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Apple TV

The latest generation of Apple's set-top box, Apple TV, focuses on being simple to set up and use. It features both Ethernet and WiFi connectivity options; basic audio/video connections; a small, low-power footprint; and a low price tag of just $99. Aiming for simplicity, Apple pared down the features to what it sees as the core needs of the average consumer:

  • HDTV and digital audio
  • Access to Netflix streaming (with the overall best TV interface for Netflix), YouTube, Internet radio, and iTunes content
  • Digital photos (with or without the Apple iPhoto application for Mac OS X)

All content is streamed from either the Internet or a computer in your home (Mac or PC), and iTunes is required for music, video, and photos stored on a computer. Video and music from outside Apple's iTunes Store is supported, but must use a format supported by Apple TV (see Apple's specifications) and be added to an iTunes library.

iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users can also stream content from those devices (varying apps are supported) via Apple's AirPlay feature. In addition to using the minimal remote that ships with the unit, those devices can use Apple's Remote app to control an Apple TV.

A/V connections supported: HDMI; TOSLINK optical audio.

Pros: Very quick and easy setup; simple interface navigation; access to Netflix streaming and local content; low price point; ability to stream content from iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Cons: Limited sources for Internet content; limited selection of supported video formats; requires iTunes.

Best for: Users who want a simple and affordable way to access personal media and premium Internet content from home, particularly if the user is comfortable with Apple products such as the Mac, iPhone, and iPad and already uses iTunes as a primary media organizer.

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