What about the Apple TV and 1080p?

So the iPhone 4S is out on Friday and it supports some significant improvements in the camera.

8 Megapixel stills and 1080p HD video, all with improved optics.


I did managed to snag one of the 1,000,000 iPhones pre-ordered on launch day, and it should be arriving on Friday. I was considering the 32GB Black version, but when push came to shove, I opted for the 64GB Black model.

My logic was that despite having iCloud to push all this data in the cloud, the time when I’ll be shooting most video is when I’m travelling, and I never have enough spare bandwidth or sometimes any bandwidth whatsoever. So I figured 32GB for my local iTunes library, a couple of GB for my apps and data, and the rest spare capacity for images and video.

The inclusion of the 1080p video is interesting.

How will this work with the Apple TV when the latest version of the Apple TV only supports 720p?

So how do we use AirPlay from the iPhone 4S to the Apple TV?

So is a new Apple TV in the wings, a new Apple TV with a dual core A5 chip ready to play 1080p content?

I think it can go one of two ways:

  • If Apple still haven’t got their ducks in a row with the content providers and haven’t yet elevated the Apple TV from it’s hobby status, we’ll probably see a new Apple TV very shortly with the new chip, and the 1080p support, without any fanfare. Just a press release or a stealth release into the Apple online store. Could even happen this Friday.

  • If Apple are close to finalising their next gen Apple TV strategy, and want to make a strong statement about the future direction of the Apple TV, I doubt we’ll see a new Apple TV this side of Christmas. Any major changes to the Apple TV and Apple taking it seriously will have to be part of a full media event. And the fact the iPhone 4S won’t work with the Apple TV? Apple won’t lose any sleep over it, and will upgrade the Apple TV in line with their future strategy, not as a reaction to a short term need.

My gut feeling is we’ll see an updated Apple TV pretty soon.

Apple TV Update

During the beta testing of iOS 4.3, Apple issued a special build of the Apple TV to allow developers to test AirPlay.

Previous “official” builds of the ATV2 software didn’t play nicely with my Sony TV.┬áNo matter what I did, I couldn’t get a stable image – just ghosting, as the ATV2 output at 60Hz and my TV couldn’t cope. There was no way to switch the ATV2 to 50Hz, unlike the original ATV.

My problems were solved, however, with the beta version of the ATV 4.3 software.

Apple duly issued the official iOS 4.3 for iPad, iPhone and ATV2,

The iPad and iPhone didn’t need upgrading as the GM seed was the same as the final release. That wasn’t the case for the ATV2, so I duly upgraded.

Guess what, it broke the fix and I now can’t get a good picture on the Sony TV again.

A kind Twitter follower was able to provide me with the old beta release of the ATV2 software, but Apple won’t allow you to install this over the current release. During the restore process, it checks back with Apple HQ and says no!


Looks like I’ll have to bite the bullet and get a new TV sometime this year, now that I’ve decided to go with a full Apple ecosystem and encode all my videos for iTunes.

The enhancements to AirPlay make having an Apple TV on my main TV pretty much a necessity.

All for the sake of the Apple TV not having selectable output on the menu.

Obligatory Pre-Apple Event Blog Post

The new iPad….

  • Faster
  • Thinner
  • Lighter
  • Dual Cameras
  • No Retina Display
  • More internal memory
  • Subtle changes in styling to make the original iPad look outdated

There, that should do it!

I’m really looking forward to the event later today, but prepared to be underwhelmed with the new iPad 2 specs. Most of the features above should make it into the new version, but I’m expecting more of an evolution than a revolution, sort of like the transition from the iPhone 3G to the iPhone 3GS.

What else can we look forward to?

I’m pretty sure Apple will announce the release of iOS 4.3 with the new iPad and it’s availability for existing iPads a day or so before the new device is released. I hope some of the new gesture based controls make it into the final release.

Another given is a preview of the roadmap for iOS 5.0. Today’s keynote is pretty important for Apple as it will position them to respond to the onslaught of competing (?) tablet devices, due to be launched in the next 12 months. If they can come up with some whizz bang features for iOS 5, and some innovation in the new hardware platform, it should give the competitors a lot to think about, and more importantly, make it more even more difficult to catch up. As it stands, the existing iPad has given Apple at least 12 months head start over the opposition, even longer if you factor in the development time for the 1st gen ipad. The new device and iOS should extend that lead.

No matter what the iPad 2 looks like, Apple will most certainly have another runaway success with sales of the new device. There is certainly pent up demand from those who decided to wait (misguidedly, IMHO) for the next generation iPad. Honestly people, you’ve missed so much by hanging on for a camera!

Then there are the current iPad users looking to upgrade.

One of the criticisms of the original device was its lack of support for multiple users or family sharing.

It was never going to happen!

Apple wants the iPad to be a personal device, not a shared device. Strictly one iPad per person!

So for all the people sharing their iPads, whilst it would have been a stretch to buy a second 1st gen iPad, just to remove the pain of sharing, a new model gives them a great excuse to buy that much lusted after, second iPad. The only issue then is, who gets the new one.

I’d like to think that MobileMe and Apple TV might well figure in the keynote, but Apple have tended to have a laser focus on the main topic of the day and as such, they may wish to keep the message undiluted and just concentrate on the iPad.

It’s possible that MobileMe is actually a significant part of iOS 5 so we may see something.

The only reason I mention Apple TV is that the BBC are holding an event scheduled for the same time in London. It may well be that this will just be a simulcast for the keynote, but why hold a special event if the stream is going to be broadcast live anyway? Rumours of Steven Fry hosting also give the impression of a joint announcement?

I’d love for it to be the opening of the AppleTV platform to more content delivered by “Apps”. A BBC iPlayer app for the Apple TV would be fantastic and a huge boost to the Apple TV platform. What if they’d got the licensing sorted out for BBC Worldwide and could distribute the BBC iPlayer app to all Apple TVs. It would be a major boost to the currently “under utilised” platform.

OK, sorry, rampant speculation mode off.

Hopefully Apple will live stream the event, but as they seem to leave announcing the live stream until a few hours before, it’s unconfirmed at the moment.

So now in the UK (9:36am at time of writing), there’s a full working day ahead of us before we find out just what will be announced. It’s alright for those in the US that can just roll out of bed and watch, some of us have to work a full day.

Distracted, me?


PS I’ll be on MacBreak Weekly live immediately following the event, so catch me there if you can.

Apple TV 4.1.1 Update

So that’s it, Apple really want me to buy a new HD TV.

A new Apple TV Gen 2 firmware update was pushed out overnight, which fixed some resolution and HDMI handshake issues.

Downloaded and installed the update, but it still doesn’t fix my problem of being unable to force the Apple TV into 720p 50Hz, as I used to be able to do with my old Apple TV.

That’s the second update now and still no menu entry to select resolutions.

Ho hum….

Apple TV Update

So the new Apple TV update came out (4.1) with support for AirPlay and very impressive it is too.

But I’m still not happy!

I wrote back in October – Apple TV Fail – about specific problems I was having with the new Apple TV and my Sony HD TV. It’s only three or four years old and supports 720p 50Hz .  I’ve been using it with great success with the 1st Gen Apple TV, which had a menu for TV resolution.

When connected by default, it uses 720p 60Hz and you get a fuzzy, ghosted image. Switch the 1st Gen Apple TV via the menu to 720p 50Hz aand bingo- perfect picture.

The new Apple TV specs include support for 720p 50Hz and 720p 60Hz on most popular TVs. Sony are even mentioned in the spec. 

Connected it to the new Apple TV and it defaults to 720p 60Hz – fuzzy, ghosted image.

But Apple haven’t included a TV resolution option in the Settings menu of the new Apple TV!

So I’m knackered! The new Apple TV doesn’t work with my HD TV.

I’d hoped that the TV resolution menu might re-appear in the new release of the firmware, but it didn’t.  I’ve logged a call with Apple but they can’t promise a resolution – excuse the pun.

So I bought an HDMI to Component cable to see if that would work and….


Looks like you need some active circuitry to convert the signal.

I can buy an HDFury2: Universal HDMI to Component converter which I’m confident would work, but that’s £123 – it costs more than the Apple TV.

The only other option is a new TV. 

Despite being a gadget fiend and not really needing an excuse to buy a gadget, you’d think I’d be over the moon at the prospect of upgrading the TV, but I’m not.

There’s nothing wrong with it. 

Plus I don’t really want all the hassle of switching over.

I had thought I might replace my TV next year, when the new Plex enabled LG TVs come out, but not now. Not just because Apple decided not to make the TV resolution switchable.

First world problem I know!

But what to do……

Update: Following the blogpost, I was contacted by a ScreenCastsOnline viewer – Kent Christian – who has kindly offered to send me a HDMI to Component Video adapter that should do the trick – Will report back.