On Sunday during our regular “go do something fun” time, Julian and I headed to the local Apple store with the notion of picking up an Apple TV.

I'd been previously toying with the idea of using Windows Media Center everywhere in the house for video, photos and music playback, but it's become increasingly apparent that the only way of doing this is to go and by more Xbox 360s for each location purely for the Media Center Extender functionality.

And there's no way in hell I'm doing that.

So, thought I, what about that new Apple TV thing? It's only $299 and basically acts like a Video iPod with a TV attached.

How wrong I was. It's way more than that.

So this evening I unboxed the incredibly sleek and sexy unit, plugged it into the TV, switched it on, typed in the wireless password (it's got built-in wireless), typed in the code it gave me to a copy of iTunes running on my PC, and viola! Instant gratification.

It just works.

Music, playlists, photos, podcasts and movies all playing on my main TV. It seems like as soon as the unit has synced the catalog of content, it'll stream the actual content across the wireless network while it's actually syncing the content, so you get to play very quickly - a great design decision as I'd have hated to wait for the sync to it's local disk to happen before I could muck around with it.

And did I mention video podcasts?

I subscribed to a bunch of them and they were available on the Apple TV very fast - I was watching Diggnation before you could say “Digg this”.

Plus, you get movie previews, etc… streaming from the internets.

Oh, and the UI is as sexy as all hell, in gorgeous HD 1080i wonderment.

In summary, if you use iTunes and have a TV, you must run, don't walk, to your nearest Apple store and buy one now.

You can thank me later.