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.
Remember that $99 Xbox 360 Kinect bundle we mentioned last week? Well, Microsoft has just launched it. You can now buy a 4 GB Xbox 360 with Kinect sensor for $99 with two-year Xbox Live Gold contract, paying $14.99 per month for the course of the agreement. If you cancel early, you'll pay an early termination fee, which starts at $250 and decreases each month after the third month. Just head on over to your local Microsoft Store to make it happen.
Read More | $99 Xbox Offer
In its neverending quest to get the Xbox 360 to be the entertainment hub of as many living rooms as possible, it appears that Microsoft has come up with a new tactic to move units. The Verge is reporting that the company is set to launch a new 4 GB Xbox 360 Kinect bundle that'll cost just $99. The catch? You'll have to agree to a two-year contract at $15 per month, giving you access to Xbox Live Gold service, and possibly other streaming features (maybe the rumored music service set to launch at E3?) It's certainly an interesting move that hasn't been tested before, which could be why the report claims that the specially-priced bundle will only be available in US Microsoft Stores.
Read More | The Verge
In this episode of Unboxing Live, we give you a look at the new 2012 Apple TV. The main feature of the updated Apple TV is that it can display 1080p content. iTunes has been updated to support the 1080p resolution as well, which makes renting and buying content from iTunes at the highest quality look great on the new Apple TV and the new iPad as well. Netflix has also been updated to stream 1080p with the new device, which is powered by a single-core A5 processor. You can pick up the new Apple TV for $99.
At this mornings iPad event, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the new Apple TV. The new Apple TV set-top box can output 1080p video, and what's even cooler is that the iTunes store has been updated as well, and will now offer movies and TV shows in full 1080p high definition. In addition to the video resolution, the new Apple TV also offers a brand new UI that looks very similar to what you find on your iOS devices, making a lot of the features look more like apps. The new Apple TV will be in stores next week, but you can pre-order it from Apple today for $99.