I have a 1st gen one and I'm thinking about selling it to get a new one.

People on ebay seem to want the old one.

Why are 1st gen Apple TVs selling on ebay for over $100 while a new Apple TV is sold for $99?

11 Answers 11


The only super major differences the 1st Gen Apple TV's has from the new ones is the ability to store Movies, Music, Content, etc because they have a physical hard drive in them for doing those things. The other things is that they can connect to TV's through Red, Blue, Green Component Cables. They also do not support Airplay with out a hack or a software fix. Also, the newest Apple TV, the 3rd Gen, allows for 1080p HD playback, where the older ones only support 720p HD playback.

There are also a few other minor differences in size, power consumption, software options/OS and so on.

The new Apple TV's do not have hard drives or Component Cable outputs and support Airplay out of the box. Airplay is probably the biggest feature that makes people who don't want to hack to jump ship to the newer box. It is pretty cool. The 1080 HD playback is nice, but depending on your TV, may or may not be noticeable/important.

Some people like the older ones also because they can be hacked and used as linux computers (link) with actual storage and since they can also store things on them, you can take it with you and have videos/music on it and not require internet for streaming your content.

Though the biggest reason is most likely the hack-ability of them, they are tiny computers with a decent amount of power. And since they aren't sold any more and are still sought after, that would explain their above average price.

The new Apple TV's require internet of some kind or at least a local network for stream video and movies and data from a computer or the internet.

They are also significantly smaller too, the older Apple TVs are much larger.

You can see all the differences on their wiki page, it lays out the differences in features between the devices and even talks about most of the hacks that are available. Very informative.


I hope that this answer helps you out.

  • 10
    The first gen AppleTV also uses significantly more power (48 Watts vs. 6 Watts).
    – Gerry
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 14:33

de_an777 wrote a pretty solid answer. I'll add that because the underlying CPU is an Intel Pentium-M, the first generation Apple TVs can be hacked to run OS X. The later generation ones are ARM based and are thus restricted to Linux distributions that are ARM-compatible.

  • Very good points - intel vs ARM cpu is a big benefit, but having a hard drive seems to make the 1st generation ones valuable to people looking for a compact computer and not just an Apple TV.
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 27, 2012 at 14:32

Here is the big reason: The first gen ATV has a wifi card which can be removed in favor of a $40 Broadcom HD Decoder card. Then, with a customized Linux distribution, you can run XBMC on the device and stream 1080 content from a NAS or another computer.

Since there is no jailbreak currently available for the third gen ATV, this is an easy an inexpensive way to watch HD video on one's HDTV, complete with an IR remote, and it's a full linux install as well.


The main reason the 1st generation Apple TV first retains it's value is because of the hard drive. The 2nd generation does not have any built in storage and so everything has to stream to it.

There's nothing worse than hearing that long sigh on the other end of the phone when I have to explain that iTunes needs to be on the computer to stream the Glee album she wants to play.

It has its limitations but the original Apple TV is superior for browsing my music collections.


I'm impressed that the Apple TV first generation is really an Intel Mac capable of much more than a movie player. The Linux Crystalbuntu OS seems to be a good medium between a video device and an all out Intel Mac. I purchased the 160 GB 1st generation for under $80 instead of the ATV 3 and think I've got a much better toy.


It may not be an issue to many, but I prefer the old one because it has analogue audio out which makes it possible to link it with an older amplifier

This is a big issue to anyone who wants audio in Zone 2 or 3 from an AV receiver. Only very expensive AV receivers can pass digital audio to secondary zones, they only pass analog audio. Because newer AppleTVs only output digital audio (HDMI or optical), you need a digital to analog converter if you want audio from the AppleTV in secondary zones.


We have a 1st Gen ATV plus a 2nd Gen ATV. At times either of these have been connected to the same Sony 42" HDTV. There is a money saving difference that no one here mentioned: the first option with all movies on the ATV1Gen is to rent the SD version for a dollar less than the HD version. At least on our ATV 2nd Gen, only the HD version of movies is offered. Since the ATV and our Sony HD television are both capable of up-converting, we usually buy the SD version and save about $50 a year in movie rentals. The SD version is not some crappy, old low quality 4:3 television image. It looks so good on our TV only a video freak would notice the difference without a side-by-side comparison. I know, some of you will say it's big difference to you. Personally, we don't see much difference and we already have the thing so I say "Save the money." We rent a lot of stuff with friends over, and not one has ever asked "What's wrong with the resolution of the movie? Are you up-converting it?"

We also hacked it with RemoteHD to be Airplay capable, and have it connected to the analog inputs of our tuner downstairs. Only the hacked ATV1Gen can accept streams from another Apple TV; later generations of ATV cannot share between each other. So we can stream music to it from any device in the house, even the other ATV, which is nice if you like background music while working or when entertaining.

Although it has a hard drive, even if you pre-fill it with rented movies to take it with you, it still requires an internet connection to authorize the playback, so it's not really "untethered" from the internet for DRM movies. But non-DRM content like MP3 and Home movies play without a network connection. With some effort, you can get around this by converting movies beforehand, but I won't go into that. That's for people with more time than money, or insomniacs going on an extended cruise or something where there's no possibility of reliable internet.

ATV1Gen has proven to be a keeper. I bought it used on eBay for $125 and wouldn't sell it back even for more than that.


You can also upgrade the HD to 1TB which takes the whole ATV1 to a new level.

  • 1
    Can you briefly explain how this would work?
    – nohillside
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 18:53

Re: Analog/Digital capabilities

With newer-gen Apple TVs you still can, apparently, hook up to analog with a simple & inexpensive hack - a digital-to-analog converter = $20

I'm just the messenger - not the thinker behind this, so if you want to check it out, the link is at bottom of my comment

I can't argue anything technically here - I was just looking into this and found the link right after leaving this site (which was helpful - thanks)

Just wanted to share with anyone who comes looking for answer after me...



Floating pictures screensaver

Ah, there is a major void here. The Apple TV Gen 1 is a photographer's dream. For those of us with thousands of digital images, when do we ever trot them out and look at them? Rarely. Instead, get a 22" flat panel, hook it to your Apple TV generation 1 40GB, and just run the floating pictures screensaver.

Artfully shows several pictures at once

It beats all others that show one picture at a time in a manner that clearly looks like a computer screensaver.

Not one picture at a time

No other device has this floating pictures screensaver. None. And no, there is no other software that can do this even with a PC hooked up to the monitor. If you want a standalone device that shows your photos in a floating screensaver mode, the Apple TV gen 1 is the only way.

Night light

We leave ours on in the kitchen 24/7 as a night light, wall decor, and constant reminder of where we've been and what we've done.

Limit: 2000 photos

I found that about after 1-2000 photos it starts to repeat, regardless of whether there are 10,000 photos on the device. Thus far, have been unable to find any sites describing the algorithm apple uses for the floating photo screensaver.

  • True, but it's not the primary reason: there's other software that can do this.
    – JMY1000
    Commented May 28, 2016 at 18:57

I can put it in my car, with all my movies stored on it, and if I need to down load another one, I just connect it in the garage via wifi and purchase in my driveway or in the garage, and the kiddies are happy and quiet on any car ride.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .