Ryan Michael Downey
This review is going to offer a profile of Apple TV. When I refer to Apple TV I’m talking about the product that exist today the small streaming box or DMR that utilizes multiple apps as well as it’s iTunes Store to provide streaming entertainment to 13 million customers, not the constantly rumored yet still unseen Apple television set.
What is Apple TV
Apple TV is a $99 DMR that connects to high-definition televisions via an HDMI hookup. Once connected the Apple TV delivers HD content from the web to your TV including many of the leading content apps available. The product’s GUI is sharp, attractive and stable. It loads video and music content quickly and smoothly as long as the operator has a strong Internet connection. The device can be connected to the Internet via a wireless connection or as we always recommend via a wired Ethernet connection.
What TV and Movie apps are available?
The television and movie streaming services offered include Netflix and Hulu Plus as well as HBO Go which is available to customers who have HBO as a paid cable service. Apple TV also offers apps for multiple Disney networks as well as niche programming like Crunchy Roll which offers Japanese animation movies and TV shows as well as full access to the iTunes store where customers can purchase music, movies and television shows.
Can I watch sports with Apple TV?
Yes its sports apps allow those with paid subscriptions to MLB TV, NBA Game Time and NHL Center Ice and Major League Soccer to watch action streamed online on their TV in full HD. Apple TV also boasts a full Watch ESPN app, which like HBO Go requires cable authentication. Authentication is the act of providing a current cable log in name and password in order to access programming from providers otherwise only available via cable networks. The authentication does not require the user to have a cable box in the home in order to access the services. So this means that you can access ESPN’s full slate of programming on any TV where you have an internet connection as long as you can access the current cable log in password. Authentication is also required in order to access the new Disney apps as well.
The Ultimate Accessory
Apple TV is a tremendous value as an addition to a household that has already invested in Apple technology. This is because Apple TV utilizes a feature called AirPlay which allows compatible Apple products to beam content directly to the Apple TV including web based videos, pictures and movies saved on their devices as well as their iTunes videos and music. Compatible products include the iPad 2 and all models afterwards, iPhone 4 and above, iPod touch 4 and above along with any Apple laptop with the Mountain Lion OS or later installed. This means for instance that a PowerBook owner or even an Apple desktop owner can send the free version of Hulu directly to their TV and therefor bypass the Hulu Plus pay service. This can greatly expand the offerings included with the product. Apple has also released games that employ AirPlay and make use of IOS handheld devices as interactive controllers. For content that cannot utilize AirPlay, the Apple TV can also mirror the content on Apple devices. This means that users will see the same content on their hand held screen or computer screen as they see on the TV screen. This includes both audio and video apps.
Social Video Services
Besides the robust sports and movie and TV options Apple TV also offers video sites such as Vimeo, an HD video upload service full of wonderfully produced content, Vevo, a music video service reminiscent of MTV when MTV stood for music television and the granddaddy of all internet video services a full YouTube app complete with user profiles so that you can access all of your subscriptions, favorites, playlists and saved later content. Apple also recently added an app that allows users to view video produced through Apple iMovie app.
An often overlooked feature of Apple TV is its library of podcasts. There are video and audio podcasts broken up in to categories for topical searching. Many are podcasts of informational TV programing from the previous day. There are podcasts from any number of sources from cooking to comedy, National and world news to sports and tech reviews. Overall a great entertainment option.
Apple TV owners have three main music listening options natively on the Apple TV itself. The choices include the Apples iTunes music store which can be linked to an existing iTunes account giving users access to any previously purchased music as well as the chance to download anything else for .99 per song or purchase entire albums digitally. Music fans also have the option of using the original radio app. Not to be confused with iTunes radio. This is the program that has been available for years through iTunes. It offers live streaming of radio stations from all over the country much the same way a satellite radio station works. There are stations based on genre from across the spectrum from classical music to standup comedy. Apples recent entry iTunes Radio is also available on Apple TV. This is Apples new service entry meant to compete with Pandora. It works based on the choices listeners ask for to make custom streaming music stations based purely on the tastes and choices of the listener. For those with AirPlay enabled devices any other music app from a compatible device can be streamed to the Apple TV and listened to through their TV or home theater speakers.
Weather and News?
To stay current on News and weather conditions Apple TV has the Sky News App which can pull in live news feeds as well as the Washington Post app which has prerecorded news segments about the days latest headlines along with video segments from their expert staff. The Weather Channel app which provides current and upcoming weather conditions as well as a selection of specials and original shows.
As a standalone product Apple TV has a lot to offer a consumer whether they are currently subscribing to a pay TV service or if they are a cord cutter looking to expand their choices past what they can receive via an antenna. For instance no matter what sort of cable or satellite package one carries there is not a TV channel for ESPN 3, which is exclusive to the web. An avid sports fan can add an amazing amount of basketball, college football content to their TV viewing that would be otherwise unavailable without it unless viewed on a much smaller screen. The apps for Disney and HBO give customers on demand viewing options so that they can watch Game of Thrones on their own time without having to pay up for a DVR service. Along with current shows HBO Go provides access to huge libraries of HBO original content as well as a large selection of regularly rotating feature movies often mirroring what it is broadcasting month to month.Overall Apple has put together a strong product that is a great addition to any home with an HD TV and an open HDMI port.
- Samsung Trying To Take On Apple TV (thestreamingadvisor.com)
- iMovie Theater added to Apple TV (thestreamingadvisor.com)