Sunday, April 13, 2008

TV AND ME ARE THROUGH, PART III: ENTER THE APPLE TV

Here's my report on my Apple TV after having it for one month. I had some trouble setting it up at first, but now it's working just fine. Although it doesn't fulfill my every desire as an on-demand entertainment device and link from Internet-accessible content to my TV, I'm pretty darn happy with it. And no monthly fees. Oh monthly fees, how I hate you! From hell's heart, I stab thee!

At first, set up was frustrating because it turned out I needed something called a router to share my DSL internet with my computer and Apple TV. The Radio Shack guy knew what I needed, but they apparently sold me one from the back of the closet all covered with dust, because it was old and didn't work. I found a tip online that told me I had to go into the online maintenance and change one setting for reasons unknown, but I couldn't get online to do it. The router company wanted to charge me money to give me customer support because it was out of warranty, so I marched right back to the Shack and demanded a new one. Then it worked after the aforementioned changed setting and downloading the version 2.0 upgrade. I can't blame Apple for the problem, but it would have been nice if the word "router" had been mentioned somewhere in the manual.

I bought an HDTV at the same time, so your mileage may vary if you have an older TV. I connected it with HDMI because CNet said it was the most freakin' awesome way of connecting things to a TV, and awesome it was. I looked at my photos from iPhoto, and I was like, "Oh, my god, I am the best photographer ever in the history of the world!" I like the way the slideshow pans your photos all Ken-Burns-like while music from your collection plays. Sometimes I just watch the screensaver, which is all your photos flipping around in a hypnotic manner. Podcasts are something I haven't looked looked into that much because I don't drive and (good librarian that I am) I never leave the house without reading material. As for video podcasts, I don't like watching anything over two minutes on my computer or iPod. This is an area I see myself going into more on the Apple TV, as I can listen to podcasts while cleaning or cooking and watch video podcasts on my comfy couch. AnimeTV and Erik the Librarian looked great on AppleTV. Flickr and Youtube can also be accessed, which was fun when I had a few people over last weekend. It's much more comfortable than having 5 people huddle around a computer screen. The remote works well, its controls are a lot like an iPod. It is a little harder to scroll through a long list, though. I have over 5,000 songs in my library, I need better search options. When you search for a song to buy, letters come up and you can type something in, but with your library you have scroll. What's up with that?

Renting movies was a new feature that made me sit up and take notice. Now we're getting a bit closer to my dream of being able to call up any entertainment I want on demand. It took me about 5 hours to download a whole movie and 2 hours for a TV show, so it's not instant gratification. You have 30 days to watch a movie, so I recommend doing it the night before. My back went out last week and I couldn't sit at my computer, so it was nice to have the option. Also, I have Netflix, but sometimes I don't get enough movies in time for the weekend, or I suddenly feel in the mood for something else. The selection is not large, so I hope it gets bigger. When I want to see something like the 40 Year Old Virgin, with an enormous hold list at the library and a long wait in Netflix, right away, it will come in handy. I don't have the desire to see enough popular movies to make paying 13$/month for HBO to be worth it, but every now and then my interests and that of the majority of the American people converge.

As some of you may know, Casa Jfro is surrounded by a force field blocking nearly all over-the-air radio and television signals. So what do I do when I want to listen to music I don't own already? Pay monthly fees to a company that will probably become a monopoly soon? I don't think so. So, I listen to internet radio. There are some great stations out there, but then I'm limited to the computer speakers in the bedroom. But, now with AppleTV, I can stream internet radio to the big honkin' speakers in the living room. Hurrah! The only drawback is, you have to have iTunes open and your computer on. It would be nice if internet radio was a option on the AppleTV, though, and you could search for stations and save your favorites. So, all in all, I'm really enjoying AppleTV. The main drawbacks are: not enough movies and shows, no internet radio, and the searching of one's library could be better. However, these can easily be fixed in an update.



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Now playing: Shockwave Sessions Vol 007 - Martin Roth Mix
via FoxyTunes

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