Cord Cutting: Apple TV

Continuing the qwest to get entertainment into the house without paying for cable TV. About 3 months in so far and it’s going pretty well. The Roku box has served us well with Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Hulu is there too, but performance is so poor we have really stopped using it as our go-to Roku app. Add in the Plex server and getting all of the network kinks out, and we are happily watching televised content without pay tv.

Recently there has been a new edition to the entertainment rack. Since Apple released OSX Mountain Lion with AirPlay mirroring, and since I’ve been wanting to have airplay accessibility for other Apple devices in the house, an Apple TV was procured and installed.

Installation was very easy and straightforward. I have connected the Apple TV directly to the Air Port Extreme router with a cable instead of WiFi for improved performance. The HDMI out was conneted directly to the television and the optic audio out was connected directly to the receiver to a channel different from the televison for music support. All of this was really simple and only took a few minutes.

Setting it up was equally simple. Total configuration took less than 15 minutes of password entering for iTunes and a few other online services that are supported by the AppleTV. We have access to 2 iTunes libraries and 2 flickr accounts. On the rest of the services it would appear that only 1 account is supported.

So far, using it as been a pretty ok experience. Playback of music from iTunes is fantastic, as it is from any of our iOS devices. Video playback is also very good, with both excellent sound and image quality. Finally, AirPlay mirroring works amazingly well, especially considering that the bulk of it has been from Mac Book Airs in the house. Even full screen playblack of Youtube videos on mirroring is smooth.

A few minor issues have cropped up. Airplay mirroring or music playback won’t happen if the Apple TV has ‘gone to sleep’. A quick press of any of the buttons on the remote cures that in about a minute. Just seems like an extra step that could have been ironed out. The other is streaming from iTunes on the Apple TV.

Testing with the latest episode of USAs White Collar, a purchase was made. The screen began the _download_ process and reported that playback would be available in 1 hour and 40 minutes. The episode was only 45 minutes long. For comparison, the same episode was purchased on the Roku box through the Amazon app and playback was instant for the same quality and while the Apple TV version was still downloading. I’ve read that it’s better to go through iTunes on the desktop is a better experience and testing will continue.

Overall a great device that I’m really happy to have added to the Entertainment center. Next up will be the addition of a SimpleTV DVR. More on that as it becomes available.

By Don

Lead bottle washer at, host at and tech guru for the MotoringFile family of sites.

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