Introducing the Apple TV

Mac Tip #302/15-August-2007
Introducing the Apple TV.

Some time ago Apple introduced a tiny new product called the Apple TV. That’s a somewhat confusing name as it’s not a television tuner in the sense of a box that can handle cable, satellite or terrestrial TV signals.

My Apple TV and remote stacked in amongst my other TV-related gear.

My Apple TV and remote stacked in amongst my other TV-related gear.

In fact, it’s more like an iPod, which is why you’ll find it in the iPod + iTunes section of the Apple website.

It works like this: you connect the Apple TV to your television screen, and to the Internet. Load up iTunes on your computer with music, videos, podcasts, audio books and so on, then synchronise these with the Apple TV.

Synchronise the Apple TV with iTunes.

Synchronise the Apple TV with iTunes.

At some point you turn on your TV screen and the Apple TV and play the music, videos or other tracks. Use the included Apple Remote to control playback (but not volume).

You can also watch your iPhoto library and iPhoto albums on the TV screen.

Some content comes straight from the Internet: there are thousands of YouTube videos available, for example, as well as movie trailers.

Now I need to pause for a moment and explain to my International readers that here in New Zealand we don’t have access to movies or TV programmes via iTunes, so for the next part I’m not speaking from personal experience.

The Apple TV menu displayed on the TV screen.

The Apple TV menu displayed on the TV screen.

The Apple TV can play movies or TV programmes you’ve bought via the iTunes Store. Pay for and download the programme, synchronise it with the Apple TV and watch at your leisure.

I’ll write more about the Apple TV in future Tips, but for now I want to share the bad news: you need reasonably good equipment to use the Apple TV. Your 20, 10 or even 5 year old television set is unlikely to be up to the task.

What you need (according to the Apple website):

  • Widescreen TV
  • Mac or PC
  • iTunes 7.1
  • Wired or wireless network
  • HDMI cable or
  • Component video cables and analog audio cables or optical audio cable.

Apple TV works with widescreen, enhanced-definition or high-definition TVs capable of 1080i, 720p, 576p, or 480p resolutions.

I find I watch less broadcast television these days and more video podcasts. The Apple TV makes it easy to view these on the TV screen, and they look great! Here are a few I recommend. Search for them in the iTunes Store:

You don’t have to have an Apple TV: you can watch these video podcasts on your computer screen, but you will need a broadband connection.

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