Apple TV First Impressions

This could possibly be the longest I’ve let a new piece of Apple hardware sit around in a box. It showed up on Thursday and sat as I tried to figure out how I was going to integrate it into my home setup — My existing receiver has only two component video inputs and it doesn’t do HDMI, so figuring that out was a mess. My TV is on the wall a good 12 feet away from where the equipment sits. All my cables run out through the wall into the garage and back in behind the TV. It all looks very clean, but running a 16′ HDMI cable (at $200.00) wasn’t part of the equation. Long story short, I am setup now after a couple of hours of planning this morning. If the TV was right next to the Apple TV box this would have all been avoided.

That aside, I have to say that the experience of turning it on for the first time exceeded my expectations. I should have taken some pictures, but my wife already thinks I am too into this tuff (here are some pictures of setup from TUAW).It has the standard Apple feel to it … plug it in, flip on the TV, and the glowing Apple logo greets you on screen. The only real setting out of the box are selecting a screen resolution and wireless network. The Apple TV actually saw about a half dozen wireless networks that my laptop doesn’t see. I selected mine and it instantly worked. It gave me a little pass code to pair it with my iMac in the office and that was it. The Apple TV showed up under the heading “devices” on the iMac’s iTunes much like it was an iPod. From there I was able to syncing options for TV Shows, Movies, Music, Photos, and Podcasts. Either all or selected playlists/albums can get synced. No need for me to tell you how it manages all that as Apple does a good job at their website.

What I will tell you about is how fast it all is — very. I instantly filled up about half of the hard drive on the Apple TV with my selections … honestly it was very fast moving items to the Apple TV itself. No problems and I have not purchased the new Airport. No need. As you can imagine the menus are very slick and seem well polished — as a matter of fact the interface is better than FrontRow as far as I am concerned. One thing that is interesting is that one of the menu selections is “sources.” Going in there lets you switch between the items living on the hard drive of the Apple TV or switch to other machines. Selecting the iMac sees the Apple TV connect to it very quickly and make all the media on it instantly available. Unlike the problems I’ve had streaming music from laptop to laptop I haven’t seen any issues pulling the music and video from the air.

This morning we watched a bunch of movie trailers, listened to music (the screen saver is very cool), and watched slideshows backed by our own soundtrack. Everything worked perfectly. I’m not too keen on having yet another little Apple Remote, but it does let you pair it so it doesn’t mess with my iPod sitting next to it. I’ll post more, but I have to say the quality is great, music sounds great over the digital out and video quality of things purchased recently via iTunes Store look good. I was even able to watch movies I had originally prepared to watch on my iPod and they look solid as well. I’m not done putting it through the paces, but it does what Apple claims and does it all with the typical elegance we’ve come to expect from Apple. Good purchase and I have a feeling as I get more used to the way it all works I’ll be taking advantage of it quite a bit.

7 thoughts on “Apple TV First Impressions

  1. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?

    Prioblems: unable to sync or stream content to the Apple TV. Unable to play movie trailers or iTunes content from the iTunes Store. The pages load, so it connects, but then if I click on say ‘300,’ it will never load the trailer. At one point, I was able to sync, but it was sending content at a rate of 1 song every 10 minutes. It seems like it is getting a weak signal, if any, but then the signal bar on the Apple TV menu is full, suggestiong perfect reception. I think there’s a hardware issue with the Apple TV…

    Here’s what I’ve done, so far. Factory reset, restarted my computers, reset the router, turned off firewalls, repositioned the Apple TV so there was no interference issue…..called Apple. Apple had me do everything I already did and they left me with “the router might have a firewall built into it.” I disabled that but still nothing…

    There’s a hangup happening when Apple TV appears in the iTunes source list, I enter the pin, then it tries to authorize on the iTunes Store and nothing happens for the longest time. Eventually, it will try to sync, but nothing syncs. If I attempt to stream content, it will say “loading Chris’s Music,” but it will never load my music…

  2. Do you use an airport base station with your setup? I’m thinking that the issue is with my Linksys wireless router…

  3. I finally got it to work…after buying an Airport Express for $99 and ditching my Linksys router. It’s still not syncing at great speeds, but it is working. It works blazingly fast with a MacBook streaming or just browsing the iTunes Store trailers etc…

    At this point, I think the actual bottleneck in the system is the Mac mini’s wireless sending/receiving capabilities. The case of the mini itself may be making it slow? I don’t know what the root of its airport issue is but I have a feeling that it’s design is somehow causing a reception or transmission issue.

  4. Scrap that! Problem solved!!!

    After 2 days of not realizing this, I feel DUMB. In the basement, next to the Airport Express sits an older Flat Panel iMac. The iMac is maybe a foot away from the Base Station. Once I turned off Airport on that iMac, the next closest machine to the Base Station is the Mac mini, upstairs. It seems that the Base Station signal was getting “hogged” by the iMac in the basement, but now the signal is out from under that suffocation and the signal is no longer hindered.

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