Santa brought me an Apple TV this Christmas.
Until recently I didn’t even know what that device is.
It’s the cheapest Apple brand device I own, not counting their keyboard and mouse. 😉
So why did I get one?
I don’t have cable tv, but I do have a $8-a-month subscription to Netflix.
Even though I also have Roku’s box for streaming Netflix movies, I prefer the GUI (Graphical User Interface) of Apple TV.
Every so often, streaming Netflix movies takes a while to buffer even when no one else is online and this gets annoying especially when my Apple TV (ATV) is connected via ethernet cable.
I’m wondering how much of this is AT&T U-Verse (my internet provider) throttling back the speed of the connection to encourage subscribers to get the video content from them.
It should be interesting to see who eventually owns up to the cause of this annoying problem, Apple? AT&T UVerse or Netflix?
Time shift my tv watching
I generally don’t watch tv shows ‘live’ anymore except for the occasional soccer game.
I guess I’m just too impatient to suffer through the commercials.
Besides, it makes a lot of sense for busy folks to record and then watch at their leisure.
To record and watch your content later on your Mac, you would need:
- EyeTV software
- iTunes software
- El Gato’s EyeTV Hybrid hardware (see picture on right)
There are other solutions where you record the content, then transfer it to (via a very slow USB 2.0 interface) an external hard drive like Western Digital’s TV Media player then connect that to your HDTV.Streaming your content from a Mac is more convenient.
This is my setup.
I have my MacPro in the bedroom networked via ethernet and it runs the EyeTV software .
In my living lives my HDTV and Apple TV which is also hard wired via ethernet to the router.
I use my MacPro because it has 4 bays for hard drives so I have tons of storage.
Once recorded and the commercials edited out, I convert the tv programs with EyeTV to a video format compatible with iTunes and optimized for Apple TV.
Then when I enable “Home Sharing,” in iTunes on my MacPro, I can stream any of these shows to my tv with AppleTV or any Mac within my home network.
It would be great if AppleTV and iTunes would play other video formats because conversion of the video recorded by EyeTV is long.
Not surprisingly, that extra step has spawned a 3rd-party software like “Firecore” which jailbreaks the Apple TV giving it more flexibility to play more video formats.
42″ Digital Picture frame
Finally, the one feature about Apple TV which really appeals to me is its screen saver.
I can easily upload a folder of images online to photo-sharing website like Flickr, MobileMe or Photostream, then set the time delay on ATV with transitions that I like.
Any time my ATV goes into my set period of inactivity, it will launch a slideshow from the images linked to my photo-sharing website of choice.
Users of Mobile Me can easily add an album via iPhoto’s Sharing pane.
They can of course choose to keep the images personal or to allow everyone access to view it.
Choosing an online photo album makes more sense since my MacPro which houses my iTunes library that has Home Sharing enabled isn’t always on.
I rented a movie “Cowboys and Aliens” for $3.99 as a test.(I don’t recommend this movie at all by the way)
Rather than watch it streaming (downloading and playing simultaeously), I waited for the movie to completely download to my iTunes library before I attempted watching it.
I didn’t feel like Â seeing the annoying “buffering” or ‘hiccuping’ prompt when Netflix or my internet connection can’t keep the video stream up to speed, that’s why.
Under the “Internet” tab, I can see I have access to YouTube, NHL, MLB.TV, Vimeo and a few others, but not Amazon Video, Apple’s iTunes competitor.
There’s a lot of confusion on what exactly is a Smart TV. Until someone comes up with a better name, I guess it will have to do because content providers aren’t all playing nice .
Apple TV doesn’t give you access to Amazon video.
Amazon video has rentals for $1 compared to $4 on Apple’s iTunes store.