In yesterday’s “30 Days” post, Steve brought up an interesting idea, and reminded me that I have yet to talk about the AppleTV as a music player and photo viewer….which is kind of funny since I use it for those things more than watching television.
I work from home, so I my “office” is my living room, and before having the AppleTV I would just have iTunes running all day, listening to music as I write. I can’t really get the writing done with a TV show going or anything like that, I just need some background noise. Since the AppleTV arrived, I have been using it instead of iTunes, because of the slick interface that it has. I love the way the album art looks on my television. The interface is exactly like an iPod…heck it looks like an iPod interface with a Cover Flow skin on it…and is as easy to use as you would imagine.
I also have all of my family photos on the AppleTV, and they serve as our screensaver…which has turned out to be great. Sometimes my daughter will come into the living room and just watch our family pictures go by, pointing out her favorite memories of things that we’ve done over the past few years. It’s really great. I didn’t think I would use the photos on the AppleTV, but we actually look at them daily…more so than we’ve ever done before.
As for the heat issue and the idea of mounting the AppleTV in your car…The AppleTV gets HOT. Both the top and the bottom of the device are pretty darn warm. Morse so than I ever would have suspected. As I have mentioned before, it gets hot enough to where an over-heating problem with the devices would not surprise me at all. It gets significantly hotter than my Macbook Pro ever has, and hot enough to the touch to turn my skin red.
Still, if you mounted it in the truck of the car like a Disk Changer, I think it could probably work, and it would be a GREAT interface for your car…but it wouldn’t be cheap….
Great review, I appreciate it. One thing regarding installing it in the trunk of a car. Does the remote work when the device is behind you, say 1 meter, and hidden behind things? That was my one concern was that in order for the remote to work, it would need to be within my vision.
That’s probably true Steve – it probably wouldn’t work if you couldn’t see it…but you could just go ahead and spring for a touch screen display… 🙂
Would that even work with an AppleTV or hell even a Mac Mini with Front Row?
I’m not sure…I think it’s been done with Mac Minis…
I’ll look into it…
The Apple TV gets hot because the power supply is inside the unit – no external brick or flying saucer. This presents a challenge to hackers trying to use the Apple TV to pimp their ride.
The choices are: Provide AC power to the AppleTV using an inverter or other gadget; or, bypass the AppleTV’s power supply and provide DC power directly to the unit. A hacker would have to figure out the voltages supplied by the power supply and duplicate them. Who knows, maybe Delta Electronics makes a DC to DC converter that is pin compatible with the switching power supply in the AppleTV. Are you “tight with Murphy”?
Photo and music handling are two areas where I find the iPod somewhat lacking.
I love seeing photo slideshows and screensavers, they really show off the AppleTV and our HDTV. However, not being able to stream from another machine is ridiculous, not to mention inconvenient (we have over 10Gb of photos on 2 machines). It’s not as if there are any copyright/DRM issues with accessing your own photos.
The fact that you can only view photos in a slideshow format is disappointing too – why can’t I see a contac sheet-stlye view of the photos in a folder, moving around and selecting individual photos with the remote?
The other problem I have with photos is the way they’re displayed. The folders I’ve synced from iPhoto appear in a seemingly random order.
As for music, while the interface looks cool and playback is great, Apple has neglected some of the basics.
On the iPod I have the option to exclude artists who appear only on compilations from the artists list. Not so on AppleTV, so instead I have this huge list of artists to scroll down, some of whom I haven’t even heard of! Which brings me onto my next point. Scrolling through the artist list is slow and awkward. On the 5G iPod, the scroll wheel accelerates until you see the letters appear, not so on the AppleTV. Why not? And couldn’t Apple have made use of the redundant (at this point) forward and back buttons on the remote to allow you to jump by artist letter?
Small points, I’m sure, but for a company that prides itself on UI design, and has already implemented some of these features in their other products, you’d think this would be pretty straight-forward to do.