Apple TV

I got my Apple TV this morning, a day ahead of the delivery schedule listed on the Fedex web site.

First off the packaging is really nice, as always.

Setting up the unit was pretty simple, available wireless networks are listed for selection, and you can enter the network name and password if need me, which I needed to since my network is hidden and password protected. This part is a little fliddly as you need to use the remote to select letters one after the other until you have the name and password specified. I still had a little trouble because my Airport base station decided to go off the air for some reason, but a quick reset took care of that.

Once that was done, I needed to pair the Apple TV to iTunes on my computer, select what content I wanted to sync up and apply. This is just like syncing with an iPod, no difference there. It will automatically start the sync, so you will need to stop it if you want to change the default settings. I had to because I have a lot of music on my computer, more than would fit on the 40GB drive in the Apple TV unit, and I did not want my music there anyway.

Syncing provides the benefit of faster startup when you start a movie or a video podcast. In practice I did not find that to be that great a benefit since there was very little lag when I started streaming a video from my computer.

You can stream media from up to 5 macs, and as mentioned above, it behaved just fine. If you have a fast network (wired or wireless), you would not gain too much from syncing, unless the file of the movie you want is very large.

The unit allows you to select the video format, the list is pretty extensive and only served to remind me that I need to update my TV to something a little more modern, which is next on the list.

The UI itself is pretty simple to use and fairly intuitive. The one thing that got me was the concept of a source. You select a source for the content you want to access, be it the content on the Apple TV unit itself, or a Mac which is set up to share it iTunes library. Once you get that, everything falls into place.

There is some amount of integration with the iTunes music store, and you can download trailers for various movies which are currently showing in theaters, or trailers for movies and TV shows which are from sale on the iTunes music store. You can’t buy them from Apple TV, yet, you still need to do that from iTunes, but being able to do that would make the experience of selecting and buying content a seamless one.

40GB is not a whole lot of space when you start to consider HD content and I expect that some people will open up their unit to see if they can replace the disc drive with something a little bigger, or see if the USB port can be used to attach an external drive. My undertanding is that Apple TV runs Mac OS X, so it remains to be seen if it resides in firmware, or on the drive itself.

The one thing I do miss on the unit is a DVD drive, I would have loved to be able to toss out my old DVD player, I don’t particularly like it and getting rid of it would have allowed me to get rid of one more remote control. If the unit does run Mac OS X, I don’t think it would have cost a whole lot more to add a DVD drive, though it would have increased the height of the unit. That being said, if the goal is to have everything online, then not having the DVD player may well make sense. This is reminiscent of the first iMac dropping the floppy drive.

I can see some obvious things which could be added to this product in the future, one is a larger hard drive, another is a DVD player (which in my mind should have been in this release, perhaps Apple did not want to have to select HD-DVD or BlueRay but I think a regular DVD player would have been fine for now,) and another would be DVR capabilities (not so important for me since I don’t watch TV).

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One Response to Apple TV

  1. Pingback: More Apple TV Thoughts « François Schiettecatte’s Blog

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