The Apple TV is awesome! I considered leaving this blog post as just that one short sentence but, alas, I’ll elaborate.
I was never excited about the previous version of the Apple TV. First, until recently, we only owned a very old (and pretty small) standard definition television for almost 18 years. Second, I was always turned off by the on-board storage. We have a couple of computers in the house, and plenty of external storage. I didn’t care to fuss with syncing yet another device. When I first heard that the new incarnation of Steve Job’s pet project would be streaming only, I had to have one.
We picked one up from the Apple Store in Modesto a couple days after they hit store shelves and after a little help from my friend Manny, we were good to go. For the record, it couldn’t be more simple to connect. Just takes an HDMI cable between the device and the TV. My audio setup was a little wonky between the cable box, TV and surround sound receiver.
Ok, that’s enough back story.
Music - this was the primary reason I wanted an Apple TV. We’ve had the iTunes Express for years but lack of TV interface meant we hardly ever used it. On Apple TV, there’s an awesome interface to browse and listen to music from our primary computer in the house.
Podcasts - I listen to a lot of podcasts. The Apple TV allows browsing to the iTunes podcast directory. And what’s even better, I can mark one as favorite and listen just as soon as a new show is released. Having podcasts play on the TV make me wish Stump the Chef would come back; that video podcast is perfectly suited for this device!
iTunes Store content - In addition to streaming all of the content in my iTunes, I can also rent movies and TV shows directly from the Apple TV. I probably won’t be doing that at all, more on that later.
YouTube - Videos, especially those available in HD, look amazing from the Apple TV. Being able to login to my YouTube account is great for keeping up with my subscriptions.
Flickr - Photo slide shows look great using the Apple TV. The only downside is that I cannot sign-in to Flickr from the Apple TV like I can with YouTube. Still great for catching up on my Flickr friends.
Netflix - Lastly, the hidden gem inside the Apple TV! We waited years before getting cable (2005) and we might be the last family in America to get a flat screen television (2010). We don’t watch a lot of television and never saw the appeal of Netflix. Well, not until now. The same day we brought home the Apple TV we signed up for the free 30-day trial of Netflix. I don’t care much about getting a disc mailed to us but for 9 dollars per month, we can stream as much of their content as we want. I know this technology is not new but I am still amazed that we can stream TV shows and movies, in amazing quality, to our TV. Since we usually rent a few movies from On Demand each month, the Netflix option will save us some money.
For all the Apple critics that complain because Apple “forces” consumers to buy content through iTunes, strange how the Apple TV comes Netflix ready. And Netflix is far more valuable than any iTunes offering. Doesn’t seem to bother the Cupertino crew.
As an added bonus, to watch Netflix content from any computer, iPad or iPhone.
The Apple TV comes with a power cable and a very thin remote. Besides turning on the Apple TV, we typically use our iPhones as remotes, using the Remote app. This comes in handy when searching since you can use a real keyboard rather than hunting for each individual letter on screen.
The Apple TV is one of the coolest tech toys we own. If you rent 2 movies (or more) a month, adding an unlimited streaming Netflix account makes it even better! It has worked better than expected and we are getting a lot of use out of it.
I am still in awe that the Apple TV sells for only $99. For that price, I would have bought it just for music and podcast listening. The rest is gravy, and there is A LOT of gravy!
Manuel Montes blog
Apple Airport Express
Freakonomics Radio Podcast
Stump the Chef