|Apple TV Review (2010)|
|Home Theater Media Servers Home Theater/Media Center PCs|
|Written by Mike Flacy|
|Thursday, 07 October 2010|
Page 1 of 2
While Apple dominated in the mobile market and is thriving with their line of laptops, they have never been able to grasp the home theater crowd with their video solutions, namely the first two revisions of the Apple TV (reviews here and here). Over three years from the release of the original Apple TV, Apple announced a new version of the Apple TV in combination with revisions of the iPod Touch and iPod Nano lines. This smaller, sleeker version of the Apple TV was priced considerably less than the MSRP of the original unit and the technology has changed dramatically. Along with the announcement of the Apple TV, Steve Jobs and company are taking a hard stance on standard pricing for content, very similar to their pricing decisions with music over iTunes. Television HD content is priced at 99 cents for a rental and new HD movies (available the same time DVD / Blu-ray hits stores) are priced at $4.99 for each rental. It’s an interesting move that some television / movie studios are resisting, mostly because they believe it devalues their shows / theatrical releases and will cannibalize sales on DVD and other mediums.
There’s very little in the box beyond the player, the aluminum remote and the power cord. The remote is a vast improvement from the original white plastic remote and feels more solid on your hand due to the increased length. It’s just as thin though; be careful losing it in the couch cushions. The remote has the familiar iPod dial design for navigation as well as a play / pause button and the menu button. On the back of the player, you will find the power jack, a mini-USB port, a Cat 5 network port for wired connections, a HDMI 1.4 port and an optical audio out for separate audio connections into your surround sound system. There’s no HDMI cable or optical cables included with the player, so those will need to be purchased separately (if you don’t already have them). The internal hardware uses the A4 1Ghz processor found in the speedy iPad, built-in 802.11N Wi-Fi , 8GB of internal flash memory for buffering / storing purchased content and 256MB of memory to handle menu operation / multitasking like playing audio in the background while navigating the menu. I’m guessing it also handles the nifty photo slide shows that pops up as a screen saver while it’s idle.
The menu has headings for Movies, Television, Internet (which includes services like Netlfix / YouTube), Computers and Settings. The Movie and Television categories highlight the most popular content, but you do have the ability to search. One nice inclusion from the last Apple TV is the ability to view new movie trailers for upcoming theatrical releases. You can also see previews of many movies / television episodes to get an idea if you would enjoy watching it. In the Computers setting, you can connect to your home network and stream content to the Apple TV (assuming it meets the limited format types) from both Macs and PCs. It’s unlikely that you will venture into the setting menu unless you are trouble shooting network problems, but there are plenty of audio / video tweaking options for those seeking a bit more control over quality.