The Apple TV is a great little device. It has a number of features I use weekly and has definitely changed the way I consume media in my house. No longer do I have to watch movies or series on my Macbook’s small screen or use messy cables to get my Macbook hooked up to my 42″ LCD TV to get the full experience.
*Update!* You can now purchase an Apple TV from Wildtwig in South Africa!
The Apple TV connects wirelessly to my home network and hooks up to my TV using a single HDMi cable. Once it’s hooked up to my home network this is where I get the most benefit from it. Using Airplay, whatever photos, movies, Youtube videos or music I would usually consume on my iPhone, iPad or on my Mac, I now tap the Airplay icon and it automatically shows up on my TV! I then use my iPhone or iPad as the remote to browse through the images, stop, start the video or select another song to play.
All your content has to be kept within iTunes in order to stream it to your Apple TV. Check out HandBrake for converting movies and series to MP4 which you can then easily import into iTunes.
Another killer feature is the ability to rent movies and series from the iTunes stores. You will need an US iTunes account to be able to rent movies and series. Movies cost $3.99 to rent (series episodes are $0.99) and you can keep a movie for 30 days. Once you click play though, you have 24 hours to complete watching it. In terms of speed, I have a 4MB ADSL line at home and most of the time I click download and can start watching a movie literally within a minute. Apple TV does check your line speed and only allows you to start watching when it knows you’ll be able to finish watching the movie without any buffering.
iTunes also has a massive amount of online radio stations which you can listen to via your Apple TV. Much better than DStv’s audio bouquet.
The biggest problem though is purchasing an Apple TV in South Africa. They are not officially available here and I highly doubt they ever will be. There are a few online stores that do import them. Check stock availability with the online shop before purchasing though.
Other than these stores, hopefully you have a friend in the UK or US that can purchase an Apple TV and send it to you as a gift. They retail for $99 in the US or Â£101 in the UK.
Apple TV hacks
I haven’t tried or see the need to jailbreak my Apple TV, but here is a simple guide to jailbreaking your Apple TV. Once jailbroken, you will be able to install XMBC which then turns your Apple TV into a media player without the need to be chained to iTunes.
Everyone consumes media differently in their house and the Apple TV isn’t for everyone. I however love the fact I can easily rent movies from my couch, download pictures from my camera to my iPad and with one tap can share the photos on my TV for everyone to see and when people are talking about those funny Youtube videos they saw at work, I quickly find them on my iPhone and use Airplay to stream the videos to my TV for everyone to laugh at.
Lastly, one of my most favourite past times is watching movie trailers on the Apple TV. iTunes has a lists most of the movies that are currently in cinemas and although you can’t rent them just yet, you can watch the trailers!