New Apple TV – what you should know

I’ve never owned an Apple TV until now. Before this, I’ve made do with a video iPod connected to a G4 and then a Mac Mini, connected directly to the HDMI port via a DVI-HDMI adapter, to play my audio, video and other media from multiple Macs in my residence.

My current network is as follows:

-MacBook Pro, connected via WiFi to an Apple Airport Extreme. This is my computer and my iTunes library is almost completely audio, from audiobooks to music to podcasts.
-Mac Mini, connected via Ethernet to the Airport Extreme. This is my girlfriend’s. Her music and audiobooks are stored on the internal hard drive, the movies and TV shows are stored on external FW 800 hard drive. The Mini is also attached to external speakers, making it our hub for anything we listen to or watch.
-Airport Extreme with a hard drive attached via USB, used both for Time Machine and miscellaneous video storage.

Seeing as how I no longer wanted to have to use home sharing through the Mac Mini to play songs throughout the house from my MacBook Pro, the new Apple TV seemed a fantastic option. I bought one last weekend and here are my impressions after the first few days:

2G iPod Nano with new Apple TV
1. It’s small. Really small.
You have room for the Apple TV no matter how your entertainment center is set up. The only limitation would be cord length if your stereo and TV aren’t in the same place.

2. It’s fast.
Loading iTunes libraries from either the wired Mac Mini or the wireless MacBook Pro took no more than a few seconds. Scrolling through shows, songs or movies was quite smooth, although I did keep hearing that annoying Apple click sound (which I’ll turn off as soon as I stop playing with it).

3. If it plays in iTunes, it played on the Apple TV.

No matter if the file was on the MacBook Pro, on a hard drive attached to the Airport Extreme or on a hard drive attached to the Mac Mini, it played. Zero lag or buffer time no matter what I loaded.

4. 720p looks fantastic.
Yes, my TV is only 720p, but I’m not a huge fan of 1080p anyway. Video isn’t supposed to be that REAL, ya know? Either way, the TV and the Apple TV displayed the files perfectly, in wide screen.

2G iPod Shuffle with Apple TV
5. Controlling it from my iPad or iPhone is cool.
I know this is old news, but it’s still fun to play with cool techie things. Being able to access my entire media collection via my iPhone from anywhere in range of my WiFi network. AirPlay, available in iOS 4.2, will allow me to stream from my iPhone, too. Let’s hope that works as advertised.

Questions? Anything you want me to try?