Sunday, December 26, 2010

Internet based TV - are you ready to cut the cable or dump the dish?

Imagine sitting with a tablet computer such as the iPad on the table or in your lap and doing the following things: 1) Write a blog entry, 2) Use the iPad Remote App to turn on your Apple TV, 3) Then use the same app to select some Christmas music from your PC or MAC to play through the TV, 4) Select photos from your computer library to display on the TV while the music is playing, 4) Continue working on the blog, reading email or the news and checking the weather, sports scores or traffic.

You don't need to imagine any longer; that's what I just did while working on this blog post. I've seen the future and it is Internet TV. Both Google and Apple are plunging full speed ahead in this exploding field. This really is the next big thing. Since the Apple TV is reasonably easy to understand I'll explain how it works.

What is the Apple TV? It's a very small computer that comes without a monitor, keyboard or mouse. It costs $99US and requires a $20US cable to connect to the HDMI port on a digital TV. It will not work on old TVs. To use it, you go through a set up process like any new computer - enter settings to add it to your wireless network, access your Netflix account, iTunes account, etc. This is all accomplished using the Apple TV remote control. Finding your account passwords may be the most difficult part.

Once it's set up, you can use the tiny remote or the Remote App on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to do dozens of incredible things.
> View Netflix movies
> Choose from thousands of free podcasts
> Rent movies and download music through iTunes
> Stream music, video and photo shows from any PC or MAC on your network to your TV.
Here are a few screen shots to show the simple on screen menu.

The Apple TV is a general purpose computer that comes with a set of programs (apps) to handle this type of home media application. I'm sure within a year you will be able to download additional apps for other tasks from an Apple TV app store. Starting January 6, 2011 that's one way you will purchase and install software for MAC computers - not just iPads and iPhones. 2010 will be remembered as the year the Mobile Revolution began and 2011 will be the year of The Internet TV thanks to Apple and Google.

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