Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Apple TV 'Take Two' software update

It's been a while since I've posted anything. The weather has been too bad to get in some photography outings, so there just hasn't been much on the photography side.

However, today Apple released the free 'Take Two' software update for Apple TV. I can't express how pleased I am with this update! I have always enjoyed my Apple TV, but this update has turned it from a novelty to a 'must have' component for my living room.

The user interface has changed completely. Everyone knows that the big addition is the ability to rent standard and HD movies directly from the Apple TV. That's nice and all, but there are other features that really excite me.

You can now view photos from Flickr or a .Mac photo album. I use Flickr extensively, so this peaked my interest. But not only can you view your photos/albums, but you can also browse your friends photos (and their friends), and bookmark their photo stream for easy viewing. And here's the kicker... you can make any of these photo albums your Apple TV screensaver/slideshow! That is my absolute favorite feature of the 'Take Two' update. I currently have my sister's 'Recent Additions' photos from her Flickr account set as my Apple TV screen saver.

In the video settings, you can now set your Apple TV to display at 1080p! I haven't noticed this documented anywhere, but then again I have not been doing a lot of research on it either.

The line between local and streaming content has been blurred. You no longer see only what is stored on the Apple TV. You see the entire contents of your iTunes collection on your computer. Before this update, you had to navigate to a special area hidden deep in the menus just to stream items from your computer's iTunes. The process of viewing local content (stored on Apple TV) and viewing streamed content (stored on your computer) was very distinct. You had to jump through hoops to do it. Not anymore! Now it just works!

I did experience some movie preview buffering issues when I was trying it out earlier today, but I think that's just due to the increased traffic to the Apple servers as a result of the update. I'm sure that will clear up.

If you don't have an Apple TV, go to an Apple Store and try one out! I can feel confident about recommending one to my family and friends now. Overnight, the Apple TV has turned into a major contender in the media center/hub market.

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