536 of 641 people found the following review helpful
Nearly A Must Have Accessory for iOS and Mac Users,
This review is from: Apple TV MD199LL/A (Electronics)With the release of Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8), the Mac has gained the ability to mirror screen content to the AppleTV. In my opinion, this flips the AppleTV from being a useful enough product to one whose flexibility and multitude of uses make it something you should own if you have any toehold into Apple's ecosystem. At home, I have two of these--both this model and the previous 720p capable device--which I use in the more or less traditional mode of passive video watching coupled with daily use of Airplay to listen to podcasts or music streaming from my iPhone or iPad. At my previous job, there was an AppleTV in the conference room, and employees could direct content to the big screen on the wall from their various Apple devices without the need of cabling up to a projector.
People often ask why an iPad doesn't have an HDMI port. The AppleTV is the iPad's HDMI port, and a better than wired one that allows you to maintain mobility while still projecting to the big screen.
As a media streamer, I'm happy with either the 2nd or 3rd generation AppleTV. I've cut the cord, no satellite or cable for my household, and whatever doesn't come in from the antenna on the roof streams mainly through the AppleTV. We have other media streamers: a Roku XS, a smart TV, an IOMega Screenplay, and a couple of Blu-Ray players, but unless I'm taking advantage of a Vudu bargain, the go to streamer in the house is the Apple TV. My kids get around in it pretty easily, and they watch Netflix or content we've purchased from iTunes. The new HD content, both 1080p and 720p, supported by these devices is first rate, and while not quite at Blu-Ray quality is right up there with the gold standard Vudu HDX format. Be warned that your broadband connection might not be up to the demands of the new formats, I found I had to upgrade my service--I'm now at 30 Mbit download--in order to watch 1080p content without excessive buffering times. You can set the AppleTV to prefer the 720p stream if your network or TV isn't up to 1080p. The content catalog is quite extensive when it comes to commercial, mainstream video, if you're willing to pay.
Digital downloads bundled with Blu-Ray disks and redeemed via iTunes do not bring the high definition version of the movie, but rather a disappointing widescreen version inferior to the corresponding HD iTunes version. Avoid them for the movies you love.
Energy efficiency is first rate, at around a Watt during playback and practically nothing when asleep. Compare and contrast with my typically noisy Intel based home theatre PC which draws 30 Watts all the time.
I had to set the device to require a password for purchasing content from iTunes, and to enter my password via the Remote app on my iPhone, as otherwise, my naughty children would have purchased every episode of Fairly Oddparents. Keep an eye out for discount iTunes gift cards occasionally found online.
I had a spare Bluetooth keyboard available, and it has become my AppleTVs primary controller since Apple enabled Bluetooth support in both the 2nd and 3rd generation models. While it does take a few seconds to wake up after being unused for an extended time, a keyboard is better than either a remote or an iPhone remote. Typing is indisputably better, but little features like typing to jump to the middle of a list are enabled. And it tends to be more reliable than other methods. Just about any small Bluetooth keyboard will do, even those that come in iPad cases like a Belkin FastFit or whatever else you can scavenge up; I've also had good success with a cheaper iHome Bluetooth Keyboard.
As for the differences between the 2nd generation and 3rd generation models, they are identical both in appearance and except for the 1080p capability in functions. While the newer model has a faster processor, in practice, the interface is zippy fast on either with any slowness due to network problems. If you don't have a 1080p TV, there is no reason not to stick with the 2nd generation, and even if you do, you might not notice a difference. Both have gigabit Ethernet ports, and I recommend using a wired connection to your router if it is at all feasible.
Apple is expanding the services offered on the device by partnering with the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NHL, and adding subscription model content like Japanese programming from Crunchyroll or TV shows via Hulu (although I'm not enamored with Hulus ads+subscription model; I'd rather pay to not see an ad. I had originally criticized the lack of Amazon Prime Video, but in September 2013, Amazon enabled Airplay support in their iPhone app, opening up a huge archive of inexpensive content to this device. After years of gradual improvements like this, I'm bumping my rating from 4 to 5 stars on this product.
Other services have been useful. As I don't have access to ESPN, I've occasionally used the NBA app to watch game highlights. And my son has had an inordinate amount of enjoyment watching Minecraft run throughs on the YouTube app. I've even enjoyed the Flickr app displaying searches.
Maybe someday, you'll be able to install arbitrary apps from the App Store, but I wouldn't hold my breath on that. In the meantime, appreciate the AppleTV for what it is: a competitive media streamer and the world's greatest HDMI cable.
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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 16, 2012 11:07:50 PM PDT
N. Wadi says:
I like it a lot but Vimeo is slow,WTF. Netflix is fast and good. I hope they add Hulu.
Posted on Mar 17, 2012 1:19:25 PM PDT
C. Thompson says:
Phenomenal review. Very comprehensive and helpful. Thank you for taking the time.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2012 2:05:28 PM PDT
Thanks. I will expand upon it later.
Posted on Mar 19, 2012 8:42:00 PM PDT
Spears & Munsil calibration disc is to complicated for my Apple-ified brain. Replacing my old was a requirement practically for 1080p.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2012 3:17:11 AM PDT
I've been trying to figure out why people have seen such great improvement going from 720p to 1080p, maybe it's a matter of their TV's scalar not working as well as mine.
Posted on Mar 21, 2012 2:18:48 PM PDT
G. FRANCIS says:
Posted on Aug 19, 2012 10:17:40 PM PDT
The Purple Bee says:
Hi, thank you for your review, but I'm still lost. I have an Apple laptop, Apple desk top and apple tv with wireless capabilities.
I tried to watch a free movie from amazon which I'm able to do on the computer but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to mirror the movie to the tv from the laptop. I have the newest Mountain Lion version on the laptop but not on the desktop. I also have a blueray dvd player connected to tv.
If you can tell me what I need to do to be able to see the movies from amazon on my 2 1/2 year old Sony tv, it will be greatly appreciated. I cannot buy a smart tv.
thank you kindly.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 20, 2012 1:37:31 PM PDT
If your notebook is capable of mirroring, then you should see an icon in your menu bar that looks like a triangle pointing upward into a rectangle. The menu that pops up when you click that icon should have your AppleTV listed as a place to mirror. If you go to the Amazon website and start a video playing, you should be able to use that menu to turn on mirroring, and a widget in the video to go full screen. I did this as part of testing for this review, and like I said it worked although it was softer than I'd have liked.
Posted on Sep 25, 2012 6:30:34 AM PDT
I think you are mistaken in saying you can only run 720p-I have the oldest and first or second Apple TV that cost 400 bucks as it has 30 gig on board memory and as a musician it is my go to device for playing jazz and improvizing as my whole itunes library is resident-no need for annoying airplay or airtunes which works at best 65 percent of time if the device has no grounding issues and you use Belkin cables which you can not seem to find kit on apple any longer. The new apple tv is a stupid streamign device which is essentially simply a way to avoid laying your ipad of computer on top of your TV rack to play-yes in HDTV or with S-Video you could only play older formats but still-it seems absurd that an old ipod with video jack could have just had a darn HDMI interface port and done the same and better-with a 40 gig ipod with and HDMI you have apple TV or better-yes Youtube that mine has at least in limited fashion and some other items are nice but the old Apple TV although not the best is far far better than this new dumb streaming box that if it had memory like the Apple Airport Extreme can have a hard drive or time capsule there is just no excuse to not make on board flash an option-its just stupid...let folks pay 99 more for the memory to avoid all the buffering and hiccups if there wifi net is not 100 percent up to snuff--i can not get airplay to work on my express and airport express is the worst single product you ever released-i have one dead one and got a free on fro family member who did not use and its just nutso--not going to deal with dumb device that simply is a few dongles with interfaces that does almost nothing.
Posted on Dec 12, 2012 9:04:27 PM PST
Great review. You laid out exactly what I wanted to know about the device without having to read between lines in the marketing pitch Apple attempts to give.
My only real question is this. Do you know of any "set-top boxes" as I believe they are called (something that I could hook up to my home theater system most importantly, and if possible to a TV that does not have bluetooth capabilities) that would allow me to wirelessly stream Spotify from my computer to my home theater system?
It'd be great to watch videos on surfline.com while playing whatever music I happen to be in the mood for, all at the same time but I haven't come across any device that would allow for this. Do you have any suggestions to point me in the right direction as far as the simpler needs I have for a product like this? Thank you very much.