Users report HDMI handshaking, connectivity issues with second-gen Apple TV

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Date: Thursday, December 2nd, 2010, 05:32
Category: Apple TV, News

It’s a nifty thing, but perhaps a bug fix is in order.

Per AppleInsider, some early adopters of Apple’s second-generation Apple TV are reporting issues with streaming HD rentals and problems completing “HDMI handshakes” between the new Apple TV and their HD TVs.

Several discussion threads on Apple’s support forums related to issues with HD rentals not loading and HDMI connectivity problems have reached hundreds of posts in length as increasing numbers of Apple TV owners report having trouble with the device.

Users reported that Apple TV displays HD rental wait times of hundreds of minutes, while other video, such as trailers, HD Netflix movies, and YouTube begin playing after just a few minutes. “At one point, the HD movie was going to take over 3,000 minutes to load,” wrote one user.

Though a portion of the users have resolved the issue by upgrading to higher bandwidth Internet, others report the problem occurring even with high-speed connections capable of handling HD video.

Another Apple support thread details potential compatibility issues between Apple TV and a number of HD TV sets. Users report frequent “HDMI handshakes” between the TV and Apple TV, with the picture returning with inverted colors. A user-compiled list of TVs affected includes models by Philips and Sony.

The Apple TV 4.1 firmware update, which was released last week alongside iOS 4.2, does not appear to resolve either issue.

Apple unveiled the revamped US$99 Apple TV in September with a focus on ‘the cloud’ and streaming media. With just 8GB of onboard storage, Apple’s new set top box serves as a hub for content streamed from the Internet, computers, or iOS devices.

If you’ve seen these issues on your end or discovered a fix or workaround of your own, please let us know.

Apple posts Apple TV 4.1 update, adds AirPlay, VoiceOver, other features

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Date: Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010, 03:33
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

In addition to Apple’s release of iOS 4.2 for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices, Apple on Monday also released an update for its Apple TV set top box today, bringing AirPlay support for wireless streaming.

Although the company made no mention of the Apple TV update when announcing the forthcoming launch of iOS 4.2, the software arrived at the same time, around 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern on Monday. Per AppleInsider, the Apple TV software update can be initiated through the device’s settings menu, and is done directly over a wireless or wired Internet connection.

In addition to AirPlay, which will allow streaming of video and audio from iOS devices to the Apple TV, the 4.1 update also brings VoiceOver functionality. The new feature can be turned on through the accessibility menu of the Apple TV.

VoiceOver reads menus and metadata, including episode descriptions for TV shows. In the settings, users can also set the speed of voice playback.

The Apple TV 4.1 software update automatically enables AirPlay without password protection. If users choose, they can turn AirPlay off entirely through the settings menu, or can add a password to limit access.

AirPlay is built in to iOS 4.2 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It allows users to stream video or audio content directly to the Apple TV over a Wi-Fi network. Users can also directly stream music to an AirPort Express.

If you’ve downloaded the new Apple TV update and have any feedback, please let us know.

Second-gen Apple TV may be causing video distortion on older TVs

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Date: Monday, October 4th, 2010, 05:54
Category: Apple TV, News

Apple’s long-awaited second generation Apple TV may be spiffy, but there may be bugs to sort out.

Per CNET, the set-top box may cause video distortion and users have reported that the new Apple TV may not be compatible with some television sets only five years old.

User jitterysquid first posted the issue in the Apple Support Discussions board:
“I got my new Apple TV gen 2 today and hooked it up in place of the old one. The picture was wavy. I removed the HDMI switch from the equation, no dice. I swapped cables, no dice.

The only issue I can think of (besides bad hardware) is that I use an HDMI->DVI cable for the last leg to my TV. It’s not a converter, it is fully HDCP aware, and it works fine with ATV G1 and a Roku for Netflix HD streaming.”

Other users have chimed in, stating that they are having the same issues and that a straight HDMI > HDMI cable has not solved the issue. The common theme, though, seems to be the age of the television sets that users are attempting to connect the new Apple TV to–approximately five years or older.

The official tech specs on the new Apple TV on Apple’s Web site read:
“Compatible with high-definition TVs with HDMI and capable of 720p 60/50Hz,2 including popular models from these manufacturers: Hitachi, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, NEC, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sony, Sharp, Toshiba, Vizio, Westinghouse”

Though many all of the forum posters claim their televisions are capable of full 720p, there still seems to be an issue. Most users have also reported that the same Apple TV unit works on newer HD TVs they tested. It is possible the issue could lie in a setting on the TV itself. Be sure your set is not configured to stretch incoming signals to 1080i. If so, set it to 720p and you should get a clearer picture.

The other possibility is that the Apple TV software is not sending a signal that is completely usable by older HD TV models. If this is the case, expect Apple to release updates that continue to include television compatibility (along the line of printer driver updates).

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.

Second-gen Apple TV hackable with current tools

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Date: Thursday, September 30th, 2010, 04:02
Category: Apple TV, Hacks, News

Your new Apple TV might be arriving today.

So why not hack it?

Per QuickPWN, a member of the Apple jailbreak blog iPhone Dev confirmed that if you use Greenpois0n and the SHAtter exploit, you can indeed jailbreak the Apple TV’s iOS 4.1 installation. The Dev-Team managed to jailbreak the film rental since Apple having has firmware on its servers.

The greenpois0n update for 4.1 has yet to be officially released, but at present, various how-to Websites show users how to add a multitude of apps and programs such as Sapphire and Boxee to the old Apple TV. With the jailbreak options readily available for the newbie, (as well as the Apple TV’s mini-USB port at your disposal to add external storage), there’s no reason to think that hackers can’t come up with something interesting…

Second-gen Apple TV teardown posted, 8GB flash drive, 256MB of RAM located

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Date: Thursday, September 30th, 2010, 03:33
Category: Apple TV, News

The second-generation Apple TV is almost here and the cool cats at iFixit have posted a complete teardown of the device, which apparently includes a small 8GB of onboard storage and the same 256MB of RAM found in the iPad and fourth-generation iPod touch.

Per the report, the new Apple TV uses a Samsung K9LCG08U1M 8GB NAND Flash chip, which is the same part found during the site’s iPad teardown. The memory is likely used to cache content that is being streamed.

“This is a pretty remarkable amount of storage for a US$99 device,” the solutions provider wrote.

Interestingly, logic board on the hardware shows solder pads that would fit an iPod 30-pin dock connector, perhaps implying what could come in future versions of the hardware.

“This Apple TV seems to be a couple of connectors shy of a full-on computer,” they wrote. “Perhaps this logic board will be used in future iPads?”

Other findings noted that the A4 processor is marked K4X2G643GE, which is identical to the processor found in the first-generation iPad and fourth-generation iPod touch. The iPhone 4, however, has a different chip with 512MB of onboard RAM.

The internal Wi-Fi board is from Panasonic, which might be the first time the company has supplied a Wi-Fi board for an Apple device. Panasonic is, however, usually responsible for optical drives in the Mac maker’s notebooks.

The Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chip is the same part found inside the iPad: BCM4329XKUBG 802.11n. It also includes an FM radio, which is not used by the device.

iFixit graded the new Apple TV with a score of 8 out of possible 10 for ease of repairability. The one mark against it is that the electronics are housed on one singular board.

If your new Apple TV has arrived recently, let us know what you make of the device, for better or for worse.

Apple TV preorders now due for September 30th arrival date

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Date: Monday, September 27th, 2010, 03:25
Category: Apple TV, News

A number of customers who preordered the new Apple TV have begun receiving e-mail notifications that the US$99 set top box is now shipping, with an estimated arrival by the end of the month.

Per AppleInsider, shipment notifications began going out to some customers early Monday. The new Apple TV is shipping from Shenzhen, China, to customers in the U.S. via FedEx.

Estimated delivery for shipments is by Thursday, Sept. 30th, meaning Apple will meet its September launch deadline.

On Sunday, a number of users chimed in stating that their orders for the new Apple TV were being listed as “Prepared for Shipment.” The device was also still listed as “Ships: September.”

A substantial redesign of the Apple TV was revealed on September 1st at Apple’s annual iPod event, but the device wasn’t scheduled to ship until “later this month.”

On Thursday, Apple began refunding customers who had paid for expedited shipping on their Apple TV.

“Our records indicate that when you placed your order you paid for upgraded shipping,” Apple wrote in Thursday’s emails. “Due to a delay, we may have not been able to meet our delivery commitment.”

On Wednesday, Apple started authorizing the credit cards of those who placed preorders of the device.

If you’ve received an e-mail notification stating that your new Apple TV is en route, please let us know.

Apple issues refunds for Apple TV pre-orders, cites unknown delay

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Date: Friday, September 24th, 2010, 05:40
Category: Apple TV, News

A number customers who paid Apple for expedited shipping on the soon-to-ship Apple TV are receiving emails from the company Thursday informing them that those shipping charges have been waived due to a possible ‘delay.’

“Our records indicate that when you placed your order you paid for upgraded shipping,” Apple wrote in the emails. “Due to a delay, we may have not been able to meet our delivery commitment.”

Per AppleInsider, the email goes on to say that Apple has “processed a refund for the shipping charge on your order. Please contact your card-issuing bank for information on when the credit will be posted to your account.”

Since introducing the US$99 Apple TV makeover earlier this month, Apple has maintained that the streaming media hub would ship in “September.” Similarly , early pre-orders for the device through the company’s online store have and continued to list their status as “Ships: September.”

As such, it’s unclear whether the emails sent Thursday are a sign that the first Apple TV shipments will fall back to next month, or if Apple can no longer guarantee priority deliveries to those who requested it.

Apple at around 3:00 pm on Wednesday began authorizing the credit cards of those who placed pre-orders for the device, as it did roughly a week (8 days) before the iPad launched back in April.

Introduced at the top of the month, the Apple TV makeover is about 1/4th the size of its predecessor yet supports all the same I/O (HDMI, optical audio, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi) while lacking its built in hard drive.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said Apple designed the new model to put an end to storage concerns. Instead of saving video purchases and rentals to a hard disk, the new Apple TV is based solely on a rental model where video streams live on demand from Apple’s servers.

First-run HDTV movies will fetch US$4.99, while single episodes of TV shows in HD will be available for 99 cents from Fox and ABC.

If you’ve received a delay e-mail regarding your forthcoming Apple TV, please let us know and we’ll get additional details up as soon as we have them.

Two new Apple patents emerge pertaining to cloud-based sorting, syncing

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Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 08:21
Category: Apple TV, News, Patents

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Two days after Apple’s media event unveiled a new cloud-based Apple TV, two patent applications from the company describe methods to improve the experience of over-the-air syncing, and browsing of Internet-based content.

Per AppleInsider, the documents describe wirelessly syncing data between a server in the “cloud,” and a client device owned by an individual user. They also detail methods that aim to improve the navigation, browsing, search and playback of digital media that is hosted on a remote server.

One patent application, entitled “Media and User Interface for Accessing Groups of Media Assets,” relates to browsing content through scrolling lists, searching for specific content, or viewing by category types. The other, named “Data Synchronization Protocol,” describes the syncing of data over the Internet to portable devices like the iPhone, and stationary ones like a Mac.

The timing of the publishing of the documents is noteworthy, as the new Apple TV focuses exclusively on streaming from external devices and over the Internet. Apple will allow TV episode rentals for 99 cents, and first-run HD movies for US$4.99 over the device, as well as access to other Internet-based content from Netflix, YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe.

The new Apple TV aims to simplify the browsing experience by relying solely on the cloud, and not saving data on the device itself. In addition to streaming video, the new Apple TV also helps users catch shows they may have missed by keeping viewed content synced with the cloud.

Wednesday’s Apple TV announcement is expected to be only the beginning for Apple’s cloud-based initiative, as the company is reportedly looking to offer an Internet-based iTunes service. Apple has reportedly been in talks with content providers and aims to obtain the necessary licenses to allow users to stream their content to their devices, even with limited or no storage like the Apple TV.

The new application related to data synchronization describes syncing across a number of devices, including Macs and iPhones. It describes allow over-the-air syncing of portable devices, like the iPhone, that currently must be tethered to a computer via USB to sync.

The described invention includes “fast,” “slow” and “reset” sync modes, determined based on a request received from the mobile device. The sync modes can be applied to different types of data classes with different file sizes (say, contacts vs. photos) to more efficiently conduct the cloud-based sync.

The application related to browsing on the Apple TV describes providing a list of information to users, and allowing them to expand that list or seek additional information via a remote control.

It describes methods for quickly sorting content that can be streamed from the cloud, based on criteria set by the user when they browse based on category, or conduct a search.

The application pertaining to syncing was filed on May 13, 2010 and is credited to Brendan A. McCarthy and Carsten Guenther. The application related to browsing of content was originally filed for on May 12, 2010, and is a continuation of a patent filed on May 28, 2007. It is credited to Rachel Clare Goldeen, Jeffrey Ma, Michael Margolis, Rainer Brodersen, Calin Pacuraiu, and Jeffrey L. Robbin.

Apple releases second-generation Apple TV, focuses on streaming for new device

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Date: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010, 17:53
Category: Apple TV, News

Arguably sort of the big kahuna of the Apple media event, the Apple TV is now small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

Acknowledging that the Apple TV has “never been a big hit,” CEO Steve Jobs introduced the second generation of the living room device, bringing more of Hollywood movies and TV shows in HD to your home theatre.

Per Mac|Life, Apple CEO Steve Jobs laid out a list of what those buyers want from their Apple TV units: Hollywood movies and TV shows in HD, lower prices for content and no syncing with a computer, not to mention silent, cool and small.

The new Apple TV, which also incorporates the same A4 processor found in the iPhone 4 and the newly-released iPod touch, is 25% the size of the previous model which has been sold for the last four years, and has flip-flopped from white to black. In addition to the new diminutive size, the latest Apple TV does away with downloadable content purchases in favor of streaming right to the box without the need for and iTunes sync.

First-run HD movies from Hollywood are available for US$4.99 with regular SD rentals starting at US$2.99 and catalog HD rentals starting at US$3.99. As predicted, TV show rentals have been added at long last and will be 99 cents per episode as well as commercial-free. ABC and Fox are first on board and Apple hopes to have other networks on board in the near future.

In keeping with other recent rumors, Netflix streaming is now part of the Apple TV package (Netflix subscription required) as well as YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe photos. Apple’s iOS is a no-show, however and the interface remains mostly unchanged from the current Apple TV.

Other features in the new Apple TV include filmography data for actors as well as Rotten Tomatoes reviews, right on your screen. On the hardware side, the new, smaller Apple TV features HDMI, digital optical audio and an Ethernet jack, leaving out analog connections for older televisions.

The new Apple TV is centered around streaming and now everything streams wirelessly to the box for click and play simplicity. Users can fast-forward through opening credits, pause for a popcorn break or replay a scene.

Apple has also introduced AirPlay, which allows iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users to stream their handheld content (including music, photos and video) right to the new Apple TV with the push of a button.

The new Apple TV is priced at only US$99 and will be available in six countries to start. Preorders begin today and the device ships in four weeks.

Analyst divulges details as to upcoming Apple TV successor

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Date: Thursday, August 26th, 2010, 04:35
Category: Apple TV, News, Rumor

Like the iPhone 4 and iPad, the new Apple TV will run the iOS operating system and be powered by a processor with ARM architecture, and will also have access to the App Store, according to one prominent analyst.

Per AppleInsider, Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros. issued a note to investors Wednesday in which he revealed that sources indicated the “biggest potential change” to the forthcoming Apple TV refresh is the move to an ARM architecture processor running the same iOS software that powers the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The current Apple TV hardware relies on an Intel x86-based chip, running a “light” version of Mac OS X and its Front Row software.

Wu also said that the new Apple TV, which some have said will be called the “iTV”, will have access to the App Store, Apple’s digital software download storefront. Like the iPad, the new Apple TV could have access to the iPhone App Store, which offers about a quarter-million options for users, though such functionality is apparently not guaranteed.

“Our sources indicate there is some debate within Apple whether to allow this or not, or to have it run only Apple TV-specific apps,” Wu said. “We believe the ability to run the same apps makes a lot of sense and believe this feature could be enough to drive significantly more volume for Apple TV. We find the potential to run video game apps on a TV set most intriguing, as it has been proven in the marketplace that there is (a) large market for casual gaming at inexpensive prices.”

Wu did not indicate, however, how iPhone or iPad applications would run on a TV set, as those that rely on the touchscreen interface require users to interact with the images on screen. But games that rely on the accelerometer in Apple’s mobile devices would likely be suited for the allegedly forthcoming set top box.

As for reports that Apple is negotiating with networks to offer 99 cent TV show rentals (reaffirmed this week by The New York Times), Wu said such an offering would benefit not only the Apple TV, but the company’s entire ecosystem, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac lineup.

“From our checks with supply chain and industry sources, we believe potential changes could turn Apple TV into a bigger hobby and a multi-million unit seller,” the analyst wrote. “And perhaps be a precursor to a bigger effort to address the home entertainment space down the road.”

This should sort itself out on September 1st, so stay tuned until then and we’ll feed you the details as soon as they become available.