Apple TV Menus
Now that we have thoroughly investigated the hardware that is powering the Apple TV, it’s time to delve into the software system that powers it. The system runs a cut-down version of the Mac OS and a single media-centric application.
For my testing, the Apple TV was connected to a DVDO VP50 video processor that was in turn connected to my Samsung 56″ 1080p DLP TV. All media center testing has been done in this same way including our original HD-DVD testing with NVIDIA’s PureVideo technology and our Xbox 360 HD-DVD testing as well.
And first, as a word of caution, the screen shots here are taken with a camera and not actually “screen shots” so the quality in them is going to be less than what a user is actually seeing on the screen. I’ll indicate in specific areas what the quality levels are like and compare them to other media options.
After a brief boot-up sequence that looks a lot like the Apple TV home page, you are greeted with this simple menu. The brightness and clarity of the menu was superb and certainly had the feeling of “high definition” even though it’s only a dang menu. You can see that all the content is broken up into various categories: movies, TV, music, podcasts, etc.
Popping into the movie section, you’ll see a listing of all the movies you have purchased through iTunes or otherwise have listed in your iTunes library that are playable files. Here you can see that I wisely purchased “AirBuddies” for my niece and nephews to watch during our Easter holiday. You can also browse through trailers and iTunes top sold movies for previews while on the Apple TV.
If you leave the focus on the movie for a few seconds it will bring up some additional information including movie rating and synopsis.
Looking at the iTunes top movies you can watch some previews and trailers for the movies that are available for download at the iTunes store though you can’t actually BUY them through the Apple TV which is something I would have liked to see.
A similar feature is available on the TV shows side of things allowing you to watch some previews of shows streamed to iTunes and then to the Apple TV.
The music library support on the Apple TV is very good as well, allowing you access to your entire library and playlists with ease. There is a nice animation that flows to the left hand side of the menu with the covers of the various albums you have in your collection while you are selecting where to go.
Browsing through the artist or albums sections is accented by having the cover art shown there as well if it is available — even the songs not purchased on iTunes worked flawlessly with this.
Once you have selected an album, the Apple TV shows the songs in the playlist and offers up the album artwork as well as the more information including the track length, genre, etc.