Ok, ok … so I promised unboxing photos, and I didn’t deliver. I’m very sorry for upsetting the internet (aka. Phil). So, here we are:
How beautiful is that? I’ve not really had much time to play with it (more on the reasons in my next post), but what I have seen has impressed me. There’s been a lot of talk since the Apple TV started shipping of it’s lack of features, but its clear to me (if Apple follow their usual model) that this is only the beginning. The Apple TV is basically a small Apple computer running a streamlined version of OSX. A simple software update can easily add new functionality … and I hope it does.
Out of the box, it does exactly what it said it would do. You can connect to as many iTunes libraries over the network as you’d like, and stream the content directly to your TV. Alternatively you can select one of those libraries, and set it up as a ‘sync to’ library. Once setup the Apple TV appears in the iTunes device list as if it were an iPod, and you manage it in much the same way. Cool! The benefit being that you can access whatever content you copy across to it without the need for your PC or Mac to be on.
Music play back is just as good as Frontrow, if not better. It’s very slick, and quick to access anything. The way in which podcasts are presented is slightly different, and makes it easy to navigate through any subscriptions.
For movies, I can’t really comment. I have some H.264 movie trailers that I downloaded a while ago from the Quicktime Trailers website. They’re all 720p HD, and they playback quite happily over my 802.11G WiFi network. The quality is pretty impressive, and in fact it’s the first decent HD content I’ve seen on my TV. I mention that to point out I have nothing to compare it to :o)
It’s a shame that it doesn’t (yet?) support the playback of MPEG-2 content. I was rather hoping to create an archive of films on my server so that I could recall them on demand, but maybe that feature will have to wait. I’ve been reading that several people have already hacked the Apple TV to playback XVid/DivX material. Hopefully MPEG-2 playback is not to far away. (Not that there’s anything wrong with H.264 … but transcoding all my MPEG-2 content would be a real pain, and loose some of the quality!)
Hmm … what else? It’s very pretty – did I mention that?
All in all, I have to say that for £199 it’s a bargain. Not just for me, but NMeM would benefit from a modded version of this beast for HD video playback. The next cheapest alternative is about £300, so it’s worth playing with. Just think … all gallery-based AV playback at NMeM could be soon powered by Apple TVs … that’s would have to get Apple’s attention, surely?!