What’s an Apple TV?

Simply put, Apple TV is a shiny little black cube (3.9 x 3.9 x 0.9-inches; 0.6 pounds) that costs $99. It connects to your HDTV via an HDMI cable and lets you rent or buy movies and TV shows from the iTunes Store, as well as stream movies, TV shows, photos, and other media from computers and other devices to your HDTV.

Unlike so many audio/video devices, Apple TV is the model of simplicity. Just plug it in to AC power and connect it to your HDTV using an HDMI cable (not included). For those with a Wi-Fi network, that’s all there is to it. You can also connect it via Ethernet cable (also not included), but that’s much less convenient.

The on-screen interface — what you see on the HDTV — is clean and uncluttered, making it easy to navigate using either the included aluminum Apple Remote or the free Apple Remote app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

It’s a pleasure to sit on the couch and rent or buy movies and TV shows in standard or high definition from the iTunes Store. It’s also great to watch streaming video on Netflix.

But the best part is that you have complete access to almost all your audio, video, and pictures, all without leaving the comfort of the sofa. More precisely, you and your family can enjoy TV shows, movies, music, podcasts, audiobooks, and photos, regardless of whether they’re actually stored on your Mac Pro, your wife’s iMac, or your son’s MacBook.

Through the magic of Apple’s AirPlay technology, you can also stream media to an Apple TV from your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. How can you not love that?

Here’s how that might work: Say you want to show someone some pictures. You whip out your iPhone, tap the AirPlay icon in the Photos app, and select that person's Apple TV. Presto! Your pictures are beamed wirelessly to their Apple TV and appear on their 46-inch HDTV.

Beats the heck out of viewing them on a 3.5-inch iPhone screen, don’t you think?

There’s even more, including MLB and NBA game subscriptions, as well as videos from YouTube and Vimeo. If it offered video from Amazon and Hulu, like Roku XS box, it would be darn near perfect.

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