1st Gen Apple TV

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Panther Al, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. Panther Al macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2011
    I recently seen a 1st Gen device for sale - new in box - and recalled that there was a pretty significant change in the design afterwards.

    Is the 1st Gen worth buying, or was the design changes enough to make it more or less worthless as far as using it to play iTunes purchased movies and shows?

    And, assuming that its worth getting, how easy/reasonable is it to upgrade the hard drive to a larger drive?
  2. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    1st gen has many advantages & disadvantages. If you want 1080p, you can't get that in the 1st gen without a third-party hardware hack. It's incarnation of 720p is bare minimum HD (though even that can look great vs. DVD or lessor quality). It won't get any more UI updates (though the final incarnation of it's UI- IMO- is still the best one (made great sense to me for our own movies to be under "movies" instead of "computer", our own TV shows to be under "TV shows" instead of "computer", etc.). Full airplay benefits and third party options like Netflix & Hulu aren't on board (though some options exist via "jailbreaking" hacks).

    It's pretty easy to upgrade the hard drive with modest tech hardware skills: 4 screws then 4 more screws, unplugging and plugging in a cable. If you don't want to open it up, it's also able to have a software hack that lets you hook up a fat hard drive via the USB port for local storage of a LOT of media. I know that people hooked up at least 2TB drives to it but maybe even larger options are available now.

    I stuck with it until :apple:TV3 came out because the 1080p hardware was very important to me. However, I miss the- IMO- better UI and local media storage. I also miss niche niceties of "1" like being able to group movies with the "Show" tag so that all of the serial movies (Star Wars, Star Trek, LOTR, Harry Potter, etc) could take a single line item in the list instead of being individually listed. I miss individual TV Show art showing up instead of the "3" just picking one for a whole "season" and using it for all episodes, etc. All of these little issues could be solved with a software update but that depends entirely on Apple deciding to resurrect such features.
  3. Panther Al thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2011
    Good deal - then it looks like by and large, go with the 3rd Gen. Pity, the local Walmart actually still has two of the 1st gen on the shelf.
  4. oneMadRssn macrumors 601


    Sep 8, 2011
    New England
    The first-gen AppleTV is basically a low-power x86 computer, and therefore can run other OSs other than Apple's.

    For example, CrystalBuntu and OPENelec are both based on ubuntu and both are great easy ways to implement XBMC on the AppleTV.

    If you use one of the two OSs above, it does support 1080p out of the box right away, but not very well. Upgrading to a Broadcomm Crystal HD decoder (~$30) makes 1080p playback flawless, but requires you to sacrifice wifi.

    I use mine with OPENelec right now, and I like it for the most part.
  5. MultiFinder17 macrumors 68000


    Jan 8, 2008
    Tampa, Florida
    I still use my original AppleTV as my media hub in the living room. I really appreciate the fact that I can bring it with me to see a friend and have all of my media with me for us to enjoy together. Functionality-wise, you're missing out on 1080p playback, AirPlay aside from music, media sources other than iTunes (Netflix, etc.), and the new UI.

    Personally, I still love my 'old' AppleTV, and plan on using it until it craps out.
  6. northernbaldy macrumors 6502a


    Jan 13, 2010
    the north, UK
    I miss my gen 1, it was starting to get a bit buggy and some content (Prometheus) wouldn't play, but the GUI was much nicer and the integration with iTunes was better

    However, AirPlay is ace
  7. KevinC867 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 8, 2007
    Saratoga, CA
    I still use my 1st gen. ATV as my music player. The combination of analog audio outputs and enough local storage for my music library is a winner.

    Using this device, I can leave my computer off and sit on my patio and play music through my receiver's zone 2 amp (requires analog input) and control volume and music selections from the Remote app on my iPhone. It's brilliant!
  8. keviha macrumors member

    Jul 21, 2010
    This is the reason my atv1 (actually two) are still used on a daily basis. I updgraded to a 500gb hd, and have my entire 110gb music library loaded to it. In addition to using zone 2 feature on receiver for outside listening, I have three airport express's placed throughout my house to form a relatively inexpensive whole house audio system.

    I'll be bummed the day my atv1's crap out on me. I'm probably in the minority, but I prefer to have local storage for my media versus streaming from a computer I have to leave on. I can't believe OP found a wal-mart with two unopened atv1's...they've been discontinued for years.

    By the way, on a related note of whole house audio/atv/airtunes/airplay...I picked up Griffin's new "Griffin Twenty" last week. If you have older generation airport express lying around that you've thought about using with some speakers you also have lying around - but didn't have a way to power them - the Griffin Twenty allows older generation AE's to plug right into the Twenty to power those speakers you wish you could be using. The Twenty has a 20 wpc amplifier, while not a power house, it is no weakling either. The Twenty can be used with new AE's (or other sources), but in case of newer AE's, they can't plug right into the Twenty's power source.

    In any case, it's a bit of a niche product...especially considering bad timing of designing to fit previous model AE...but I can attest to easy setup, looks and sound. Sorry if this comes off as a bit of an advert, I am not affiliated in any way with Griffin...just passionate about music...and using my "old" atv1 to make it happen. :)


  9. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    While stock it works fine ... it *is* the most customizeable (read: easy to hack) of the appletv's. Once customized it is also the most capable. I use three of them running the previously mentioned crystalhd card (about 30 - 40 bucks) and xbmc linux.

    Eats raw decoded blu ray and has full airplay support (sans airplay "mirroring"), can locally store its media in whatever capacity hdd you decide to put in it ... etc.

    That said out of the box, without any tinkering the atv 3 is probably the best choice for the money to be sure.
  10. Dc2006ster, Nov 19, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012

    Dc2006ster macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2011
    Alberta, Canada
    Another vote for the Apple TV first gen. Sure it can't do 1080p but 720p looks damn good on TVs smaller than about 50 ". I prefer to watch movies off the hard drive rather than streaming and am able to store all our grand daughters favourite movies. She even knows how to operate the AppleTV herself.
  11. Panther Al thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2011
    Went back tonight to check out which version they was, and they was the very first 40gb models. I almost want to get one just for the pure giggles of taking it into an apple store and trying to buy a 3 year apple care program for it.

  12. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    If that's ($228) the price, I'd rethink the decision. I'd be surprised if many of the responses to this thread assumed $228 as the price.

    You could easily pick up a used one for much less that if you really want one of the originals. When I sold mine right around the time the "3" launched, I sold it for $90 on craigslist. I've seen them going pretty regularly for anywhere from about $70 to about $150. New in the box certainly has some value but you are paying close to the original price if it's $228.

    If that doesn't matter to you, 40GB is great if you want to upgrade the hardware. I know you can upgrade to at least 320GB on the internal (maybe more) or use jailbreaking to attach a big external to that USB port.
  13. keviha macrumors member

    Jul 21, 2010
    Seriously...that's crazy they still have them on the shelves!!
  14. Panther Al thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2011
    Didn't say I was gonna do it... but I do think the look on the Apple Stores Manager's face should be pretty priceless. :)

    I took the pic by the local Best Buy, where Apple has a resident embedded employee. He saw the pic and was floored. He sent it right to his manager, who already has sent it higher expressing amazement that they are still on a store shelf someplace.


    Well, two things here:

    One, I know where you can find a NiB pair! ;)

    And to be frank, I didn't believe it either. 2010 I think was when they dropped the better version of that model, and 09 for that exact version. My first impression didn't even have the 1st Gen enter my mind: the first thought - heck the second and third as I looked at it - was, "Wow.. Is Apple getting ready to Stealth Launch the new Apple TV we all been reading conflicting rumours about, and Walmart screwed up and put them out a day early? If so, Macrumours immortality here I come!" So I picked it up to take pics and saw the 40gb, and then reality, as it so often does, crashed upon my ego in a most impolite manner. :)
  15. CocoaPuffs macrumors 68010

    Aug 23, 2008
    I couldn't even sell my ATV1 for $100 on craigslist.
  16. alFR macrumors 68020

    Aug 10, 2006
    I was thinking about doing this with my old ATV1 so I can play 1080p content: I assume you're using CrystalBuntu, yes? Could you give a quick feature comparison between this and ATV3? I don't need Airplay mirroring, but normal Airplay would be nice and playing media from my iTunes library (hosted on an external drive attached to a Mac mini) is essential. I assume you can't buy/rent iTunes Store content from the ATV with this setup? Not a major issue if you can't as most of my media is ripped from discs I own.
  17. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    Nope, using my own linux/xbmc image which is available online though I am embarrassed to say my site is down currently and probably won't be up til after thanksgiving. pm me if you are interested in the image and my AtvCloner software for imaging the drive and cloning either a new stock drive or a linux/xbmc drive setup.
    Yeah, it can play non drm content from your itunes library and you are correct that you cannot buy or rent iTunes Store content. Hmm, everything as far as plugins that xbmc offers. Airplay works good, enables the atv1's usb port for another local drive as well as you can use it for usb dvd drive. Note, if you add the chd card you will lose wireless (it goes where the wireless card goes). If you do not add a chd card HD playback is at best as good as a stock atv as it does not leverage the built in nvidia 7300 gpu, however the linux build uses much less ram than the stock apple os. So its a bit of a tradeoff.
  18. Dc2006ster macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2011
    Alberta, Canada
    Keviha said "I'm probably in the minority, but I prefer to have local storage for my media versus streaming from a computer I have to leave on"

    You may be in the minority but here are many like you and I that prefer local storage, I have a 500 gig external USB hard drive, to streaming.
  19. Sgtarky macrumors regular

    Dec 24, 2011
    Benton, Arkansas
    dude, if my bid falls thru in a couple of days I will hit you up,
  20. CrAkD macrumors 68040


    Feb 15, 2010
    Boston, MA
    I just busted out my original AppleTV and hacked it to add airplay. I wanted to get my aunt a new HD tv and ATV for christmas but she told me she wanted a tablet. So I got her an iPad Mini. Her old CRT tv doesn't have HDMI so the new ATV was out of the question but it does have an unused set of component inputs. so I added airplay to my OG apple tv and will hook that up for her as well. I'm sure shed use the movie rental from iTunes feature as well as airplay from her mini.
  21. Panther Al thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2011
    Doing a bit of thread necro, but I wandered by to see if they sold any of them, and it turns out they did sell one - I really feel bad for who ever purchased it thinking it was a better than the newer ones right next to them.
  22. wressus macrumors member

    Nov 2, 2010
    Might become a collectors item? 1st generation and all, in a sealed box. Was´nt there a sealed iphone 1g that went for a huge amount? Maybe it was bought for that intention.
  23. Ungibbed macrumors 6502


    Dec 13, 2010
    I hate bumping old topics but I'm in a similar "pickle"...

    I have a 160GB first generation model that's never been hacked and still have the original packaging etc.

    Just at this point. I'm not sure what I want to do with it. I still use it on occasion for old DVD rips so my Disney collection doesn't get mangled by my kids and it still works with digital copy pack ins from various BD movies so I always have new stuff to watch in the den.

    It just seems a bit haunted. It likes to power on from stand-by at random and it just dumps my synced music without asking if I download a freebie TV show which getting the music back means connecting directly to my Mac with an Ethernet cable for the best sync speed.

    I also love local storage vs streaming on the new iOS based models but it just seems you can't have it all. A new Apple TV with a large 2 TB hard drive would be perfect to me as the internal for the first generation is limited by PATA standards and 360GB is the limit.

    I hope Apple doesn't give up on the Apple TV especially considering a new UI with iOS 7 in mind.
  24. billdrak12 macrumors newbie

    Mar 2, 2017
    Just because you have a new Apple TV doesn’t mean you can’t continue to use the old one. iTunes 10 still supports the old dear and, unlike with the new Apple TV, you needn’t have a computer running iTunes to play the media in your iTunes library. Just sync the content you wish to enjoy to your old Apple TV and then quit iTunes or shut down your computer. The content on the Apple TV’s hard drive will play just as it always has. Apple News
  25. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    Ahh, the 1st Gen ATV. That brings back fond memories of hacking it to eSATA. :)

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