Apple TV hacks, reviews, and trivia roundup

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Eager video fans have scrutinized the Apple TV from top to bottom during its launch week. Here's a recap of info you may have missed -- including freshly-discovered features and hacks.



Hacks revealed quickly



In a revelation that comes as little surprise to many, early adopters of the media hub have discovered that its Mac mini-like shell is easily accessible, requiring no more than the right screwdriver and patience.



The literal uncovering of the insides not only confirmed the presence of parts AppleInsider had learned were in the Apple TV, but also enabled the more aggressive to replace the hard drivewith one of their own, boosting onboard storage to well over the stock 40GB.



Moreover, the accessibility of the Apple TV's internal parts has validated tech journalist Walt Mossberg's claim that the box runs Mac OS X in scaled-down form, showing that most of the file structure is the same as for the unit's full-fleged Mac siblings. One pair of new owners has successfully installed Mac software, enabling basic support for video codecs not part of Apple's original specs for the machine.



Reviews tackle Apple TV's value



Curiosity alone hasn't characterized first experiences with the system, however. Members of the press have readily taken sides on the new product's long-term usefulness.



Most reactions to date have been positive -- but qualified. Mossberg's review for the Wall Street Journal was one of the most warmly receptive to the Apple TV, praising its ease of use and faulting it mainly for photo streaming and direct purchase features that the pundit is certain will be added later.



Others were less forgiving. PC World editor Edward Albro lauded the device's simplicity for newcomers but docked marks for its most glaring flaws, including the poor picture quality for iTunes videos. He also noted that Apple's supremacy was as much a commentary on the firm's competitors as the value of its actual product, which is ultimately dependent on iTunes.



"To say that Apple TV is the world's best media streaming device could be considered faint praise, the tech equivalent of calling someone the world's tallest midget," Albro said. "After all, most previous versions of these devices, which take music, video, and photos from your PC and play them on your TV and stereo, have been unreliable, hard to use and generally shunned by the buying public."



Little-known features surface



Meanwhile, at least two previously unannounced abilities of Apple's latest gadget have come to light now that buyers and reviewers can test the compact system themselves.



Although Apple's official specifications rule out all but widescreen HDTVs, software developer Rogue Amoeba and others have located a 480i mode in the Apple TV's Settings menu that offers owners of standard-ratio TVs with component inputs a functional (if slightly distorted) means of using the device without replacing their existing setups.



New York Times columnist David Pogue also highlighted a seldom-mentioned playback continuity feature in the Apple TV's handling of podcasts and videos.



"The integration of iPod, iTunes and Apple TV offers frequent payoffs," he noted. "For example, if you paused your iPod partway through a movie, TV show or song, Apple TV remembers your place when you resume playing it on your TV. Cool."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 109
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    Others were less forgiving. PC World editor Edward Albro lauded the device's simplicity for newcomers but docked marks for its most glaring flaws, including the poor picture quality for iTunes videos. He also noted that Apple's supremacy was as much a commentary on the firm's competitors as the value of its actual product, which is ultimately dependent on iTunes.



    "To say that Apple TV is the world's best media streaming device could be considered faint praise, the tech equivalent of calling someone the world's tallest midget," Albro said. "After all, most previous versions of these devices, which take music, video, and photos from your PC and play them on your TV and stereo, have been unreliable, hard to use and generally shunned by the buying public."



    He goes on to say that the Apple TV is good in itself, regardless of poor competition:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PCWorld




    Despite those reservations, though, Apple TV is more than just the tallest dwarf out there. It?s the first media streaming device I could imagine recommending to a non-geek. And I wouldn?t be surprised if it evolves into something even more powerful.



    Nice use of selective quoting guys. At least provide links to the full reviews.



    http://www.macworld.com/news/2007/03...watv/index.php for the PC World review
  • Reply 2 of 109
    abster2coreabster2core Posts: 2,501member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Moreover, the accessibility of the Apple TV's internal parts has validated tech journalist Walt Mossberg's claim that the box runs Mac OS X in scaled-down form, showing that most of the file structure is the same as for the unit's full-fleged Mac siblings. One pair of new owners has successfully installed Mac software, enabling basic support for video codecs not part of Apple's original specs for the machine.



    Who would have believed that?



    JeffDM, dfiler or Mossberg? Hmmmm
  • Reply 3 of 109
    abster2coreabster2core Posts: 2,501member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by david_oc View Post


    Nice use of selective quoting guys. At least provide links to the full reviews.



    http://www.macworld.com/news/2007/03...watv/index.php for the PC World review



    Your link goes to Macworlds posting of the original article. Whereas the link from Appleinsider goes directly to the PC World Review. If I am wrong, I appologize as I am sure you would if you have erred.
  • Reply 4 of 109
    palex9palex9 Posts: 105member
    this is apples big chance to again achieve cult status or blow it big time. should jobs decide to plug all the holes and make hacking this machine impossible or really hard, it will be like shooting yourself in the foot. if, on the other hand, they will allow the chip to fall where they may, this could be the start of a fantastic machine-running all codecs, using it as a ultra mini mac, whatever! let;s see what happens...







    -----------

    the count

    http://thecountsworld.blogspot.com/
  • Reply 5 of 109
    abster2coreabster2core Posts: 2,501member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by palex9 View Post


    this is apples big chance to again achieve cult status or blow it big time. should jobs decide to plug all the holes and make hacking this machine impossible or really hard, it will be like shooting yourself in the foot. if, on the other hand, they will allow the chip to fall where they may, this could be the start of a fantastic machine-running all codecs, using it as a ultra mini mac, whatever! let;s see what happens...



    Like we have done with the enviroment.
  • Reply 6 of 109
    I dont get it....how is the apple tv different from the mac mini? Does it do DVR stuff too? Skip commercials, etc? If not, what is the point, I'll just get a mac mini.
  • Reply 7 of 109
    aegisdesignaegisdesign Posts: 2,914member
    Also in the menu are 576i and 576p for PAL users.



    And missing this thread in your roundup is almost sacrilegious.



    http://forums.somethingawful.com/sho...readid=2391956
  • Reply 8 of 109
    commoduscommodus Posts: 270member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post


    Also in the menu are 576i and 576p for PAL users.



    And missing this thread in your roundup is almost sacrilegious.



    http://forums.somethingawful.com/sho...readid=2391956



    No they didn't - AI just links to an Electronista article. An extra click maybe, but SA is known to periodically block unregistered access to the forums. Wouldn't want people to be taken to a "LOL SIGN UP PLZ" link.
  • Reply 9 of 109
    You may want to look at Pogue's follow up, and some interesting reader comments/reactions:



    http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/...vide/#more-251



    There's a tantalizing reference to something over the internet that Apple is being coy about.... and could appear later as possible functionality. (Anyone have any ideas on what that could be about?)
  • Reply 10 of 109
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by blingem View Post


    I dont get it....how is the apple tv different from the mac mini? Does it do DVR stuff too? Skip commercials, etc? If not, what is the point, I'll just get a mac mini.



    I can think of two: It's half the price; and it's easier to use.
  • Reply 11 of 109
    kim kap solkim kap sol Posts: 2,987member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by blingem View Post


    I dont get it....how is the apple tv different from the mac mini? Does it do DVR stuff too? Skip commercials, etc? If not, what is the point, I'll just get a mac mini.



    Those who hack the Apple TV must feel pretty stupid not getting a Mac mini instead. If you're going to buy an Apple TV, replace the HD, hack in new codecs, why not just get the Mac mini...it'll be more powerful, will have more HD storage space, will support more codecs without hacks, and will allow the user to play games or browse the web...for about 100-150 dollars more if you count the purchase of a HD over the 300 dollars for Apple TV.
  • Reply 12 of 109
    kim kap solkim kap sol Posts: 2,987member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vmardian View Post


    I can think of two: It's half the price; and it's easier to use.



    Half the price? Not really if you think of the time spent hacking and the purchase of a larger HD.



    I agree though if you meant half the price if you want to use Apple TV as is.
  • Reply 13 of 109
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post


    Who would have believed that?



    JeffDM, dfiler or Mossberg? Hmmmm



    Please stop with the personal vendettas. Nobody claimed AppleTV didn't run OS X.



    We only asserted that what Mossberg presented as fact, was likely to be merely guesswork. He's turned out to have guessed correctly... at which he had a 50% chance.



    It is great that AppleTV is running OS X.



    It means that 3rd party mods will be simple and that Apple can deliver improvements quite easily. Their developers are already familiar with the software and hardware so patches and upgrades should be inexpensive to produce.
  • Reply 14 of 109
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,157moderator
    What the hell? They use screws on the Apple TV too? They had better make these changes to the Mini or I'm going to be very annoyed. This certainly makes it more of a conscious decision than a cost cutting one i.e they want people to hack the Apple TV but not their computers. It should be the other way round.



    At least they are moving in the right direction concerning making it easier for users to adjust the products the way they want. What does it say regarding the warranty though? If you take an Apple TV with an upgraded HD into a store, will they refuse to fix it?
  • Reply 15 of 109
    japplejapple Posts: 91member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    If you take an Apple TV with an upgraded HD into a store, will they refuse to fix it?



    I'd be stunned if they offered fixes for user upgraded models. Maybe third parties might though.
  • Reply 16 of 109
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    Quote:

    should jobs decide to plug all the holes and make hacking this machine impossible or really hard, it will be like shooting yourself in the foot.



    Apple shipped it like this on purpose. They knew that the box was going to hacked. If they really wanted to lock down they would have done it already.



    Quote:

    Those who hack the Apple TV must feel pretty stupid not getting a Mac mini instead. If you're going to buy an Apple TV, replace the HD, hack in new codecs, why not just get the Mac mini



    Where is the line between software that adds more functionality and a hack. There are a lot of codecs Quicktime can not play natively that additional software is needed for that ability. Is that only added functionality or a hack?



    Since AppleTV is using OSX eventually people will make additional software to add codecs.



    Adding 120GB drive you still come out cheaper with the AppleTV than the Mac mini. I don't understand why Apple does not allow upgrading the HD from its store.



    Quote:

    We only asserted that what Mossberg presented as fact, was likely to be merely guesswork. He's turned out to have guessed correctly... at which he had a 50% chance.



    Since he was right shows that he knew as fact and it was not a guess.



    Quote:

    If you take an Apple TV with an upgraded HD into a store, will they refuse to fix it?



    Probably depends on if upgrading the HD voids the warranty. Hopefully it won't.
  • Reply 17 of 109
    Wouldn't it be possible to modify the Mac Mini to use an external 3.5" 500GB/750GB drive?
  • Reply 18 of 109
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post


    Who would have believed that?



    JeffDM, dfiler or Mossberg? Hmmmm



    I think you have mistaken the situation, like you did in the previous thread. No one in that thread claimed that it wasn't running OS X in some form. A few of us were asking how he could say that as if he knew for certain because Apple and their reps didn't say publicly that it was running a form of OS X, it was unstated. This sentiment was also made by Chucker, pmjoe and DeaPeaJay as well, in the same thread, so why didn't you mention them in your list?



    For all we know, maybe he guessed and got lucky. As it is, it took someone to gut the machine to validate this, Apple's site and documentation still doesn't say this that I've found.
  • Reply 19 of 109
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    vmardian: So far, the USB port has resisted attempts to make it support external drives. I don't think it will be long now though.



    Of course, that begs the question of how you get the hack into the machine in the first place if you don't have external drive access to start with...



    I think the first person who figures out how to push an update into the beast that enables USB support, ssh support, or other external access, without first cracking the case, is going to be hailed as a minor deity for, oh, a week at least. Apparently there is ARD support built in, though, so that may be the appropriate vector.



    Here's an idea - how long until the media extension software in the ATV is yoinked out and placeable on a mini or other Mac? ie, buy a mini, plop the ATV software on it, and have the same network-wide media access, but with a full machine?
  • Reply 20 of 109
    eckingecking Posts: 1,588member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vmardian View Post


    Wouldn't it be possible to modify the Mac Mini to use an external 3.5" 500GB/750GB drive?



    You'd probably have to route the cable out of the appletv. Someone ought to try it.
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