Sean Reviews the AppleTV

Sean's Reviews

I have a tradition. Whenever I get an unexpected windfall, I use a portion of it to buy myself a toy. Well let's just say that the Fiscal year ended on October 1, and work was very happy with me.

I'm one of those "cable averse" types. It's a principle thing. I don't mind paying for content. I do despise paying to be advertised to. So I get my programs off of iTunes. (And increasingly my daughter's programs too.) Sure I'll spend $40 to get a season of a show. But honestly, how much does basic cable cost? ;-)

The problem is to play them I need to use my Laptop or my iPhone. I have the cable to plug my laptop into the Plasma in the living room. It looks terrible. And the iPhone is fun for car trips, but not something you'd want to be holding onto for the complete "Cosmos" series by Carl Sagan.

Ok, my real beef. To watch the Daily Show over breakfast, I need to either eat at my desk in the bedroom, or prop up my laptop on the kitchen table.

I have the cable to plug my laptop into the plasma TV in the living room. The picture doesn't come out right, and it's a pain to change shows. So, on the face of it all, AppleTV is a perfect for for me. It's a stripped down interface to grab iTunes content I already own.

So with bonus check in hand, I wandered into Microcenter. (For the record, they carry it, they just don't know they carry it. It took me 2 salesmen to find it.)

Out of Box Experience

I get the thing home, open the box, plug it into the big screen... AND IT WORKS THE FIRST TIME. There's a little bit of a setup step to link my Macbook's iTunes to the AppleTV, but no worse than linking an iPod. Time from plugging it in to my first excited Tweet: Oh who am I kidding, I was posting photos of me opening the damn box in Facebook. It's svelt. It's simple. There's a lot to love.

Within a few minutes I had attached the AppleTV to my in-home wireless system, and had connected it to my trusty MacBook. The instructions were pretty much follow the bouncing ball.

There was one minor annoyance. Getting everything off of my Mac and onto the AppleTV. The process was simple enough. Once the two are linked, the AppleTV acts like a glorified iPod in iTunes. But moving GB of data across wifi is painful. I imagine if you own a home and have a fancy 802.11n access point this wouldn't be an issue.

But in my case I live in a reasonably crowded apartment building and I'm running off of a flaky Dell access point that was a hand-me-down from one of Sara*. clients. It's 802.11g*.. Suffice to say, barely fit for web browsing, let alone massive file transfers. So I re-routed the Unit's internet service into the living room, and set up shop next to the television set.

So, my MacBook and my ATV had a weekend long pow-wow. All of the Music, Photos, Movies, and TV programs from my iTunes library were transferred. But then I got the funny idea to transfer some old shows I had on an external hard drive. So I told iTunes where to look for them.

Both were still perfectly useable during the transfer. And I was also able to purchase some new shows via the Apple TV! But as I'm a cheapass and have the absolute minimum service Cox Cable offers for internet, I had a good long wait ahead of me. So I started playing with the other features.


The system has a rather nice YouTube interface. It needs it for those couple of hours until you ATV actually has some content on it. I really have to give mad props to Apple for including it.

iPhone Remote

The built in interface is designed to be operated solely by a standard Apple Remote control. You know, that funny white button with a ring around it that Apple ships with it's computers. While it's friendly, it's ...

I'll be back in a little bit. Gotta cut today's issue a little short. A little 3 foot tall person, who shall remain nameless, needs breakfast.

Coming Up:

Some of the videos worked. Some of them didn't. And I would have explored the situation further if I hadn't caught a bullet straight in the foot.

I decided to hack the TV.

All content copyright 2018, Sean Woods | email: | phone: 703-342-2662