The Apple TV refresh has been well-received so far.
And it works great, as long as you stick with content downloaded or streamed from iTunes.
Beyond that, there’s very little versatility.
We put together 10 tips for your Apple TV that will open it up to more content, stream video faster, and let you control it all with your phone.
The Apple TV remote is pretty lame. It's small, the buttons are too close together, and it's difficult to input text for searches on Netflix. With the latest version of Apple's Remote app, you can control your Apple TV over your home's wifi network with a higher degree of control. Plus search is a snap thanks to the included keyboard. The free app is available for iPhone and iPad. Download it here.
Jailbreakers cracked the second generation Apple TV in no time. It's a relatively simple process if you have a Mac. Lifehacker has a great tutorial to get you started. There aren't many jailbroken apps available at the moment, but there are several in development.
Plex is one of the first jailbroken apps available on the Apple TV. It lets you stream any multimedia file format to your television. There's also an iPhone and iPad app for greater functionality. Think of it as AirPlay without restrictions. After you've jailbroken your TV, you can follow Lifehacker's steps for installing Plex.
We found this nifty app for Mac called AirFlick that lets you push any video or audio file directly to your Apple TV without jailbreaking it. It will also transcode non-iTunes files on the fly, so there's not waiting to watch. We tested AirFlick with a .AVI file, and while it usually takes a few attempts to get a video to play, it's still a lot easier than hacking your Apple TV to death.
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 $29.99. HandBrake is a free app for Mac, PC, and Linux that works well too.
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 component cables. (The red, yellow, and white ports). HDMI-Component adapters sell for around $45 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 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.
In addition to streaming your video library, Apple TV also lets you stream music through your television. If you have a home theatre system, this is a great alternative to the Sonos wireless music system. You can also control your music with the Remote app for iPhone or iPad.
To use, enable Home Sharing on both your Apple TV and iTunes on your computer.