Apple TV: The good, the bad and the ugly

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Apple TV

Over the holidays I took the plunge and once again purchased another Apple device: the Apple TV. As usual unboxing the device was a pleasurable experience in itself as I enjoyed the visually pleasing lines, packaging and product created by Apple. The main reason I bought the device was to setup a music hub in my living room with the help of iTunes Match.

The Apple A5 Chip

The Apple A5 Chip

As I’ve written about in a prior article my experience with iTunes Match had been mostly positive but not without its quirks. The integration with the Apple TV was okay but there are still some unresolved issues including some missing artwork for CD covers. At this point I’ve been able to make all the artwork appear on my home computer, work computer and iPhone albeit with some legwork on my side. Much of the metadata associated with tracks and albums is correct but about 25% needed some work.

From my experience I’ve found that the Music application in Apple TV feels a little like a beta product. It’s as if some core functionality is missing. For example when creating an Up Next playlist created from shuffled songs you can move the songs around but can’t remove them altogether. On the up side I can use iTunes on my iMac to browse music, create playlists and switch up shuffle order then use the Airplay function and switch over to the Apple TV. Or if I wish I can browse around on my iPad and select music and play that via Airplay as well.

As for the processor, the 3rd generation Apple TV has an A5 chip dual core with one core disabled according to a member over at the XBMC forum. This person took the opportunity to tear down their Apple TV to also discover 8GB flash memory, presumably used for caching video from Netflix and iTunes movies. They also discovered 512MB RAM.

Apple TV HDMI connectionPersonally I found the YouTube app on Apple TV problematic as it couldn’t find key search terms such as VEVO at all. In fact VEVO didn’t show up at all on the Apple TV version of the YouTube app. VEVO is where I watch most of my music videos for free and I have no problem doing this on the PS3 so my suspicion here is that Apple has blocked VEVO because they sell music videos in their iTunes Store. I suppose I could always use the VEVO app on my iPhone via Airplay to the Apple TV.

Speaking of which, Airplay mirroring is probably one of the coolest features of Apple TV as you can stream the entire contents of your iPhone or iPad to your TV. For example, I can play Minecraft on my phone and mirror this up to the TV. I can watch a video on my phone and mirror that up to the TV. I can look at photos on my phone and mirror that up as well. You get the picture. What you see on your iPhone or iPad is what you get on your TV. The possibilities here are endless. This is one of my favorite features.

Another thing I really like about this gadget is that it can tie into my iMac’s iPhoto library via iTunes Home Sharing (look under File > Home Sharing to turn this option on). So from my Apple TV I can create a photo slideshow on the fly from any photos in my iPhoto library, choose some nice music and transitions and enjoy the show. The kids really like this feature too as they get to see their baby pictures on the TV.

I haven’t had the opportunity to rent a movie via Apple TV at this point so will be interested to see what happens there. Perhaps I’ll rent one over the weekend. How about you? Have you bought an Apple TV yet? What has been your experience with the device?

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