The wonders of Apple TV

I’ve been a user of Apple TV for some time now, and despite some shortcomings, it is a simply amazing device that is especially powerful for people who have recent models of iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches. And with Mountain Lion coming out soon it’s about to get even more amazing. Apple today announced the next Apple TV generation which adds support for 1080p video. You can order it today for release on March 16.

Apple TV, for those of you who don’t know, is a tiny box about the size of an old iPod Classic with no moving parts. It allows you to access a myriad of entertainment services on your television including Netflix, Vimeo, YouTube, Flickr, every iTunes TV show you have ever purchased, and iTunes movie rentals and purchases, all at a quality that should be indistinguishable from Blu-Ray. It even allows you to stream your entire iTunes library from Apple’s own servers if you are an iTunes Match subscriber. It’s very similar in concept to the Roku, but with some added features that are of benefit to you if you use lots of Apple products and services. True to Apple’s zen, forward-thinking philosophy, Its ports only include power, HDMI, optical audio (optional) and ethernet (optional since it has WiFi). It draws a measly 1 watt when it’s running, and the interaction is as smooth as glass.

In addition to the built-in content you can “push” content from iTunes on your Mac or Windows computer, your iOS devices and soon from OS X Mountain Lion. Most videos and audio played on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch can ben sent to your TV over WiFi, and you can even open it up to any visitors who are on your WiFi network. It’s a great way to share YouTube videos or to play Pandora. Just note that that feature is app-specific and some app developers have decided not to enable the feature. Additionally, if you have at least an iPad 2, iPhone 4S, or OS X Mountain Lion, you can mirror your whole screen over WiFi to Apple TV. You can watch Hulu on your Mac, you can browse Safari for iPad, you can look at the live camera on your iPhone and share it wirelessly, including synchronized audio to your HDTV.