I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

Apple TV

Tonight, after contemplating a lot of hard work I've endured over the past couple of weeks, in addition to my current poor state of health, I decided I deserved "something" that I had been considering purchasing for about a year: Apple TV. Some have passed this device off as "a flop." Earlier, I got the Eye TV 250 to record TV shows from cable. What I did want was a TiVO-like solution without their subscription fee. While the Eye TV did its job, it didn't put the shows on my TV (but did on my iPhone). I knew that maybe the Apple TV was going to be the solution. Apple obviously sells this device, along with its iPod, and it's no secret that once you buy the device, they hope you begin buying the TV shows, music (and now, movies). I already am paying over $100/month to Comcast, so I have little interest in paying Apple to watch TV. But there is homemade content, podcasts, YouTube, Flickr, and music to contend with. And that's where I see some value. So, with the introduction of Apple's "Take 2" version of Apple TV, I picked one up. The rest of this post details my experience. The Box There are three things in the box: the remote, the Apple TV, and sealed directions. I never opened them up. The cords My HDTV does not have HDMI; so I purchased an HDMI > DVI cable from the store. I also used some spare RCA plugs I had to connect the Apple TV to my Samsung television. The box also contained a power cord, and that got connected, too. I am not sure if there is an "on/off" switch. Immediately, I began using the device, looking at settings, and playing back movie trailers off the Internet, after I connected the Apple TV to my computer and before that, to my home wireless network. The thing just "worked." Soon after, I began to install the update. Take 2 The update took what seemed like 4-7 "restarts," and while I knew it was doing "something," some verbal feedback would have been helpful. Instead, a slowly-moving progress bar was the main type of feedback. Next, once it finally booted, I made some settings changes: I moved from 720p to 1080i resolution. This worked on the TV, and there was a slight upgrade around the Apple TV graphics when it was observed "up close." Next, I watched some HD movie trailers. After owning this TV for some 2 years, I have never experienced such bright, crisp, and clear viewing as I did with these HD movie trailers. I felt TV was finally "being used" for what I got it for. Even the HD digital cable channels aren't his good. I was impressed. Next, I went to my Mac. This, with its iTunes software, is still a "hub" of the system. Back at the Apple TV, I could access a lot of my video podcasts, my entire iTunes collection, etc., etc. Basically, Apple TV was an extension of my computer for media. I liked this idea. I watched a number of podcasts, from things I have made at work, to TED talks, to how-to videos on graphic design topics. The "MacBreak" podcast looked awesome. As I type this downstairs, the computer upstairs is transferring a lot of content I selected (namely, the podcasts) to the Apple TV's hard drive. My EyeTV software is transferring (compressing) my TV shows into AppleTV H.264-ready videos (thanks to the USB-based Turbo264). So, tomorrow, I can begin watching my recorded TV programs--get this--on TV! I also looked at Flickr photos on the TV. Amazing brightness and clarity. It's actually more fun watching vacation videos this way--on TV--than on the computer. So, yes, I bought the Apple TV, despite some folks saying it was a flop. I might soon rent a movie via the new iTunes software. But having access to all my media in the comfort of bed, including the ability to watch YouTube, or listen to music while I read, will be great. So far, I'm a happy camper. Update: After living with this for a few days, I have to say I am very disappointed with the arrangement. The EyeTV (using their newest 3.0 version of software, coupled with the Turbo264 accelerator) has been very disappointing. I am tired to writing complaints for support tickets to the company. The idea is: record shows on computer, send to Apple TV. This works, but not very often! Upon exporting the MPEG-2 encoded programming to the AppleTV-compatible H.264 Quicktime files, the exports will get "stuck." Two whole days, and my computer could only churn-out 3 half-hour programs?? Gimme a break! I have had to restart the computer, cancel exports, etc., and it's just so frustrating. What's more, the EyeTV software doesn't "tell you" when it's exported a copy of the show. No check-mark or anything. Just like you had never done a thing. It does move the files to iTunes, etc., but gimme a break. Let me know if you successfully exported the show/movie. So, AppleTV's effectiveness for my needs is less if this EyeTV partner-in-crime can't keep up. Update (March 2, 2008): I have had better success with an EyeTV software update with my AppleTV. It now doesn't crash/hang when exporting recordings for MPEG-4. I need to figure out how/when to automatically dump the MPEG-2 versions to save space. The compressed versions in iTunes are fine enough for my watching needs. I rented my first HD movie today with AppleTV. It hung 4 times. Getting it to start was rough; I am not sure what was up there; it hadn't fully downloaded, but it wasn't "up" yet to the part where it hadn't progressed with the download. It also hung further along; but once some momentum had been acquired, the rest of the experience was okay. The HD quality looked good. You wondering what we watched? Hehe. Balls of Fury. Not a great movie, but not awful, either. I'm a big Walken fan, and old Max Zorin was great.

Scarlatti: a due

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