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29th March by Josh Janssen
For only $30 more than the cost of an Apple Magic Mouse, I was sceptical of the Apple TV 2 and its relevance in my television setup. Normally, when you spend just over $100 to Apple, you can only expect a peripheral for your mac and considering Apple TV’s previous price was around $400, I was definitely intrigued.
In Apple’s Announcement of the Apple TV 2 in September 2010, they focussed a lot on their rental service and Netflix streaming.
It was very underwhelming. The focus on Apple Rentals felt like a better model for Apple than their customers. Another reason to charge your credit card. The fact that Netflix does not provide streaming in Australia made the Apple TV sound like a pretty black paper weight in Australia.
What I wanted to hear about was the ability to view Podcasts, YouTube and Flickr.
It wasn’t until I bought the Apple TV that I could really appreciate the simplicity of the device. It’s sleek, black form, about the size of my palm, looked like a completely different gadget to the previous Apple TV. The form factor was nice. It came with the small metallic Apple remote. The Apple Tv didn’t come with a HDMI cable; but what can you expect for just over $100!
I plugged the Apple TV into my television with a HDMI cable, plugged it into power and I was set. My first impression. It looked great on my plasma TV. The black user interface looked really nice. Setting it up the Apple TV with the network was a little nerve racking. I mean, without a network, the Apple TV is useless. After a couple of failed attempted at connecting to the network. I turned my router off and on, which seemed to help. It connected to my Apple TV.
Movie posters starting loading on the home page of the rental section. It made me want to rent movies. The layout was great, giving you the option to search by genre.
Now the more important services. Podcasts, Youtube and Flickr worked great! I went to the stylish ‘Top Podcast’ directory, where i clicked on one of my favourite podcast. Within 5 seconds the podcast started playing! I then tried a youtube video. The quality was amazing. Flickr was just as good. I put in my username, 500 of my most recent photos appeared, as well as all my sets. Apple also used my Flickr photos as a screensaver. Animating each photo and creating collages.
Wow, Apple. For once you have undersold a device!
I wanted to also view video that I download through torrents. Thats where the free software Vuze comes in. A great piece of software, turning my videos into Apple compatible videos that automatically appear in my computer’s iTunes. I turned on sharing on my computer and I was able to see all the videos on the Apple TV.
The only problem with the Apple TV, was the remote. Although great for navigation, it took a long time to type (selecting text on the screen). The other problem being that our Mac Book Pro’s were seeing the remote too. Every time I clicked menu, my laptop would wake up. No worries. I turned on the remote function in my laptop’s security setting. Being frustrated with the typing capabilities, I downloaded the Remote app for the iPhone. Perfect! I type on my iPhone and it appears on my TV. I found it handy when searching for YouTube videos, otherwise, I didn’t need to type much.
For the price, the Apple TV 2 is fantastic. Use it to watch TED talks, your favourite YouTuber, or have a slideshow of your photos on Flickr. Now I just want one for every TV of the house! Just keep in mind that the Apple TV 2 relies purely on your network! Streaming and Internet TV is going to be massive in 2011.
UPDATE: Melbourne Geek have found an easy way to stream NetFlix in Australia. Check out episode 1 for all the details.