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What Is Apple TV?

Meet the Apple TV.

Apple TV is a digital streaming media device, a piece of hardware that is about the size of a hockey puck. It allows streaming media to be played on your television set. (Note that last November, Apple introduced a service named Apple TV+, so similar to Roku, Apple TV is a device as well as a content provider.)

But today I’m talking about the hardware device. It’s simple in concept: You connect it to your television with an HTML cable, connect it to your network (usually Wi-Fi, but it can be connected wired via an Ethernet cable) and you can start watching a series of channels. Similar to the iPhone and iPad, you can download apps from Apple’s App Store.

But do the apps cost money? And where does the streaming content come from? Is it free or do you pay for it? And how do you get to watch what you want? Great questions, all.

Let’s start at the beginning; You need an internet connection to get one of these to work. In lower Fairfield County, Connecticut, we have Optimum. Other areas have Comcast. Some areas (not here) can opt for Verizon Fios.

Apple TV is a DEVICE that allows your television to receive streaming video (or audio) content. Similar devices include Roku, Amazon Fire Stick and Google Chromecast. (There are a few other also-rans, but these are the big three.) Although they have their differences, they pretty much all work the same; they connect to your television using an HDMI cable and you configure them to connect to your network. (And they each have another remote to contend with.)

They all have their pros and cos, but basically, they all work similarly. You click on one of the apps on the screen, and there you go. For example, if you want to watch Netflix, you click on the Netflix app, sign in (requires an account, of course), and 30 seconds later you’re watching “Cocaine Island.”

Now, some of the content is free (YouTube, Red Bull TV, Bloomberg Business), but most of it requires some kind of subscription (Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go). You can also sign into your Apple iTunes account and rent movies and TV shows as well.

Of course, there’s a lot more to this than I have time for here – so let’s go to the video tape!

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