Apple TV - Part 1: Unboxed and Dissected

by Anand Lal Shimpi on 3/22/2007 6:12 PM EST
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  • anandtech02148 - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    Apple is running out of ideas to innovate, that they now dumbed down pc hardwares to sell in fancy casing is sad. This pce at the Apple Store is flaming hot just to feel the top surface. I think you can warm your food while you watch tv with it.
    It's even hotter than the back of Xbox360. and i got electric shock from it when i first feel out the back of the xbox360.
    Reply
  • michael2k - Saturday, March 24, 2007 - link

    Where else can you find a PC for $299 the size of a double-CD case? Reply
  • vailr - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    Why no recovery disk? If anything happens to corrupt the hard drive, you'd need to return the box to Apple for service.
    Can it boot from an external USB optical drive? Running a live Knoppix version. Or maybe: live OSX?
    Reply
  • arswihart - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    Apple TV has none of the features I want:
    You have to buy EVERYTHING from iTunes to play on it
    It is not Hi-definition, and neither is anything on the iTunes store
    You can't even use it buy anything from the iTunes store (you 'll have to use your computer instead)
    It cannot be used as a DVR

    Basically, if they fix those things it will be good. To state it plainly, here's how they need to improve it for the next version:
    Make it able to play any media file on your computer
    Make it hi-def
    Make it possible to browse iTunes, Youtube, BitTorrent, etc, etc, etc.
    Make it function as a DVR as well

    It's really that simple. This is only for the most brazen Apple fanboys, go ahead and give Steve Jobs a knob job if you want, I'm sure he'll appreciate it.
    Reply
  • sdsdv10 - Saturday, March 24, 2007 - link

    Just which simple media extender (what the Apple TV is) does all that you ask? Reply
  • arswihart - Saturday, March 24, 2007 - link

    The Netgear thing does most of it; I don't think any product does it all just yet, except an HTPC of course. Reply
  • gus6464 - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    The way appletv works is that if itunes on your pc can play it, so can the appletv. So to get it to play divx and other files on it you just have to get itunes to play those files. Check google and you will find theres a couple of ways to get itunes to play any format you want, high def or not. Reply
  • arswihart - Saturday, March 24, 2007 - link

    Sorry but you are wrong. The codecs for Divx, Xvid are not installed on Apple TV.

    But now that is has been hacked to allow these codecs to be installed, things are getting very interesting!
    Reply
  • aliasfox - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    - You can rip your DVDs into mpeg4 files and put them into your iTunes library
    - 720p playback with the proper media is high def - not 1080i, but it still qualifies

    I don't think it needs DVR functionality - that's the same as saying an iPod needs a radio to be successful. Of course, having an easy and clearly legal way of moving your DVD collection into your iTunes library would do wonders for this - just like it did for the iPod.
    Reply
  • arswihart - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    Ripping DVDs into iTunes is fine, this is probably the most useful thing that it will do, and since DVD's are 480p, it's lower resolution won't cripple the already non-hi-def video quality. But there's no reason you shouldn't be able to play any kind of video on this thing, other than the fact that Apple wants to shove iTunes down everyone's throat.

    OK, DVR isn't necessary but it would make a lot of sense and wouldn't be hard to do, and I don't see why it wouldn't be included in the next version, albeit with some typical DRM crap added to the mix.

    720p is ok, too bad the only way you'll be able to see it is if you buy some of the limited selection of videos on iTunes. Again, you are missing out on all the non-iTunes content. Yes 720p "qualifies" as hi-def, just barely, and there is hardly any content that you will be able to play at this resolution, so the whole "feature" is almost non-existant.

    Reply
  • noxipoo - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    turn up the DoF on those pictures. I noticed it first on CPU review and continued to this, why make everything so blurred except the center. no artistic touch needed on a tech review, make everything come in focus please. Reply
  • dm - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    can't wait to see how it performs

    Reply
  • AppleIIe - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    http://www.miglia.com/products/video/tvmaxplus/ind...">Miglia TV Max+

    Being that the Apple TV won't support DVR qualities, i'm wondering how long it will be before Miglia and others makes add-ons for the Apple TV.

    Miglia TVMax+ with an Apple TV and a Miglia MiniBank would be a very clean setup.
    Reply
  • blckgrffn - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    Is that this is more powerful than the Wii! I bet before long this has a U2500 (I think that is number, the ulv core duo 1.2 ghz) and that would be a sure bet as more code moves to multithreaded goodness.

    Seriously, why couldn't Nintendo provide even this level of hardware? I mean it has to last for four to five years! What is ridiculous is that if Apple had been willing to make it an inch thicker they probably could have put a full mobile 7600 in it for much more serious 3D performance... imagine if the wii had that... a core duo and a 256 meg 7600...

    *hugs wii to ease hurt feelings*
    Reply
  • randomlinh - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    and then the wii would be more expensive? They stuck w/ IBM to keep easy backwards compatibility. And their money went to the remote development I'm sure.

    Sure, I wish the Wii had some more umph to it.. HD Wii would be great. But for now, it works for me. And who's to say it's a 5-6 year cycle? Nintendo profits on hardware still. So I wouldn't put a 3yr cycle out of it's range... an upgraded HD Wii with more power in the future when HDTV's are far more widespread.
    Reply
  • blckgrffn - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    I wasn't trying to say that it would have been necessary, but I think it would have been a better platform overall with a little more grunt - I mean, navigating the menu can be painful enough at times. Even a dual core IBM would have been great, and probably wouldn't have raised costs very much. I would have easily paid $20-30 more for a wii with twice the ram and CPU, and I doubt I would have been the only one.

    Still, it's the only console outside of the Gamecube that I own, so that says something...

    Nat
    Reply
  • anandtech02148 - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    basically appletv is a 2yr old ultra mobile laptop.
    what's the next greatest innovation for Apple? I_console video game system? surely they got the knowledge to dumb down a pc product and sell it to the mass with horrendous price.

    Reply
  • Falloutboy - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    if someone hacks this I might have a replacement for my ageing hacked xbox and XBMC, shouldn't be to hard I imagin it runs a striped down version of OSx Reply
  • plinden - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    There's an ongoing discussion here - http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?s=...">http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?s=... Reply
  • bobsmith1492 - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    How is this a TV? I don't see any screen...

    It looks like a super-small, weak computer.

    I don't get it. :(
    Reply
  • Phynaz - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    Pretty ignorant, aren't you? Reply
  • punko - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    Nice response. Now go stand in the corner until you learn your manners.

    I was glad someone asked this question, as I had not heard about this device either. Now I believe I have guessed what it does, but perhaps just a short paragraph at the start of the article to idenifty the product, its market, and its price would make it clear for everyone. When I read the product name, my first thought was that Apple was releasing an HDTV with added features, but it didn't take too many photos to indicate that it wasn't the case.

    The sarcastic smartypants people would still read a short little description, as it would simply confirm their knowledge, and the rest of us could be brought up to speed.

    Punko
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Thursday, March 22, 2007 - link

    What is that, an old ipod shuffle picture on the other side of the box? Reply
  • sprockkets - Thursday, March 22, 2007 - link

    nvm, rate me down!!! Reply
  • SunAngel - Thursday, March 22, 2007 - link

    Everyday my love for Apple keeps growing and growing. Currently, I am Sony's crown jewel of a customer and I am going to buy the Bravia Internet Link when it is made available. But, every since the Mac Mini, there is no denying it, Apple has caught my attention.

    The use of the Go7300 was an excellent choice for video decoding. Nvidia's 7 series is (was) on fire. Video decoding and reproduction is excellent at every level. Kudos to Apple for going with the Nvidia 7 series. I am a little concerned with the processor, though. If it is truely a low-voltage C-M that has to be the absolute outter edge of 1080i decoding. I once has a normal 1.73 Celeon-M in a 17" notebook and it would not play WMV-HDs at 1080p (but in the Celly's defense, the notebook had integrated graphics with 865G).

    Message to Apple: I am highly considering adding you products to my home along side Sony. If your iPhone turns out to be as great as the pre-release literature details AND the Mac Mini is updated with Core2 Duos or Core2 Quattros, I will gladly be investing idle cash to acquire these products. Good luck and I hope you the best.
    Reply
  • win32asmguy - Thursday, March 22, 2007 - link

    Hopefully this means that their next revision of the Mac Mini will include a dedicated GPU. I wouldn't mind having a 7300go in the mini instead of the x3000 or whatever the next shared Intel GPU might be. Reply
  • kamper - Thursday, March 22, 2007 - link

    If you want to know what cpu is in there, why don't you toss some *nix distro on the harddrive? Even if nothing boots well, maybe you'll be able to salvage a dmesg from the logs. Reply
  • psychobriggsy - Thursday, March 22, 2007 - link

    Whilst this device isn't for me (I don't have a HDTV, so nothing to connect it to, also I'd prefer a Squeezebox for my music due to the better DACs and not requiring a TV to see what you're doing) it is very interesting. It's a clean compact design, and nearly as small as VIA's nano-iTX platform (judging from the CD picture) but probably higher performing.

    I expect that the second revision of this device will be extremely good.

    I would have expected an AV cable of some sort to come with the device though - at least a HDMI cable! That's not exactly an out-of-the-box experience if you have to drive somewhere to get the cable.

    The Intel CPU is very interesting, it's very small (the package, the die's large).

    I'm willing to bet that the interface is extremely good, as per Apple's usual qualities. The remote is quite small, I'd be worried about losing it. How about a larger remote with a full iPod scroll wheel eh?

    Bet if it had been a little bigger in all dimensions they could have put in a few more ports (useful for us SDTV owners) and a 3.5" hard drive... oh well.
    Reply
  • allometry - Thursday, March 22, 2007 - link

    I love to see what components Apple uses to run their gear. I think it gives perspective for all computer builders on what kind of minimal hardware you need to run a simple media PC.

    I've got to ask Anand, were you one of those kids who used to tear things apart and not put them back together. If that's the case, I'll put your Apple TV back together if I get to keep it?

    :D
    Reply
  • tacoburrito - Thursday, March 22, 2007 - link

    Why couldn't you run the tests first before tearing the whole thing apart? I think most people want to see how this new Apple widget performs, not what it is made of. Reply
  • Lonyo - Thursday, March 22, 2007 - link

    Anandtech readers aren't most people :P Reply
  • shabby - Thursday, March 22, 2007 - link

    quote:

    The cable itself is fine, but it's not wrapped in some ridiculously elegant way

    Reply
  • Eug - Thursday, March 22, 2007 - link

    Perhaps Apple is using the GeForce Go 7300 to assist with H.264 decoding. Reply
  • saratoga - Thursday, March 22, 2007 - link

    That seems likely. 1GHz would be fairly iffy for 720p H.264. My guess is they included it for use as a DSP. Theres a lot of FMACs on even a low end GPU, which is really important for this sort of work.

    Still, the whole package looks a bit thrown together. Theres real embedded parts you can use, rather then expensive laptop gear. You don't need an x86 CPU if you don't have a PC, a MIPS or ARM part with a fast DSP chip will do the same thing for 1/10 the price . . . if you've got time to rewrite your x86 codecs for a highly specialized DSP system. I guess Apple didn't.

    Sort of reminds me of the Xbox 1. Lots of off the shelf PC parts, way more expensive to make then it should have been, but it did get MS's foot in floor and Sony isn't laughing so hard these days. Maybe Apple will pull if off.
    Reply
  • Renoir - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    1GHz does indeed seem to being cutting it a bit close for high def H.264 although given how efficient coreAVC is perhaps they've just really optimised the decoder. If they have it'd be nice to see it in quicktime as that one seems very inefficient IMHO. Reply
  • michael2k - Thursday, March 22, 2007 - link

    I wonder if you could make a TOTALLY sweet MythTV box out of this.

    Or... somehow hack a wireless keyboard with something like Synergy and get full OS X on this thing.
    Reply
  • Cygni - Friday, March 23, 2007 - link

    Man no kidding. This would be a great MythTV + Emulation station computer if we can get Linux running on it, and i cant see why it wouldnt. The whole thing is made of standard PC components. The 40 gig HD might be a little skimpy for a MythTV box, however. Reply

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