New Apple TV: What We Know So Far

by tomek on September 6, 2010

“We’ve sold a lot of them but it’s never been huge hit,” Jobs said last week. How could we not agree: Apple TV wasn’t a game changer for the living room. But hey, there are hundreds thousands of users completely satisfied with the existing ATV (according to the analysts, Apple might have sold 3 million Apple TV devices worldwide) and most of them never even thought of hacking this mysterious box! That’s why here at Apple TV Hacks, we think Steve has figured it out very well: what the average customer wants from his/her HDTV in the living room is to play latest movies, popular TV shows, family vacation photo slideshow and maybe some music from time to time. We, geeks, need more, that’s obvious, and that’s why we are so disappointed with the new device. The only thing we can do now is to try to squeeze as much as we can out of this hockey puck when we put our hands on it sometime at the end of September.

But before that happens, let’s focus on what we know about the second generation Apple TV so far.

The box

  • 3.9 inches (98 mm)x3.9 inches  x0.9 inches (23 mm); 0.6 pounds (1/4th the size of existing ATV)
  • built-in power supply
  • no power button


  • HDMI (cable sold separately)
  • Optical audio
  • 10/100BASE-T Ethernet
  • Micro-USB (for service and support); loses host USB
  • Built-in IR receiver


  • 802.11n Wi-Fi (a/b/g compatible)
  • 2.4GHz and 5GHz

Apple A4 chip (replacing Intel Pentium M that powered the old ATV)

No internal storage – instant online streaming (iTunes, Netflix, Flickr, Mobile Me, etc.) and local streaming (from your mac or pc via iTunes).
But Steve only said there will be no “storage management”, no details were given on what exactly is inside the box, no details on RAM.

Video formats
H.264 (up to 720p, 30 fps)
MPEG-4 (up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 fps)
Motion JPEG  (up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 fps)

No 1080p, only720p!
According to Engadget, Apple felt that using 720p allowed them to strike a balance between quality and bandwidth.
In comparison to old, hacked ATV, the new device looses 1080p

Audio formats:
HE-AAC (V1), AAC, protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV;
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through

Photo formats


  • Aluminum Apple Remote (included)
  • iPhone or iPod touch running Remote app (free). Not so comfortable as Apple Remote device, but facilitates writing: use your device’s QWERTY keyboard to quickly tap out the title instead of clicking letters on the Apple TV screen.

No details on the OS are given by Apple. According to Boing Boing, an Apple spokesperson said that the new Nano and Apple TV don’t use iOS, but other sources reports he has only confirmed that the new Nano doesn’t use this OS.

Since the second generation Apple TV is powered by A4 chip, like other iOS devices, it probably runs some form of iOS, just not identical as iPhone or iPad.


  • Movies

–          iTunes rentals available in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom:
–          HD: new releases – $4.99, library titles – $3.99
–          SD: new releases – $3.99, library titles – $2.99
–          instant access; you have 30 days to start watching, and once you begin, you can watch as many times as you want in 24 hours
–          availability: often the same day they come out on DVD
–          searching by top movies, title, or genre; trailers, reviews, Rotten Tomatoes rating

Older Apple TVs will continue to work as they have been working up to this point, and they will continue to be able to purchase movies and TV shows even though the new Apple TV is rental-only.

  • TV Shows

–          iTunes rentals only available in the US
–          titles from: ABC, ABC Family, Fox, Disney Channel and BBC America
–          commercial free
–          99¢ per episode (HD and SD)
–          once you rent an episode, you have 30 days to press Play. Then it’s yours for the next 48 hours
–          Apple TV keeps track of your favorite shows so the next time you turn on your TV, you can see which season you’re watching and which episodes are new

  • Netflix

–          only available in the US
–          Netflix subscription required
–          watch your content right away or add it to your instant-watch queue

  • Mobile Me (access to Mobile Me galleries)
  • Fickr
  • YouTube
  • Slidshows (various slideshow themes, music from your iTunes library)
  • Internet radio
  • Local streaming

–          music, videos and photos streamed from PCs and Mac
–          iTunes 10 required

Coming soon: streaming from iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to the Apple TV with AirPlay, a new feature that will come with iOS 4.2 in November. There will be no need to rent or buy a movie or TV show again if you already have it on one of your iOS devices.

Price and availability
Apple will start shipping the new Apple TV at the of September/beginning of October for $99.

Sadly, there will be no updates for current ATV.

Possible hacks
Hacking the new Apple TV will be much more difficult since it has no USB host (no patchstick, no external hard drive) and hard drive (no room for additional files). “The hacking will probably have to be done via hooking the AppleTV up like a hard drive, and I doubt it will be as easy as the original one,” thinks NitoTV. And if the device is truly based on some form of the iOS, we will rather have to talk about “jailbreaking”, not “hacking”.

But we are sure that together with the great and creative ATV Hacks community we will soon make the new device more “usable”. “We’re committed to developing for the AppleTV platform, and will continue to do so once these new models are available,” said Firecore, the developer behind aTV Flash. Fingers crossed!

Interesting comment from our Facebook page:
“The real question is whether app developers will be able to utilize “air play” for their apps.. If so then apps like HuLu+ pandora ect will be able to work on the new aTV that way and apps like stream-to-me and airVideo will be able to deliver any video codec from your Mac or network storage drive (if you have an iOS device).”

Ars Technica
Boing Boing

  • Ratso

    Thanks for listing the known facts. Another case of a perfect device, painfully hobbled by OS enforced limitations. Since this incarnation is merely a conduit to rentals from Apple, shouldn't they be giving it away?
    Had this been made open, able to run apps like iOS devices and not iTunes dependent for streaming, I'd have ordered already. I guess we have to wait until Apple is embarrassed by GoogleTV, Boxee, etc. before we can have a basic feature set.

  • Ratso

    Oh, forgot to mention… really looking forward to hacks – maybe this thing can be made more useful.

  • Good analyse !
    To complete the information, the price annouced for Europe is 119 € (which is much more than 99$) 😉

  • michael

    “Since this incarnation is merely a conduit to rentals from Apple”

    I don't see why you'd think that? I could get a lot of use out of this device and NEVER rent anything from Apple. I have a huge library of iTunes content on my computer in my bedroom that I'd love to watch on the TV downstairs in the living room.

    “Had this been made open”

    Who's to say they won't open it up at some point in the future? Apple said it was going to remain a hobby, which implies it is something they'll work on from time to time. There's no reason they can't offer up an SDK and an AppStore later, when they think they should take the device to the next level as they did with the iPhone.

    “Apple is embarrassed by GoogleTV, Boxee, etc”

    Apple wouldn't have any reason to be embarrassed if they continued to make the product they want to make and it worked as advertised. Just because it doesn't come with features you want, isn't any reason for them to be embarrassed. Sorry, if you're not important enough for Apple to build a product specifically for your needs.

  • Editor

    exactly, that's $152!!
    TUAW has interesting article on why is the Apple TV so expensive in Europe

  • JJ

    This comment brought to you by Apple.

  • Jo

    good info. thanks.

    actually, the real question is if iOS 4.2 can be jailbroken so you can stream all your apps live screen display via AirPlay to ATV2 and your TV. then you wouldn't need to bother hacking ATV at all.

  • mark

    It would be also great to stream from ATV2 to iOS devices (movies and tv shows on iPad), but nobody yet confirmed if this will be possible. Probably not…

  • Pingback: dre in the morning » Blog Archive » Tuesday: Appleicious()

  • buenso80

    It´s because of our higher taxes here in EU.

  • mark

    but it's still $128 even if you subtract UK sales tax

  • Aleckxr

    the old apple tv is available for 149 brand new in the clearance section at the apple store, with the boxee patch you can have an awesome unit, i keep finding new things for my first gen apple tv, i use it as a computer now haha. i think apple realized they kinda made it like macmini and took all the good stuff away on the new one, woops, imo i think its better to get the old one and continue to work on new hacks to get even more stuff out of it (hd youtube, hulu, netflix, free movies, mp4 support for new users…

  • Tangomar

    I don't understand this. Can AppleTV connect to Apple Store? Can it download apps?
    If not, they missed an amazing opportunity here to be a very simple/cheap console.

  • Tbrams

    When will you guys open of for the rest of the world – we are a lot of Apple fans out here… and we are pretty unhappy to have to keep seeing the “US Only” statement again.

    I realize this is not an Apple issue, but it would certainly help US overseas sales to open up a bit and stop being so focused on distribution rights.

  • iGor

    You are genius!

  • Michael

    They will eventually. Steve hinted at that this past week, stating that it could later on even import the AppStore to the ATV. I don't doubt for a second that apple will be buying game titles in a few years. I think they have really great eligibility for being the next console just like xbox. They already have a great AppStore to play simple games and by then they'll be selling top selling games for idevices because the graphics will be updated for everything that they have created. They'll probably allow you to use your idevice as a remote eventually for this thing. I can't wait until they finally add the AppStore to it because then I know for sure I am going to get the ATV!

  • Jj5484a


    I agree with some of your points — but for the most part, think you are off in the weeds. First the part that I agree with: having access to the large amount of content on my computer is a very nice feature. True enough. Now, onto the disagreeable side…

    First, apple has a long history of locking down their code. Job's very nature is to build bulletproof products that work flawlessly with one another. The only way to do that is to control (literally) every element of the ecosystem. Apple will not “open” their platform which is why googleTV will be such a threat. Which brings me to the last point….googleTV and embarrassment.

    Embarrassment is a tough word to use in this postings, I will admit. I do think that Apple has missed the boat regarding ATV. They had a golden opportunity — not for weeks or months, but years — to dominate the living room space. instead they opted to treat ATV as hobby (and continue to do so). The embarrassment will come the first time that someone is able to aggregate content from the web and make it easy to find/view content using the networks own feeds (think hulu or, but better). The real problem is that Apple was trying to broker a replacement service to cable in an ala carte fashion. While Steve was trying to work out a deal on this model (which he never was able to do), google took a completely different approach — and will do so with 100,000 developers assistance (and at 1080p, nonetheless).

    Embarrassment might be the right word afterall….

    Embarrassing that they couldn't capitalize on a virgin market for yearts.

    Embarrassing that they thought their product set would be everything people want/need (smacks of hubris).

    Embarrassing that they are still putting out subpar products in this space.

    Embarrassing that they continue to treat it as a hobby.

  • Seppl

    and $99 is without tax in the u.s. genius …

  • zaraly

    Apple TV. Any chance of getting Hulu Plus on this thing? I'm sure they want me to rent, but I don't want to.
    Apple TV Video Converter

  • Freestate

    It does have a version of iOS – look at iTunes localized p-list file – it has verbiage about updating the iOS on the device via iTunes (just like all iOS devices it requires iTunes to update):

    “4309.289” = “iTunes is downloading the software for this Apple*TV and will restore your Apple*TV when the download is complete.”;
    “4309.290” = “iTunes will update your Apple*TV to iOS ^1 and will verify the update with Apple.”;

  • The hack I'd like to see is someone making it possible to load iOS 4 onto the original Apple TV. I doubt we'd see it crawling as a consequence, and it would be better than this horrible little box they've just brought to market.

  • Ftorres000

    I just got it and so far so good. I like the connectivity of the puck. I got it hooked up wirelessly and it beat the hell out of my Sony BR player I purchased. I even had my ISP put in a new hard line and wired it to my BR player and the ATV2 still beat Sony’s Connection speed.
    What’s missing is HULU, Pandora etc, and other subscription based products. While renting a movie or TV show is cheaper then Direct TV, I’d rather pay a “small” subscription fee and watch past & “current” shows that I normally watch. I like the NetFlix interface as it beats having to load movies on the NetFlix site. One last thing – I have movies in my “Movie” folder – but can’t access them unless I had purchased the movie through “iTunes”. I hope someone takes care of that soon.

  • Pdiddy156

    can you get movies for free when you jailbreak ur apple tv

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