Before the Internet, there was cable television – or satellite if you were one of the lucky ones. After years of having the choice of a handful of channels, consumers were given the choice of dozens, then hundreds. Programming boomed, and soon, no matter what kind of television shows or movies a faithful couch potato liked, networks provided them.
These days, consumers don’t need cable nor satellite to watch their favorite programs – the Internet offers any show you can find on traditional networks and more. Online television watching is quickly gaining on traditional TV; Nielsen estimates that almost 145 million people watch video online in the U.S. compared to 290 million watching on a TV only.
Online video is great, but when you want to share your screen with your family or friends, a digital media receiver is the way to go. These tiny devices pack a punch, allowing you to stream music from multiple devices to your television.
Today we’re talking about Apple TV, a digital media receiver that allows you to share content from any iOS device as well as media from iTunes and other select media hubs.
Apple TV Features
Apple TV, originally called iTV, was released in a first generation form in 2007. The latest third generation version was unveiled in March 2012. The device can wirelessly stream photos, music and videos from a computer running iTunes or from an iOS device (like the iPhone and iPad) through a featured called AirPlay. Another great AirPlay feature is mirroring, which reflects a mirror image of your iPad or iPhone 4s onto your widescreen HDTV.
The Apple TV receiver device offers a variety of apps like Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, NBA TV and MLB.tv, which let you download HD movies, games, movies and photos to your HD television. The second and third iterations of Apple TV give viewers access to NetFlix’s entire streaming library of movies and television shows, as well as all the digital content available on iTunes.
Apple TV can act as an important component in whole-home audio and network sharing. The receiver device can connect up to five computers or iTunes libraries through the use of the Home Sharing feature of iTunes. For homes with younger media fans, content can be password protected with the parental control feature.
Apple TV can be controlled by a variety of infrared remote controls or universal remote controls – or can be paired with the Apple Remote that comes with the product.
Apple TV Specs
The Apple TV receiver is connected through an HDMI port and connected to your network through an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection. Apple TV third generation supports 7.1-surround sound (with some iTunes content offering Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound) and output can be set at 1080i or 1080p – a picture and viewing experience rivaling Blu-ray disc films.
The Apple TV device has an AppleA5 processor, 512 MB of memory and runs on the iOS 5.1 operating system.
Apple TV starts at $99.