WHAT IS AN APPLE TV?
There have been many rumours about Apple launching a TV this year. Steve Jobs' biography mentioned that figuring out how to make the tv simple was one of Jobs' goals, and he had just figured it out before his death. Many are suggesting an Apple TV panel will be simple to use, have an app interface, and include a version of Siri for voice control. To keep the rumours about an Apple TV panel apart from the existing Apple TV, many have turned to calling the panel an iTV.
So the Apple TV that was released alongside the new iPad 3 weeks ago is not the same as the rumoured device, although some call it just as magical.
The Apple TV is simply an iTunes box. It takes the content in your iTunes folder and makes it watchable on your big tv. You can access YouTube, subscribe to podcasts, rent videos, hit Netflix, and access branded content from sources like the Wall St Journal and the NHL.
The Apple TV also lets you mirror the screen of your iOS device (iPhone 4S, iPad 2 or higher) by playing exactly what you see on your screen project on the television. This is great for gaming, lecturing, working, and more.
As long as an Apple device is on the same wireless network as the Apple TV, AirPlay is a simple as selecting the output of your device to be the big tv you want to consume the content on. You can use it for photo slideshows, or to play iTunes content (ripped DVDs, rented movies, music etc).
All of that magic has been available since the previous version of the Apple TV, the new version just made it better.
NEW APPLE TV
The new Apple TV has had a UI change. Some say the new graphics are clunky, and ugly. Steve Jobs is agreeing from beyond the grave. There are reports this is the interface that Jobs rejected at the last redesign. It's here, and it feels like a step backwards. The icons are big and ugly, and you have to scroll the screen to access everything. It's not a big deal, but it is a negative experience change.
The biggest positive with the new Apple TV is the addition of HD support. As long as you have full HD content, you can get full HD output. If you get movies from the iTunes store, or Netflix, this will be an upgrade.
SHOULD YOU GET AN APPLE TV?
I love my Apple TV.
We have had one in our living room for a while, and I had been wanting a second for our home theatre, so I grabbed this little box on opening day. We have kids and have an iPad loaded with videos for them. The iPad is now a VCR-like device for us where we can play dozens of movies at a touch. The kids also love watching YouTube videos of animals and trucks. Now instead of gathering around a laptop screen, they can sit on the couch and we can surf videos together.
The Apple TV is $109 and an easy device to get if you like consuming online video content. Since you can mirror your iPad screen, and many tv stations have apps with their first run shows, it just might be the device that gets you to cut the cable cord.
From movies to music to the web and beyond, Apple TV wirelessly streams your content from the web and iTunes on your computer directly to your big screen HDTV in Full HD 1080p. And, now it's equipped with the A5 chip, so streaming is effortlessly smooth. It's small, silent, uses little power, and puts all your best stuff in the best place - your TV.
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