back to article Apple TV third-generation (2012)

Well, at least we can get the hardware over and done with quickly. The latest Apple TV looks exactly like the old one, and it's innards aren't really any different either. 3G Apple TV Box steady: no change to the look, little to the spec For the record, there's an A5 processor on the inside in place of the previous model's …

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  1. Gary Riches

    I buy all my content digitally rather than getting discs so iTunes is a good place for me, my friend acquires his films in a rather more dubious fashion so has installed XBMC on his and it works a treat.

    The thing I mainly use it for is streaming music to the good speakers in the house.

    When having a party leaving an iPad hooked up to your remote iTunes library is brilliant as people can pick it up and change the house wide music in an instant.

    iPad > iTunes Library on computer > All airplay devices in the house > win

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. jai

      your friend could run all his files through something like Handbrake to turn them into mp4's and then use Identify to tag them, and then the videos work fine in iTunes and AppleTV and iPad, etc without the need to jailbrake. avforums contains many methods of automating this process using the Automator app that comes with OS X.

      I've resorted to viewing all my many many dvds as hardcopy backups and am in the process of importing them into iTunes using the above two apps to that i can start watching any film at will from the AppleTv. When you have as many dvds as i have, it's no simple matter to find the film you want to watch. having it all streaming from iTunes makes life a heck of a lot easier.

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        The Usability Paradox

        Transcoding everything by hand is really an absurd suggestion. At least something like Plex offers the illusion that the ATV can play everything and doesn't require you do go through a lot of upfront fuss and bother. Plex (and XBMC) also offer superior media management.

        This is one part of the process that some people like to gloss over. This is where XBMC shines and most other solutions (iTunes, MCE) tend to fall down badly.

        1. Danny 14

          Re: The Usability Paradox

          XBMC will UPNP to DNLA devices (pretty much any modern phone and device). So if you can put XBMC on these ATV then thats a winner in my book.

        2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

          Re: The Usability Paradox

          There is a huge difference between Apple TV and MCE codec packs - I've found nothing that MCE won't play with a small collection of codec packs installed.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          Re: He really wouldn't need to transcode them

          Remuxing doesn't do you any good if the format inside the container is not supported or it uses features that are beyond the ability of the appliance to deal with.

          Needing to remux is no less stupid. Really is just shows MORE contempt for the end user because it demonstrates that the appliance already has the ability to deal with the content in question. It simply chooses not to.

          The vendor has made a conscious choice to ignore the wider world and to make the device more inconvenient to use than it really needs to be.

          Remuxing n+1 files is still n+1 worth of bother.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      AirPlay

      Ideal to AirPlay enable your amplifier. Low power, small, discrete. £99.

      Go on, someone say they can Hacintosh a RaspberryPi and it'll only cost £30 instead of this ovepriced bit of Apple kit.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: AirPlay

        I can go one better.

        It's already been done using one of the Alpha boards.

        You don't even need to "Hackintosh" anyway, as a ported AirPlay service already exists for Linux.

  2. MGman

    Sadly I don't think you can jailbreak the ATV3 yet.

    My ATV2 is hacked and XBMC installed making it an amazing bit of kit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My dad has an atv

      He's got XBMC on it. Nit sure which it is, but it has the third UI, so possibly atv3?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    got it too

    the ui doesn't fit in the tv anymore, I don't like that, having to scroll to see what's on the bottom. And I thought It would take advantage of HD in displaying the movie icons. Nope, still way too big. Since I barely have full HD content, no advantage for me, I only bought it 'cause I needed another one in the bedroom. So basically the software is a bit dragging it down. Not to mention that itunes has some quirks which are illogical and you have to learn them one by one. It makes a big difference connecting the AppleTv to the network through the mains (for instance), I recommend it, especially when browsing with the youtube app. Streaming from itunes wirelessly works very well, almost instantly, even though the file is on a NAS actually.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    but only iTunes fans need apply.

    Shouldn't that be

    "but only locked in iTunes users need apply."

    I mean surely in 2012, the only people still using iTunes, are those that bought alot of content and have no choice to use it.

    1. JDX Gold badge
      FAIL

      Re: but only iTunes fans need apply.

      True in the same way that "in 2012 Linux is a popular desktop OS" is true

      1. Miek
        Trollface

        Re: but only iTunes fans need apply.

        Wow, posting snide linux comments in an Apple thread, surely you meant to use the troll-incognito icon ?

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: but only iTunes fans need apply.

          no because I'm not a Mac fan either.

    2. Silverburn
      Thumb Down

      Re: but only iTunes fans need apply.

      Sorry bazza, but locked in?

      iTunes will play DRM-free content you buy elsewhere, no problem. It's drag and drop.

      Also, unDRMing iTunes content is no biggie either.

      The author was correct in his statement. You just hate Apple, to the point it blinds you.

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Mushroom

        Re: but only iTunes fans need apply.

        > iTunes will play DRM-free content you buy elsewhere, no problem. It's drag and drop.

        No it isn't. Not even close.

        It's easy to "hate Apple" when fanboys make up rediculously fraudulent claims.

        iTunes does NOTHING for video management of alien video formats and has very limited support for anything.

        This is why people jailbreak this device.

  5. Rob - Denmark
    FAIL

    "Access LAN-linked iTunes libraries but not Nas file-shares"

    Icon says it all.

    1. Danny 14
      Stop

      Re: "Access LAN-linked iTunes libraries but not Nas file-shares"

      Its ATV what did you seriously expect? Import your library into itunes then (and fool around with conversions). Failing that wait for a jailbreak and install XBMC. Failing that dont buy one, noone is forcing you to.

  6. Antidisestablishmentarianist
    Thumb Down

    The new UI is a fucking horror. Just the clumsiest thing I've seen in ages. I mean the android UI is even better for goodness sake. Can I degrade back to the previous version please?

    I read somewhere that the UI has been kicking around for a while but didn't get released till Steve, well, kicked it. Guess the dev was literally waiting for the 'over my dead body' command to just work itself out.....

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge
      FAIL

      As a die-hard Apple fan...

      I have to agree. It almost pains me to say so, but first time I saw the new interface I thought I'd been conned and they'd sold me some cheap Chinese knock-off instead. I almost expected some bright pink and yellow chinese characters with bluebirds and hummingbirds and shit flashing up on the screen - just like the fake iPhones.

      Fucking horror is right.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    what idiot would actually buy one of these? WDTV Live has this thing beat hands down, and cost the same. I can play ANY movie format on it, no "hacking" required. I can stream music from the net, or hook my Ipod up to it (why I would want to is beyond me).

    No apps grant you that one, but.... why would I need an app?

    I've got something called a "laptop" that runs any "app" I want or need that hooks very nicely to my TV, again, no hacking required.

    I'm thinking more and more that people who buy Apple products have more money than brains.....

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      You can't stream to a WDTV Live from an iPad or iPhone; and like it or not, that's probably the target market for this. I have all-Apple at home and for me the ATV is brilliant, but I'm quite prepared to accept that if Apple's not your fruit there are other products out there that would fit the bill.

      And for the record It's not intended to replace a laptop.

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Solution for self-inflicted problem.

        Streaming from your phone is just a stupid parlour trick. It's something to impress the clueless. It's a very limited feature that mainly exists to cover up the limitations Apple artificially imposes on the ATV2. If the ATV2 were allowed to have it's own apps, the idea of using a $500 device to hack around the limitations of a $99 one would be moot.

        First your streaming to one device and then to the other on wireless networks that aren't great to begin with. You're doing all of this despite the fact that the overpriced tablet isn't actually any more capable than the cheap little puck by the TV.

        Just let the iPad without a monitor do it's own decoding and run it's own apps.

        Not allowing the user community to improve the user experience is major fail.

        1. Danny 14

          Re: Solution for self-inflicted problem.

          "Streaming from your phone is just a stupid parlour trick"

          No it isnt. I have many many movies on my phone. I'm always recording things and whilst I use DNLA to stream from my phone to other devices I imagine apple people do the same. If they are already an apple house then this would work wonders I suspect. I also use a n150 network quite happily. 720p goes across to my LG600 nicely. Of course its horses for courses people are free to do as they will and for 99 its not a bad device if it suits you (a brace of cables from apple could cost you the same!). Otherwise there are other devices that will do the same.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Solution for self-inflicted problem.

            correction,

            "Otherwise there are other devices that will do the same."

            There are other devices that do the same, a lot more, and are NOT locked down, and cost the same.

          2. JEDIDIAH
            Linux

            Re: Solution for self-inflicted problem.

            If these devices were allowed to be treated as the PCs that certain people like to pretend they are when it suits them, then all of these "appliance" protocols would be moot. All you really need is a rudimentary file sharing protocol and the freedom to use it.

            Of course you have the problem of limited format support. That's a key "feature" of most of these devices. AirPlay doesn't help that. It just adds another layer of indirection.

            1. Steve Todd
              Stop

              Being able to push content

              from a device with a rich user interface and easy control (be that a PC/MAC, phone, tablet etc) is infinitely preferable to trying to navigate a file system hierarchy on your TV using a remote control. NON of the streaming devices I've seen to date are much good for finding content.

              DNLA was a step in the right direction, but it's too hit-and-mis over whether it will work between any two devices and it's too hard to configure. Airplay has the advantage of being idiot simple to use and pretty decent in quality.

              Formats aren't much of a problem either. MKVs are normally H.264 encoded video, so you can re-MUX them to Apple compatible MP4 in fairly short order. Audio support covers the most common bases (MP3, AAC) and AirPlay accepts PCM audio, so your client can decode from whatever format it is using and play back the result (Spotify's OGG format plays perfectly for example).

              1. JEDIDIAH
                Linux

                Re: Being able to push content

                It makes some sense to use a tablet as a UI but that is the extent of it.

                Pushing the actual content is just stupid.

                The moment you talk about transcoding or remuxing, you've just lost the argument.

                That is the opposite of the sort of "just works" experience that Apple is supposed to be famous for.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Headmaster

          Re: Solution for self-inflicted problem.

          itS, iTS, ITS

  8. Pavlov's obedient mutt
    Thumb Up

    XBMC

    So my G2 Apple TV sits like a very small quiet out the way thing, connected via HDMI to my amp and to all my NAS shares via cabled ethernet (well, the switch is in a cupboard 3ft away), all controlled effortlessly by a logitech harmony remote. Even my total Luddite spouse can use it.

    Of course, I had to jailbreak and install XMBC - and now it plays anything (even 1080 content, tho downscaled to 720) - so I have the flexibility of using the iTunes ecosystem; AirPlay for music, or photos when friends visit; and the ability to play just about any media type.

    At €99 its hard not to justify really. As soon as the xbmc / jailbreak option works on ATV3, I'll be having one for the bedroom, thank you very much.

    1. Citizen Kaned

      Re: XBMC

      only 720p though. no thanks from me.

    2. Arctic fox
      Happy

      Re: XBMC "Of course, I had to jailbreak and install XMBC". I am pleased to see......

      .....that you and your good lady are happy with this kit. However, what about the ordinary punter's out of the box experience?

    3. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Re: XBMC

      A total luddite spouse can control any HTPC running XBMC. The only advantage the ATV2 has is price.

      The ATV2 still has decoder limitations if you are using XBMC or player limitations if you are using Plex. You don't need AirPlay for music or photos.

      An ATV2 is still limited ARM hardware that isn't fully functional unless you burgle the device so you can install better software on it.

      iTunes is not unique any more and is very replaceable.

    4. Matt_payne666

      Re: XBMC

      I don't know what sort of hd you enjoy, but I found atv2 dreadful at the task...

      I was willing to put up with 720 downscaling as he atv was to go with the bedroom tv, and but feed the thing anything over about 4GB and it's welcome to the stuttering! My 40GB content doesn't even start! this is over a 3x3 n speed network or a cat6 cabled gigabit network, the little processor just can't cut the mustard!

      It's now relegated to airplaying photos and videos from my phone when the parents visit.... But even that is delt with better by my revo xbmc machine.

      Oh and the new ui, and we'll that's just crap!!

  9. grubastuba

    ATV3? No thanks keeping my ATV2

    The menu on the ATV3 and upgraded ATV2 is horrible, I much prefer the drop down clean look so that is why I haven't upgraded my ATV2 to the latest firmware. Rather than use XBMC after the jailbreak I installed the Plex client and have the Plex Media Server set up on the main PC... lovely!

  10. NightFox
    WTF?

    What's In A Name

    Apple TV*

    *TV functionality not included

  11. curlywurly

    ATV1 with XBMC still a smart choice

    I nearly bought an ATV2, in the end I bought a modified ATV1 for $145 inc shipping - why?

    Well it runs XBMC, has the Broadcom decoder chip in so does 1080 just fine thank you, just slots into where the WiFi went (you can't have both), but streaming HD over Wifi is not pratical anyway, so no great loss there.

    So, I paid about the same as I would for an ATV2, but also have USB tethering 1080, composite out, still handy from time to time, can't do that on the ATV2, all works fine with my Logitech Harmony remote, all fed of my unRAID media server.

  12. Ed 11

    Mirroring

    To my mind this article glossed over the main selling point of the ATV, namely mirroring from any iPhone or iPad. The ludicrous ease with which I can mirror the screen of an iDevice to the TV is excellent. It's a very capable, quiet and energy efficient Netflix player too, unlike the noisy PS3 which the ATV shares a shelf with.

    Some more UK specific services wouldn't go amiss but for now I have access to a plethora of UK on-demand services through my Virgin Tivo box so no great loss personally.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Awaiting the Jailbreak.

    I bought one, turned it on, realised it was completely useless without a jailbreak and re-boxed it.

    Just waiting the jailbreak now so it can become a useful device.

    1. FutureShock999
      FAIL

      Re: Awaiting the Jailbreak.

      You HAVE read the threads that enumerate all of the reasons why the ATV3 will be the most difficult Apple product EVER to jailbreak, and it is not likely for some time? I did, returned mine after three days, and bought a Mac Mini just to be done with it. Runs XMBC, has local storage to buffer to, and a does a whole lot more, and not at the mercy of a wait for a jailbreak that may not come for some time (and some speculation is possibly never, due to the lack of good attack vectors as it has no browser).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Awaiting the Jailbreak.

        I have, but I'm an optimist ;)

        It's a 99 quid box, essentially disposable. If it never gets a JB, I'll just give it to someone who might like it.

        I'm already using a Mac Mini but it's a bit OTT for the small usage a bedroom media player demands (and it's not totally silent).

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I want to spend twice as much for the same thing

    having used a wdtv for many years i saw an earlier version of the appletv at a HAV's house (hopeless apple victim).

    doesnt really do anything I havent seen before or need but was unexpectedly heavy when i picked it up.

    Wonder if they are following the british HIFI scam of heavy slabs of engineering to justify the price for not much performance.

    Maybe this one does something more but I doubt it. Just another thing they can plug into their betamax computer and coo that there was no setup required.

    1. Ed 11

      Re: I want to spend twice as much for the same thing

      A HAV? I'm shocked and appalled you'd spend any time at the house of such a person.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "There's no shortage of UK content Apple could add if it had a mind to."

    Oi, Bitch.

    You'll have what we give you and YOU WILL LIKE IT!

    Good ole Apple and their clones.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iClones always bang on and bloody on about Apple, but the reality is, everything that Apple does can and is done far better by its competitors.

    Get over it, you're stuck in a bloated, dated and expensive eco system, and you really can not justfy the waste. Though "thinking differently" is probably enough justification for you.

  17. badgers
    Thumb Up

    Love the ATV, don't like the new interface

    Our ATV2 gets used almost every day. I and all my friends have iphones or ipads, so when they're at mine (or I'm at theirs), we connect to the wifi network and can instantly play movies, music and show photos on the TV or just play music through the stereo, using itunes, spotify, or whatever you happen to use.

    We use it for watching the Orange thursday films that get downloaded to the ipad, and mess about on youtube and vimeo.

    The point is not how much it can do, but that it can do the basics really, really easily. And I don't want a NAS, linux box and a laptop just to watch a film on the TV.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    mythtv / xbmc / boxee...

    ... not as slick, but 10x more free and powerful.

    I'd also say, not for the feint hearted, unless you purchase a ready made setup.

    If your fine with a walled garden - a set of restrictions on what you can do with a device - and you don't mind having two devices, one to record your telly and one for music/movies - then Apple TV is fantastic.

    Lets face it, most people fall into that category.

    But hey, this is El Reg - we're geeks here, right?

    Roll your own, you know you want to ...

  19. Gareth 18

    Lotta love for the AppleTV

    I have to admit I really like it. Its cute, inconspicuous and sits neatly under the TV. Airplay makes listening to music, watching youtube, watching a film, or streaming things like radio via tunein a breeze.

    The only thing I would like Apple to do is increase support for multiple accounts. My partner havs iTunes Match so his entire music and TV programme library is available to the AppleTV via the cloud. Unfortunately the AppleTV only supports 1 iTunes account at a time so if I want to watch or listen to anything that isn't synced to my iPhone then I have to have my laptop running to stream it. Its a minor bugbear though for a product that is affordable and does what I need it to do really well. Let the AppleTV support multiple accounts and it will be the cherry on the cake.

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