Along with the new iPad, Apple launched the new Apple TV to considerably less fanfare. Still though, it’s a nice upgrade that finally brings 1080P to Apple’s little black video streaming box. The device is exactly the same on the surface, but includes a new single core A5 chip which allows for 1080P. The difference from 720P to 1080P is a big one, especially when you’re streaming videos to your 50” Full HDTV. The best part is that along with the new device, Apple updated the iTunes store with 1080P movies and TV Shows.
The Apple TV has a number of uses as it provides video streaming, AirPlay Mirroring, and music streaming in our set-up. The 1080P streaming is silky smooth and very fast, and the load times are no different than on the Apple TV 2, despite the increased resolution. Also, the new 1080P UI shines, and it’s even more intuitive to move between the various sections. It would still be nice to see an improved remote included, although the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad can act as the remote. The main aspect though, is the 1080P quality, and whether it’s iTunes videos or files streamed from AirVideo, the 1080P is just as you would expect.
AirPlay Mirroring is probably the main reason to get an Apple TV, and it’s a smooth experience on the new device. The iPad 2 and Apple TV 2 was relatively smooth, but the iPhone 4S and Apple TV 2 had some slow downs. The New Apple TV with the iPhone 4S or new iPad had had no stutters whatsoever, and provides an exceptional experience. AirPlay Mirroring provides every single App Store app on the Apple TV, and there are a number of apps with special Mirroring modes. The one drawback is that apps like ABC, NBC, HBO Go, TNT, Hulu Plus, and other cable cutting apps either have small resolutions or are restricted by the company when Mirroring.
The Apple TV doesn’t have that many built-in apps, but with access to the App Store and Mirroring, it really is irrelevant. AirPlay Mirroring is still the best feature in iOS 5, and worth the $100 price of the Apple TV, even if you never watch any movies. Air Video is especially noteworthy because it streams full resolution allowing you to watch 1080 mkv, avi, and other video files. You can even stream 1080P 3D movies to a new 3D capable HDTV, and the TV will playback in Full HD 3D. Also, the Apple TV can connect to your home theater system or other speaker arrangement with just an optical cable allowing you to stream your iTunes music effortlessly.
The new Apple TV ($99) isn’t the biggest upgrade, but 1080P and improved AirPlay Mirroring is really all that you need. The new Apple TV is a should buy that is worth upgrading over the Apple TV 2, and still is worth the plunge for Apple TV holdouts.