A couple of my friends have AppleTV’s and love them which got me thinking, why? I’ve known about the AppleTV for some time however I never bothered to even try one out. I wasn’t impressed with the maximum resolution of 720p, no record feature (as in other hard drive PVRs), no analogue output, no dvd player, no keyboard/mouse, and generally couldn’t see the point, why not just plug your laptop/ipod in to your TV directly or even better; get an old computer thats not much good for anything else? However in the weekend I finally got one. The first two shops didn’t stock them and at the third place the salesman said they didn’t have them although 5 mins later I found one on a shelf with the iPods. The AppleTV is impossibly small and setup is a little painful as you have to put in iTunes and wifi details using a small [yet very sexy] remote rather than a keyboard. Okay so now that you’ve got the power, hdmi and the wi-fi setup what does it do?
On the unit itself you can browse trailers and rent movies, a little expensive ($5 – $8) for what they are; ie not as good as blu-ray quality and there doesn’t seem to be any bonus material but admittedly very convenient. The trailers alone are awesome, a massive and well ordered collection. Haven’t rented a movie yet, but I’m sure I will one day, at least to try it out. There’s free content from YouTube, iTunes (podcasts), flickr, internet radio stations, + more, and you can also browse content from computers attached to the network (via iTunes and iPhoto). All very cool. You can also send audio and video from your computer/iDevices, which is actually very impressive. At one stage I was playing music from my iPad and photos from my laptop at the same time, wirelessly, again very cool. I believe with the upcoming iOS5 things will be even easier to send to the AppleTV including the entire screen of your iDevice.
My wife and myself spent all last night watching TED podcasts (mixed up with the occasional wise words from Karl Pilkington), looked through the family photos, listened to BBC4, and played music all without a computer. The $170 (NZD) AppleTV really is the missing link in your digital lifestyle and is probably the most underrated device I’ve come across, I’d give it 8/10 if I was reviewer.