ATV1 vs ATV2

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by talmadge, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2010
    I'm a newbie with an opportunity to buy an original atv for $40. I know the original has storage but is there anything atv2 can do that atv1 can't? Other than storage on #1 how do they compare? Would the hard drive on #1 sound/look better than #2 with music and movies streaming? It would be attached to a new Onkyo 808 receiver and HDTV, etc.
  2. macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2007
    It's just $40. I'd take it. I own two original ATV's. They're great. You can stream to them just like you could an ATV2. Plus, of course, you have the online storage that the ATV2 doesn't really have.

    If you want to use Netflix though, the original ATV doesn't offer that feature. It also uses a lot less power. You can also take an ATV original on the road with content, but you can't really do that with the ATV2.

    How big is the HD? I'm guessing at $40 it is the 40GB version. That is a little limiting, but survivable.
  3. macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    The ATV2 can stream from your netflix account as well as bone stock has a faster processor which can decode higher level mp4 than bone stock ATV1. That said it still has issues with 1080p decoding which really doesn't matter much since it is limited to only 720p output anyway. Imo being able to sync stuff to the local drive on the atv 1 is nice and imho give smoother playback (or at least as smooth) than streaming on the atv 2 ... depending on your network setup.
  4. macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    While they share the same name and sport a similar UI, they are completely different products. The philosophy for how the devices connect (streaming vs. local storage) and the hardware architecture (x86 vs. ARM) have been changed. As a result the ATV 1 has essentially been abandoned. Most notably the 1.0 device does not support Rentals, AirPlay or NetFlix streaming. Also the anticipated future support for “Apps” on the ATV would only be for the newer device.
    That said the ATV 1 is still a great device for accessing content from your iTunes library and it does provide essentially the same video/audio quality.
    An ATV1 could be useful if given to you for free, but since it is an end of life product; I would not pay for one. IMO if you are buying a device, you should get the ATV2, even though it costs more.
  5. macrumors member

    Sep 12, 2008
    Hmmm. You should buy my ATV1 for $80 instead. I loaded it with magic, so, you know, that's priceless.

  6. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    ATV2 has built in Netflix streaming (in the US and maybe Canada)
    ATV2 can playback at higher resolution (720P vs. I think 520P)

    ATV1 Allows you to purchase movies, tv shows and season passes through iTunes store directly from the device. ATV2 only allows rentals, although if you make purchases through iTunes on your computer, they will be available for streaming once they download to your library.

    I have both, and I have found that for STREAMED content, the ATV2 is better. For content that is actually synced to the ATV1, I see it as equivalent to the ATV2 streamed version - however, a lot of my content was ripped & encoded for the ATV1, so I'm using lower resolution than the ATV2 could provide.

    If you can use Netflix and have a fast broadband connection, that's the killer feature. If you are just trying to stream your existing iTunes content, there's little difference.
  7. macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    While you may be encoding to a lower resolution, they both support 720p/DTS h.264 content. However the ATV1 is a bit more finiky about the profile modes used in the encode.
    A 720p/DTS HD movie downloaded from iTunes will playback the same on either device.
  8. macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    To be fair, it should be noted that the two both can playback 720p. In fact the atv 1 was the first device that could actually rent/buy iTunes "HD" 720p content. Also the first to allow AC3 5.1 Dolby Digital pass thru (same as the current ATV2).
  9. macrumors 65816

    Mar 13, 2007
    Houston, TX
    Both can process video up to 720p, and upscale the output to 1080p.

    Neither can handle DTS; "surround sound" requires a 6-channel AC3 track to be included with your media.

    One minor wrinkle between the two models: v1 has an separate 2-channel analog out which is very useful for home theatre systems with a 2nd zone. v2 does not have this.
  10. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2010
    Wow quick responses! Thanks for the help guys.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2007
    This isn't fully accurate. The ATV1 does support rentals - movie rentals. Not TV rentals - you have to buy the TV shows (you can also buy movies). If you buy something on ATV1, it will move it automatically to your iTunes Library, when it is available. ATV1 also supports Airplay - for audio only. Basically that feature is the Airport Express's "Airtunes".

    It most certainly is a legacy product. The point here is that it is $40. The big advantage is that you can load it with content and take it with you on vacation on in a van (admittedly, I have not done this, but I can).

    I got the ATV before ATV2 came out. ATV2 would be fine for the purposes I use it for - which is primarily streaming. It's a fine product. I'm sure ATV2 is as well.
  12. err404, Feb 17, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2011

    macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    Sorry, I misspoke. Apple uses AC3 for it's 5.1 suround, not DTS. (better compatibilty and smaller size)

    Apple uses a hacked MP4 video format which contains 2 audio tracks. One stereo/Prologic and a second AC3 5.1.
    AC3 is handled as a pass-through to your receiver.

    Technically I think it will also pass-through DTS, but it's a bit of a hack. There where some threads on this in the Handbrake forums a while back, but I've never tried it myself. Basically pass your DTS bitstream into the "AC3" track on the file instead of AC3. Since the bitstream is simply passed through to the reciever, it sould playback as DTS. I don't know if this would introduce timing problems.
  13. macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    One other note, though it may not be of any concern. The AppleTV 1 is much more modifiable. A larger drive is a snap to put in, as well installing software mods (xbmc linux etc) without having to jailbreak it then worrying about an apple software update killing your mods.
  14. macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    Modding the ATV1 isn't fundamentally superior to JB on an ATV2. Apple software updates always broke my ATV1 mods.
    The ATV2 has been thoroughly hacked. xbmc is now available on both, but I agree that the extra storage on the ATV1 has it’s benefits.
  15. macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    Actually that doesn't work. Believe me, I tried. That said HandBrake 0.9.5 can convert your DTS track to a full AC3 5.1 DD track since it now include an ac3 encoder (previously could only pass through an actual source ac3 track or transcode a DTS track to 2 channel Dolby DPL2 in an mp4).
  16. dynaflash, Feb 17, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2011

    macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    Seriously, not trying to be argumentative but to the point that the OP might be trying to evaluate the worth of the two devices for their needs :
    Well, that depends on the mod. XBMC linux on the atv1 has far and away superior video playback to xbmc mac on either the atv 1 or atv2 (and definitely better than either device stock). Particularly with the addition of the Crystal HD card. In this case the AppleTV 1 becomes the only of the two devices that can actually not only decode 1080p content but output true 1080p.

    Correct, and agreed. However there are no more software updates coming from apple for the atv 1. So it becomes a moot point in that sense.

    I am aware of that as well. Both the xbmc hack to the atv1 and atv2 were done by davilla over at xbmc. And as I said above ... he will confirm that the only xbmc mod (or frankly any other mod) to either atv that can actually output true 1080p is to the atv1. The atv2 is limited from apple to *only* output 720p then try to upscale it after decoding, regardless if you jailbreak it with xbmc or not.

    Again, apologies if I sound argumentative, I truly don't mean to. I just figure its worth the op knowing the available options. :)
  17. macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    I'll trust you on the DTS support. As I said, I had only read about others exerimenting with limited success.
    The more important point however, is that both the ATV1 and ATV2 will support true 5.1 playback via pass through Dolby Digital (AC3).

    There is no doubt that the ATV1 modding is more mature. The current XBMC on the ATV2 is basically a proof of concept and not ready for heavy use. Still, I see a lot of potential. The team has made some good progress on hardware decoding and expects it to be able to smoothly decode 1080p video for 720p playback.

    As for 1080p playback...
    I found that while the ATV1 "could" playback 1080p content, it really struggled to maintain a constant framerate (w/o adding a secondary decoder).

    That said, neither device is ideal for 1080p playback. (ATV1 lack the power, ATV2 lack the output). If 1080p is really a requirement, you may want to look elsewhere. If I had to pick one, I'd choose smoother playback over higher res.

    FYI - My current media device is a Mac Mini, so it has been a while since I have used xbmc my ATV1. I apologize in advance if significant improvements have since been made.

    No worries. It's all valuable information.
  18. macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2010
    As for the differences in 720p between the two, the ATV1 officially supports up to 720p/24 but does not generally support high profile encoding and does not handle 720p encodings over a certain bitrate well. The ATV2 officially supports up to 720p/30 and can handle high profile encodings and is not limited by bitrate at that resolution.

    With that being said, $40 is a really good deal on an ATV1 in my opinion.
  19. macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    Agreed, but did you ever try xbmc Linux on the atv1 with the broadcom CrystalHD card ? XBMC mac os cannot do it. ya almost gotta see it to believe it.

    Btw, no apologies needed, as you said " its all in the interest of information". ;)
  20. macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    My ATV1 has been retired for the better part of a year, but I've been wanting install a CrystalHD in my Mac Mini (older model). I hear that the results are excellent.
    Now you have me thinking about getting two CrystalHDs and setting my ATV1 back up as a secondary streamer…
    Which model do you use? BCM970012 or BCM970015?
  21. macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
  22. macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2007
    So ATV2 doesn't allow streaming of my music through iTunes from my iMac? I can handle buying my content on iTunes and streaming it, but if ATV2 doesn't allow streaming of music....well, that bites.


  23. macrumors 65816

    Jan 13, 2006
    Chester, NJ
    They won't function as airplay targets (i.e. iOS can't send anything to them). Unless they updated the firmware and I missed it.

    The advantages of the original ATV:

    - Offers component video output (ATV2 nixes it)
    - Offers analog stereo output (AVT2 nixes it). I used to use this to work as a feed to my alarm clock radio as speakers while also having it hooked up to my TV via HDMI. To do this with an ATV2 I had to buy an SPDIF->Analog box.

    ATV2 is smaller, sexier, and doesn't have a spinning hard disk. And works with Airplay.
  24. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    ATV2 Streams anything compatible from iTunes. Music included.
  25. macrumors member


    Sep 1, 2006
    The Mile High Bovine Metropolis
    I love my AppleTV 1

    It was less than a year old when :apple:TV2 came out, and I already have Netflix through my bluray player, so that was a nonissue for me. Sounds like a great deal to me.

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