01.Third generation Apple TVPrice:
The flurry of excitement over Apple’s new super high-resolution iPad overshadowed another significant same-day announcement, the new Apple TV.
It’s not an actual big-screen TV with Apple technology built in, as some pundits had predicted. Instead it’s a long-awaited update to the palm-sized Apple TV set-top box that brings Apple’s content ecosystem to your lounge room.
In outward appearance the Apple TV box hasn’t changed at all, but it brings with it a faster processor and the ability to output 1080p video – up from 720p on the previous model. Users can now download movies and TV shows from the iTunes store in either 720p or 1080p format.
This is the third-generation of what Apple still calls “its hobby” but despite the official downplaying of its importance, it’s a hobby that is starting to look a lot more a serious competitor in the media hub market.
It still lacks a hard drive, relying instead on streaming content either directly from the internet – including YouTube (pictured right), Vimeo and Flickr services - or from a network-connected computer running iTunes. This can include movies, TV shows, music and pictures.
The new system software also adds support for Apple’s internet-based iCloud storage and synchronisation service, to stream pictures, music and video directly from a user’s iCloud account. This includes the re-download of any previously purchased movies and TV shows directly from iCloud.
As with the previous generation Apple TV it lets users of iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) stream photos, music and videos to a big-screen TV via the Apple TV using the AirPlay feature. It also supports AirPlay Mirroring to show the screen of the device itself on the TV, though this is not supported on the original iPad.
Owners of the second-generation Apple TV can download a software update that will provide the new navigation system and features of the new version, but without the 1080p capability. Apple has abandoned the old computer-like drop-down menu system for a look that brings it more into line with iOS, with a screen full of clickable icons just like the apps on an iPad. This new interface is uncluttered and easier to find your way around.
It also incorporates Apple’s Genius feature which helps you find new, similar content based on content you’ve watched in the past. If you’re do most of your entertainment purchases via iTunes you’ll be well catered for.
The Apple TV is small, cheap, versatile and easy to use. The addition of 1080p support is long overdue and welcome.
It’s only designed to work with Apple’s content and doesn’t support purchases from other services, but if you use iTunes and have other Apple iOS devices, it’s pretty much a no-brainer.