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Apple TV is designed to stream the music, photos, podcasts and videos stored in your iTunes library on your computer to your television. All your media can be brought to your lounge with minimal fuss via a slick and familiar interface. But has Apple done enough with its first entry into this space?
As usual, Apple's styling of the hardware is near-perfect. It's easily the best-looking video streamer out there. The trademark silver Apple finish means it will fit in with any other Apple hardware you might have.
The remote control is identical to the one that comes with Frontrow-equipped iMacs. It's wonderfully simple with just six buttons -- four direction buttons, a pause/play key and a menu key. On the downside, it feels a tad cheap and we'll wager it will get lost quickly, or at the very least get eaten by the dog.
Apple TV comes with just a power cable and remote control. There are no HDMI or component cables, which is a bit rich considering the £200 price tag.
You'll need to make sure that your TV supports either component or HDMI before you go out and buy one, as there are no Scart or composite connections. You'll also need a widescreen TV -- there's no configuration option to change the resolution to a 4:3 ratio, which isn't a huge problem because the number of 4:3 British television sets with component or HDMI is tiny.
At the back of the unit there are sockets for Ethernet and USB, component video out, HDMI out and optical digital out. It's one of the few video streamers with an HDMI port, which is a welcome addition.
Unlike other streamers, Apple TV has a hard drive built-in. The idea is that it copies (or syncs) the music, video and pictures from one Mac or PC in your house, so you can watch stuff even when your computer is off.
If you have more than one computer, or a mate pops round for tea, you can also stream content from up to five other computers using the wireless connection.
The 40GB hard drive is on the small side if you're planning to copy your entire collection of content over to the device, especially as there's only about 33GB available to use.
Setting up the box is as straightforward as we've come to expect for anything from Apple -- just answer a few questions about your TV and the country you're in, and you're off.
After your TV is correctly set up, you'll need to connect Apple TV to your network in order to start using it. If you're using Ethernet, you'll find this very simple indeed. Attach the network cable and within a short space of time Apple TV will have found any computers currently running iTunes.
Wireless configuration is nice and easy, too -- we tested it on a Wi-Fi network protected with 128-bit WEP security. Once you enter the key for the network, you'll be able to see Apple TV listed in iTunes. To connect, you must enter a further short code into iTunes that pairs your Apple TV to your iTunes library.
One of the best things about Apple TV is its menus. Not only are they very pretty, they're incredibly easy to get to grips with. They remind us of an iPod's and are just as easy to use.