All Things Apple TV

Apple TV – the first TV-centric media player compatible with Apple’s iTunes media management software for Macs and PCs – was released in March, 2007. Cosmetically similar to the company’s low-end Mac mini personal computer but smaller and less fully-featured, Apple TV is designed to connect to most enhanced- or high-definition widescreen TVs and perform music, photo, and video content streamed or synchronized from iTunes. A 40GB hard drive is inside the base model, with 32GB of usable storage space for synchronization, while a 160GB version has 144GB of capacity. In each case, an 802.11b/g/n wireless card enables you to update the device’s media library without wires. Both come with a power cable and standard Apple Remote control; you provide the audio and video cables to connect to your TV.

In February 2008, Apple TV was updated with software version 2.0, and between January and February saw a price drop from $299 to $229 for the 40GB model, and $399 to $329 for the 160GB model. The new software enables Apple TV to work independently of a computer, downloading its own purchased or rented content directly from a stripped-down version of the iTunes Store; the Apple TV version of the Store now rents Apple TV-specific high-definition movies and device-agnostic standard-definition movies, while selling music and TV shows for purchase. Thanks to both versions 1.1 and 2.0 of the Apple TV software, YouTube videos, podcasts, photos, and both HD and SD movie trailers can now be streamed directly from the Internet to Apple TV without the involvement of a computer, as well.

The Reviews

Apple TV Take 2 Review (iLounge rating: B+): This is our comprehensive review of Apple TV Take 2 (also known as Apple TV software 2.0), featuring information on the updated software’s features, including HD movie rentals, iTunes Store purchasing and renting, photo streaming from Flickr and .Mac libraries, and more.

Additional summarized discussion of the hardware’s performance, limitations, and required accessories are summarized and expanded upon from the prior review.

Apple TV Review (iLounge rating: B): This is our original March 2007 comprehensive review of Apple TV, featuring information on the device’s performance, limitations, required accessories, and more. It was updated in June 2007 with details on the 160GB Apple TV, which shipped to customers on June 1, 2007.

Supplemental Materials

Apple TV’s HD and SD Video Rentals, Compared with Blu-Ray, DVD, and HD Cable On Demand: This photographic comparison article shows the differences between five different types of video rentals that vie for your entertainment dollars. Apple TV’s 720p high-definition videos are contrasted with superior Blu-Ray Disc video and supposedly, but not actually superior HD video on demand, as well as lower-end options such as DVD rentals and standard-definition iTunes Store videos.

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Apple TV 2.0: A quick summary article spotlighting little-known updates to the Apple TV 2.0 software from its 1.1 predecessor, as well as its interaction with iTunes.

The Complete Guide to Apple TV 1.1 Software and YouTube: On June 20, 2007, Apple updated Apple TV’s software to version 1.1, adding support for YouTube video browsing, a new screensaver, and other features. All the details are inside the Complete Guide, while YouTube on Apple TV: Our Thoughts, and Yours shares our opinions on what’s been added.

The Complete Guide to Apple TV Optimization: Provides an overview of third-party hacks and software that expand the Apple TV past its original abilities, and make the most of those abilities through video encoding tools.

First Look: iTV/Apple TV: Apple TV was originally announced at the It’s Showtime event in September 2006 under the name iTV, and rebranded Apple TV during a January 2007 formal product introduction at Macworld Expo. This updated First Look provides historical details and photographs of the product prior to its final form as reviewed above.

Apple TV: Our Opinions, Post-Expo: Offers a digest-style view of the Apple TV after its formal announcement in January, 2007.

Will Apple TV Succeed? Our Views, Your Views Opened for reader discussion, this editorial contains the views of many iLounge editors immediately prior to the release of Apple TV.

Top Ten Reasons You Don’t Need an Apple TV (Yet): Provides some of the reasons users might consider holding off on the current-generation version of Apple TV in favor of later successors or alternatives.

Additional Photos and Videos

Video: Apple TV 2.0 Interface in Action: See the Apple TV’s version 2.0 interface in a walkthrough that spotlights all of its new menus, and the new layout of those menus.

Video: Apple TV 1.0 Interface in Action: Watch the Apple TV’s version 1.0 interface in action, moving through movies, TV shows, videos, and photos.

It’s Showtime: the Photo Gallery: See firsthand the introduction of “iTV” at Apple’s “It’s Showtime” Event in San Francisco, California, September 12, 2006.

Macworld Expo 2007: the Photo Gallery: See iTV’s re-introduction as Apple TV at Steve jobs’ January 2007 keynote speech in San Francisco, California.