Isn't it time for a hardware refresh?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by mtfield, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. mtfield macrumors 6502

    Jan 9, 2008
    I have really been eyeing the apple tv for some time, but would like to see what apple is going to do with it to make it a bit more than a hobby... judging by some patent applications i've seen and some rumors floating around, it seems like 2nd gen :apple:tv could see some nice new features... but isn't it about time they push it out??? it's been just under 2 years since it was first announced, so it seems like it's due... right?
  2. paduck macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2007
    there is the Consumer Electronics Show in early January. Also a big Apple event - two good venues to announce an upgrade.

    I wouldn't anticipate a huge design change though - probably tweaking and refinements. I would think the following would be on a short list though as they probably don't cost much (mainly software):

    Larger hard drive (maybe a switch to SATA from IDE?)
    Better power-saving mode
    1080p output
    Support for external USB hard drives
    AVI and other format support (iTunes upgrade)
    Better remote control
    iPhone/Itouch remote interface improved/expanded for video

    Bearing in mind that they need to keep the price point low, those are pretty easily achievable. Some are more philosophical for Apple than anything else.

    If you want to start escalating the price:

    Blueray DVD (but if Apple puts Blueray on their Macs, this would be redundant)
    DVR capability - requires a built-in tuner as well
    Keyboard interface (then why have a Mac Mini product line? oops, don't want that discussion!)
    Better processor - is it really necessary?

    Remember they have to keep this thing cheap. The iPhone/Itouch pricing will compress margins for iPods going forward. Good news there is that they are going to cream the competition in the MP3 market because no one can compete with them. That will boost the Apple brand and transfer into Mac sales and (maybe) the ATV in the video market.
  3. LeoFio macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2008
    New York
    I think the hardware is all set for awhile. Any updates can be done through software only via a download, so you don't need to worry about buying one now and having it be outdated.

    Adding a DVD player/ blu-ray is not going to happen IMO, and I hope it doesn't. The Apple TV is not meant to be that kind of device. It is strictly a link between iTunes on your computer and your TV. Adding a DVD player/ DVR capabilities is going to complicate matters by trying to make the device into something it is not.

    (I prefer stand alone devices that are good at the one thing they do. If Apple tries to throw a blu-ray player into the Apple TV and maintain the same price point, that player is going to be pretty lousy compared to the standalone units out there.)

    A bigger HD is the only possibility, but it is unnecessary to most people due to streaming capabilities.
  4. mechasquid macrumors member


    Mar 5, 2008
    I really want an Apple TV, but i cant justify buying one, as i want to transfer my DVD collection, and i don't have a lot of DVD's at all, but i would fill the hard drive in an instant. I would LOVE to see an option for a TB-sized drive.
  5. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    You do understand that the size of the drive in :apple:TV is not that important. For example, I have a couple of terabytes of :apple:TV movies, but only the 40gb model of :apple:TV. The movies stream from the big hard drives hooked to the Mac and this works extremely well.

    If you look deeper into these threads, you'll see a lot of people questioning owning the 160gb version for this same reason.

    It seems that the principle deciding factor has little to do with the total storage of movies, and mostly to do with the total size of your photos and maybe your music collection. Some want both of these on the :apple:TV hard drive (I store my photos there myself). Everything else tends to stream very, very well.

    BUT, if you absolutely do want more than the bigger drives available now, there are relatively easy hacks to go to 750gb- maybe more.
  6. mechasquid macrumors member


    Mar 5, 2008
    The issue for me is that my hard drive on my machine is near-to-full with work files and music, as well as an external. I just would love to see a bigger drive on the Apple TV so it's an all in one solution as such
  7. dmm219 macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2008
    I've seen this posted many times on these forums and its a near sided view at best. This set up assumes two very big ifs: 1. You already have a large HD in the house to stream from and 2. you already have a desktop which you don't mind leaving turned on with itunes running at every hour of every day.

    The fact is, those are two killers for a lot of people. Not sure why tech heads don't get this. I personally, have a macbook, which will go to sleep when not in use...which kills itunes, which kills streaming...then i have to run to find my macbook and either plug it in or re-wake it...just so I can use my apple tv. Its a big headache for a lot of people.

    I would say there is a far greater proportion of people out there who want nothing to do with streaming. They don't want the Apple TV relying on any computer for anything. They just want to turn it on when they sit on their couch, and have it work...with plenty of space for all their media and have it work, all the time.

    this is why many people hold out on the apple tv. I personally will hold off until 1. they have a much larger hard drive or 2. they enable dedicated external harddrive support (wireless would be awesome).
  8. paduck macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2007
    I think dmm219 hits the nail on the head - why do you need a computer on 24/7 running iTunes to stream to your ATV? Wastes power and makes ATV less convenient. I want the kids to turn on ATV and watch their movies. I don't want them near my computer or DVDs. They have a bad track record of breaking things. I question why Apple installed an IDE drive in ATV. It certainly limits expansion and I can't believe it actually saves them money or gives design benefit to the product.
  9. iMacmatician macrumors 601

    Jul 20, 2008
    A lot of the Apple tv is software.

    I can see an Atom update for the Apple tv. I can also see a bigger hard drive and higher resolution support (1920*1080).
  10. MattZani macrumors 68030


    Apr 20, 2008
  11. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    First, I would argue the near-sighted (that's sighted) bit easily.

    If #1 applies, it will be much less expensive to add a big hard drive to an existing computer than to add a big hard drive to an :apple:TV. Adding a hard drive that can be bought from anywhere will cost a lot less than adding the same space that can only be bought from Apple (in a new, larger capacity :apple:TV).

    And it would be impossible for Apple to get the size right anyway. 1Tb? 2? 4? 8? more? Any of these the right size?

    Relative to #2, no you don't have to leave a computer running every hour of every day, unless you have people in your home that intend to watch :apple:TV every hour of every day. You can set up your computer to automatically run at the times of day when people may watch TV and save that energy. Or you can build all of this extra hardware inside an :apple:TV and waste that energy on that thing running.

    Anyone can buy a used Mac for very little, and let it be the :apple:TV "server". Even an old laptop with a USB extender and a bunch of drives could be a low power, very high capacity feeder for :apple:TV as is- certainly costing a lot less than a new, massive capacity :apple:TV product.

    That said, I appreciate the desire to have this box that can be :apple:TV with all the storage than anyone desires. While we're at it why don't we go ahead and cover the other wishes too:
    -build in a blue ray drive
    -multi-tuner DVR functionality
    -cable card so that we can record shows without an antenna
    -keyboard, mouse, "real" remote, OS X, Safari, HD ichat camera, etc.

    And there we have it... the perfect :apple:TV. Probably 18"w x 8" high by 15" deep (or maybe in a mini-tower box), a bit noisy for the home theater (going to need a number of fans to cool all that extra hardware down), and priced at just $1499-$1699 with the basic configuration of one 500gb hard drive- maybe as low as $2999 fully decked out with 8Tb etc.

    That product would probably make the iphone lines seem quaint.

    And then, the gripes would resume that it doesn't make coffee, or that it should have 12Tb of storage instead of 4 or 8, or, for that price, why doesn't it have ______? "I can buy a Mac Pro for that." And so on.

    I'm with you in terms of wishing a little $200-$300 box could somehow offer enormous storage (and I would like some of these other wishes fulfilled too). But, the price is going to go up in proportion with how much more :apple:TV must become. If we could attach just 4 bare 1Tb drives to the existing one somehow, we add about 4X$200 to the price. Do you think Apple would sell enough 4Tb :apple:TVs for at least $1499 to justify its existence?
  12. macleod199 macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2007
    The problem you'll have is that unless you're pretty careful about how/when you sync it, you're going to need to keep copies of everything on your ATV on your computer as well, anyway. I don't think there's any non-hack way to "add" stuff to your ATV without doing a sync, which means you can't just add stuff and then delete it from iTunes.
  13. paduck macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2007
    HobeSoundDaryl gives a good reason why the Apple TV should not be a Mac Mini. At the end of the day, it needs to be cheap.

    However, I do disagree (at least a little) on the hard drive issue. Requiring a Mac, pulling down 200 watts to be on in order to run a 22 watt Apple TV makes absolutely no sense. There are several solutions, the easiest being the ability to add external USB drives to the Apple TV. Another is to at least open up the opportunity to larger drives via the SATA architecture where there are lots of hard drive options for really no more than Apple is charging now. 40GB seems a little on the anemic side to me, but clearly that allows them to keep the cost way down (a 40GB 2.5 inch IDE drive costs Apple about $30 now, certainly no more than $37, which is what they were paying last June - the 160GB version is twice that, so Apple likes to sell the bigger units).

    The connection back to the iTunes computer for master storage will always be an issue though. At some point, you end up duplicating massive amounts of storage content. Some NAS devices today act as iTunes servers, just not for Apple TV. If that problem were solved, then you could have centralized network storage for your iTunes library which could serve multiple computers and your Apple TV. That makes sense from a network and storage position as well as the energy situation (NAS usually use about 30 watts if they have two drives).

    As posted above, I don't see much in the way of hardware improvements that Apple can make without escalating the price (which they don't want to do since they are having trouble selling this product as it is). The best things they could do is enable the USB port, improve the remote, add AVI support (killer app, that) and add 1080p when appropriate for their content (although I don't know that 1080p drives sales any more than 720p).
  14. pmd macrumors member

    Jan 14, 2004
    Melbourne (Previously UK)
    Limited stock

    I went into two department stores here in Melbourne last week to see whether the recent Australian price drop had been reflected in their prices.

    Myer didn't have any AppleTVs at all, and the sales guy didn't know whether they'd been dropped, he just said that they were told not to expect any more stock.

    In David Jones they didn't have the 40GB, only the 160GB. When I asked why the 'Apple representative' said that Apple are updating the product so they're waiting for the new model. They expect it some time before the end of the year.
  15. macwall macrumors 6502

    Nov 5, 2007
    Cupertino, CA
    i wish they would do a hardware update. a dvr style apple tv would be so awesome
  16. iMacmatician macrumors 601

    Jul 20, 2008
    At the September 9 Apple event??? I can see it tying into iTunes 8.
  17. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    Best Buy

    Best Buy was out of stock last week but now has new stock. I am also waiting for an update.

    Wanting Quicktime X to have full CABAC and high profile support.

    Also want Dynaflash and Caveman's current AppleTV settings :)
  18. TomP80 macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Personally, I don't think we are going to see a hardware update any time soon - except for maybe a larger capacity model.

    But, as others have said, the harddrive size on the ATV as we know it really is irrelavent.

    As it stands, you can't use the ATV as a NAS server - if you ignore streaming and use only syncing, you still need to have a copy of your media on your mac or pc somewhere, as well as the copy that is synced onto the ATV.

    I know there is a workaround for this by deleting the media reference out of itunes - but this is a surefire way of accidently deleting your media, if you ask me.

    So, basically however big they make the internal HDD of the ATV, you have to match this disk space on your computer/externall HDD setup.

    Now the obvious - if the ATV had a major hardware update that kept all current functions, but included a blue-ray drive/burner, twin-TV tuner and PVR software, it would be absolutely frickin awesome. No question.

    But, there are two reasons why it is not going to happen:

    1. Price - if apple did this (and still expected to make a profit), they would realistically have to price the ATV at >$1000 US dollars.

    2. The big corporate picture. However comitted apple is to the ATV, it is not as comitted as it is to itunes.

    They are trying to convice consumers to (1) move away from optical-media to digital media (2) convice consumers to PURCHASE their movies, music and TV shows from itunes - not from anyone else, and definately not for free.

    Point (1) means no blue ray
    Point (2) means no PVR/tv-tuner

    Most of the other things on people's wishlists (external USB port access, 1080p output, larger variety of video fomat support, safari etc.)for the ATV should only require software upgrades.
  19. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    For $500, it's yours. :)
  20. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    Try streaming 720p video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

    750gb is nice, but I know one lucky fellow with 1 TB Apple TV.
  21. paduck macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2007
    if Apple gives us a software update with 1080p, they almost have to do a hard drive upgrade for the larger files. Of course, how long does it take to send that over wireless? Even a 802.11n speeds?:)
  22. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    NVidia's specs on the video card says it does 1080i, but no mention of 1080p. (While the cpu does the decoding on Macs, I'm pretty confident that the Apple TV's decoding is done by the gpu. But that's just a WAG.) It also has built-in hardware acceleration for h.264.

    Moving 6000 kbps 720p/DD over my AEBSn is pretty painful - and those are 6 gb files. The one 1080p video I have transcoded is almost 10 gb (and plays nicely on my Mac Mini, even with Quicktime). I'm sure streaming would be almost impossible without a dramatic increase in file compression without loss of VQ. In addition, you still have to decode it quickly enough in the ATV and move it at 24 fps. A daunting task for the ATV, I should think.

    Big hard drives seem to be the most likely solution. Time for the ATV3 to have a SATA bus, instead of PATA. Maybe even an eSATA port, and just keep the internal drive for the OS, music, pics, etc.
  23. rw3 macrumors 6502a


    May 13, 2008
    DFW, TX
    I see them moving to a better decoder chip, something that is capable of doing 1080p. Also with the launch of the new low power Macbook Air spec processors, I also see a processor change. Who knows, they may even switch to an ATI GPU because of the fuse with nVidia offerings. SATA is a must if you ask me, 500GB from Samsung currently (most 160GB ATVs use a Samsung drive).

    I definitely don't see a DVD/BluRay drive coming nor do I care if the AppleTV gets it.

    1. HDD Size
    2. Switch to SATA?
    3. 1080p capable

    Remember, Apple markets this with their iPod line, so Sept. 9th could get interesting....:)
  24. Tilpots macrumors 601


    Apr 19, 2006
    Carolina Beach, NC
    Yes. It's overdue. One thing I keep coming back to is Apple's statement at the earnings release back in mid-July.

    They said they're looking at creating "state of the art new products at prices their competitors can't match". They also mentioned they may take a hit in the pocketbook to get this out to the public.

    If a TV tuner, DVR, and DVD/Blu-Ray player was added to the :apple:TV, I think it could make a great case for it being seen as an entirely new product. Jobs has always called it a hobby, and that he wanted to think of a better name for it. Slap some real TV functionality on their streaming media box and you've got a completely different beast.

    They can certainly afford to subsidize it for a time while customers catch on. One box to rule them all. Bye bye DVD player, bye bye cable box, bye bye digital convertor box, bye bye Tivo. Welcome to Apple's newest living room revolution.

    Make it able to surf the internet and it's the biggest game changer in the continual consolidation of electronics this millennia.
  25. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    I doubt that happens because of (1) cost of the chip and (2) there's no need for it if the gpu is doing the decoding. I suspect the cpu is simply there to run the filesystem.

    Still have to address bandwidth/filesize/VQ. A decent 1080p movie is going to be in the 8-10 gb range, unless they come up with better compression algorithms (which would also require beefier gpu for decoding).

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