iOS devices like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch will be big holiday gifts this year, make no mistake about it. The Apple TV is actually a fantastic complement to Apple's handhelds, worthy of being featured in our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide. A nice little device in its own right, the Apple TV gives you access to Apple's iTunes Store entertainment content right on your television. In addition, you get Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, sports networks, and plenty of other entertainment options. Connect it to your iTunes Home Share, and you can use your iOS devices as remote controls for the Apple TV. The best part, though, is AirPlay. You can beam audio and video content right to the Apple TV with ease from your iOS device, or your Mac. You can also mirror the display of these devices as well, all wireless over your home network.
Honorable Mention: Roku 2 XS Streaming Player
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Apple has just announced a new software update for the Apple TV that brings HBO Go and WatchESPN to the platform. Additionally, live UK Sky News streaming, access to Crunchyroll (an anime video site) videos, and Qello, a music/documentary streaming service.
“HBO GO and WatchESPN are some of the most popular iOS apps and are sure to be huge hits on Apple TV,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We continue to offer Apple TV users great new programming options, combined with access to all of the incredible content they can purchase from the iTunes Store.”
In order to activate HBO GO and WatchESPN, you'll need to be subscribed to the right cable provider, and you'll activate them using a code from your provider. Sky News provides free streaming in the US, UK, and Ireland.
You can download Apple TV 5.3 software update now for your second- and third-generation Apple TV to get the new hotness right away.
Read More | Apple
Media streaming enthusiasts have a new toy to play with! The new Roku 3 has launched and is ready to wage war for its place in the living room against other streaming alternatives like the Apple TV. The Roku 3 has improved internals, new glossy hockey puck hardware look and a much needed revamped user interface to navigate those 700 channels. However, it still doesn't have YouTube!
As far as internal hardware specs go, the Roku 3 is now housing a dual-band Wi-Fi, assuming it now runs in the 5 Ghz frequency. Inside, it has a new faster processor which is said to be much faster than its other variant predecessors, like the Roku 2 XS. Additionally, it has a USB port, ethernet, HDMI, SD card slot, and digital in.
Read More | Roku
TiVo has announced that the Flingo suite of streaming apps is now available on TiVo Premiere boxes. If you're unfamiliar with what this means, Flingo basically provides multiple channels of streaming video content, including programming from A&E, History Channel, TMZ, Showtime, and about 200 other content sources, alongside 70 apps. Flingo will also be creating exclusive content apps specifically for the TiVo Premiere through "Launchpad for TiVo." "People are demanding access to online streaming content from the comfort of their own living room, and TiVo’s offerings has evolved to support that demand," Tara Maitra, SVP and general manager of content and media sales at TiVo Inc., said in a statement.
In a way, this is like turning your TiVo into a Roku set top box. We'll be checking it out later today.
Read More | MarketWire
iOS devices like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch will be big holiday gifts this year, make no mistake about it. The Apple TV is actually a fantastic complement to Apple's handhelds, worthy of being featured in our 2012 Holiday Gift Guide. A nice little device in its own right, the Apple TV gives you access to Apple's iTunes Store entertainment content right on your television. In addition, you get Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, sports networks, and plenty of other entertainment options. Connect it to your iTunes Home Share, and you can use your iOS devices as remote controls for the Apple TV. The best part, though, is AirPlay. You can beam audio and video content right to the Apple TV with ease from your iOS device, or your Mac. You can also mirror the display of these devices as well, all wireless over your home network.
You can pick up the Apple TV for $99, or $94.95 on Amazon.
Honorable Mention: Roku 2 XS Streaming Player
Read More | Apple TV
Microsoft is developing a set-top box as an alterntative to a fully-fledged next generation gaming device. The set-top will run on core components of Windows 8, offering casual gaming titles (most likely through Xbox Live) instead of the big productions you'll find on the next-generation of Xbox consoles.
Furthering the casual theme of the set-top box, Microsoft is planning on incorporating a chipset enabling the device to boot up practically instantaenously for quick and simple access to TV, games and other entertainment services.
The set-top box is but one step in Microsoft's plan to bring the core architecture of the next-generation across several devices, such as a phone capable of handling a complete Xbox Live experience.
Hot on the heels of the most successful iPhone release of all time, Apple has just released iOS 5.1 for the Apple TV, bringing with it new features that make it compatible with iOS 6 devices. Like what? Well, for starters, the device now supports the new Shared Photo Stream that you'll find in iOS 6 and iPhoto in Mountain Lion. There are also AirPlay feature additions and enhancements, new slideshow screensavers, the ability to reorder app icons on the main menu, and more. Hit the break for the full rundown, and hit up the settings area on your Apple TV to grab the update.
In a move that's far overdue, Apple has finally launched Hulu Plus on the Apple TV. A software update was released early this morning that adds the Hulu Plus app to the second- and third-generation Apple set-top-box, but it's a behind-the-scenes update. All you need to do is restart your Apple TV if you don't see Hulu Plus on the home screen.
Users can get a 1-week trial, log in with their existing Hulu Plus account, or subscribe right from the Apple TV using their connected iTunes account.
Read More | Hulu
- The Co-Star comes with OnLive steaming gaming built-in as an app. Just launch the app, and as long as you have decent broadband, you can play a ton of video games.
- Price: Vizio has priced the Co-Star at just $99. That matches it up nicely with higher-end Roku boxes and the Apple TV, and is half the cost of competing Google TV boxes that don't offer OnLive gaming out of the box.
Google TV has certainly had a rough time getting off the ground, and the Co-Star may be the product that offers it the boost that it needs, although we highly doubt it. If you're interested, Vizio starts taking Co-Star preorders next month.
Read More | Vizio
Apple has just released Apple TV software version 5.0.1, which looks to solve a few niggles that we've actually been complaining about lately. Owners of the second and third generation Apple TV can get the updates right away by heading into the software update area under Settings. What's changed? Well, iTunes TV and movie previews are now high definition, AirPlay is fixed for iOS apps, Home Sharing connections should no longer be as fickle as they've been lately, and Netflix integration gets tightened up a bit. You can pick up an Apple TV for $99.