Best Television for the Apple TV?

by editor @ on March 30, 2007


Various people have talked about the quality of their TVs for using with the Apple TV, and a few people have said they have had problems with certain TVs.

What we would like to do here is find out what TVs our readers are using with their Apple TV, what they think of the picture quality, whether you had any problems getting your Apple TV hooked up with it. Any details which might be relevant, so over the coming months when people ask “Will Apple TV work on my television?”, they can find the answer here.

To this end, on April 30th we will be giving away a $25 iTunes voucher to a someone who posts an informative post about using the Apple TV with a particular television; chosen at random from those who have posted here at that point (so please include a valid email address if you wish to be considered!).

If you aren’t sure where to start with purchasing an HDTV, then Amazon have a great selection and are currently offering a $50 rebate.

  • Maxwell Smart

    I currently use my Apple TV with a 45″ Sharp AQUOS LCD TV. I hooked it up via HDMI, and it looks gorgeous. The TV is a 1080p set, and I first had it hooked up via 1080i, but I noticed some interlacing on a few shows. Since the Apple TV can’t output at 1080p and can only support video files up to 720p, I set it on that and it has been perfect since then. I would highly recommend anything from Sharp’s AQUOS line for anyone looking to purchase an LCD TV, they are really high quality sets.

  • Roger

    I use my Apple TV with a 37″ Vizio L37 LCD HDTV:

    This is a 1080i TV set with 1 HDMI port and 2 Component Video ports. Mine is connected to the AppleTV via the HDMI port, and the picture quality is absolutely stunning.
    Both the Vizio TV and the Apple TV do an equally good job in upscaling to 1080i, i.e. I could not tell a difference between the AppleTV set to 720p or 1080i.
    The HDMI handshaking between Vizio TV and AppleTV works flawlessly, and it does not matter which device is turned on or turned off first.
    I played movies at various resolutions from 320×240 up to 1280×720, and they all looked great. The AppleTV scaled even the smallest resolution movies to the full screen.

    A great movie to test the AppleTV with an HDTV set is “Spiderman 3, Final Movie Trailer” in 720p hosted at ComCast:

    It is about 3 minutes long and 113MB in size. You will need QuickTime Pro to save it as movie. Then it can just be dropped into iTunes.

  • BakedBeans

    I have a Pioneer Elite 50″ 1130PRO-HD and its working great at 1080i.

    AppleTV was easier to set up than my Tivo S3, and AppleTV actually works flawlessly. My S3 is a metal box of garbage. Wasted $800 on that pile of junk.

    Scaling/Upconversion looks awesome. Ripping some DVD’s with HandBrake for OSX, and viewing on my 50″ looks better than playback of a DVD in an upconverting DVD player. Considering DVD best case res is 480 lines, ripping at 720, and playback at 1080i – the image quality has been much better than using my upconverting dvd player.

    Even “Lost” episodes for iPod look reasonable on the 50″ panel. Not the highest quality, but I have seen SD content from RCN look far worse than iPod formatted video played on my plasma. This was a surprise. I expected it to look far worse than it does.

    Over all extremely happy with this purchase and very pleased with the simplicity.

    Would like to see:

    – Ability to have “smart playlists”, add a song as next track or to list while music is already playing.

    – iTunes visualizer is a must!

    – Would be nice to browse photos while music is already playing. current behavior kills the music. Same thing when going into settings area, or top level menu.

    – A way to stream/redirect DVD playback from mac mini or powerbook to apple TV

  • Eric

    I have a sony KF-50WE610 and it looks great at 720P. Even movies ripped with handbrake for the Ipod look good. I downloaded a spiderman3 trailer thats 720P 5000Kbps 279MB and it realy looked good, don’t remember were i got it. I have not had any problems streaming movies over a G network. Extremely happy with this purchase.

  • Namesbond

    My Apple TV is connected to my ViewSonic Nextvision N2751w 27″ TV & LCD Monitor.

    Video: Apple TV->Component Switcher->LCD
    Audio: Apple TV->Optical Audio->Logitech 5.1

    Experiences with my Apple TV thus far have been great. I have experienced minimal lagg when scrolling through 720P videos streamed over a wireless G network. In my itunes library I have many 720P Xvids that I converted to h.264. When playing them on my tv over the network they display in their native 16×9 filling the entire viewable area. There is zero pixelation and they look wonderful.

  • My Apple TV is connected to a Panasonic 50″ plasma (TH-50PX60U) and is outputting a 720p signal via HDMI to a Denon AVR-2807 receiver, which is passing the video to my display. Everything has been working perfectly ever since I got it. I compared 720p 1080i but couldn’t really tell a difference. 720p looked a tad sharper but that could’ve been my imagination.

    So far, I’ve watched a about 2 dozen iTunes-purchased TV shows (Heroes & 30 Rock) and have been pleasantly surprised by the video quality. I’ve also watched a 1 minute clip of a 720p animated show and it looked great.

    Lovin’ the Apple TV and my Panny plasma!

    Btw, my plasma has been ISF-calibrated, too.

  • fltman

    I’m using my Apple TV with a Samsung LE-32M71B. It’s running ona HDMI-cabel and the resolution is 720p, no problems what so ever.

  • herrflick

    Sony 26 inch CRT Model KV-DA28
    Component video via Yamaha AV Receiver
    Optical audio
    720p output signal

    DVD and SD digital TV look very good on this set using component video. The apple tv looks better. Lower resolution video seems to get smoothed out and comes up well. Has worked perfectly and is very impressive.

  • nlo

    I got a Samsung LE-32 R 72 B (1080i, 32″ LCD), and hooked up the AppleTV with a cheap HDMI cable. As soon I plugged it in, the TV detected it and I was able to select HDMI-input to get my first look at the AppleTV. As soon as the intro movie was playing I noticed the internal speakers of this TV set are crap. I disabled them (there is a setting “internal speakers off”) of the TV and connected the audio-out of the AppleTV to my stereo. Way better sound. 🙂

    After the flawless setup-assistens of the ATV (set it to 1080i), I clicked around a bit in the UI.

    Next thing I noticed was, that the picture brightness was kind of changing, when selecting menue items on the ATV. I read around in some TV forums and learned that this TV uses something which is called “Dynamic dimming” and can only disabled by selecting the “Movie Mode” profile, which is crap. Good news is that you can switch that off via the hidden service menu of the TV (TV off, INFO-MENU-MUTE-POWER on the remote, “Option Table”, “Dynamic Dimming” off, EXIT on the remote).

    Now the quality was really great, even with crappy encoded videos. Photos apperaring really bright and with high contrast.

    The best thing about the Samsung TV is: It has an additional VGA D-Sub connector. I want to use it to play DVDs with my Powerbook G4 17″, if it would work. But it doesn’t. I don’t know exactly why. Tested it with a PB Ti, and some PCs, having no problems at all.

    It also has a nice picture-in-picture feature, so you can watch TV and play with you ATV or something else hooked up to DVI or VGA at the same time. You can choose from having a small additional picture in a corner, or split-sceen-like. 🙂

    Some more infos of this set:
    – 1x HDMI (with seperate Audio-In when using DVI cable)
    – 2x Scart (1x RGB)
    – 1x Component (with seperate Audio-In)
    – 1x VGA (with seperate Audio-In)
    – 1x Audio-Out
    Left side:
    – 1x Composite Video-In
    – 1x Composite S-Video In
    – 1x Audio In
    – 1x Headphones

    The set has a glossy black finish, and comes with a cleaning tissue. 🙂
    The whole back of the set is closed and also have this nice glossy black finish, so you can place it in the middle of a room if you want. It also have holes for ISO-mounts.

    More data can be found on

    All-In-All, out of 5 Stars I would give it 4 Stars, mainly because of the crappy speakers (which are no issue for me), and the hassles with the service-menu.

  • Jarod

    Well, I have a new mac mini with 2gb connected to a Sharp Aquos D92U running everything in 1080p 😀 😀 :D. Soon I’ll have AppleTV running on the mini to replace Front Row. Now that’s way cool!

  • hltr

    I have the Samsung Enhanced Definition 42″ Plasma, model SP-S4243.

    I connect the aTV using an HDMI cable (strongly suggest for cables) and I run a Toslink to my receiver for the audio.

    The Samsung was a good choice for me because I still watch a lot of standard definition and this set does a very good job with that. It converts incoming HD signals so I see HD channels in what is basically DVD quality. Plenty good enough for me.

  • sharkman

    I use the Maxent Plasma 50″ HDTV Monitor. The Apple TV will run on the Maxent at 1080i, 720p or 480p resolutions.

    The TV has the following video inputs:
    Combo AV+S-Video x 2
    Component Video Input x 2
    HDMI Port x 2
    DVI Input (with HDCP)
    RGB Input

    My configuration is as follows:
    HDMI – Apple TV
    HDMI – Mac Mini
    S video – Cable box
    S video – Dish
    Component – DVD player/recorder

    If I upgrade to HD cable the Mini will move to the RGB port running at 1280 x 1024 (SXGA). The beauty of the Maxent was the price at $1300 from Costco!

  • Looping Bug

    I’m getting 95″ (!!!) of 720p AppleTV goodness. I’m using the AppleTV to drive my Panasonic PT-AX100U projector. The projector has HDMI, Component, S-Video, RGB (D-Sub), etc. It looks awesome. If anyone’s interested in this projector, buy it from these guys, I did (No, I’m not affiliated with them in any way.)

    It’s awesome!


  • DCW

    I’m using my ATV with an HDMI connection to a 42” Pioneer plasma TV (PDP-4271HD) and optical audio to my Yamaha receiver (HTR-5940). The ATV was easy to set up, provides stunning quality (even at 720) and works flawlessly with my wireless g network. This is an outstanding TV for use with the ATV!!! The audio quality is excellent as well. My old Bose speakers still sound great. Still a few bugs to work out to get my Harmony remote to integrate all of the system components but I’m getting there.

    My only “concern” is how HOT the ATV gets. I’ve had to give it a little more room in my AV cabinet than I anticipated.

    Would like to see…

    I agree, the Itunes Visualizer would be way cool.

    And of course a record option WOULD be a biggie.

  • vibedealer

    Anyone have the experience of being able to convert the component video outs to accomodate a non-HDTV?

    I would love to get an appleTV but, funds being short, I would have to rely on my current tv set. It only has s-video and RCA video/audio inputs.

    Any converters out there to get this to work?

  • katsura

    i’m using Philips 50″ plasma HDTV 50PF7320A/37 (HDMI 720p) but i don’t recommend it for use with Apple TV because it has unsual BGR (blue-green-red) sub-pixels instead of RGB (red-green-blue) and you can’t turn off the sub-pixel anti-aliasing (font smoothing for LCD) on Apple TV which assumes RGB sub-pixels (Mac OS X doesn’t support BGR sub-pixels).

    btw, i don’t recommend Apple TV because it can’t play high quality video (only up to 5Mbps H.264 or 3Mbps MPEG-4) and for some reason audio is plain 2ch stereo instead of Dolby Digital 5.1 which makes it completely useless.

  • To future-proof my investment, I carefully ensured that the Sony 32″ CRT that I bought 3 years ago was HD-ready. Apple TV is the first HD source I’ve connected to it. I’ve got it on 1080i using XtremeMac component cable and XtremeMac stereo RCA to my Sony hi-fi. The image quality is beautiful, although text near the edges of the screen starts to get slightly fuzzy. I don’t think the TV was designed for edge-to-edge sharpness for text. It’s not annoying, however.

    iTunes-quality video looks lovely. I rip DVD at a higher resolution for 16:9 content (720 x 400) and a higher bitrate (2500kbps) and the difference is noticeable. Having said this, video podcasts, even those at QVGA resolution, look entirely acceptable. The only video that looked bad was that which was originally very badly encoded or over-compressed.

    I have synced my collection of CD cover scans as my “photos”. CRTs tend to be more forgiving with image quality compared to LCD. Thus even 400 x 400, moderately compressed images look very good.

    I could keep this TV for at least 2 more years, given its performance.

  • stuff4me

    My setup as follows:

    Receiver: Pionner 1016
    TV: Sanyo 1080i HDTV (CRT) – old school TV in terms of HDTVs

    AppleTV is connected to the receiver via component connection and optic cable. The sound is wonderful. People are saying that the AppleTV does not support 5.1, but I have a ripped movie to h.264 mp4 file and it does produce surround sound. Might not be true 5.1 surround. It sounds just like when I play the dvd via dvd player.

    The video 1080i or 720p, to my untrained eye, looks the same. And it could just be the CRT TV and not having an LCD screen instead. I have had no real problem with any of the other video settings. I am currently using the appleTV at 1080i to watch that same ripped movie as above, and there is no color distortion compared to the DVD.

  • I’m using my Apple TV on a 46″ Toshiba 46HM95. Its a DLP TV that runs at native 720p.

    Now I’d like to throw my opinion out there for some people who I think are setting up their apple tv’s with the wrong resolution. Obviously it sounds like the Apple TV is looking great no matter if people are picking 1080i or 720p since it seems to have a good scaler in it. That being said, here’s my thoughts:

    The only people who need to choose 1080i for their resolution are people with CRT HDTV’s (Tube or Projection) or people with 1080p HDTV’s.

    Here’s why: All the content on your ATV is progressive by choosing an interlaced format you are making the ATV interlace progressive scan content. Now lets say you have a 37inch LCD TV. That TV is not 1080p or even 1080i native, its 720p native. It accepts 1080i signals and deinterlaces them and scales them to 720p, but it will not display a 1080i picture. Now you take your Apple TV, and watch a 640×480 movie. Apple TV iup scales it up to 1080 and then interlaces it and outputs to your TV. Your TV accepts the signal and says hey 1080i, I need to de-interlace this and scale it down to 720p to displace on my LCD. If you can’t notice a difference its really just a testament to the quality of the scalers (Or I guess it could be the quality of your optometrist) but you are essentially making the your Apple TV and Your TV TV do more work than necessary.

    All HDTVs support every format, but DLP, LCD, and Plasma, all have only 1 Native format and they are all progressive scan and unless they are 1080p (very few these days) 720p is the native format. I would just as soon not have my video interlaced and deinterlaced again if it is entirely not necessary. Its bad enough that it scaled.

    Lets say you have an old school CRT projection or CRT Tube HDTV. Those TV’s much like the old Tube computer monitors can switch resolutions dynamically and have no native resoltion, if you send it a 1080i signal it will display 1080i, but why would you want to? The content is all progressive scan. Why not output the progressive signal since you know the source material will never greater than 720p to show it at 1080i it must be upscaled and interlaced.

    The only reason I can see for the ATV to output 1080i is if you are the rare person with an HDTV that Only supports 1080i and has a crappy scaler built in and you’d rather use the AppleTV scaler.

    I know 1080 just SOUNDS better than 720 but trust me its really not. You’ll actually see more jaggies and artifacts in high motion HD in 1080 interlaced modes because it displace 540 lines 60 times a second, where as 720p displays 720 lines 30times per second. Progressive scan gives you more of a film look, interlaced gives more of a Video look.

    In the end, its all in what you like and it won’t really hurt anything, but why upscale at the ATV only to downscale at the Real TV… Its just a waste. Save a few CPU cycles on your ATV and set it you 720p and forget it. (Just like the showtime rotissery)

  • iMat

    philips 37PF9830/10 HDTV (LCD) with Ambilight 2 and AppleTV.

    This combination allows me to view 1080i output in all its quality. What I like most is the Ambilight feature (which can be tuned to have a pure white backlight, a backlight that adjusts to the main picture colour (on one or both sides of the screen) and whose “refresh rate” can be adjusted (ambient, action etc).

    I turn all my lights off and enjoy my AppleTV content on my TV without my eyes getting strained.

    I connected the AppleTV with HDMI and the TV outputs it to my surround system (no Toslink and optical surround input, maybe in a not-so-distant future 🙂 ?)

    I lack the ability to purchase video content from iTunes (alas… I am European, you know.. The stone age folks over the Atlantic…).
    But I enjoy HD nevertheless thanks to my Sony Handycam HDR-HC3. All in all I have to say I am really happy about the purchase of both systems (I have spent a lot of time choosing a future proof TV set and it is paying off a lot (ask my friends who chose the cheap way)).

    I like what the Ambilight does when playing pictures slideshows, the image really “pops out of the screen” in a fully dark room.
    I am not an audiofile so iTunes music plays very well for me. The Dolby Surround “virtually” played by AppleTV is also enough for my needs.

    At first I thought I purchased the AppleTV in a moment of craziness and was about to regret it. But even if I cannot currently purchase content on the iTunes store (video..) I must say AppleTV is worth all the money it costs. I have taken pleasure in listening to my 3’500 plus catalogue of music in my living room through a proper stereo and I love to show pics on AppleTV as well as my High Def home videos in all their quality. This last option was impossible before the AppleTV as I should have purchased an HD-DVD or Blu-Ray that are really expensive right now.

    What do I miss?
    1. Storage space (my MacBook is getting crowded really fast, and my legacy (Pentium IV) PC cannot keep up with all of this new tech
    2. Video content in Europe. I am ready to wait though, as I hope it will be available immediately in an AppleTV friendly format (HighDef??) at the same time the feature will be available in the US.

    AppleTV and Philips are a perfect match (not the only one I see…) and setup was really incredibly easy (that is also one thing I love about Apple products, and maybe the thing my girlfriend loves most (spend more time with her than flicking some crazy menu tree or reading some obscure instruction leaflet trying to do the easiest things)).

    I am definitely happy with AppleTV, and I don’t have to listen to “why does it take so long to do such a simple thing as…” from my girlfirend 🙂 With me staring in anger to a device telling myself “I hate when she is right…” and figuring out a technical answer to get away with..

  • Jason, great comments regarding 720p vs. 1080i and scaler issues, but I’ve got one small correction/clarification: 720p actually operates at 60 frames per second. 1080i operates at 30 frames per second/60 fields per second.

  • Mark Chickey

    I have a el-cheapo Insignia (best buy) 30″ flat screen tube tv.
    I got it a year and a half ago at thanksgiving sale at 5:00 am. for 399. and despite some (insignifigant at this cost) issues with the edges of the picture being perfectly straight I love the tv.

    I was frustrated at first to learn it only had RGB inputs. No biggie but then all of the dvd player manufacturers put out HDMI on their upscan players. This tv supports 720p and 1080i so that left me on a mission to find a cure. It came in the shape of a Samsung dvd player with upscan technology. You could buypass the limitation by a remote hack. Ok I was back in buisness.

    The Apple tv works flawlessly. the photos are awesome and any reviews look fantastic. Now depending on how I try to take my dvds and rip them and encode them, ( I am new at this so it will take a bit to find the best settings and programs) some have come out looking great and others so-so. Its all in the settings and the programs used to encode the material. If I send a crappy image to the unit it cannot improve the source material.
    I am on crutches so I can’t even get the model number of the tv but hey remember its a TV, DVD player with upscan, 5.1 digital amp and speakers, and then the apple tv.

    Or I have read not attempted yet … Hdmi to dvi cable and hook up a widescreen monitor. that and a nice boom box and apple tv and you are set.
    Mark C Chickey

  • Paul

    My Apple TV is connected to a Pioneer PDP436FDE (43″ plasma) and is outputting a 1080i signal via Component to a Marantz SR7500 AV-receiver, which is passing the video to my display. Using AudioQuest component cables. Using a Monster Optical cable I connected the Audio to my Marantz SR7500 AV-receiver. Everything is working great.

    The way that pictures and movies are upscaled are incredible… even these little CD-covers are looking great.

  • James

    Ok, I have a Sharp Aquos 42″ which can support 1080p – what should I have my Apple TV set to for the best results and why, 720p or 1080i?



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