I always wanted to have an Apple TV added to my home theater setup. In addition to renting HD movies and TV shows, I have always wanted to use Airplay to stream media to it over the air from the Apple devices I own. I have an iPad, iPhone 4 & a Macbook Air. I also have a Windows desktop and a Windows laptop. All of these devices can stream media to the Apple TV over my home’s WiFi network.
A few weeks back I had the option to buy an Apple TV from the US. The first question that popped up in my mind was whether the Apple TV accepts 220v power supply or not. On the Apple’s tech specs page for Apple TV, its mentioned “Built-in 6-watt universal power supply”. That didn’t help. So I called in an Apple Store and the guy told me that it works both in the US (110v) and Europe (220v). Good. The next question (based on my experience with Hulu on my computer & Netflix on my Xbox 360) was that if HD rentals would work from outside the US? Since the rental service is not yet available in India (Heck, there is no iTunes media store for India), I wondered if I will be able to use my US iTunes store account from an Indian IP address. I couldn’t find the answer to this question. I anyways decided to go ahead and buy it as even if it didn’t work, i was fine using it only for Airplay.
The moment I got my hands on it, I opened it up and confirmed that the built in 6 watt power supply does accept 110 – 240 V. Unfortunately, its no where written on the packing. Its only mentioned on the apple TV itself at the bottom and you really have to squeeze your eyes to read it. Here, I captured a pic for you. This is the best one out of the 10 odd I clicked:
The next step was to test if I can rent movies from an Indian IP address. A little digging in the menu system revealed that it is very much possible. All you have to do is set your location to US (or wherever you hold an iTunes media account with a valid credit card attached). To change your location, go to Settings -> General -> iTunes Store -> Location. Here is a pic:
Once you do that, you can rent and watch movies in HD:
You can rent and watch TV shows in HD:
And listen to Internet Radio:
You can find all the info you need on Apple’s rental policies at their iTunes features page.
Airplay works flawlessly. I stream music all the time from my iPad or iPhone 4 to the Apple TV. If I am watching a YouTube video on any of my iOS device, I can play it on my Apple TV. The Apple TV automatically picks up the HD version of the video (if available) and continues it form the same location. Also, the remote app from Apple is amazing if you have lots of iDevices in your home. In addition to controlling the Apple TV, enabling Home sharing lets you control any of your computer’s iTunes library from the remote app. So I can basically use the remote app on my iPhone or iPad to play a song from my Windows desktop’s iTunes library on my Apple TV. Total Apple nirvana.
Note that Apple TV is not a cheap hobby. The rental price starts from 0.99$ for each episode and goes up for movies depending upon the hype and when you are renting it. But if you do have a good home theater setup, you can surely enjoy the benefits. Also note that Apple TV only does a maximum of 720p. So don’t expect any 1080p content from it. Also, you will need a high speed broadband connection for renting movies and TV shows. We would recommend at least 2 Mbps, but a 4Mbps connection should be optimal for buffer free viewing of HD content.
The Apple TV is available for 99$ in the US and only comes with its power cable and remote. You must purchase at least a HDMI cable to connect it to your TV. If you also have a home theater, you might want to purchase an additional optical cable to enjoy Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.
So all of you who want to use Apple TV in India, go ahead and buy one confidently. Just make sure you have an iTunes Media store account with a credit card associated to make the full use of this mighty little device.
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