I had a chance to test drive a new Apple TV the other day. At only $99 dollars, this little unit is amazing. But the real question is… should you buy one? Here is what I found as I opened the box and plugged it in.
1. What you need to make it work.
- TV or Monitor with an HDMI connection
- Wireless broadband with a strong signal
- HDMI Cable
- Power outlet
2. Setting it up
It took less than five minutes to un-box the unit, plug it in and hook up the HDMI cable. Once you power it up you need to select the HDMI source on your TV. The main apple TV screen then comes up and asks you for your wireless password (if it is password protected). Once you have entered your password, the unit goes to the main screen and you are ready to go.
3. User Impression
If you already have an iTunes account, you just enter your name and password with the included remote and you are ready to download paid content. You can rent TV shows for 99 cents and movies from $2.99 to $4.99. While paid content is great, I found the included YouTube and Podcast interface to be the real draw of the unit.
I was instantly able to stream Hi-def YouTube content to my large screen TV. The quality and sound were great. The unit also was able to download Hi-def video podcasts from TED, TechCrunch, and AppleByte that offer news, entertainment and learning for free.
If you have a Netflix account, you can stream the latest movies and TV shows from just $9.95 a month. The stream quality is limited to 720p, but looked great on my TV and the play quality was relatively flicker free.
If you have pictures on Flickr, the included interface will let you display them in custom slide shows. With the computer sharing option you can also display photos and videos that you have on your PC or Mac computer.
If you have an iPad or iPod Touch you can download the free remote app and instantly have command of your iTunes collection on your computer, playing songs and videos through the Apple TV interface. Soon Apple will be releasing AirPlay which will allow you to play content from your iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch through the unit.
4. Overall Impression: I was impressed by the quick setup and cool interface. I was up and running in just three minutes. The quality of Hi def content on YouTube and Podcasts from iTunes was amazing. Once I hooked up the remote app on my iPod Touch, I was able to control the entire contents of my iTunes account in one simple remote app.
5. Who It’s For: If you are an Apple aficionado, you’ll really enjoy this unit. It simply just works out of the box, the price point is right, and it ties in with all things Apple. If you use iTunes for your music, you’ll love the ability to play your music, videos, and downloaded TV shows right on your big screen TV, especially if you have a surround sound system or home theatre installed. You’ll need a good broadband connection for best results and a speedy wireless modem. For most people, if your technology is relatively new you should get good results.
6. It’s Not For: If you have an older TV without HDMI, the unit will not work. If you have a slow DSL connection you will probably be disappointed. If you have all things PC and hate Apple, you’ll probably hate this unit too. If you have an X-box or other streaming video interface, you may not need this unit, but may find the price point compelling for a second TV.
7. Best Bet: Have someone at the Apple store demonstrate the unit for you and see if it will work with your home equipment.
Question: Have you tried the Apple TV? Impressions?