AppleTV Connect A Lunch Community <![CDATA[ITunes Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Fri, 23 Dec 2011 00:13:50 +0000 <![CDATA[ Like Netflix, HBO Go has the potential to completely disrupt conventional Satellite/Cable providers]]>
HBO Go is an online archive of every HBO series created, with a sprinkling of first run movies thrown into the mix. While flipping through the library, I'm constantly surprised at the number of quality shows produced by HBO, and having the entire back-catalog means you can start a series from the very beginning if you're late to the game on a particular show.

The service is currently tied to traditional cable/satellite providers, but it is a "free" add-on to accompany the normal HBO subscription. Unfortunately, there is not an "ala-carte" option yet for those who are trying to "cut the cable" and live entirely on an internet stream television diet only. This means, that the service is also currently tied to mobile devices like phones and iPads as well as laptops. However, there are plenty of rumors swirling around that HBO is in talks with the game console makers to develop an HBO Go application for them as well -- the question still remains whether or not it will still require a cable/satellite monthly service.

As it is, I'm currently making my way through Curb Your Enthusiasm on the iPad (starting from Season 1). I'd be more than happy to put my DirecTV account on hold and redirect my entertainment dollars directly to Netflix and HBO Go.]]> Tue, 9 Aug 2011 08:10:51 +0000
<![CDATA[WWDC 2011 Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Wed, 8 Jun 2011 14:47:13 +0000 <![CDATA[ Top 10 Highlights from the 2011 WWDC Keynote]]>
Steve Jobs and gang announced quite a bit on Monday to kick off this year's WWDC, but there was quite a bit to digest, especially with all the E3 announcements at the same time.  As a self-proclaimed Apple fanboy, here's my filtered list of the big take-aways from Monday's event.

iOS 5 - Next iOS software update due this fall.
  1. PC Free syncing -  Based on the hours of tech support I've supplied to family and friends, I've very much wanted to recommend an iPad as a replacement for their SpyWare/Virus infected computers.  Unfortunately, the first thing you need to do when you get an iPad (or iPhone/iPod Touch for that matter) is connect it to a computer.  With PC Free syncing, the iOSdevice really can replacethe traditional desktop computer -- not just play the role of accessory.  For me, this was the biggest announcement of the day because it opens up the iPad to all new opportunities.
  2. iPad Split Keyboard - I love reading email on the iPad, but the keyboard can be really difficult to use unless you're in a position to rest the iPad on your lap.  The new split keyboard makes it really to hold the ipad in your hands and type with your thumbs as it moves the keys closer to the edges of the screen. 
  3. Notifications Update - The iOS notifications have been a bit of a target for Android fanboys due to the antiquated designof the alerts and lack of usability.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, Apple just copied the Android method bringing a much more elegant in-app notification update as well as a "lock screen" summary page. 
LION - Next OSX Desktop Software due in July
  1. Full Screen Apps - As multi-tasking becomes more prevalent, it sometimes becomes difficult to focus on the task at hand.  Full Screen Apps takes the simplicity and focus of iPad apps, and brings it to the desktop computer. 
  2. Mission Control - Everyone is pretty familiar with "Alt-Tab" (or Command-Tab) for switching apps.  Mission Control is like Alt-Tab on steroids.  You really have to see it in action to get the full effect, but it elegantly manages all theapplications, spaces and full-screen apps in a very intuitive and efficient manner.  
  3. Auto-Save/Versions - When you quit out of Apps optimized for Lion, you'll no longer be prompted to save your work.  Just like Google Docs, documents are auto-saved as you work.  Even better, Lion automatically tracks version history of your document so you can easily go back to an earlier version and replace in full or in part  Is "Did you save your work" a thing of the past?
  4. $29.99 - This isn't really afeature, but after looking at the pricing grid of all the variants of Windows 7, $29.99 is a steal.  Even better, if you use the same accounts on multiple computers, you only have to buy the software once and you can install it on all your computers.
iCloud - Online storage and services from Apple
  1. Music Match - Anyone remember from 1998?  The idea was that you would put a music CD in your computer, some software would scan it and recognize the album, and then you could stream a copy of those songs from any web browser.  The music industry wasn't ready for that, and they quickly shutdown with lawsuits.  Over ten years later, Apple has enough money to pay the music labels for the rights for this service, and for $25/year you can now store up to 25,000 songs in the cloud and download them to all your iOS devices and computers.  And since Apple is providing the "reference" version of each song, you get the high quality stream without having to wait for your files to upload to their servers (a huge advantage over Amazon and Google's offering).  Maybe DirecTV will take a page from this approach and stop requiring people to rent DVR's and schedule recordings in advance.  Just have DirecTV record every show and let  people stream whatever they want on demand.
  2. Backup - As mentioned in the PC Free section, you no longer need a PC to backup your iOS devices.  The iCloud service will automatically backup your iOS devices daily to the cloud, so should you lose your iPhone (or perhaps drop it in the ocean), when you get your replacement device, once you login, all your settings and data will be automatically installed back onto your new device -- no computer necessary! 
  3. Photo Stream -Take pictures with your iPhone.  Then go home and stream the photos to your iPad or through the AppleTV.  Apple will store your last 1,000 photos automatically on the cloud.  I love the idea that I can take pictures all day of my two adorable kids, and then immediately share the photo stream with the grandparents.
Bonus: Updated Camera App - This list goes all the way to 11!  The new iOS Camera app supposedly launches much faster now, and can also be launched directly from the lock screen.  So no more fumbling to enter your passcode and launch the app while you're trying to capture that moment in time.  Also, you can use the Volume Up button as a shutter button on the phone.  Much easier than trying to touch the icon on the screen.  A great addition (and I believe yet another thing Apple "borrowed" from a third party developer.  

There's still even more coming in the software updates that wasn't announced today, so I can't get to get my hands on the new updates!]]> Tue, 7 Jun 2011 06:57:01 +0000
<![CDATA[XBMC Quick Tip by TeamAWAC]]> Fri, 21 Jan 2011 02:01:26 +0000 <![CDATA[AirVideoEnabler Quick Tip by TeamAWAC]]> Tue, 21 Dec 2010 03:35:21 +0000 <![CDATA[ VUDU has some of the best quality streaming video, if you can get it...]]>
VUDU as a service is built-in to several home theater components, including HDTV's, bluray players, and more recently, the Boxee Box.  It allows you to rent or purchase movies which are then streamed directly to you.  When I signed up, I was given a credit for a free movie rental to try it out.  I was using VUDU via Boxee Software on my Mac Mini.  Unfortunately, due to VUDU's licensing agreements with use on a Mac or PC, I wasn't able to stream any of the High-Definition streams.  VUDU was available from my LG TV, but not on my particular LG bluray player.  Instead, I settled on a standard def rental of "Date Night" (because we were watching the movie on the projector -- not on the TV).

Browsing the VUDU interface via the Boxee software was less than ideal.  Even though I knew what I wanted to watch, I had a hard time finding the movie I was looking for.  I couldn't find a "Search" function in the interface, so I had to page through several pages of movies before I could find what I was looking for.  Unless you're planning to watch a "recently released" or "most watched", it could take some time to find what you're looking for.

The standard def picture was better than I had expected, and when I had played some of the HD movie samples through a different device, I was very impressed with the picture and audio quality.  In my opinion, the HD quality was better than the HD streaming from Netflix, and on-par or slightly better than HD content from the Apple TV.

Provided the VUDU service becomes available on more devices (I believe the PS3 is slated to get it today), I would not hesitate to use them again.  The interface could use some work, but the quality of the picture is currently only second to bluray.]]> Tue, 23 Nov 2010 18:22:37 +0000
<![CDATA[ Apple TV and the Plight of the Early Adopter]]>
Judge a book by it's cover?

If you go for pure design aesthetics, as usual, Apple has done an incredible job.  The new Apple TV is tiny.  It's about the size of a squared-off hockey puck.  It has no buttons, and only connections for power, HDMI, optical audio, and ethernet.  It also has a USB port, but that currently has no value as a media player.  If you opt to use the built-in WiFi and an HDMI connection, you only end up using two cables... power and HDMI.  There is also a single white light on the front to let you know whether the device is "ON" or in "SLEEP" mode.  For those who must pass the most stringent WAF standards (Wife Approval Factor), the Apple TV is an easy sell.

 Can it play my old VHS Tapes?

The primary function of the Apple TV is to stream online content to your TV on-demand.  That means it won't play your DVD's or blu-ray disks.  It also does not have any storage available for content, so you can't even buy your favorite episodes of Glee to store on the device to watch over and over again.... well, not without some help from another device, anyway.  So what's the point?  That's where things get a little fuzzy and where you have to decide if the Apple TV is right for you...

Netflix -- I'm leading off with Netflix because this is the BEST interface for Netflix I've ever used... and I've tried a bunch...I've used Netflix apps on Xbox Live, LG Blu-ray players, Plex for Mac, Windows Media Center Plug-in, and the iPad.  If you have a Netflix account with On-Demand streaming, the Apple TV is worth it for that feature alone even if you have one of the methods I listed above -- it's that much better.  The Netflix interface on the Apple TV gives you several ways to browse the On-Demand library and presents you with lots of information that is easy to digest and scan through.  The feature I liked best, however, is when you select a movie, you can click to a "More" screen which shows actors and the director of that movie.  If you highlight an actor's (or director's) name, you then see other movies available for On-Demand.  None of the other devices I've used had that feature, and it makes it really fast and fun to find something new to watch.  The Netflix interface on the Apple TV also seemed to start playing content faster than any of the other devices I used, and I found the picture quality to consistently superior to the other Netflix streaming devices.  If you're already paying the $9+/month for Netflix, this is the best way to enjoy it.

iTunes Rentals -- The next best option for content is iTunes rentals.  Apple is offering TV show rentals for $0.99 per episode and HD movie rentals for $4~$5 per movie.  I found the movie selection to be pretty good, but the TV shows are currently limited to Fox and ABC programming.  It is early, and this may change in the future, but for now, that can be pretty limiting.  I feel that the $4-$5 charge per movie rental is a little steep, especially if you consider if you rent two movies per month, you could probably get a much better value by going with a Netflix plan (which does require a blu-ray or dvd player to get the most out of it since not all content from Netflix is available on-demand).  However, the pictures quality from iTunes is very good, and even though the Apple TV is only capable of 720p High Definition output (as opposed to the more detailed 1080p), I still found the picture quality to be VERY good.  I watched several movie trailers on my projection screen, and even though the image wasn't quite as sharp as a bluray, I would have no problems watching a movie through the Apple TV.

iTunes Home Sharing -- What if  you already have a huge music, movie or tv collection on your computer?  That's where Home Sharing comes in to play.  Home Sharing lets you share your iTunes content from your computer so you can stream it to your Apple TV.  This has some drawbacks.
  1. Your computer needs to be on and running iTunes for this work
  2. Your content needs to be in the iTunes library which only supports specific formats
  3. My parents don't know what any of this means and are going to have to call me to set it up for them.
If you're a little more savvy to how all this computer and networking stuff works, then the Apple TV is a great device to get music and video from your computer to your big TV.  But this is going to be a major turn-off for lots of people

YouTube -- Like most other "internet ready" devices, the Apple TV has a YouTube interface as well.  Once again, the interface is great and easy to navigate (and if you use the Remote app on your iOS device, you can even use the keyboard on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to enter in your search for that "sneezing panda" video (which is much easier than chasing the cursor around the on-screen keyboard using the arrows and enter key on the remote control).  While the interface is great, I just don't find YouTube content that compelling that I'd spend an evening watching it.  But if you have some friends over and wanted to show them a great rendition of "Do You Want to Know A Secret", this is a great way to do it.

And the Other Stuff -- In addition to the above,the Apple TV has streaming radio stations (I was able to find my KROQ as well as NPR, which would have been handy if this was around when I was in college on the East Coast and I was jonesing for some Kevin & Bean).  There's also connects to Mobile Me and Flickr, which were both interesting, but not how I'd spend an evening.

Other than the Netflix interface, the other currently available features on the Apple TV aren't terrible compelling, but Apple still has one more trick up their sleeve.  When Apple first announced the new Apple TV, they also revealed "AirPlay", and it's scheduled to be released in November.

AirPlay is where the Apple TV currently has the most potential.  AirPlay allows you to stream content from your iOS device to the Apple TV.  During the announcement, Steve Jobs gave the example of watching Toy Story in the car on the way home on your iPhone, but when you get in the house, you press a button, and you can continue the movie where you left off, only watching it on your home TV via Apple TV.  While that's interesting, I think the bigger use case will be streaming your personal photos and videos from your iPhone to the Apple TV.  Eventually, developers will be able to access those same services, so potentially Hulu and Pandora will let  you AirPlay their content from your iOS device to the Apple TV as well.  Taking it a step further, game developer might be able to AirPlay video to your TV and let you use the iPhone or iPod touch as a video game controller.  All of a sudden, Apple is in the video game console business just as quickly as they found themselves in the mobile gaming industry.

So Who Should Buy the Apple TV?

The Spender
-- If you've got deep pockets and don't mind regularly dropping $4 for a Starbucks, then the $.99 TV rental or $5 movie rental probably won't scare you away.  The convenience factor is huge and the content library will only continue to grow, so the Apple TV is a great way to access that content.  But even if you only watched one half-hour TV rental per night, you would be spending $30/month, and that could quickly escalate if you toss in a few movies.

Netflix Subscribers -- This one is pretty much a no-brainer.  If you have internet and you have Netflix (on-demand access), then this is the best way to get the most out of your Netflix account..  Other than the one time cost of $99 for the Apple TV, there's no additional cost beyond the monthly Netflix fee you're already paying. 

The iFAN -- If you're already bought into the iPad, iPod, iPhone and iTunes ecosystem, then the Apple TV is essentially a $99 dongle that your other devices can share to stream content to your TV wirelessly (eventually).  At this point, you're already familiar with the iTunes Home Sharing configuration and understand the Device Authorization rules for getting content from your computer to your iDevice.  It's only a matter of time before Apple opens up more pathways to share content between the iOS devices and the Apple TV, so this should be a great fit.

The Traveller -- This one hasn't really been touched on much, but due to the Apple TV's tiny size, it really becomes a great travel companion.  If you're in a hotel or visiting family and you have access to the internet, you can plug in the Apple TV  and you have instant access to a huge rental/Netflix library.  Plus, after a full day of taking pictures of the kids on your iPhone, at the end of the day, you can gather around the TV and check out the pictures and videos from that day without having to hassle with cables and computers or syncing.  Why wouldn't you take the Apple TV with you wherever you go?

Who Should NOT Buy the Apple TV?

The Audiophile -- If you only want the very best in audio and video quality, stick with blu-ray.  As of now, that is still the best way to get the highest quality picture and sound.  As internet speeds increase and compression improves, that could change, but for now, blu-ray still trumps everything else that is out there.

The Miser --  If you're hoping the Apple TV has a one time cost of $99 and then expect to watch whatever you want for free, you better really really like YouTube.  Like a DVD player, the Apple TV really only works if you're willing to spend money on the content.  You have buy disks for a DVD player, and you have to pay for movies and tv shows (either via rental, netflix, iTunes, etc) if you want to watch them on the Apple TV.

The Unplugged -- If you don't have a high-speed internet connection, don't bother.


It's pretty hard to come up with a blanket statement to summarize the usefulness of the Apple TV.  It depends on how much you're willing to pay, how you plan to use it, and what you have already.  And even still, it's very early in the lifecycle for the Apple TV and there are plenty of features still to come.  But based on my early experiences with it and its untapped potential yet to come, I'd personally buy it again in a heartbeat.   ]]> Tue, 5 Oct 2010 17:12:39 +0000
<![CDATA[Remote Quick Tip by travismurdock]]> Sat, 1 May 2010 15:39:01 +0000 <![CDATA[Remote Quick Tip by brettwilliams]]> Fri, 12 Mar 2010 17:24:59 +0000 <![CDATA[Remote Quick Tip by Corvida]]> Mon, 8 Mar 2010 17:41:57 +0000 <![CDATA[Remote Quick Tip by tapps_]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2010 07:15:31 +0000