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In-depth Review: Apple TV 2nd Generation

The 2nd generation Apple TV is completely different from the first model. The most obvious change is the size. The new Apple TV is just a tiny black box that’s the same size as my wallet. It’s also quite easy to set-up. All you have to do is to connect it to your home theater system via an HDMI cable (doesn’t come with the box) and then connect it to your home network. It won’t take you more than 3 minutes to get everything going. Apple TV box comes with the manuals, stickers, aluminum remote control, and the power cable.

Apple TV (2nd Generation) side-by-side with Dosh Classic Wallet

What’s it really for?
Unlike the first generation, this one doesn’t have storage capabilities. In order for you to play your videos, music, and photos you have to stream it via AirPlay from your laptop, iPhone, or iPad. You also have the option of renting movies from the iTunes store but this won’t work in the Philippines unless you have a US account and a US Credit Card (or iTunes Gift Cards). That said, the primary purpose of the Apple TV for the average Filipino consumer is to just act as a bridge or relay device for your media content on your laptop, iPhone, and iPad to your home theater system. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can play on it:

  • Videos (through iTunes/iOS device)
  • Songs (through iTunes/iOS device)
  • Photos
  • Movie Trailers (via Apple)
  • YouTube
  • Flickr Photos
  • MobileMe
  • AirPlay Enabled Applications for iOS (TED, Crunchyroll, etc.)

For the video quality the Apple TV can go up to 720P. Some users were surprised by this because other digital media players have the capability of going up to 1080P.

Controlling the Apple TV
The default way to control the Apple TV is through the aluminum remote control. However this is a bit annoying to use since it’s hard to type on the screen with it especially if you’re surfing for content on YouTube. A good alternative though is to download the Apple Remote application for your iPad or iPhone. It’s much easier to use especially with the on-screen keyboard and the touchscreen surface.

Apple TV (2nd Generation) with Aluminum Apple Remote Control

What’s AirPlay?
AirPlay is basically a feature that Apple made that lets you stream your content between Apple devices via your network. With AirPlay you can stream your music, photos, and video from your iPhone, iPad, or MacBook to your Apple TV. You can also save lots of space on your mobile devices by just streaming the content from your MacBook to your iPhone or iPad.

This can be a great way to share content as well. If you have the Apple TV at home and you have guests who want to share photos, videos, or music, just have them log-on to your home sharing network/account. They can then easily stream the content to your home theater system for everyone to enjoy! Cool right?

Angry Birds on a huge TV via Apple TV? Maybe someday. ^^;

Since the Apple TV is small you can also just bring it with you when you’re going out and you want to share your content. Connect it to your hotel entertainment system or your friend’s home theater system to enjoy all the contents you have on your iOS devices.

Summary
Here are the pros and cons of getting the Apple TV 2nd Generation:

Pros

  • Small size
  • Affordable price
  • 720p playback
  • Great Interface
  • AirPlay – for guests, personal use
  • Play movies/music/photos
  • Remote Control App for iPad/iPhone

Cons

  • No content rental for PH-based iTunes accounts (which means you need cards and US account)
  • Converting all of your videos into formats for the iTunes
  • Limited to 720p

Wish List

  • AirPlay for Keynote
  • AirPlay for Drawing Applications
  • AirPlay for Games
  • Open iTunes video and audio content for the Philippines

My Recommendation:

The Apple TV 2nd Generation is a good buy for Apple fans. You know — the kind that have multiple Apple products at home. You can only maximize the Apple TV through AirPlay and you won’t be able to do that unless you have other Apple devices especially the iPad or the iPhone. I wouldn’t recommend this to people who primarily use PCs at home and don’t have devices that have AirPlay. Might as well go for other digital media players like the ones from Western Digital.

Apple TV 2nd Generation is not yet available officially in the Philippines. However you can get it through online sellers. The gray market price ranges from Php4,500 – Php6,000.

Carlo Ople

Carlo is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Unbox.ph. During daytime he’s the Managing Director and Partner of a Digital Marketing Agency in the Philippines and by nighttime he’s living out his passion as a gadget enthusiast and story teller through Unbox.

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