I owned one of these for some time but I gotta tell you, I haven't used it much. And because it can get really hot on top (you can bake an egg on a hot day) I usually pull out its power cable, especially after one day my spouse rushed to me in panic afraid that the thing would blow up in her face. I don't know why Apple doesn't fix this. We are not used of their products getting at such high temps; I mean, compared to Vaio, Apple laptops are icebergs.
Anyways, yesterday Apple released version 2.0 of their AppleTV software. Let me tell you! This promises to bring them over the tipping point to another iPod look-alike in terms of success.
The seemlessness by which things happen with this new update is stunning. Let's talk about pictures first. Mac geeks with .Mac accounts post their shots on .Mac galleries. The rest of us probably use Flickr. So, you go out there on a shooting spree and come back with dozens of shots and you die to show the world (family and friends) what you done. If any of your targets owns an AppleTV (your mom for instance) then all it takes is turn on her TV set and the AppleTV set-top and enjoy a slideshow of your shots in HD (from Flickr or .Mac galleries).
As for your digital video creations, if you wanna show-off your Spielberg talents to your friends and family, all it takes is post those on your YouTube account and then again, your mom, dad and the rest of the family and friends can enjoy your masterpieces by pointing their AppleTV box to your account at YouTube.
A third amazing pandora's box AppleTV opened up are the thousands of podcasts, especially videocasts from all around the world. Especially if you point your store to the US, you will be overwhelmed by the vast content folks already provide in the form of pod- and videocasting. Wanna see the ABC LATE NIGHT NEWS? Piece of cake. Prefer CBS? or MSNBC? Whatever! You name it, they got it. Download speed? Phenomenal. Just a few secs for lengths of casts up to 10 minutes. Quality? Better than SD, sometimes better than DVD. Not HD though, unless you want to watch HD clips. Beware of your bandwidth and download storage being consumed in the process though. HDs are fun but still need GBs where other resolutions need MB's. But, let's be serious; it's the content that counts, not so much the quality, as long as it's still on SD or DVD quality and it's not a National Geo documentary, that is.
As for the rest, you can buy music, TV shows, movies, etc directly via wireless connection to your router (no need for any other PC to be on for that purpose) and you can also channel your laptop's music to the set-top as it's often connected to a better set of active loudspeakers than the laptop.
You can even download (via syncing with any PC or Mac) any content of your liking (audio and video) for permanent storage on AppleTV's hard disk and play it back when you're lying in your sofa or bed (as in my case, since the box is connected to my bedroom TV). So, you don't need to stream that same content from live PCs/Macs (which seems to often be the problem with the media managers of the competition). On the other hand, if you prefer streaming, that's fine too, unless your kids are making heavy use of the wireless network at the same time which might introduce some hick-ups to your streaming.
In conclusion, AppleTV 2.0 provides an intelligent box for all sorts of media display, own or third party buys or rents, from music and slideshows to motion pictures and TV shows or your own HD or SD productions. I am sure this whole thing is going to start an avalance of success eventually. I don't even mind the high temperature or the panicking spouse any more...