I must say that I've been quite impressed with the Apple TV. Having been an avid Apple fan for some years owning various iPods and iPhones, and now the new iPad along with using Apple's iTunes I feel I've a reasonable expectation and opinion to offer.
The AppleTV is primarily a donor device to iTunes as it basically streams content that has been previously imported or purchased from itunes. This does limit the productivity out of the box somewhat. It does however offer other services such as You Tube and pictures access. But it is the things that it wasn't designed to do that really brings this little box it's potential. Software such as XBMC Media Center and Boxee offer the user so much more and break the ties with itunes. This means that all your movies, music and video can be streamed either through its wireless interface or ethernet adaptor from an external NAS device or simply using file sharing.
To sum up, the Apple TV is a very capable device that if allowed to, can provide all your media entertainment. It's a pity Apple didn't provide this out of the box.
The Apple TV is one of few Apple products that hasn't been a runaway success in recent years but I really cannot understand why. I think its an absolutely fantastic product and one that I use almost every day.
The basic premise is that the box allows you to view your itunes contents on your HDTV in the living room. Connection to your tv is simple using either a component or HDMI cable, there is also an optical out for feeding audio to an external amplifier.
Set up is easy, simply plug it in and the Apple TV will search for any itunes libraries either on your wireless network or connected via ethernet cable. You then have the choice of either syncing your content (media is stored on the Apple TV) or streaming from your itunes library (the files stay on your computer but itunes needs to be switched on for streaming to work). I personally sync all my content as I dont like to leave my computer on when it is not in use.
Once set up you are presented with a number of categories and navigation is very iPod like. The categories are movies, photos, music and internet.
Within the movies option you have the choice of watching the latest trailors, watching a movie you own or renting a movie from Apple. Renting is very easy, just choose a film and it starts downloading, it is usually ready to watch within a few minutes. Once you have rented a movie you have 28 days to start watching it but once you've started you only have 24 hours to complete your viewing. If you prefer to own your movies these can be purchased from the iTunes store or directly through the Apple TV. It is also possible to rip your own DVD's but this is not officially supported.
The photo option is one of my favourites. Your albums can be viewed as a slideshow on the big screen which is ideal for when friends and family are around. Also once your photos are on the Apple TV you can select them to show up as a screen saver when listening to music.
The music section is operated in exactly the same way as an iPod. I have my Apple TV connected to my amplifier so the sound is excellent. Its great to stick a playlist on during a party and then let your photos come up as a screensaver.
The Apple TV comes supplied with a remote which is adequate but if you own an iPhone or iPod touch you can download the free remote app which is excellent.
Overall I love my Apple TV and I would recommend it to anyone that uses iTunes for their media.
I bought one of these second hand from a friend having a clearout.
Apple TV is designed to provide a central unit that you can plug into any component or HDMI enabled HDTV to allow you to stream media from your computer to your television.
The set up of the device is actually amazingly simple. You plug a HDMI cable from the box to the TV, and a power cable from the box to your power supply. The device then takes you through the setup process, which basically consists of pointing it towards your wireless Network (or if you must, plug in an ethernet cable!). The Apple TV will then appear in the devices list of your iTunes library where you can set up which music you want to be available, which TV series you want to be viewable (and how many episodes of which, for example you can set up either all, last 3 unwatched, 5 newest, or several other combinations), and so on for films and photos too.
If you don't wish to have your computer on at the same time you can allow the two devices to sync to each other to allow you to watch shows even when you're computer's not on by using the Apple TV's built in hard disk drive.
The Apple TV also has built in features such as Youtube, and the iTunes store so you can buy or rent movies direct from your set top box, including both standard and high definition versions.
I must confess I've never watched so much TV as since I got this piece of equipment, it beats watching repeats on the BBC again.
The apple TV is a very clever product, but a much misunderstood one. It contains the ability to play any file from a synced itunes library, connect to a dvd player, and play youtube. I recently purchased one for £180, in this review I will voice my opinion for it.
Like practically all other apple products, this one looks very modern. It looks in my opinion like a slimmer mac mini, with a metal top. I like the smooth metal finish and the signature apple logo on the top is a very nice touch. The absence of any buttons on the front is a great minimalist design, making it look very unclustered. This looks a bit out of place compared to some of my other stuff - a very messy dvd player, freeview box, wii and xbox 360.
When I say anything from your Itunes library can be synced with this, many people have taken that to mean that this can only play music, they are wrong. The Itunes store can download movies and TV shows now, all of which can be played on the Apple TV. The new Itunes movie rental service works very well with the Apple TV, they do not take long to download and work smoothly, without the hassle of having to go out to a local blockblusters.
One other key feature to the Apple TV is its ability to play videos in HD. Yet again this works well with Itunes because many of the rentable movies are in HD. All the HD content is output through a HDMI cable, which most HD TVs will have a port for.
DVD players can be hooked up to the Apple TV, saving hassle to switch between them on your TV. It cleverly converts all the DVD player content into a very viewable HD picture, this in effect saves you £100 not having to buy a DVD upscaled player.
Youtube works well on the Apple TV. Any Youtube video can be found and they all work flawlessly, it is great being able to watch them on a big screen converted to HD quality. It connects fine to my wifi router and downloads t a speedy and flawless speed.
The hard drive, 40GB, is plenty enough to store stuff on. It can have up to 10,000 songs or 125 hours of video. I think that this is big enough, but if you really do need more room, there is also a 160GB version for an extra £50.
Supplied with the Apple TV is one of Apple's mini remotes. It is used to control everything and works well, most of the time. I say this because it struggles with Youtube, in which it has to be used to type in on the keyboard. It looks fine and is very light, but I have misplaced it more than once.
Overall I believe that this is much underrated piece of technology from Apple. It combines HD quality with a large amount of playable file types. It looks very sleek, as does the supplied remote. If you are looking for a media player to go with your TV, especially an HD one, this would be a great choice, there I hear there is a new one that will be coming out soon, so it might be worth waiting.