The New Apple TV

You’ve probably already heard about the Apple TV 2. It retails for $99 and packs a punch with HD video, optical audio, and WiFi in that tiny package. But as always, we like it for its hackability. Even though it’s just starting to ship, the hacks are already rolling in. The firmware is available from Apple’s servers and has already been unlocked with the yet-to-be-release SHAtter exploit. [Das_coach] even sent us a link to a video of the new Frontrow ported for the iPod touch (embedded after the break).

But the holy grail has to be XBMC. We’ve seen it on the first generation Apple TV and it was good. The second generation switches to the A4 processor which is an ARM Cortex-A8. Not quite as easy to port for as the Intel chip on the first generation was. But there is hope, one of the 2010 Google Summer of Code projects worked to port XBMC to another ARM device, it’s just a matter of inspiring some developers to take on the quest to make it happen. We can’t wait for the day that we can just velcro one of these to the back of our TV and be done with it, that first generation Xbox isn’t going to last forever.


[Photo credit]

38 thoughts on “The New Apple TV

  1. Why bother with xbmc on ATV? Isn’t Boxee a derivative of XBMC? Why not just get the Boxee box?

    Boxee is super sweet to begin with and blessed hardware avoids maintaining a device before you can tune out in front of a TV.

  2. Minor correction – while HD Video is technically true, the maximum output resolution is currently 720p. A software patch might be able to tease out full 1080p, but that remains to be seen.

  3. Annnd, that being said, part of the holdup for XBMC on a lot of devices is that they want it to be able to run 1080p… not just 720p. That combined with no internal storage AND no expansion ports will leave this being a little lonely compared to Boxee.

  4. The Apple TV has 8 GB of onboard storage, and nice row of solder pads for a dock connector hidden on the circuit board. This device is screaming to be hacked. Port Plex (a fork of XBMC) to the device and I’ll suddenly be £99 poorer…

  5. @Johannes

    OK, it’s skinnable, which admittedly is nice, but I don’t see it as much better than my WMC setup with my 360 as an extender for the TV. If I were to try and use XBMC I would need a small HTPC with a Core2Duo or higher CPU hooked up to the TV at all times, just to stream content from my main PC. Plus with WMC I get DVR functionality and the Guide, as well as watching/pausing live OTA TV. And my 360 is hooked up to the TV anyway so I don’t see the need in adding another box.

  6. Getting XBMC running on Linux/ARM shouldn’t be too hard.. assuming the graphics engine is going to be a PowerVR design accelerated video playback should be ok too (a bit of googling shows that someone is working on a VA-API driver for some PowerVR chip).

    Is it worth it though? General XBMC users will probably want a machine with more guts (ION based Atom machines are great for XBMC on Linux). Nothing against XBMC (I use it..) but those who are willing to pay Apple will probably prefer Apple’s software over the slightly ropey and confusing XBMC.

  7. @Brennan

    Well, 1) XBMC plays any format you throw at it. 2) Its open source and you can tweak it. Lots of community support, skins and addons are out there. Very flexible architecture. 3) It runs on many devices. The original Xbox, AppleTV, PC, Linux, Mac etc. 4) Easy UI. (Passes WAF – Wife Acceptance Factor). 5) It just works. Install it and its ready to go. No configuration needed.

  8. You can get a dozen different brand media players for about the same price that don’t need to be desperately hacked, I don’t get this excitement.
    Now if you could run android on it.. then maybe >:)

  9. what i don’t get….well i do idiot fanboys who think apple is the end all. anyway back to my oint what i don’t get is why this gets the attention and stuff like roku who actually embrace development (well more than apple) get no lovin.

  10. Whatnot, do you mean to hack a Dockstar to output video to your TV? That seems like a pretty serious endeavor.

    fdawg4l, it looks like the Boxee box is $200. The $100 difference seems like a good enough reason to me…

    Personally, I’m still out on the Apple TV. I’m very interested in getting something like it, but the fact that it doesn’t have actual support for an external USB HD is a big drawback. Let’s see how well hacking it goes.

  11. @Ford,
    you meant GZ, and while it’s possible to get output to a tv through a dockstar using a displaylink device, I don’t think it will be happy doing it.

    @ Gert,
    It will probably happen shortly after people port PSGroove to it, since that seems to get ported to everything ASAP.

  12. Well on the one hand this is hackaday, so people want to hack something, not buy a device that is already open requiring no hacking. On the other hand if your looking for a device to play movies on your TV either by streaming or a internal hdd, there are lots of options in the 100$ range.

    I have been looking at the Argosy HV335T which is selling for about 100$, plays MKV files, room for a internal hdd, ethernet port. I haven’t been able to find many solid reviews on the thing, but it might be worth it. Only thing it’s lacking is a way to play emulators on it which is probably better off done with a dedicated device anyways.

    Just my two cents.

  13. Apple TV is pure hype. The Roku player has more bite in it than ever. With Roku, you can get Netflix or Amazon On-Demand. With Amazon On-Demand, you get to keep the Tv shows you buy, unlike Apple TV, which lets you on rent them. Currently, Roku has over 100 channels and is looking to add Hulu plus before the year is out. The Roku $59 plays 780 while the high end $99 plays 1080 and has USB support and a instant replay. Check out a Roku before you invest in Apple TV.

  14. It’s true that hacking it is in itself interesting from the pure hacking viewpoint, but when hacking to go for simply running XBMC on it and get excited about that possible prospect and then saying it would be a dream and it would give you a ‘$99 player’ is silly if you can walk into any electronics retailer and get a player for that already.
    But if that makes you happy I’m OK with it though, I sometimes have quaint things that I find thrilling too, things others might find uninteresting.

  15. Boxee Box and DLink violate GPL and admit it!

    Every Boxee Box shipped with GPLv3 in firmware, yet they lock down the box explicitly violating licensing terms while profiting from the open source community.

    See the details of the test reproducible on every single Boxee Box here:

    Will this be the first test of GPLv3 in the courts??

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