I like to be opinionated sometimes & express my views and can be highly judgemental when I want to be..
Published July 13th 2013
Good things come in small packages
The Apple TV may only appear as a hobby product to Apple compared to their flagship iPhone, but it's still a great device that offers great value, with all the polish and sleek that Apple is well known for.
For sometime now, smart TVs have been emerging that claim to have very similar functionality built-in, with some even having more advanced methods of interaction via motion controls. But what they fail to deliver is an experience that's user friendly and a library of content that's as vast as iTunes.
Since the launch of the device it has greatly evolved from simply being a streaming device for getting content from a Macintosh to the TV to becoming a handy set top box that offers many great services like YouTube, podcasts, Vimeo, flickr and more. For anyone who already has an iPhone or iPad or iPod Touch, they'll instantly be greeted with a slightly familiar interface. Upon boot up there's large customisable icons that clearly indicate what they'll lead the user to and can be arranged to the hearts desire.
Unlike the first generation Apple TV, models that followed haven't included a hard drive for media storage. Instead they rely on streaming from either a user's computer or from iTunes directly, offering Foxtel-like ability for movies/TV shows/music which, in my experience, has worked really well as it's able to temporally download purchased content to it's 8GB flash storage. The only downside to this is the need of a decent internet connection, although there is the ability to turn off high definition playback and connecting via Ethernet instead of wireless can help to compensate.
When you have photos that you want to show and tell, the Apple TV's slideshow function is the ultimate way to show off with high quality transitions that can also play your own music or even digital radio in the background to help set the mood. The kind of transitions that they include are just astounding and simply can't be compared to the mediocre equivalent on other set top boxes.
Using the included remote control isn't always that great, especially for typing into a search field or entering a long painful WiFi security code due to it's basic up, down,left, right nature. To help remedy this issue, there's an App available from the AppStore which can act as a touch screen control that works very well, especially for the iPad due to it's large scale. Anyone who's a die-hard keyboard user can be pleased to know that there's bluetooth keyboard support also.
Probably the most awesome feature that the Apple TV has to offer is it's airplay abilities. Anyone with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch with iOS 4.2 or later can beam any media content straight to the set top box to be viewed by all and iPad 2/iPad Mini/2011 Macs or later can also mirror the screen directly over if they wish and play in a whole new way with airplay optimised games that turn the device into dedicated controls with all the action happening on the big screen.