A while back I posted about a little test I did comparing the Sonos ZP90 and AirTunes using an Apple airport express. The remote control for both of these solutions was the respective free app on the iPhone OS platform.
To recap my previous post… Sonos is the best home audio solution, but costs the most. AirTunes using an Apple Airport Express was much less expensive, but had some short comings – the biggest being that the iTunes client (PC/MAC) needs to be open in order to stream the music. After further research, I found a solution that fit the budget and gives me everything I need… the Apple TV.
The name “Apple TV” leads one to believe it’s a video playback device (which it is), but paired with the free Apple remote app on the iPhone OS… it turns into a great living room music device, without even having to put your TV on.
1. Self contained – No reliance on a PC/Mac or NAS to be on during operation, as it has it’s own internal disk (160GB in my case). The Apple TV syncs just like an iPod, but even better, it can sync over WiFi.
2. Inexpensive – It costs US$229 on the US Apple store. The Apple remote app is free. No need to purchase a NAS.
3. More than just audio – Access to iTunes extensive library of movies & TV shows.
4. Hackable – Load up boxee and stream internet services such as Hulu (US only), BBC (UK only) and many others. Also you’ll be play your own non-iTunes video content (divx, xvid etc) streaming from your PC/NAS – or via a local copy on the Apple TV.
5. Integrated – It stays in sync with my iTunes library, which means I’ll have access to podcasts, playlists, playcounts, ratings and of course the Genius feature for music recommendation.
1. No true multi-room support. This is in Sonos’s DNA and can be expanded to multi-room support, at a cost.
2. Does not support many audio formats natively. Boxee helps here a bit, but my collection is all MP3 so that’s fine with me.
3. Does not provide access to some of the more popular audio streaming services, such as Rhapsody, Napster, SIRIUS, Pandora etc.
The remote app is really the thing that makes this (and the Sonos) solution work so well. All music navigation is done within the app and all music can be controlled from anywhere within the home (within, WiFI coverage of course). From within the Apple app – you’ll have access to all iTunes functions including: playlists, Genius, playcounts, ratings etc. As your TV will not need to be on, you will not consume much power
So far I’m very happy with this solution, and would recommend it to any music lover who has an existing Home WiFi network, iPhone/iPod Touch, amplifier (A/V receiver) of some kind and is using Apple iTunes today.