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Apple TV (third generation): What you need to know

Macworld staff | March 8, 2012
While Apple executives have continued to call the Apple TV a hobby, over the past couple years, the company has dedicated a fair amount of resources to it. The Apple TV 2 was a major upgrade, and Apple has added a good number of features to that media player through software updates.

Can I connect an external hard drive to the Apple TV?

As with the previous two Apple TV models, the USB port on the back is designed for only "service and support." Products such as ATVFlash have been able to use the Apple TV's USB port to allow for things like external hard drive storage and more media features, but these are unsupported additions. Given the similarities between the new Apple TV and the second-generation model, we suspect the current version of ATVFlash either works with the new Apple TV or will quickly be updated for it.

Has AirPlay changed at all?

AirPlay functionality appears to be the same as with the previous Apple TV: You can stream music, photos, and videos to the Apple TV from AirPlay-enabled apps on your computers or iOS devices. If you have an iPhone 4S or iPad 2, you can also use AirPlay to mirror that device's display to the Apple TV.

Has the Apple TV's remote been improved?

Despite rumors of a new remote design, the new Apple TV comes with the same basic, infrared Apple Remote as before--a remote that feels more and more limiting as Apple adds functionality to the Apple TV. Thankfully, if you've got an iOS device, you can use Apple's Remote app instead.

When will the new Apple TV be available, and how much will it cost?

The updated Apple TV will keep the same $99 price as the previous version. Apple says the new model will be available on March 16, with pre-orders starting today.


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