My first Apple TV quickly established itself as an essential addition to my home media setup. I used it primarily to send music from my Mac's iTunes library to the home theater audio system in our living room. In addition, it let me watch videos purchased or rented from the iTunes Store on the family HDTV.
Over time, our use of the Apple TV has only broadened. One example: My wife invited a group of her friends over to watch a series of video interviews, obtained as free downloads from a website, but she didn't want to make everyone huddle around her computer to view the shows. Our Apple TV came to the rescue. We imported the videos into her iTunes library, letting her display the videos on the connected television.
As great as having one Apple TV has been, I've recently discovered the benefits of owning multiple Apple TVs, one for each of the three televisions in our home.
The joy of multiple Apple TVs
The most obvious advantage of multiple Apple TVs is that I have access to Apple TV's features no matter which television or audio system I'm using. As a result, I can now listen to music from my iTunes library just about anywhere in our house.
Because I can send audio from iTunes on my Mac to more than one Apple TV simultaneously, I can arrange to have the same music playing in multiple rooms at the same time. This capability would otherwise require the greater expense of a separate multiroom audio system.
Having multiple Apple TVs also gives me the option of being able to start a movie in one room and finish it later in another room, picking up right where I left off. I can do this for movies in my iTunes library, for movies rented from the iTunes Store, or even for ones played via Netflix streaming. Overall, this comes close to matching the "any room" features of services such as AT&T's U-verse.
Speaking of Netflix streaming, though almost every device capable of displaying video seems to integrate with the service these days, I like the consistency of having the same user interface across all of my televisions. Always accessing Netflix via Apple TV provides this consistency, and it eliminates concerns about which networking services come with each television or Blu-ray player I might purchase. In fact, Apple TV, combined with the option to purchase HD digital content from iTunes, pretty much eliminates my need for a Blu-ray player. I still have one for playing discs from my Blu-ray collection, but my days of purchasing optical media are just about over.
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