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As promised, this week I take a look at the machine Apple has designed to be the ultimate media center for your HDTV, and that's the Apple TV.

The only thing is, some people find the limitations of the Apple TV to be severely restrictive. These limitations extend to its tight integration with the iTunes ecosystem, its inability to playback any form of media other than Quicktime encoded videos and the somewhat frustrating decision by Apple to limit its extendability by disabling the onboard USB port. However, all these limitations can be overcome by the installation of ATVFlash by FireCore.

ATVFlash is a suite or third party applications and utilities that install on the Apple TV and allows you to take control. It installs most of the popular standard video and audio codecs, allowing your Apple TV to play most types of media files. It installs file transfer capabilities to allow you to transfer media files to your Apple TV using standard FTP or SFTP clients. It allows you to store and playback full DVD images of your DVD collection giving you access to all the submenus and extras found on most DVDs. It installs a number of external media browsers and players that help you organise and play your media collection, with seamless integration with the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and TVRage, retrieving movie and TV information along with movie posters.

It allows you virtually unlimited expandability by enabling the USB port and allowing you to connect and access external USB drives to store huge media collections. It even allows you to connect a USB Keyboard and Mouse. As well as these additional media related functions, ATVFlash also installs a fully functional, Safari based Internet browser to allow you to browse the Internet from your couch on your HDTV. You can even install additional OSX Applications on your AppleTV

The really cool part though is that all these applications and utilities are installed automatically by the ATVFlash menu driven installer. You don't need to access the command line and type convoluted Unix commands, in fact, no technical experience is required at all. Just download the ATVFlash package to your Mac or PC, insert a spare USB stick and run the package to create a bootable USB drive (all automatically). Insert the USB drive into your AppleTV and reboot and that's it! Once your upgraded AppleTV is up and running, a simple menu selection to enable the USB port and your done.

In this weeks show, I take you step by step through the simple install procedure and demonstrate many of the included applications and utilities as mentioned above.

The free version of this weeks show has been sponsored by ATVFlash

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