Friday, May 1, 2015

The Gadgeteer: APPLE TV







Apple TV is a 1080p high definition streaming device that’s been around for some time in various models. This device, like many others, has preloaded apps that allow for the selection of specific television program sources such as THE HISTORY CHANNEL, CNBC, PBS and ABC NEWS. Many other non-network sources including music, HULUPLUS, NETFLIX and SKY NEWS are presently available. SKYNEWS is a British all news channel much like CNN that may be accessed without any fees or special requirements. Apple TV can also access your purchased movies, TV shows, and music with iTunes Match, right from iCloud. You can stream video, games and more from your iPhone, iPad or MAC to your TV by using AirPlay. Videos and photos can also be streamed from PC’s and MAC’s. In short, these apps have the ability to be displayed on your television by means of an optional HDMI cable.

(TIP: If your flat screen has all its HDMI ports in use, a simple fix would be to purchase an HDMI switch such as the Belkin AV10117 4-way with a wireless remote. This will accommodate the Apple TV,  plus leave you with three spares.)

If you do not subscribe to these services via your cable service, or have a TV that does not have preprogrammed apps like NETFLIX, Apple TV is an easy fix. However, many of the apps require that you are serviced by a cable provider that has paid the fees for these offerings. When you initially select the app, it will ask you if your cable provider is among those shown, followed by a form of verification. If your provider is not participating, you will be unable to access the programming from this app. You may think because you receive this channel over cable you would automatically qualify to receive it via Apple TV. Not so, as these fees are over and above what the cable provider pays for cable distribution. Nowhere in the marketing material or manual is this restriction indicated, so take heed. Additional program apps are made available through periodic upgrades. One such recent upgrade features HBO at $15.00 monthly.

(TIP: Apple TV comes preprogrammed with apps. These preloaded apps vary from country-to-country. It’s possible to travel with an Apple TV box loaded with U. S. A. region apps and use it internationally. You may, however, reset the region to other countries listed in the settings app. This should allow access to the apps for that region. You can easily reset the region to the U. S. in the same manner. Since it’s a very compact computer that uses a TV to display the signal, you need not worry about the TV standard of PAL or NTSC. It’s also multi-voltage and requires only a power plug adapter for the specific country you are in. If you purchase an Apple TV box in another country it will come set to the apps specific to that region.)

Apple TV allows for wi-fi or a direct-wired connection with the Internet. Since streaming video is speed and processor dependent you would be well advised to opt for a wired interface to minimize or eliminate buffering. The device also comes with a remote control. Its operation is somewhat clumsy, so if you have an iPhone 6 or iPad you can download a free Bluetooth enabled “remote Apple Essentials” app from the App Store that dramatically improves the process.

A handy under the screen mount, “totalMount”, is an optional accessory. It attaches the Apple TV box under the flat screen making for a simple line-of-site connectivity link between it and the supplied remote.

 Apple TV is a neat device if you have need for the programs that are actually available to you. It does not require a MAC to make it work, although some features may not be available with a PC in the network. Since it works in other countries it can provide you with a limited English speaking program alternative while traveling. If you travel in internationally having SKY NEWS is a benefit since it’s in English and the news coverage does include major U. S. stories.

The 1080p HD picture quality is outstanding, but does require a medium to high speed Internet connection for best results. Apple never pre-releases new product information, however, rumors abound that a new model may be released in June of this year. While no official details have been released by Apple, rumor has it that the new box will support TV, music and purchasable apps, have an expanded memory that goes well beyond the existing 8gb Apple TV boxes and will operate on an improved operating system that will support Siri voice controls. Furthermore, Apple may be planning to launch an online TV service this autumn in partnership with broadcasters possibly including ABC, CBS and FOX. They are also reportedly in talks with U. S. programmers. They plan to offer a “slimmed-down” cable-style bundle of roughly twenty-five channels that will be available to view across Apple TV boxes and Apple iOS devices including iPads and iPhones. Again, these kinds of services make it an ideal travel companion.


MSRP: Apple TV $69.00 (current model) ~ Total Mount $19.95
Belkin AV10117 4-way HDMI switch $34.95

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Graphic credits: Apple; Belkin

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at, or followed at for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.