Apple’s cell phones and iPods have been so successful that many people missed the release a couple years ago of one of their most interesting products, the Apple TV. I bought one of the first versions, and since then the storage capacity and features have of the device have increased while the price has decreased.
Apple TV easily connects into your television and stereo system, delivering all the capabilities of the most current iPod into your home entertainement system, but with a few additional features. The Apple TV connects to the iTunes on your home computer, so your music and video lists are updated everytime you use your computer. Since you don’t have a screen on the small device, your television becomes the screen, and this is one of the great things about Apple TV. As you play music, it scrolls through the album covers of the music on your list. The album covers are one of the things I miss about albums, and while this is not a replacement, it adds another dimension to listening to the music when you can see the album covers, especially on a big plasma television. You set up play lists, and can listen to podcasts (both video and audio) just like on your latest generation iPod. You can also download video, rent or buy movies from Apple, and use the device to access YouTube videos. Download photos to Apple TV, and instead of album covers you can rotate photos while listening to music. The “Genius” feature now available on iTunes and on Apple TV is really fun. Based on a song you pick it programs an entire playlist of music, and there are generally some great suprises. I downloaded all my CDs to the device and eliminated my huge multi-disc CD player, and with capacities up to 160g you can load hundreds of albums. The unit is suprisingly small and sleek-looking, and the menu functions are easy to use and intuitive.
The Verdict on Apple TV: A great digital storage device for music and video, and a reasonably good method of accessing some web functions on your television. Fun to use and reasonably priced, it is a great addition to any home entertainment system.