THEApple TV, which in Spain costs € 109, is a product stubbornly wanted by Steve Jobs; easy to configure, it is capable of becoming remarkable if combined with a iOS device.
This little black box can be connected to a TV via a single cable HDMI, to an amplifier audio via optical drive and to the network with the Wi-Fi or the cable Ethernet.
To get started, the Apple TV immediately presents, on the start screen, the sections: Movie, Music, computer, Settings.
The section Movie is a rental and purchase service. The prices are not bad, ranging from € 3,99 to € 4,99 per film for rental, depending on whether the film is in HD or not, while for the purchase they range from € 13,99 to € 16,99 . There are also lower prices for the rental (99 cents) and the purchase (4 €) of old films. Once the rental is confirmed, the streaming starts immediately. In case it is not possible to see a film we can postpone the vision up to 30 days, but if we have pressed the playback we have 48 hours before it disappears.
The Apple TV is a limited storage device, it has one 8GB Flash memory which does not allow us to create our own personalized archive we are thus forced to place our purchases in the service iCloud Apple to stream them when needed. In this case it is necessary to have a very fast internet connection.
The next section is that of Music allows you to access the Apple music store and also the songs of iTunes Match, for an annual subscription of € 24,99. This section works well if we are using iTune Match and takes care of storing and synchronizing our music collection on our Mac and playing it on other Apple devices as well.
There is, however, another way to access our music on Apple TV is from the section computer, in the start screen. This allows us to connect the Apple TV to the iTunes library of any PC or Mac on our network, but only after setting it to allow Home Sharing, Advanced> Turn on Home Sharing in iTunes.
Once connected to the Mac we will have a menu on the Apple TV that will allow us to access all the contents of iTunes: music, movies, shows, iTunes U, photos, etc. with obvious benefits due to the fact that we are no longer tied to the iTunes Store.
If we used a program to convert the videos to an iOS compatible format, such as Handbrake, the Computer section will allow us to access these videos. If we don't use iTunes Match we will have free access to our music collection.
The other elements of the Apple TV home screen refer to Services Online. Options like Youtube e Vimeo are free, while some services like Netflix unfortunately they are not available in Spain.
Il remote control, which Apple TV includes, is simplified and effective for playing or pausing and for browsing through movies to rent or buy. However, it becomes impractical when we have to scroll through long lists of albums or artists or enter a password letter by letter. In this regard, Apple offers theApp Remote available for free on the App Store with two primary functions:
- the first is to transform any device iOS in a multitouch control system. You navigate the menus with the iOS keyboard of an iPod touch, iPhone or iPad and enter the texts. Through theApp Remote we can also slide left and right to go back and forth or drag and hold to switch between frames while playing a video. If we scroll down it is possible to access the chapter markers and by scrolling it will also be possible to skip them.
- The other function that the App Remote is useful for is the ability to browse files that we have filed in iTunes. We can scroll with the finger down next to the screen of the iOs device and press the music cover to choose the track that interests us.
Remote is not the only application that allows you to browse Apple TV, the App Store in combination with AirPlay offers distribution of video and audio from devices allowing us to view them elsewhere. In these situations our device becomes an enhanced remote control, while the Apple TV becomes a receiver and tuner that sends the audio and video signal to the TV.
Apps help solve the limitations of Apple TV, as in the case of using the Radio on the home screen. Finding a station with the Radio option is very tiring, the app TuneInRadio helps to overcome this limitation. By playing and transmitting the audio streaming to the TV and pressing the AirPlay button and selecting the Apple TV as the destination, it will be possible to listen to good music on air.
The use of AirPlay has so far involved sending audio and video to iOS devices, but with the introduction of the latest generation Macs it has been possible to introduce the mirroring di AirPlay da un Mac a un’Apple TV, allowing you to stream content wirelessly from your Mac to a TV. In this way, those who want to be able to wirelessly transmit the content from their Mac to any other TV screen, always using the Apple TV.
To install AirPlay you need to download and install the client Air Video from the following address: http://inmethod.com or from the App Store. Click the icon in the menu bar and select Preferences to open the App preferences. Then in the Air Video Preferences section, select the tab shared Folders, click on Add Folder, select a folder where you have some videos and click Open. This will add your folders to the list. When the server is started (activate it in the preferences), you can access the shared folders and stream the videos that you will then send to the Apple TV via AirPlay.
In addition to entertainment with video apps such as Ted, Streamtome, the TV App allows us to manage, as we have seen, not only online video collections or accesses to our personal collection on Mac, but also our work. For example, we can send presentations of Keynote and show data and graphs in meeting rooms.
In short, this black box is a reliable and comfortable addition to support the 1080p HD content, to a possible future Apple TV that will surely revolutionize the technology industry, as happened with the iPhone.