Don't Miss: The Best HDR TVs
Don't Miss: The Best HDR TVs
Features, Specs & Setup
I once reviewed an Apple Cinema display and the PR schlep from Apple insisted I use a Mac for the review, which was odd. First, I am a Mac retard. Using a Mac let me know just how my mom feels when she calls me asking questions about her PC without a stitch of a clue. I did like how small the Mac Mini they sent out was though. The first thing I thought of after extracting the Apple TV from its box was that Mac Mini. Granted the Apple TV is much thinner and lacks the DVD slot of the Mini.
I was disappointed to see that the Apple TV does not come with any type of cables to connect the device to your TV. You would think at the price you are paying for even the 40GB version I am looking at here Apple could have thrown in a cheap component cable at minimum.
I hate power bricks; they take up so much room. Moreover, if I add one more power brick behind my entertainment center I will need an inspection from the EPA. I am glad to see the Apple TV doesn’t use a brick, but rather a simple AC cord that plugs into the rear of the device.
I was expecting to have issues connecting the device to my wireless network since my PS3 hates it. I assumed the Apple TV would be as fickle not wanting to connect and dropping the connection each time my dog farts, but thankfully, set up was a snap. Once I connected the component video cables and plugged the Apple TV in a few short prompts to choose a wireless network later and enter my pre-shared key and I was connected.
The range on the WiFi antenna of the Apple TV seems to be good, it even picked up a neighbors wireless network using the cunning SSID LINKSYS, and the pre-shared key 12345. I opted to use my own bandwidth and after the wireless set up was done, the code needed to synchronize the Apple TV with iTunes was presented on the screen. After fighting through adding random laptops to my wireless network I expected lots of hassle, the Apple TV didn’t even ask what type of security I use, it just worked.
I chose to use the component inputs to connect to my TV, but you can also use HDMI as well. One the rear of the unit is a port for a wired network, a USB 2.0 port and a digital optical audio port.
Apple TV in Use
Once done with the install I was ready to check out some content from my PC on my TV. I really though the YouTube was cool on the Apple TV. It’s much more fun watching people do stupid stuff on my big TV than my PC screen. However, I did notice that the video didn’t buffer long enough before playback started. Personally, I would prefer to wait a bit longer before the video starts, than to have it start quickly and stop several times while more of the video downloads. Perhaps this is a byproduct of my web connection, but I think that in many places a 1Mbps download is common.
I worried that the video would be pixilated and look bad, but the video was every bit as clear via the Apple TV as it is on the PC. Watching iTunes movies on TV was cool as well with a nice picture and good colors.
I kept wondering the entire time I was using the Apple TV why Apple didn’t go the full monty. There is no reason you couldn’t use the Apple TV to surf the real web, sort of as you can with the PS3 and Wii. Something this small that goes well with a home theater would rock as a DVR as well so video in would have been a great touch.
The tiny remote is all cool looking and very Apple, but that thing won’t last a week in my house with kids before it is lost inside the couch or the toy box. Tiny dimensions aside, the remote works well and is simple. If you have seen or used a Mac Mini, you know the remote I mean.
Inside the Apple TV the brains of the system is an Intel based CPU and graphics are by NVIDIA. The system is also very hackable if you are into that sort of thing. Supported video formats include H.264 and protected H.264 up to 5Mbps, Progressive main profile CAVLC with AAC-LC audio up to 160kbps, MPEG-4 at up to 3MBPS and Simple profile with AAC-LC up to 160 Kbps. The 40GB HDD is good for up to 50 hours of video, up to 9000 songs and up to 25,000 pictures.
When all is said and done the Apple TV is pretty cool, but I still found myself wanting more. If you are the hardcore iPod type that has hours of video, music and photos on your iPod this may be your dream product. If you are a casual iPod user, I think you may find the Apple TV to be very meh.
As I said before, if you are a hardcore iPod fiend who spends lots of time shopping iTunes and downloading content to watch wherever your day takes you, the Apple TV may be your dream product. Normal folks that aren’t into watching video and movie son their iPod’s will find the Apple TV to by limited in what it can do. This is a love it or leave it type of product.
Leading our review center, Shane McGlaun (Google) knows technology inside out. His extensive experience in testing computer hardware and consumer electronics enable him to effectively qualify new products and trends. If you want us review your product, please contact Shane.
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