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As of today, with the announcement of 'new iPad' (not iPad 3), they squeaked out the update/new AppleTV.

Does anyone have any actual details what changed? As it looks like a very nasty UI update (which I don't plan on updating to as I still have my ATV2 which is jailbroken).

I looked over the store, and checked specs, but I cannot for the life of me see any difference of the 'new AppleTV' except for the software?

Did I get it spot on? Is it just a software update? Or is there something hardware wise that I would get by purchasing a new $99 unit?

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3 Answers 3

via ars technica (http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2012/03/hands-on-and-questions-answered-third-gen-ipad-third-gen-apple-tv.ars):

The device looks the same as the second-generation device and, in fact, the new interface that Apple touted during the event will also be coming to the second-generation version via software update. The only thing new about the third-gen Apple TV is the ability to output 1080p (the second-gen can play 1080p movies but only outputs 720p) plus a more direct link into iCloud for photo syncing. If all you want is the new and improved interface (which I do like, as an Apple TV fan), you'll be able to get it from Apple on your second-gen device without having to pay anything.

We asked whether the third-gen Apple TV had the same A5X processor as that in the new iPad (as was previously rumored), but an Apple spokesperson told us that it has a "single-core version of the A5" and it's not the same as what's in the iPad. The CPU is capable of handling 1080p HD video. The spokesperson also claimed that users "only need an 8-10 megabit Internet connection" in order to take advantage of 1080p movies from iTunes, but speaking as someone with experience with the second-generation Apple TV at a mere 720p, this depends highly upon your individual ISP. (Insert grumbling about Comcast here.)

And despite rumors that Siri would come to the third-generation Apple TV (and continued insistence by some publications), there were no indications that Siri was anywhere on the new Apple TV interface. We are confident in saying that Siri is not currently available on the device, though that could certainly change with a software update.

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I upgraded a second gen AppleTV last night to the new iOS software. the new UI is very nice. I have a very nice TV and am considering replacing it with the new model. The price is right for those of us who really use these things and I use mine daily. –  Richard Mar 8 '12 at 12:17

According to AnandTech, there isn't a whole lot different. They main is the single core A5 which will enable 1080p output.

http://www.apple.com/appletv/specs.html

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there is no such thing as an A6 in there, also I did mention I seen the apple.com specs. Thanks anyway. –  Jakub Mar 8 '12 at 6:02
    
Ah yea nothing confirmed. That was a typo and I must have under stood the question. I didn't realize you were just asking us to confirm what you already read. –  Erif Neerg Mar 8 '12 at 16:49

Decoding 1080p video requires a much more powerful processor than 720p, which means a new hardware chipset (hence the A5 chip). If you're an A/V buff, the improvement in quality can be a big deal.

This story has some details:

The reason that the 1080p versions of the iTunes Store videos can be a good deal better without doubling the file size—or worse—can be found in the tech specs of the new AppleTV and the new iPad. The AppleTV now supports H.264 compression for 1920x1080 resolution video at 30 frames per second using High or Main Profile up to level 4.0, the iPad and the iPhone 4S the same up to level 4.1. The profile indicates what kind of decompression algorithms the H.264 decoder has on board—the "High" profile obviously has some tricks up its sleeve that the "Main" or "Baseline" profiles known to previous devices don't support.

Note that codec decoding must be done in hardware, as only the latest desktop/notebook CPU's have enough power to decode HD video in software, and even then it uses most of their processing capacity.

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Can you cite your source please. –  Jakub Mar 8 '12 at 12:45

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