The Minor Apple TV Updates

Dave Zatz —  March 7, 2012

appletv5

Touched on briefly as an undercard leading up to the iPad 3 HD main event, a slightly refreshed Apple TV was introduced earlier today. And the primary differentiator between this diminutive streamer and its predecessor is an upgraded single core A5 processor that enables 1080p video playback. Related, select iTunes and Netflix video content will now be offered at those higher resolutions. Should your broadband throughput and data cap cooperate. The incoming aTV, expected on store shelves next weeks, sports the same $99 price tag of the outgoing unit. And that’s pretty much all there is to say.

Along with the new hardware, Apple TV 5.0 software has been unveiled… and is also being made available to prior generation Apple TV as you can see from these photos. Replacing text-based lists, is the more familiar presentation of icons as seen on other iOS devices, like the iPhone. But still no app store. Yet. Although it was our second most predicted (requested?) feature in the poll we recently ran, behind the obvious bump in resolution. Lastly, our iTunes video purchases will be permanently accessibile from various devices, on demand via iCloud.

Apple TV remains a solid buy and I expect this “hobby” will continue to receive software enhancements and new partner announcements during the run up to a full fledged Apple HDTV. And if YouTube’s important to you, aTV’s still got it while Roku doesn’t.

22 responses to The Minor Apple TV Updates

  1. I am more excited about movies in the cloud than the iPad 3. Now that any purchased movie or digital download is available to stream to the Apple TV, that takes a lot less space on my Mac.

  2. The 2nd gen appletv wasn’t constrained by its CPU, the CPU/GPU was perfectly capable of handling 1080p video. We know this because XBMC on the ATV2 could render it internally. Nobody knows why, but for some reason apple restricted the hardware to outputting 720p.

    The jailbroken ATV2 running XBMC is an absolutely fantastic streamer. It offers most of the functionality of the $250+ boxee box. It’ll probably take several months to jailbreak the ATV3; keep that in mind when choosing a device to buy.

  3. Adam, Eh, I prefer renting. And, thus, the cloud doesn’t help me so much. Not to mention Amazon’s been doing this for ages (on other platforms).

    Roldalpho, my jailbroken Apple TV had a tough time with 1080p MKVs. But that was an earlier build of XBMC. Wonder if it tried to output it as 720p or something? Who knows. Anyway, refurb 720p Apple TVs are running $69 – seems like a decent buy unless Apple unveils some apps or accessories that require the new processor.

    http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/ipod/apple_tv

  4. Was that an ATV1 (the big white one) or an ATV2? XBMC runs on both.

    Yes, it just downscales 1080p video to 720p.

    That $69 ATV2 is an amazing deal. Nothing comes close to the price/performance of a jailbroken ATV2 with XBMC, with all its plugins including hulu (not hulu+, hulu) and navi-x.

  5. It was my aTV2 – stuttering. And for folks contemplating jailbreaking, they should also check out Plex server in addition to XBMC.

  6. Peter Kafka’s headline perfectly encapsulated what I had just been thinking.

    —–

    Also, worth noting that you can immediately unlock the Siri and App Store features of the new Apple TV as soon as you pre-purchase an Apple HDTV.

    Just $1,899 for the 42″ version.

  7. I guess the new ATV is about what I expected. Still no Facetime support, which is too bad. Not sure why not. There’s a USB port right on the thing, even if it isn’t enabled by software yet. A nice HD wide angle camera that could clip onto your typical TV set can’t be that hard to do…

    I bought one, though for now I’m going to just keep the ATV2 in the bedroom the same, since it certainly appears the only step up is the 1080p resolution, and not any new capabilities. Its possible we’ll learn over the coming days that there’s some capabilities that are restricted to the ATV3, but I’m not aware of any just now.

  8. I expect to buy one in the future. Hack it, allow for storage, and run the El Gato app on the AppleTV, for the HDHomerun Prime 3 tuner edition.

    Just a thought….

  9. Plex for the ATV2 is only the client, so you need to run the plex media server for it to work. It’s an inferior solution.

    XBMC for ATV2 is the full enchilada.

  10. I bought one, although I never used the original ATV I owned. 1080p and AirPlay from my new iPad pushed me over the edge. 1080p and 5.1 via Netflix will help me avoid renewing my Xbox Live Gold membership when it expires next month.

  11. I believe AirPlay mirroring currently maxes out at 720p, regardless of the 720p aTV or 1080p aTV. But… maybe you’re referring to the old white one you loaned me a million years ago. Xbox Live makes much less sense (to non-gamers) with Roku, Apple TV, PS3, etc making this content available for free.

  12. I wouldn’t use the AirPlay mirroring for video, so I’m not too concerned with the 720p limit — would be nice, obviously.

    The ATV fits me better than the other non-consoles, because it fits into the Apple ecosystem I’ve invested in.

  13. I was actually pretty disappointed by the Apple TV announcement. I was hoping for full app store support.

    Even though it’s more expensive, I still think the boxee box is better because it supports hulu and amazon video and a wider variety of formats for networked media sources. For someone who isn’t completely tied into the apple’s content ecosystem it’s an inferior option.

    That said, I already have an xbox 360 and a ps3 so I won’t be getting either one anytime soon.

  14. John, jailbreak an ATV2 and put XBMC on it. $70.

    The base ATV product is only worthwhile if you only consume apple’s content. It’s always been that way.

  15. I had an atv2 and did put xbmc on it. I sold it when the rumors came out that an upgrade was coming. It just feels like a provisional product to me without having any significant storage or apps. Don’t get me wrong, it will sell like crazy but just like every Apple product I’m sure the next version will be much more exciting. Ryan Lawler’s article over on gigaom was exactly my feeling.

  16. Most of the things we’re pining after can be added via software updates and business relationships. With Bluetooth and USB, accessories can also be added. The question is does Apple think there’s a large enough market (now) to take it on. I’d say the app presentation (icons and layout) are indications more is coming, at least on the content front.

  17. It already has apps, you just don’t get to decide which ones are installed…

    I’m disappointed by the 720p AirPlay for Mountain Lion Mirroring, but hey I was probably only going to use it once to see if Hulu (non-Plus) could be used that way or not. And I’m betting that Apple made a way to block it available.

  18. “Most of the things we’re pining after can be added via software updates and business relationships.”

    I will again make my perennial point that if an Apple HDTV is indeed in the pipeline, it’s not in the interests of Apple’s profits to ever add such things onto the standalone “hobby” box…

  19. Huh? Can you explain that?

    It makes perfect sense to me for apple to do both. Sell the appletv for people who already own old TVs, and their new “apple HDTV” for those who don’t.

  20. “Huh? Can you explain that? It makes perfect sense to me for apple to do both. Sell the appletv for people who already own old TVs, and their new “apple HDTV” for those who don’t.”

    If Apple wants to sell flat-screens at a 100% markup, which I think they do, no one will buy them if they can buy a $99 standalone box to replicate the experience.

  21. Seems to me that

    “the new apple HDTV” : iMac :: appletv : mac mini

    They sell a lot more iMacs than mac minis.

  22. We have a pair of ATV2 running the Plex Client and a mac mini as the plex server. We settled on this configuration after trying XBMC. The Plex setup, at least in our house, had a much higher family appreciation factor than XBMC. We liked it so much that we paid for the IOS plex app for mobile access to the children’s movies on their iDevices.