I just bought my third Apple TV. This is the device that acts like a video iPod connected to your TV. While it has some
shortcomings, it’s already replaced my beloved Squeezebox for distributing music (and now video) throughout the house. Critics rightly point out that it’s missing some key features: no 5.1 Dolby Digital sound support in software, you can’t access the iTunes store directly from it and iTunes doesn’t sell high-def movies. Another criticism, that it has too small a hard drive, is, at least for me, a non-issue (see caveat later). My aTVs are set up to just stream from my main iTunes. My computer is on all the time, and this works great. It’s my guess that an upcoming software update will fix the surround
sound issue and add the ability to access the iTunes store. It’s also my guess that a criticism I have of iTunes in general, that it doesn’t allow renting of movies, will also be fixed soon.
I will be upgrading the hard drive on the aTV that I just ordered to a 160GB Seagate drive. This is because I plan on placing this aTV in my place in Tahoe, and will be setting it up to sync from my main iTunes, instead of stream, like the others. The reason I need to configure this aTV to sync is that my home DSL line does not have enough upload bandwidth to support streaming over the Internet. I’ll also need to configure a VPN so that this aTV thinks it’s on my local home network, because iTunes doesn’t permit sync’ing over the Internet. The result of all this work will be that I’ll be able to access all my movies and music in Tahoe, without having to worry about keeping things in sync. It’ll just happen automagically.
With all the current shortcomings noted, this is the future. I can now easily watch any of my DVDs at any time on my TV. I can purchase movies and almost instantly start watching them. We are inching towards a future where all media is available all the time, and not just on computers.