Feeds
75%

Apple TV 160GB media player

A must-have for anyone with music and movies on a PC?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration

Navigation of the menus is as intuitive as you'd expect from an Apple product. If you can drive an iPod then you'll find the Apple TV a doddle, and so too will your mum or - dare we say it - the wife.

Apple TV
Apple's Apple TV: gran-friendly user interface for movies...

The clue lies here, where Apple spells out the list of supported formats which includes H.264 at 1280 x 720 and a data rate of 5Mbps, as well as MPEG 4 at up to 3Mbps. If you want to play movies from the iTunes store the quality is limited to VGA (640 x 480).

Mac users can try Elgato's H.264 USB-connected video encoder - reviewed here - and there's a similar unit for Windows users, Instant Video To Go, from ADS. Both should be able to recode video for the Apple TV in a way that yields better looking pictures.

Apple TV
...music...

Then there's the extensive list of formats that aren't supported, which includes DivX, MPEG 2, WMV and Xvid. Take all those points in combination and the list of movies and TV shows that you can watch is limited and will very likely look quite poor on your enormous HDTV.

Of the various movie clips that we watched, the best was a DVD rip of an old Doctor Who from the early 1980s, possibly because it was originally recorded in an analogue format, while modern recordings of CSI which were broadcast in 720p looked less than impressive as the blocks and artefacts were clearly visible.

Apple TV
...and photos

The other oddity is the Apple TV's YouTube feature, which allows you to watch clips quickly and easily. They're usually shown in a tiny window on your computer screen and here they are, blown up to enormous size on your TV and - guess what - they look absolutely dreadful.

Audio support is less of a shock and you can listen to the same AAC and MP3 files that you have on your iPod but - and this is the question - do you want to listen to music through your TV? I don't, and I can't think of anyone who does. Fortunately, the RCA stereo ports allow you to hook the gadget up to both your TV - for navigation and track selection - and to your hi-fi for amplification. Just remember to mute your TV first, OK?

Verdict

Unlike previous media extenders, the Apple TV takes Mac- and PC-sourced content and displays it on the big screen, quickly and easily. However, the list of supported formats and bit-rates is so short that its effectiveness is severely curtailed. Bring on the Apple HDTV.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

75%

Apple TV 160GB media player

Streaming media from your PC to your TV can be a pig, so here's a cool device from Apple that ought to sort the matter in one fell swoop...
Price: £219 (160GB) RRP

More from The Register

next story
Nice computers don’t need to go to the toilet, says Barclays
Bad computers might ask if you are Sarah Connor
4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles
Have your say with Ofcom now, before Freeview becomes Feeview
YES, iPhones ARE getting slower with each new release of iOS
Old hardware doesn't get any faster with new software
PEAK LANDFILL: Why tablet gloom is good news for Windows users
Sinofsky's hybrid strategy looks dafter than ever
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro
Cheapest models given new processors, more RAM
VMware builds product executables on 50 Mac Minis
And goes to the Genius Bar for support
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Microsoft stands on shore as tablet-laden boat sails away
Brit buyers still not falling for Windows' charms
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?