People are funny where Apple is concerned. For example: Martin, our ISP, is so vehemently anti anything Apple that he refuses to let iPhones send mail from their owners’ accounts on his servers. iPhones can receive mail but not reply to it unless they have an account elsewhere whose SMTP server lets iPhone mail through—which is probably nearly all of them. Martin has no problem with other smartphones, just Apple’s. It seems the most rabid stances taken in any discussion about Apple comes from those against rather than the so-called fanboys.
Let’s face it: the firm is only a brand of products, albeit ones I particularly like. I shop in Waitrose and Marks and Sparks but don’t get in a tizzy because one shop won’t stock the other’s brands. When I make the occasional foray into other supermarkets, on the whole they seem pretty similarly priced for the same quality of products, with Sainsbury’s often more expensive. The Microsofts of the UK supermarket world are perhaps Tesco, Lidl, Asda, and Aldi. Brands whose shops I can’t remember the last time I went into.
Long Time Coming
With that in mind, it has taken us a long time to decide to buy an Apple TV. We tried various alternatives. Most mean plugging a laptop into the TV, with the paraphernalia that involves it left all our EyeTV recordings unwatched. Other pieces of digital chippery have come and gone: cheap media players, Blu-ray and DVD players unable to display recordings without stuttering, various streaming software. All have drawbacks.
Apple TV is expensive in the UK; it has never dropped to the same price as in the US, some 60 pounds ($86) cheaper, and the hard disk seems miserly if you think of it as a storage medium for recordings. One recent review we read went through all this, but explained that it really is a media streaming device to play iTunes-compatible recordings. Anything in our iTunes libraries can be played on an Apple TV via Ethernet.
That clinched it: all last week one Mac worked 24 hours a day converting EyeTV recordings to Apple TV format while we waited for the courier. Setting up was almost brainlessly easy, and the results are perfect on our 32-inch LCD TV. The operating system is the best we’ve seen on any digital media player, yet the remote control has only six buttons.
TV shows and films now stream wirelessly from iTunes, as do pictures from iPhoto and Web sites such as YouTube and Flickr. Get bored with those, and there are Internet radio stations, podcasts, free to view TV shows—plus downloads from the iTunes Store. We never really got into renting movies, but with them so easily to hand, we probably will.
Which is, of course, the problem. Yes, Apple products can be expensive and on the surface might seem lacking when compared with similar devices. On the other hand, they integrate together so easily and have a brand identity and appearance unmatched by others. But it is going to be the easy access to the iTunes Store that will be the most expensive part. Like our Macs, iPhones, and iPods, now stuffed to the brim with applications, podcasts and music, our Apple TV will undoubtedly start downloading movies and TV series.
Unless Martin, our ISP, does us a favour and stops Apple TVs from accessing the Internet.
Also in This Series
- What Trick, What Device, What Starting-Hole… · May 2012
- Do Androids Dream? · April 2012
- Our Macs Are Under Attack · March 2012
- The Best and Worst Christmas Presents · February 2012
- The Best Use for a Kindle · January 2012
- It’s Got No Blinking Light · January 2012
- Box-Shifting Causes Migration · December 2011
- The Best Thing About the iPhone 4S and How to Cope in Clink · December 2011
- Death of a Salesman · November 2011
- Complete Archive