I love products that have the ability to change the way you live. Just as TiVo changed the way we watched television, the Apple TV has all but eliminated our DVD player. No more changing DVD’s or scratched discs, you just turn on the Apple TV, browse the menu for the movie you want to watch and press play. You and, most importantly, your kids will no longer have to wait for those annoying trailers that agonizingly prolong the start. Instant gratification.
The Apple TV is easy to set up. You connect it to your TV and/or AV Receiver and the Apple TV guides you through the rest of the setup. You manage the Apple TV through iTunes, much like you would an iPod. You also need to have some type of wireless or wired home network to sync and stream the content to your Apple TV.
The main obstacles that stand in the way of the Apple TV from gaining more than geek status is the availability of digital content (movies) and getting them on the Apple TV. The iTunes store contains a limited selection of movies and unlike importing a compact disc, there is no easy method to putting a DVD (one you own, of course) in your computer and converting it to a file that is playable on the Apple TV.
The lack of an easy conversion process is most likely due to the all mighty forces behind the major movie studios, but all is not lost. You can use software, like the brilliant HandBrake (available for Windows and Mac) to convert your movies into files that can be synched or streamed to the Apple TV. The process can be time consuming. On a fast computer it takes a little less than real time to convert a DVD, but the end result is worth the effort. Once your files are converted, the Apple TV grabs the movie and your set.
Besides movies, the Apple TV can sync or stream all your music and photos from your computer for display on your TV. You can watch the endless supply of YouTube videos and the screen saver alone can keep the kids entertained while you listen to music. Controlling it all with your TV remote makes it all even easier and more enjoyable. There are other products that do some of the same things – some better, some worse, but the Apple TV makes it very easy. Hopefully it is not too far ahead of its time. Buy today!