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Apple TV: first details

Inside the product box you will find the Apple TV, a power cable (taking into account that the power supply is internal, instead of being a separate block), a User Manual of about 47 pages, the classic ones white Apple stickers and the Apple Remote. This is the exact same remote that Apple ships with some Mac minis and all iMac’s.

No cable is supplied with Apple TV for connecting the device to the TV. Fortunately, at the Apple Store you will find both HDMI cables and Toslink cables made by XtremeMac. I bought some of these cables from the same Apple Store where I bought the Apple TV and was delighted to find that it cost no more than $ 20 each cable. I recommend that you check the price in several stores, since HDMI cables can have a price close to 50 dollars.

The size of the Apple TV is slightly larger than the Mac mini, at about 8 inches on the side and about 1 inch in height. On the back are the power switch, and the USB, Ethernet, HDMI, component video, analog audio and digital audio ports. There is a single light on the front that can blink amber or white.

The purpose of all these ports is pretty clear, save for the one labeled USB. In a meeting with Apple about the Apple TV, I had the opportunity to learn that the USB port is of no use to users. Apple will use the port in the event you need to return the unit for repair; however, I wouldn’t be surprised if some kind of update added new possibilities to that port.

Making the connections

I’m a huge Apple tech enthusiast, and I want to have my Apple TV up and running asap. Apple makes the task as easy as possible.

I’ve plugged the Apple TV power cord into the back of the device and into a nearby outlet. I have unpacked the HDMI cable from the XtremeMac and connected it to the corresponding port on the Apple TV and to one of the HDMI connections on my Panasonic TH-42PX60U 42-inch plasma television. I switched to the HDMI 1 input with the TV remote control and after a few moments the white Apple logo appeared on a black background.

Similar to what happens when Mac OS X is installed, the first thing you will see after the Apple logo is the language selection screen, where you must choose between 15 different languages ​​using the Apple remote control. When you make your selection and press the Play / Pause key you will hear the same “clunk” sound that Apple uses for its Front Row feature.

If you’ve connected a cable to the device’s Ethernet port, then it will check that connection first to establish an active network connection. If successful, it will automatically connect to the network using DHCP. In the event that no connection is present, then it will search for a wireless network connection using the 802.11b / g / n capabilities included as standard. In my case I have a network connection N provided by the latest AirPort Extreme Base Station. The Apple TV found it in a few seconds, displaying the name of the network as well as that of my old AirPort Extreme G base station. I have selected network N, and you are all set to start the fun.

Communicating with iTunes

After that, Apple TV starts talking to its partner: iTunes. This action is initiated by a process that displays a screen for entering a five-digit PIN code. My job has consisted of moving to the Mac in charge of synchronizing with the Apple TV, selecting the entry corresponding to the Apple TV in the list of sources, and entering the PIN code of the Apple TV in the corresponding boxes. In the preferences of the Apple TV I have also had to register and give a name to the device. Once the process is complete, it is a matter of moving to the different sections as you would in the preferences for the iTunes iPod.

For example, you can sync the 40GB internal hard drive of the Apple TV with a computer (Mac or Windows), running iTunes 7.1.1 or later. When you have established this relationship, you will be able to tell iTunes what content you want to copy to the Apple TV’s hard drive. Such a hard drive offers a usable storage capacity of 33 GB. I have copied content to the full capacity of the disc, which is not very complicated if you have a large number of movies. Apple TV prioritizes your materials by syncing movies first, TV shows next, music, podcast, and photos last. When your computer is synced with an Apple TV, you’ll see a multi-tabbed interface where you can see which movies, TV shows, music, podcasts, and photos are synced to Apple TV.

If the hard drive fills up with movies, there will be no room for more. The content will disappear from the device as you sync it. That is, if you have configured the Apple TV to get the three most recent movies that you have not seen yet, then iTunes will tell the Apple TV to discard the movies that you have already watched from its hard drive to load the movies that you still have. see. As long as iTunes is running on the selected computer, and you have an active network connection, then the two will take care of updating content as needed without you having to manually force sync.

As I have indicated, you can manage the material you want to send to Apple TV simply by being selective when it comes to indicating what content (and how much of it) you want to synchronize with the device. For example, you can tell iTunes to sync only the three most recent movies that you haven’t seen yet; Or turn off movie syncing entirely so that you can sync the five most recent episodes of TV series.

Apple TV can also receive content from up to five computers. To do this, navigate to the Sources menu on the Apple TV, select Connect to new iTunes, and a new PIN will appear on the screen. Enter this PIN number in the Apple TV preferences in the copy of iTunes for the new computer, and iTunes will tell you that it is synced. Now you can send content from that computer’s library to Apple TV. You can also send content from the synced computer. The speed of sending will depend on the speed of your network and the type of content you are sending. If you have an 802.11gon network, the video should be sent at a sufficient speed. Although it is possible to send video over 802.11b connections, the truth is that the Apple TV will need some time to complete the buffer with the received content, which means a longer delay before the Apple TV starts to play said content. content. Sound is supposed to play smoothly regardless of the type of connection you use. A wired network connection will be able to send any type of content without problem.

Appearance

If you have used Apple’s Front Row feature or a full screen connection for the iPod then you will be very comfortable operating the Apple TV. Their menu structure is very similar to Front Row. Once you have configured the device you will see the main screen of the Apple TV. On this screen you will see access to movies, TV shows, music, podcast, Settings and Fue