Apple TV Review - Bringing Digital Media to your TV
External Look and Features
Like every Apple product I have seen, the packaging and presentation of the Apple TV is outstanding and really makes you feel like you are buying a "high end"component. Here is the "unboxing" of the unit.
The box for the Apple TV is rather small and just has its edges outside the total size of the unit itself.
If only these were also manufactured in the USA...
Flipping open the box reveals the Apple TV on one side with the very small remote control stuffed into the styrofoam on the other side.
The Apple TV box has very clean lines and is of course in a mostly white/brushed aluminum colored case. There are no clumsy looking buttons or a front panel display that is cluttered -- only smooth lines from the designers at Apple.
On the front of the unit you will only see the black dot that is the IR receiver for the remote control and, though barely visible in this photo, to the left of it is a very small LED light that will indicate stand-by mode, powered on mode, etc.
The back of the Apple TV is where you'll find the myriad of connections that it provides for output to a TV or theater system. Starting at the left side of the photo you have the AC power connector, a USB connection, the 10/100 Ethernet port, the HDMI port, the red, blue and green connectors for the component output, white and red connections for stereo audio output and finally optical audio output.
You will notice that are NO standard definition video outputs on the device as your only choices for video are HDMI or component connections. Considering that almost NO content on the iTunes store is in high definition I find this pretty interesting -- users that might just have a standard TV would have no issues watching any of the iTunes videos in terms of quality.
Audio output is offered in three ways: with the HDMI connections that combines both audio and video signals, optical audio output for digital output and the white/red connections for stereo analog audio output. Users that mostly interested in iTunes music support may find hooking it up to their stereo with analog the easiest option even though you still need a TV in order to browse the library.
As of now, the USB port is disabled out of the box so any ideas you might have had for connecting an external hard drive for more storage on the Apple TV are shot down. In fact, as of this writing, the Apple TV hacking community hasn't come up with a solution for that particular problem.
The bottom of the Apple TV is a rubbery that is used to prevent the unit from sliding around where it sits. It is very similar to the bottom of the Mac Mini so you have something to compare it to.
The included accessories with the Apple TV consist of the AC power cord, simple remote control, iTunes software on a CD and some basic instructions.
The Apple TV remote is just as simple in appearance as the iPod but still retains all the power you'll need for using the device. The play/pause button doubles as a "select" button or "accept" when going through menu systems while the menu button is the "back" button. The "forward" and "back" buttons for track selection work as expect and holding them down will fast forward inside the track. For the life of me though, the "+" and "-" buttons seemed useless as the Apple TV has no volume control on it, leaving you to use your audio output device's remote for that.
For a size comparison I set a standard DVD on the Apple TV; not much to this device as you can clearly see.