The streaming TV set-top box space keeps getting more crowded.
There’s Roku, Google’s Chromecast, and several other smaller players.
But the Apple TV is still the most popular gadget in the emerging category. And it does a lot more than just stream Netflix. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your Apple TV.
The remote that comes with your Apple TV is beautiful, but a bit too minimal to always do everything you want.
It's best to download the Remote app and control your Apple TV with your iPhone or iPad instead. The app is especially useful when you're searching for stuff on your Apple TV. For example, instead of navigating the keyboard on your TV with the arrow keys on your remote, you can just type away on your iPhone or iPad.
Thanks to AirPlay, which lets you beam content from your iPhone or iPad to the Apple TV, you can play some iPhone games on the big screen.
Newer iPhones and iPads support something called AirPlay mirroring, which displays whatever is on your device's screen on the Apple TV. It even works with games.
To switch on AirPlay mirroring, make sure your device is connected to the same WiFi network as your Apple TV. Next, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access the control panel. Finally, tape the 'AirPlay' button and select the option to mirror everything to your Apple TV.
Now launch a game. It should appear on your TV.
AirPlay Mirroring allows you to take whatever you see on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac and beam it wirelessly over to your big screen TV. It's perfect for presentations or demos on your computer or mobile device.
Unfortunately, not all Apple devices work with AirPlay mirroring. You'll need a newer MacBook, iPhone, or iPad that was made within the last two years or so.
It's worth noting that not all apps are AirPlay compatible, as it is up to the app developers to incorporate AirPlay functionality. But it can be used to play games, show keynote presentations, or perform product demos on a regular TV.
Already subscribing to either HBO or ESPN? You can now stream shows from both on your Apple TV by launching those two apps. It doesn't work with all cable subscriptions, but most major companies support it. Chances are pretty good you won't want to use your regular cable box again for those networks.
Last fall, Apple introduced iTunes Radio, a free Pandora-like Internet radio service. iTunes Radio is also available as a free app on your Apple TV and lets you create your own curated stations based on genres, artists, or songs you already enjoy.
If you already have a bunch of videos on your computer that aren't compatible with iTunes, there are several programs you can use to transcode them. iMovie, which is included when you buy a new Mac, is a good start. You can also use QuickTime Pro, which is available for both Mac and PC for $US29.99. HandBrake is a free app for Mac, PC, and Linux that works well too. All of these programs make it simple to import a video file and export it as something compatible with Apple TV.
After you transcode the file, drag and drop it into iTunes. You can then beam it to your Apple TV using AirPlay.
Instead of downloading a movie from iTunes that you already own, rip your DVD collection for streaming to your Apple TV. If you have a Mac, try RipIt ($24.95) or HandBrake. For PC, HandBrake will work too. After ripping the DVD, drag and drop the file into iTunes and use AirPlay to view on your TV.
Roxio's Toast Titanium ($79.99) software will let you access shows recorded to your TiVo and store them on your Mac. From there, you can drop the files in iTunes and stream to your Apple TV. You'll save space on your DVR and never have to worry about paying for new shows from iTunes.
Out of the box, Apple TV will only work with newer televisions that have HDMI ports. If you have an older TV, you can buy an adaptor that will allow you to use it with composite cables. (The red, yellow, and white ports). HDMI-Component adapters sell for around $US30 to $US45 on Amazon. Browse around to find the best price.
If your Apple TV is close enough to your router, connect it to the Internet with an Ethernet cable instead of using WiFi. Since you'll be streaming a lot of video on your Apple TV, an Ethernet cable will give you a faster connection and reduce the chances of slowdowns or waiting for a show to buffer.
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