Sunday, January 2, 2011

Apple TV

I think Santa reads my blog. Last week I mentioned that both the Roku and Apple TV boxes were great tech gifts for under $100, and sure enough, there was an Apple TV under the tree on Christmas morning. Thanks Santa!

I’ve had a week to play with it now, and it’s a great little device. It’s small and sleek, not much bigger than an iPod dock, and it has both Wi-Fi and a wired Ethernet port for network connectivity. For outputs, it has an HDMI and an Optical Audio port, which is key if you plan on sending the audio signal to a separate sound system.

Apple TV delivers up to a 720p video signal and Dolby 7.1 surround to your devices, and it automatically seeks out any iTunes libraries on your network that have home sharing enabled. This allows you to use iTunes through your TV and home theater audio system, as well as to see the contents of your My Pictures folder (note; you need to be running iTunes 10 and have configured the picture sharing tab to use this feature). I’ve set my pictures to be the Apple TV default screen saver, so while I’m listening to music they appear as a slide show on the TV screen.

Performance is great. I have full functionality in iTunes; playlists, shuffle, cover flow, and the quality of both my pictures and the video is stunning, even running wirelessly. No hesitation or jerkiness, just smooth high quality video, and as well as having access to all your own media, and everything the iTunes store offers, you can also connect to Netflix or YouTube. An added bonus is using the iTunes internet radio feature through the stereo. Crystal clear reception from any station in the world! And if that's not enough to sell you, there's also an app available for your touch, iPhone or iPad that turns it into a remote!

Looks like old Santa knew what (s)he was doing. Although the Roku can deliver a 1080p video signal and 7.1 surround, the ability to integrate your iTunes libraries with Apple TV makes it hard to beat, especially if you’re already firmly entrenched in the iTunes camp.

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