Long referred to as a hobby during Apple keynotes, Apple TV has evolved into one of the star peripherals of the iOS ecosystem. And no wonder--this slim 4-inch box turns your humble HDTV into a networked entertainment powerhouse. Apple TV’s HDMI and optical audio ports connect to your home theater, and it connects to your network via 802.11n Wi-Fi or 100Base-T Ethernet. Once you’re plugged in, you can buy or rent movies at up to 1080p, or buy TV shows at the same resolution, from iTunes.
Until Apple releases its secret-but-we-all-know-it's-coming, Siri-powered, high-definition television set that will change the face of the industry forever (okay, so we're hoping this is what's coming), we'll have to settle for Cupertino's "hobby" if we want to stream our movies and photos to a screen larger than 27-inches. But while Apple TV has made great strides since it launched alongside the iPhone, it still has a long way to go if it wants to become a major player in the booming set-top box market.
It's not often that Apple can learn from its competitors, but sometimes it seems that Apple is purposefully holding back Apple TV features for something bigger and better. If you're not totally tied down to the iTunes ecosystem, there are worthy third-party alternatives. Here's a few that we've reviewed that are highly worth it in our book.
Apple might insist on calling it a hobby, but the new Apple TV's near-instantaneous shipping delays suggest that the market for streaming set-top boxes is bigger than Tim Cook wants us to believe. It's so big, in fact, that there's a quiet war brewing between top manufacturers, with each of them offering a similarly sized box that effortlessly streams all of your music, movies, and photos right to your television.
It’s been one of those busy days for tech enthusiasts: Rather than dreaming about the weekend ahead, we’ve had product launches all over the place in the mad pre-Christmas holiday rush before things start to shut down next week. If you’ve already played around with your Facebook Timeline update or nabbed that sweet new Roku iOS app and are waiting for your Apple TV to update, take a breather and see what’s new for this Thursday, December 15, 2011.
Can you feel the excitement in the air? iOS 5 and iCloud will arrive on Wednesday, and the telltale signs include a new iTunes 10.5 pushed out today. But that’s not all that’s making news this week -- here’s a look at the latest stuff we’ve been tracking for this fine Tuesday, October 11, 2011.
Tech fans will have plenty to be thankful for come Turkey Day next week -- The Beatles are finally on iTunes, Google Voice is on the iPhone, Twitter has push notifications for iOS and Hulu Plus is finally out of preview mode, officially landing on Roku boxes everywhere.
Giving even more incentive for casual TV viewers to cut the cord on their cable bill, Hulu announced Wednesday that their paid Hulu Plus service is officially out of preview, complete with a price reduction and availability on Roku boxes.
Despite the bold promise of Internet video, the reality is that your couch is much more comfortable than your computer desk. But there’s that old “last mile” problem—how to get the movies and other video content from the Net to your TV. Netflix has offered video streaming for well over a year, but the MPAA’s insistence on DRM-protecting the content delivered to paying customers, and Apple’s refusal to license its Mac DRM solution (while scofflaws continue to download things for free) has kept Mac users shut out. Roku has mostly solved both of these problems, with its new Netflix Player, a set-top box that brings Netflix’s streaming content directly to your TV.