I’ve had questions about AppleTV from three different people so let’s talk about it.
AppleTV is what is known as a media extender or media hub. It links directly to a group of audio and video services you already have and provides them in a single, easy to use little black box. Seriously, it’s little. At 4 inches square and just under an inch tall, you’ll barely even notice the thing.
We talked a couple days ago about Netflix being available to a large number of platforms such as web browsers and game boxes like Xbox and Wii. AppleTV will also stream Netflix. Additionally, you can tie directly to the iTunes library on your computers to play music and videos you already own.
You can also:
- Rent movies and TV shows
- Watch YouTube
- Look at family and friends photos posted on Flikr or MobileMe
- Play audio or video content from any iPod touch or iPhone directly to your TV
There are a few catches though. While most of you have an HDMI (which stands for high definition multimedia interface) on your TV, there may not be an open port. HDMI is the only audio/video out on the back of the box. There are two options. Buy an HDMI switch which allows you to plug multiple HDMI sources into one place, (kind of like your car radio where you can choose between FM, AM, Sirius, CD Player, etc.) The switch then allows you to choose which plugged in HDMI source you want to feed your TV. These are available on eBay for between $25 and $50. The second option is a little more bold, but in the long run simpler: dump the DVD player taking up the HDMI port!
You thought I was going to say buy a new TV with more than one HDMI port, didn’t you! I’m trying to save you money, not have you go into debt. 🙂
What do I mean by dump the DVD player? Before I bought the AppleTV I had about 100 DVDs that I rarely re-watched. Most of the time, I rented from the likes of Blockbuster or Hollywood video. That meant membership fees, gas spent and the occasional late fee. Even when considering the $1 rentals from Redbox it still costs $2 in gas there and back. Now I can rent from the comfort of my home, from either iTunes or Netflix. I don’t buy DVDs so that saves me even more.
What’s the second catch? Internet service speed. When we first moved to King George the only service available was Satellite and it was S L O W. Since then cable was installed down our street so we are enjoying the benefits. The point is if you don’t have cable internet, you’ll simply get frustrated by the slow download speeds and waiting 2 hours for the movie to download to the AppleTV. I would NOT suggest getting one. Yes, there are some pretty neat tricks you can do with it, but at $99, it would not be a wise investment.
If you’d like to know more check out Apple’s information on their website.
And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to post a comment or submit a question.