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Apple TV review

Updated for 1080p video, the Apple TV is back with a new interface

It's really when you own an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad that owning an Apple TV makes the most sense. All Apple's devices know how to play nicely with each other, so you can use an Apple TV to mirror the screen of your iOS device and have everything it displays appear on your HD television.

The most obvious use for this is for showing off photos you've taken on your iPhone, or a Keynote presentation you've created on your iPad, but some iOS games, like Counter Strike, take advantage of this feature in new and exciting ways, enabling you to use your iPhone as a game controller while watching the gameplay on your TV.

What's more with the new version of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion due out this summer, Apple are bringing this ability to the Mac, so you'll be able to mirror your computer on your TV screen too.

We liked:

If you already have all your video content in iTunes, then all the other features Apple TV offers start to make it stand out from the crowd. Renting and buying movies works flawlessly and there's a great selection of the latest releases and a large, growing back catalogue.

The YouTube, Vimeo, Podcast and Movie Trailers are all features you'll find genuinely useful, but it's Photos that we really liked the most. It makes your snaps look beautiful, with fantastic slideshow effects, and the iCloud integration via Photostream means that any photos you've taken using an iOS device automatically get beamed to your Apple TV a few seconds after you walk through the door at home. That's impressive. AirPlay is a rock solid streaming system and simply can't be beaten for reliability.

We disliked:

If you're simply looking for a way to stream media from your computer to your television then perhaps Apple TV shouldn't be your first choice. You'll find Apple's AirPlay system fantastically easy to use, but it's currently too restrictive, making you dance through hoops to get your content into iTunes.

In addition to the iOS app workarounds we mentioned there are lots of free video encoder programmes on the market that will convert video to the .m4a file format that iTunes demands, it's a real pain having to spend an hour encoding a video into a new format before iTunes will recognise it, so you'll be able to stream it from your computer to your Apple TV.

The Apple Remote requiring line of sight is a bit restrictive too, let's hope a Bluetooth options becomes available in the future.

With Netflix now available in the UK the selection of apps that Apple TV sports is starting to look a little less US-centric, but it still needs more UK-specific content, like iPlayer, 4OD and ITV Player.

Verdict:

If you've already got some Apple devices in your home then Apple TV is a natural fit and at this price you should really consider getting one because it integrates wonderfully with your current setup.

But for everyone else, even with the addition of 1080p HD, there's no compelling reason to buy an Apple TV over other media streamers right now.

If only Apple could sort out integrating iPlayer, 4OD and ITV Player into the menu system and make AirPlay a little less restrictive, because then Apple TV would be a must-have product for everybody.

Tech Specs

Product TypeNetwork Audio/Video Player
EthernetYes
Wireless LANYes
HDMIYes
Internet StreamingYes
Brand NameApple
Audio FormatsAAC, MP3, Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV
Video FormatsM4V, MOV, MPEG-4, MJPEG, AVI
Scan Format720p
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityENERGY STAR
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Ethernet TechnologyFast Ethernet
USBYes
Video Signal StandardHDTV
Number of Digital Optical Outputs1
Height22.9 mm
Width99.1 mm
Depth99.1 mm
ColourBlack
Sound SystemDolby Digital
Image FormatsJPEG, GIF, TIFF
FeaturesPC Streaming
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product ModelTV
Product NameTV Network Media Player
Manufacturer Part NumberMC572B/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing InformationApple TV, streamlined

Stream films, music, photos and more to the smaller, redesigned Apple TV. All you need is a single cable to set it up.

Instant film rentals

Browse and rent from thousands of films and stream the action directly to your Apple TV.

Be VIP of your TV

Stream photos, films and music from your computer to your HDTV and home cinema speakers.

Package Contents
  • TV Network Media Player
  • Aluminium Apple Remote
  • Power Cable
  • Documentation
Scanning ModesProgressive Scan
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)270 g