The Apple TV had a rocky start in the UK. While the US had an iTunes store bursting with TV shows and movies, we had nothing but a handful of Pixar shorts.
That’s now been remedied, and the UK store is full of top shows like 24, Lost and Flight of the Conchords, with new episodes often available just 24 hours after the television airing, and some in HD.
HD movies look superb
There are loads of movies to buy and rent, too, many of which are in HD (though bizarrely, only if you’re renting).
Resolutions are lower than the disc equivalent, with 480p being used for standard-def, and 720p for HD, but the quality drop isn’t overly noticeable; SD images suffer from a touch of pixilation around the edges, and HD motion could be a little better, but movie downloads are surprisingly close to the disc version, with excellent detail and vibrant, natural colours.
These iTunes downloads aren’t cheap, though. New standard-def films cost £3.49 to rent and £10.99 to buy, and HD rentals cost a whopping £4.49.
You don’t actually have to wait for the whole film to download before you can start watching: in our tests we needed just 1%, and even with HD movies this should only take a couple of minutes.
CD-like sound quality
What about the music you’ve already got? Well, it’s exceptionally simple to wirelessly connect the Apple TV to your computer’s iTunes, and once done, you can either stream content to the Apple TV, or take advantage of that 160GB hard disk by automatically syncing all of your media. Doing so means your computer no longer needs to be on for you to enjoy your content.
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Sound quality is excellent, with near-CD dynamics, detail and punch – assuming you avoid over-compression.
The whole interface is stunningly slick and pretty, and although the remote is a bit too small, you can replace it with a universal remote using the Apple’s unfeasibly simple setup process. Alternatively, you can control music playback using an iPhone or iPod Touch with the Remote app installed.
Problems? Well, it only plays iTunes files, so if you’ve got other formats you’ll need to convert them before they’ll play, but that’s about it. If you’re already an iTunes user, you’ve got to get the Apple TV.