on top of this one too.
In Ireland you cannot watch TV shows, so we will quickly say it would be nice, but we can’t see it hapening soon. You can stream 720p content movies directly to the Apple TV, and the quality is pretty good, but we found the sound extremely hard to hear, but that’s possible an issue with out setup.
Movie rentals are at the 3.99/ 4.99 euro mark, and remember that’s for a rental, you get 48 hours to watch the movie and only on your Apple TV! Yes, a little restrictive! You can of course stream your own video content to the device, but that in itself presents it’s own problems. Streaming iTunes movies, could get expensive, but is a’ nice to have’ item.
This is where it gets interesting folks. Airplay could really make Apple TV worth having. Imagine watching a movie on your iOS device, like your iPad. You walk into your living room where your super widescreen TV resides, and you say i’ll watch it there now, with a press of a button that movie continues to play on your TV, continuing from where you left off on your iPad. Airplay will hopefully be expanded to apps, if as successful as we hope it will be. We have to wait for an iOS update in November for this feature however, but it should be worth the wait.
Apple TV has both the capability and possibility to be more than a “hobby” and become part of your home entertainment center, but it’s not quiet there yet! No apps, restrictive streaming, come on Apple learn from past mistakes!