The Apple TV is my new favorite gadget…I received it for Christmas and for the first month or so of it’s use it was just a novelty, but then Apple released an update (and a jailbreak was released online) and it is now my most used media player.
When the unit first arrived, all you could really do was rent movies over the internet and stream your music and movies over iTunes from a PC, meaning you had to have a PC on all the time and you could only watch video’s in Apple’s supported formats (h.264, mp4, mov & m4v) which is fine, if you only rent movies from Apple and don’t have any of your own.
Then Apple released the 4.2 firmware allowing the iPhone and iPad to send video directly to the Apple TV over a wireless internet connection, meaning you could start a movie on your iPad, then if you got bored holding it, switch it directly to a TV with no interruption.
The biggest breakthrough came when the unit was finally jailbroken allowing for the installation of XBMC onto the system. XBMC is media center software that supports almost every format in existence, allows plugins to be installed and for skin customizations. It also supports the streaming of media from a network hard drive, which until I purchase my new server means I can watch all my stored movies from any TV in the house that has an Apple TV without needing a PC on all the time, and at $129, it is the cheapest and easiest media streaming unit I have come across.
The Apple TV can be purchased here (Apple.com.au)
Image from Apple