* Prices may differ from that shown
I'd heard friends raving about the Apple TV. So one day, with a bit of spare cash burning a hole in my pocket, I decided I'd try one out. Before doing so, I watched the girl from the Apple shop do her demonstration, and within 5 minutes I had one bagged up and was on my way home with it.
It is fantastically simple. It's a small black box that sits below your TV, connects to it via HDMI, and streams content via wifi from iTunes. With the latest software, you can stream any films or TV shows you have purchased from iTunes over the internet, and display them in 720p HD on your TV. It is also possible to buy or rent new shows from the iTunes store directly on the Apple TV itself. One word of advice here; be sure to have a good internet connection. Anything less than 8mb/s and you'll be looking at juddery, low quality videos.
But what else can it do? You can link it up to a Netflix account if you have one, it'll display YouTube videos, with the quality upped, on your TV, and so much more, this is a product you really need to check out for yourself. A few of the apps on there are USA only, which is a shame, but not a dealbreaker.
By far the most impressive feature is it's integration with other Apple products. I have a MacBook Pro running Mountain Lion, and through the Apple TV I can mirror it's display on my TV screen, and if I'm watching something live, or a longer video streaming over the web, it's perfect. For example, watching the Red Bull Stratos jump live, in 720p, was pretty amazing on it. It'll also mirror the display of an iPad 2 or later (including the upcoming iPad Mini), the latest (Oct 2012) iPod Touch, and the iPhone 4S or later. Even if you don't have one of these products, it still has some functionality with Apple TV. For example, I have a 1st Gen iPad, and any videos can be displayed on the Apple TV instead of the iPad; it just comes up with a picture of a TV on the iPad, and the message "showing on Apple TV". This is the same for playing videos in iTunes on your PC or Mac, just hit the icon and click Apple TV. Also anything with iOS 5 or later (haven't tried it with iOS 4) will let you play your music via Apple TV, so your iDevice acts like a remote.
Speaking of remotes, the one that comes with the Apple TV is remarkably simple, and yet feels so good in your hand, it's definitely a premium product and not to be confused with the pound shop bargains. Be wary though, if you have a Mac, it'll control your Mac and Apple TV simultaneously, so make sure you turn off that functionality of your Mac.
If you pay for iTunes Match, it'll do something even better. Anything in your iTunes library on your PC or Mac, even if it wasn't bought from iTunes itself, will be available to watch on your Apple TV (and all your other Apple Products for that matter). However, this is expensive, but there is a solution. Turn on "Home Sharing" on the iTunes menu on your PC or Mac, and as long as the Apple TV is on the same wifi network as your PC or Mac, which has to be switched on, anything on your iTunes library will be available to select and watch on your Apple TV, including music. This means you could write up that report while having a movie on in the background.
All in all, this is an amazing piece of kit, and one I thoroughly recommend for anyone using iTunes. And at £99, it's an absolute steal. The only caveat I would mention is that it doesn't take too kindly to slow internet connections
I love Apple TV. Is it pricey? Yes. Are there cheaper ways of doing what it does? Of course. But nobody packages it together in such a simple, uncluttered way the way Apple does.
Basically, Apple TV:
-brings internet connectivity to your TV, via HDMI.
- allows you to view your apple products and iTunes content via your TV.
Apple TV connects to your network either wirelessly via it's bulit in wifi, or through the ethernet cable (I use the latter for reliable streaming).
YOu can rent HD films from Apple (though they tend to be pricey at around £4.50 a go), or alternatively you can use it to watch netflix - something I do an awful lot. Watching YouTube also goes from being a solitary pursuit hunched over a laptop, to something everyone can enjoy together in the lounge on the big screen
Because you can view your iOS device on it, you can also use the BBC iPlayer via AirPlay. Apparently this will also be coming to Apple computers in the forthcoming Mountain Lion OSX Upgrade.
And lets not forget the beautiful, elegantly designed apple remote. (incidentally, you can also download an app for you iOS device that will control the AppleTV as well). This can also be used to control your macbook.
Although there is much more to be said about appleTV, I hope this has given you a real world insight into how it might be useful to you at home.
I always wanted this apple tv streamer for my living room but when the last one came out I saw it had bad reviews. When this one came out I wasn't waiting any longer and went to the high street to bag myself one. I turned it on.. Phew. Like all apple products it looks damn fine and has a seriously slick home screen.
The big difference between this apple tv and th last is that it supports 1080p HD movies, not that there are many on the iTunes store but it's a good feature to have as more and more HD content gets added to the store.
I would especially advise anyone with an iPad to buy apple tv as it works seamlessly with it. Using iCloud any thing you buy on your iPad, any photos you upload, any music you download goes straight to apple tv. But if that's not good enough airplay mans you can play any media form your iPad to your tv.
The disadvantages of this player I would say are it's lack of BBC I player and th fact that you are restricted on your tv to purchases from the iTunes store which tends to have a lack of UK media. This can though be sorted by getting a subscription to Netflix which is available on the apple tv.
Apart from this apple tv is everything I expected and more. Quick, brilliantly integrated with other devices and beautiful.
Since obtaining our Apple ipad 2 last year and buying an iphone around a year ago we have become more impressed and interested in Apple products. So after hearing a friend talk about the Apple TV we decided to treat ourselves and ordered it directly from the apple store on-line. The service, by the way, was excellent and we received this little gadget within a few days. Apple TV is a small compact black box which can be easily connected to any modern TV with HDMI and capable of 720p 60/50Hz,2 . It doesn't look out of place in our lounge, in fact you hardly notice at just under 10cm squared with a height of nearly 2.5cm. It comes with the necessary cabling and instruction manual as well as a remote control.
System requirements are:
*Wi-Fi (802.11a, b, g or n) wireless network (wireless video streaming requires 802.11a, g or n) or *10/100BASE-T Ethernet network
*iTunes Store account for renting films
*Netflix account for streaming Netflix content
*For streaming media from a Mac or PC: iTunes 10.2 or later; iTunes Store account for Home Sharing
*MLB.TV subscription required to watch live and archived games
~~How to use~~
Not being that technically minded we were surprised at how easy it was to set up and control. Our itunes account (free to sign up) was beneficial because it allowed us to watch our downloaded itunes movies and listen to our music. Over Christmas we were able to listen to our music (all wirelessly I might add) and have a stream of our personal photos being shown via the apple TV onto our main TV screen, something which the visitors loved, but the kids hated!
The main thing about this little black box is the range of films, shows, documentaries, radio stations and TV series that you can rent from either itunes or Netflix at slightly inflated prices, there are literally thousands of them. We may now consider stopping the movie package we have with Sky and use this more instead.
We have been very impressed with the Apple TV. Not only can you access a huge range of films and shows (rental fee required) but you can also stream your own music and photographs (JPEG, GIFF AND TIFF formats) onto your TV. It has good picture quality and if you love gadgets then this is one to add to your collection.
If anyone has already read any of my other Apple reviews, then you'll know I'm a bit of a fan to say the least. This gadget is called Apple TV. This is a very small smooth sided black box with the Apple TV Logo on the top. It's only around 10 centimeters squared, and only 2.3 centimetres high. This means it can sit absolutely anywhere without getting in the way or standing out too much that it takes away from your home cinema set up.
This little box works through a HDMI connection ( A HDMI cable is NOT included ) this means it needs to be plugged into a new high definition TV of at least 720p resolution. This is the second generation of Apple TV and is a much better version than the original model from a few years ago. The reason this little box needed to be plugged up to my flat screen TV was that it could then begin to stream content live directly from my iPod touch, my iPhone and most impressively and easily from my iPad2. Not only that I can also stream straight from my Mac and my iMac. Streaming means, I can send photos, videos, songs and movies wirelessly through the air straight to the Apple TV and straight up on to my large screen TV.
The box it's self can work independently from all the Apple devices. It can stream Internet channels like YouTube and Flicker without the need of any other device, so you actualy don't have to own any other Apple device to use and enjoy this gadget. To enjoy what this box has to offer I simply had to connect it to my wireless wifi network or you can also connect it via an Ethernet cable.
Once I had done this, all I had to do was enter my Apple account information just incase anyone in my family wanted to make any purchases and off I went. If you wish you can also connect an optical cable to the back and run this into your surround sound system as this supports 5.1 surround sound, and the results are really great. Their is a slim, heavy, sliver and black, quality remote included. This makes using the onscreen menus very easy. These menus are simple to understand and navigate. But this box really comes alive once you select the Internet tab. This instantly changes your TV into a computer screen. Now I can watch my favourite clips and shows that I've missed via YouTube and most are broadcast in full HD. Updates are sent regularly via the Internet to this magic box, so you will always have the most up to date firmware installed. Most recently iOS 5 was released and this has changed how I use my iPad and Apple TV together dramatically.
The rest of my family use this to occasionally rent movies through the box. And more times than not view their own Holiday photos, or friends Flicker pages. But if you connect through an iPad you then can access twitter, Facebook, play games and even Skype.
This is a small box with a lot of strength. It can be used for so many things and the number of uses is growing every day. It's discreet and stylish and can be purchased from amazon.co.uk for only £84.99 + shipping.
I received the Apple TV 2g as a christmas present last year and have not looked back. The device is a small palm sized black box which connects to your TV via HDMI cable. It can then access your iTunes account wirelessly from your computer and stream all content such as music, films or pictures to your television. This is brilliant if you are someone like me who likes to have lots of video content on their computer to then sync to their iPod for long train journeys etc. This device then enables you to watch all of this video content on your big screen, and by god does it do it well. I have watched at least 100 films via this method and, touch wood, there has not been a single problem, not once has the video stopped or the stream been in the least bit unstable. The entire experience is completely seamless. Not only this but the box is super easy to set up. Merely connect it to your TV, link it to your wifi and enter your apple ID. Its as easy as that. Furthermore the device also connects to apples rental service, so you can rent videos direct from the box to watch within 48 hours.
This review doesn't cover the spec or features of the Apple TV 2, as you can get those from Apple's website simply enough. I'm going to talk about my experience with the Apple TV 2 and offer up some things to think about if you're thinking of getting one in the UK.
I've had the Apple TV 2 for about a month now and since owning it have used it every day. This alone should tell you that for those who who's TV is the center piece of their evening entertainment - the Apple TV 2 is certainly not going to be one of those devices that sits there in stand-by mode collecting dust and consuming power for months on end with little use.
So what does it do? Basically, it's a device that connects your TV to the network - both your home network and the Internet (via your broadband connection) in a stylish and simple way.
Why would you want to do that? A few reasons really, but mainly because whilst your computer is a great place to store, download, manipulate and share your treasured video, photograph and music collection - it's not necessarily going to give you the best experience in terms of comfort and quality. Computer / Laptop speakers aren't often great and the screen is relatively small. Your living room sofa and your large screen tv with decent speakers connected are a far better place to enjoy your videos, music and photos however! Also, if your home is internet connected, you suddenly get access to thousands of movies on your TV which can be rented and watched immediately without requiring anything more than a few clicks on the slick Apple TV 2 remote control. Apple has also included some other nice little internet features such as the ability to watch YouTube and Vimeo clips on your TV, and view your favourite photos from Flickr for example.
If you own other Apple devices, like an iPod, iPad, iPhone for example, then you can share content from these devices on to the big screen (a feature called Air Play) - again very simply. This is incredibly useful if a friend pops round and wants to show their holiday snaps with you for example.
So you get the idea of why this little box, which is silent in operation and consumes hardly any shelf space on your tv cabinet and very little electricity, is quite a neat little device for bringing new HD media content direct to your TV and away from your laptop / home PC. And at around £90, it's a fairly small price to pay to spark some life in to your TV.
BUT! There's always a but... and in this case it's the usual gripes for most things 'Apple' unfortunately. Apple tend to limit their devices to only doing certain things. Sometimes you wish you could just do a little more. For example, to get your video, photo and music from your computer onto your TV, you have to do it through iTunes. If you're not a fan of iTunes and you just prefer to have your content stored in various folders on your computer - your Apple TV won't see them and they can't then be shared. :-(
Secondly, some of the Internet related features on Apple TV 2 are bias toward the US market. As such, you'll find MLB, NLB, Netflix on there - but you won't find iPlayer, 4oD and LoveFilm for example. Adding these wouldn't be too difficult for Apple to do I'm certain - but it would make the Apple TV 2 a very powerful box considering how much content these UK providers have available these days.
However, before you give up on Apple TV 2 for these limitations, there are a couple things you can do to work around them. If you've heard the term 'Jailbreaking' before then you'll be pleased just know just like the iPhone, iPod, and iPad, Apple TV 2 can be jailbroken to expand the devices features. If it's the first time you've heard the word, then basically, it's a way of 'breaking' into the code of your device to allow software modifications to be made to it. A simple search for the term with give you lots of info on Jailbreaking.
Jailbreaking your Apple TV 2 essentially allows you to share media content from any of your network connected devices in your home without the need for iTunes. I for example store all my music, photos and video on hard drive which is connected to my network (NAS drive). This means I can watch my movies on my Apple TV 2 without having any computers switched on at all, never mind iTunes running!
Jailbreaking brings various other benefits including getting iPlayer and other British content services on your Apple TV 2 (via Plex), installing the Xbox Media Centre software, and even surfing the internet. Many more add-ons are available for a jailbroken Apple TV 2, search online for 'jailbreak apple tv 2' for a better idea.
Jailbreaking isn't really that risky either, as if you mess everything up, you can simply factory reset your Apple TV 2 and get back to the standard system without losing anything - your content isn't stored on your Apple TV box, so it's safe to factory reset it whenever you need.
For what it's worth, I'd say if you're already an Apple user and love your iTunes collection, then Apple TV 2 is a no-brainer. If you don't use other Apple products or iTunes, but you're happy to consider Jailbreaking then it's still definitely worth it. You could argue it's also worth it just for the ability to stream content from the Internet such as paid-for on-demand movies, tv shows, or free YouTube content.
Finally, as with all Apple devices, the Apple TV 2 is extremely simple to set up. A single HDMI cable connected to your TV deals with the picture and sound, then connect to the power socket and your done. In-built wi-fi avoids the need for a network cable, although you can connect one if you prefer to avoid wireless.
Back in 2006 Apple first announced the arrival of the Apple TV. It was seen as an extension of the iTunes ecosystem that allowed users to store content on the device and then watch it through their TV. However due to the high price point and low storage capacities the device struggled to make an impact until the second generationApple TV was introduced in 2010. This device did away with the inbuilt storage and instead was purely designed to stream content from other devices. This was a complete redesign and allowed apple to slash the price down to around £100.
When you first look at the Apple TV you wonder what all the fuss is about. You cant use it to get freeview or sky, you cant use it to play physical media such as blu-ray or dvd, you cant play games on it and yet it has now become the cornerstone of my home entertainment set-up.
The device itself is extremely small and is as beautifully designed as any other Apple device. The black plastic casing with the Apple symbol clearly emblazoned on it is the perfect accompaniment to any TV. The Apple TV also comes with a sleek remote that is a well designed, solid and finished in brushed aluminium.
The device can connect to your home network through the ethernet port on the rear of the device or wirelessly. The wireless performance of the device is extremely good and I have never had the device drop off the network or fail to find the router. The set up of the Apple TV is extremely straight forward as you follow on screen prompts to connect the device to your network. And yet it can get a bit annoying having to use the small remote to enter passwords, especially if they are made up of a large number of characters.
The device outputs to the TV through a HDMI connection and can also output audio via an optical output on the rear of the device. The device itself is completely silent, runs cool and a single led light on the front of the device shows when it is on or when inputs from the remote are detected. This simple design retains apples design ethos that is present in all their other products.
I personally consume a lot of media including podcasts (both audio and video) TV series, films and music. Much of this content is kept within my iTunes library on my iMac and so to watch them I used to have to sit at my desk and was unable to enjoy the viewing experience with my family or friends.
Now i can relax on the sofa and watch all of the media content thats on my iMac, on YouTube or on any other Apple device connected to my home network. In fact it is this cross device integration, particularly with the iPad, that is the key to the success of the Apple TV. The fact that I can sit and browse YouTube on my iPad, find a video i want to watch and then stream it to my TV to make use of the larger 42 inch display.
What is also very handy is that the iPad itself can be used as a giant, and very expensive remote for the Apple TV. You can either browse through the content on other devices on your home network or simply use the touch screen to navigate through the menus on the Apple TV. Another nice feature is that if you are watching a video on an iPad of laptop and you want to start streaming it through the TV you can simply click on a button in the itunes viewing window and it starts sending it through the Apple TV immediately.
You can also access online media content sites such as Flickr and YouTube through the device. If i want to access YouTube I simply sign in, (once you have signed in Apple TV will keep you signed in until you manually sign out) and then can access all my favourite videos, subscriptions and all other you tube videos. Again this experience is somewhat hampered by the lack of a keyboard that can be used by the Apple TV and so you resort to painstakingly using the small remote.
The downside to the device is that other than renting films from iTunes and streaming media from other devices, if you live in the UK, there is no other premium content available to the device. By this i mean that you are not able to access any other video services like you can in the US. In the U.S you can access services such as MLB.com and other sites that provide video on demand. I would love to have features such as iPlayer and other such on demand services available through the Apple TV. Alas for now i shall have to rely on my PS3 to use those services.
Apple themselves have referred to the Apple TV as a hobby and i feel until they decide to take it seriously then we wont get to discover the true potential of this device. That being said, this is still a stonking device that ever Apple orientated home should have. Its easy to use and in true Steve Jobs style "it just works".
The Apple TV is a small, palm size digital receiver that plugs into an HDTV via HDMI cable. Launched in September 2010, it's almost a completely different device to the 2006 predecessor and allows you to stream content from your computer, iPhone,iPad or iPod touch direct to your TV, as well as the ability to view select internet channels such as Flickr and YouTube.
I was delighted to receive the Apple TV for Christmas and it was incredibly easy to set up. In the box is the tiny receiver which measures about 10cm squared, with a height of 2.3cm, a sleek aluminium remote control, the mains power supply and a small instruction manual. Not included is an HDMI cable, which you'd need to buy separately. Incidentally, the Apple TV only works with the newer flat screen TVs with an HDMI port, although I've read that it's possible to connect via SCART if you purchase an adaptor.
So when you've plugged it all in and powered it up, you follow the on-screen instructions which take you through language options and connecting to your home wifi network (you can also connect via Ethernet too), then after any software updates have been installed, you're ready to go.
The menu interface is really very simple, UK users scroll across the options of Movies, Internet, Computers, and Settings. In the movies tab you can watch trailers and rent movies from Apple's catalogue, these stream in 720p High Definition with 5.1 surround if you plug your speaker system into the Apple TV's optical port. Prices of movies vary, but a typical current release HD film costs £4.49, and you get 48 hours to watch it. I personally found this rather expensive, and the choice of films is poor. They certainly have nowhere near the choice you'd get from your video store, or a service like LoveFilm. Also here, you can also watch trailers of current and forthcoming releases at the cinema and I particularly like this feature.
I spend most of my time in the 'Internet' tab. Here you can watch videos through YouTube which is excellent on the big screen, especially as many YouTube clips are now uploaded in HD. Sometimes you forget that the content you're watching is from YouTube, the quality is so good. Here you can also listen to podcasts, internet radio stations, view photos from your Flickr page and connect with your content on MobileMe, Apple's subscription cloud service. As the Apple TV is connected to the internet, updates are periodically provided by Apple meaning aspects of the operating can change and be updated. In the March 2011 update, users were given the new option under 'Internet' of 'MLB.TV' a subscription baseball service meaning you can watch live games in HD with the ability to pause and rewind. Non subscribers can still access scores and statistics. This is all very well, but backs up my view that Apple TV caters mainly for it's US customers. (more later).
In the computers menu, you to your computer (PC or Mac running iTunes), where you can stream content to the Apple TV. You can access your music collection and play it all through your living room speakers in the best quality. Also any movies, TV shows or home videos stored on your hard drive can be shown if they're saved in your iTunes. Although streaming music works fine, streaming video is an incredibly slow process and quite often I've just given up. While streaming music, you can set a screensaver to come on (from the settings menu) which can show photos from your your collection using various animated slideshow settings. It's really very pretty. Also within the 'computers menu' you can browse and display all your photos.
Another key feature of the Apple TV is 'Airplay' which allows you to stream content directly from your iPod touch, iPhone or iPad directly to the Apple TV, be it music, videos, photos or YouTube content (videos from other sources apparently in the pipeline). Any visitor to your house can show you their holiday snaps for example, just by broadcasting them to your TV.
Overall, I use and enjoy the Apple TV regularly, but it has some significant shortcomings. Firstly, Apple TV seem completely focused on the American market. There you can rent movies through companies like Netflix and watch TV shows on the Apple TV, no such deals have been set up in the UK. Also does the UK need subscription Baseball? It's a very niche market. One good thing about the Apple TV is that through software updates it can evolve. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw services such as BBC's iPlayer or LoveFilm rentals on there at some point. (although launched 6 months ago, and I'm still waiting)
Also the fact that everything has to be 'streamed' is quite annoying. There is a USB connector, but at the moment it has no purpose (Apple say it's for service and support), so it would be good if you connect an external hard drive (a big selling point of Western Digitals WDTV). I live in hope!
To summarise, for what it is, it's a fun device and at £89 on Amazon currently, it's not going to break the bank and hopefully remote updates will allow it to improve over time.
The Apple TV has often been referred to as Apple's hobby project and I can see why. It is clear that Apple aren't 100% behind the device as it's functions demonstrate. The first Apple TV (see my other review) was a bit of a dark horse. On the surface it was simply an extension to Apple's iTunes ecosystem. But the device was laid bare when hackers were able to break the security and found out that this little box of tricks is more than a one trick pony. Under the hood was basically a Mac Mini with a scaled down operating system. By installing applications such as Boxee and XBMC, opened the device up and showed it's true colours. It was fantastic.
This is Apple's second version of the Apple TV. It's a quarter of the size of the original one and doesn't have any on board storage. So this is basically a streaming device that connects to iTunes on your wired or wireless network. The device has Wireless N and an Ethernet port along with HDMI and optical out ports at the back. With the device being so small it does look a little strange next to your large TV and at first glance you believe it to not being as capable as it really is. It's also really simply to set up, just plug in, enter your Apple account details and you're away.
Once you switch it on it is clear that Apple haven't spent much time modifying the user experience as it's very similar to the original. However, the device does perform faster and does run on Apple's IOS 4 platform. The menus are simply to navigate by clicking the remote left and right to select a category and up and down to select an option. Playback is also of good quality. The output is limited to 720p although the device can take a 1080p signal and downscale accordingly. Sound is also top notch and running through optical to a receiver sounds excellent.
The proof of all this is down to the content and this is where it falls a little. The US version has extra features such as Netflix and Last.FM. Subscribers across the pond can relish in all that is good about the Apple TV. Here in the UK is slightly different. We can rent movies through the menus, watch youtube videos, stream our iTunes content and run various other little applications on it. That's about it! However, as in the first Apple TV there is light at the end of the tunnel. The hackers have returned and XBMC has just been ported. This will require the user to jailbreak the Apple TV but I firmly believe that this functionality should have been out of the box to begin with.
I like the Apple TV but I feel I will love it as soon as I start to run XBMC on it. At £100 I feel it priced correctly but only once you have broken the seal.