The new Apple TV

I hope that everyone had an excellent Christmas, I had a good time and it was nice to see my sister, brother-in-law and nephew too. I had a lot of nice present but wanted to write a short piece on what has been for some reviewers a controversial piece of hardware called the Apple TV.

The first thing to notice is the rather small (and light) box, you open this and find the new smaller apple TV, I means this thing is tiny (Height:23 mm, Width: 98 mm, Depth: 98 mm and Weight 0.27Kg).

Underneath is the Aluminium remote which gets an “A” for looks and design and a “D-” for usability; my hands and fingers are quite small but it was too easy to hit the wrong button all too often. Underneath the remote was a power cable that was folded in such a way that you would never get the cable back in the same way, the final item was a getting started manual. To give you an idea of this please see the IGn unboxing video below:

The rear connections on the device are as follows:

Although I have 802.11n wireless in the house, the proximity of the TV within the house means that the quality of the connection varies day-by-day, sometime its excellent sometimes its pants. So I have invested in a Power -Line Gigabit network connection that connects the Apple Airport Extreme (one of if the not THE best wireless routers on the market) to a Gigabit switch downstairs. The switch is connected to the PS3 and the Apple-TV. This provides a more relliabel connection for both devices. I had invested in the hub with new Cat5 cables before Christmas.

I also received a HDMI cable from my Sister and her family (thanks -its like you knew) , once the HDMI cabel was connected to the only remaining HDMI port left on the TV (PS3, Apple-TV and SKY-HD); we switched to the appropriate HD port and voila! The Apple-TV was ready to be set up. This is one of the most simple and time-consuming things to do. Once you have selected the appropriate language you then have to enter your Apple ID and password that must be the same ones that you use on the computer (PC or Mac) that you wish to stream from. This is also the account that will be used for any films that you rent directly on the device. This is quite laborious as this involves entering them using an on-screen keyboard and the remote control.

Once done, the device falls into the “does exactly what it says on the tin” category; with one rather minor issue for non-US residents. There are no TV show rentals available for $0.99 or other wise. Even in the US, only a few stations have signed onto this. I’m with Steve on this one, I think that this (which will most likely equate to £0.79 or £0.81 when VAT goes to 20%) is a fair price to pay to watch these shows. If I’m going to watch them many times then I’ll buy the series, but most of these programs I only want to watch once and mainly because I missed them the first time round. Fortunately in the UK at least we have the BBC i-player, ITV Player and 4OD as well as other means to catch up on TV so its not as bad as it could be and I can now get these on the PS3, the only issue is when my Virgin Media 50MB connection isn’t giving me that speed (another story).

Once it was connected to the PC upstairs (which must be running iTunes), it streamed everything really well with no dropped frames and some of the non-HD movies almost have the HD look.

I look out for triple-play Blu-Ray films (Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Copy) which most of the block-buster films are now so that I can watch them on any medium I wish to use, Blu-Ray for best quality, DVD if there are no blu-ray players around and then on the Apple TV, my computer or on the iPad that I have. Although they could also go onto my iPhone 4, space is a premium so I don’t bother (the iPad is more suited to this role).

The A-Team - an example of a Triple-Play Movie

So all in all I am really happy with my new toy and can recommend this to anyone how has a large investment in iTunes films and/or TV shows and a HD capable TV.

Many thanks to Mum and Dad for giving me such an excellent Christmas Present.