The TV and computing landscape has changed forever.
A growing number of young adults and adults alike are cutting the cord – disconnecting themselves from the cable oligarchy and finding entertainment solace in the internet. Moving from a cable provider to the internet is not an easy task, however. Today, there are an infinite number of choices to choose from – ranging from Google TV, Roku, Boxee, and Apple TV, all with their own method of self-control and DRM-laden content. So how are you supposed to choose the right ecosystem?
Recently, my father’s five-year-old Macbook Pro finally met the end of its life when my mother wanted to watch movies and videos given by her coworkers on her TV. The only problem was that with their current setup – a TV with limited format support and a laptop without software support for Apple’s AirPlay – didn’t allow this task to be done. Thus, a paradigm shift was needed to make the best out of the current mesh of ecosystems they have now. In the end, we settled on purchasing the new 21.5 inch iMac and an Apple TV from our local Apple Store. Fast-forward two days later after making some desk space, my father is now happily watching a movie from Netflix.
Boy, was that a great decision.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Apple ecosystem is right for everyone. But given that my parents are already reaching the beginning of retirement age and dealing with technical problems is not the best thing to spend my free time with, the Apple ecosystem was more than enough to meet my parent’s needs. The seamless integration between the iMac and Apple TV is absolutely fantastic. All I had to do was plug in the power, ethernet cable, and HDMI cable into the Apple TV, sign in to my father’s newly-created Apple ID, and access there was instant access to AirPlay and all of iTunes’ media features immediately and effortlessly. It was just like Steve Jobs had said once before: “It just works.”
The brilliant thing about AirPlay is how easy it is to setup and operate. I just told my father to click on the “square with the triangle icon and select Apple TV” and then you can watch your computer on your TV. Easy as pie. Tie your credit card information to your Apple ID and then you can rent as many movies as you want – or purchase them if you so desire. It is so easy to mirror your display with AirPlay and watch videos and movies using VLC or MPlayer OS X Extended on your TV. I don’t have to setup any sort of media server or streaming application at home and complicate the process and allow multiple points of failure. All I needed was a home network and the iMac/Apple TV combo.
What’s even better is that since I am an owner of an iPad Mini and an iPhone, if I ever wanted to share videos or images with my parents, a simple tap on the AirPlay icon on my iOS device and I can immediately share stories and experiences. Never again do I have to divert their attention to a hard-to-read-when-you’re-old computer screen when I can divert their attention to a massive 55-inch TV.
A key gripe of mine when it comes to technology is the amount of setup and fiddling I need to do in order to get everything setup correctly and work smoothly. Apple has managed to make content consumption life easier. It just works.