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Christmas has come and gone and many of you have either received an Apple TV or are considering it. For many, the sheer fact that it is an apple product is exciting, but after opening the box you may find yourself asking, "So what does this thing do?" I found myself wondering what the purpose of it was. Until just recently I felt like it was a device with a good heart, but no idea of what it wanted to do or be. Besides the built in Netflix, I did not find much use for it. I saw it as a $99 dedicated Netflix streamer.
Surprisingly my love for this device has grown. It went from the redheaded stepchild of apple products in my home to being equally as loved as my macs and iPhone. Most of this has happened over the past few months with the updates to iOS.
With the recent release of the iPhone 4s and iOS 5 the Apple TV can do soo much more and now has become one of the most used devices in my home.
So what can you do with it and why should you consider buying it if you don`t already have it?
1. Airplay. Airplay isn`t new. Its been out since the original iPhone 4, but that doesn`t make it any less cool! With Airplay, you can wirelessly stream most audio and video from your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or a PC or Mac running iTunes to your apple tv. This only gets better if you have a surround sound system! You can play video games on your apple handheld and listen to the sound from your system or listen to your favorite music without having to worry about docking it. You can also easily open your youtube videos on your iDevice and they will play on your TV so you can enjoy it on the big screen or share it with your friends (especially those who haven`t heard of the bed intruder http://youtu.be/EzNhaLUT520 ) This applies to almost any video or audio on your device. It gets even more fun when your friends have an iDevice as well. Parties are even more fun, because everyone gets to take turns playing DJ since they can all connect to your apple TV wirelessly.
2. Built in Netflix. There is almost no device with an easier netflix interface.
3. itunes match. Not only does it wirelessly have access to your library from your PC or Mac running itunes giving you unlimited access to all of your music and movies, but now it can access all of your music in the cloud. Even when your computer is off you can listen to your favorite music and since it is all stored in the cloud its always synced and updated with your computer!
4. Mirroring. Airplay mirroring is the latest update to airplay. Now not only can you stream audio and video from your device, but you can now stream your devices entire screen and share that on your TV. You may wonder why this would be handy and how it might work for you. I use it all the time to share different things on my screen. My favorite is when scrolling through a website I think has some great posts that need to be shared ( http://www.memebase.com ) or when playing multiplayer games on my ipad like charadium. My favorite function of it is mirroring video apps like ABC and NBC official apps. As busy as I am, I don`t have time to watch TV on a regular schedule and happen to be too cheap tv shell out the extra bucks for a DVR. Now I do not have to get stuck watching my favorite shows in bed on my 13 in MacBook or on my desk with my desktop mac. I can open the app and airplay it to my TV so I can watch it from the comfort from my couch. All for FREE! I can watch the latest episode of desperate housewives Modern Family on my time.
5. The size and price. This thing is tiny. It can fit in your hand and is the easiest thing you will ever set up. You basically plug and play. It comes with one cord. The power cord. You will have to supply your own HDMI cable, but beyond that nothing else is needed. Its so small I happily take with me on trips to friends homes who dont have one. At $99 bucks it is a bit more than competitors like Roku, but airplay and mirroring are worth the extra $40 bucks. If you own or plan to own any iOS device this is an absolute must have device!