Ten Apple TV myths

Apple Store“Here [are] ten myths of the Apple TV, relating to 5.1 audio, comparisons with the Xbox, cables, pricing, widescreen, hardware, software, and even its devilish remote,” Daniel Eran writes for RoughlyDrafted.

Eran covers these 10 myths:

• Apple TV and 5.1 audio
• Apple TV is just like the Xbox, but can’t play games
• Apple TV the same price as the Xbox
• Everyone who aants Apple TV already has an Xbox 360
• Apple TV only works with widescreen HDTVs
• For $300, Apple TV should include cables
• Paul Thurrott can review the Apple TV in unbiased fashion
• Apple TV OS is available for download
• Apple TV’s remote freaks out Macs

Apple TV and 5.1 audio is covered here.

All of the other myths are covered here.

Related articles:
Ars Technica in-depth review: Apple TV ‘impressed all those who touched it’ – March 27, 2007
The chips inside Apple TV – March 27, 2007
Analyst: Apple TV is a platform, not a single product – March 27, 2007
Digital Trends reviews Apple TV: 7 out of 10, ‘huge phenomenon will challenge conventional thinking’ – March 26, 2007
Automatically convert video files for Apple TV with Apple’s Automator – March 26, 2007
Apple TV, iTunes, iTunes Store: BusinessWeek’s Wildstrom blows it – March 26, 2007
iLounge gives Apple TV a ‘B’ in hands-on review: ‘recommended’ – March 24, 2007
CNET reviews Apple TV: ‘Very Good’ – 7.7 out of 10 – March 24, 2007
Video: Apple TV menu and interface walkthrough – March 23, 2007
Analyst: Apple TV will change the TV business – March 23, 2007
G4’s ‘Attack of the Show’ host Olivia Munn licks Apple TV – March 23, 2007
Xvid fully functional on Apple TV – March 23, 2007
Apple TV does not require Widescreen TV or HDTV, works with standard TVs – March 23, 2007
CBS looks at Apple TV on ‘The Early Show’ (with video) – March 23, 2007
Scoble: ‘Apple TV rocks’ – March 23, 2007
Apple TV hard drive upgrade works – March 23, 2007
Apple TV dissection photos – March 22, 2007
Apple posts Apple TV User’s Guide online – March 22, 2007
Enderle: ‘Apple’s attractive and well packaged Apple TV likely to set the pace’ – March 22, 2007
David Pogue demos Apple TV in humorous NY Times’ video – March 22, 2007
PC Magazine review gives Apple TV 4 out of 5 stars – March 22, 2007
NY Times’ Pogue: ‘Apple TV offers a gracious, elegant, effortless, delightful experience’ – March 21, 2007
Mossberg hands-on with Apple TV: ‘beautiful design, easy-to-use, classic Apple: simple and elegant’ – March 21, 2007
Apple TV projected to surpass TiVo, Netflix – March 20, 2007
Former Microsoft ‘Enthusiast Evangelist’ Gartenberg looks at impact of Apple TV – March 20, 2007
Apple TV ships – March 20, 2007


  1. Yes, very good.

    My favorite quote “Paul: stick to talking about Windows, because when you’re not being fed talking points, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    The audio coding was a lot to absorb but well worth the read.

  2. A very good article. The explanation of 5.1 sound is a bit complex, but in essence boils down to this: TV downgrades its output to ProLogic at this point in time. If you want true 5.1 sound you will have to wait to see if they enable it on the next model, or by software update, at some time in the future, if ever.

  3. This on TV’s surround sound from Arstechnica :

    Apple TV is limited to playing files that are present in iTunes, which limits the number of 5.1 file types. A 5.1 AAC QuickTime movie gave only 2-channel sound through the Apple TV, or (at best) Dolby Digital Pro Logic II when played through the optical connection. This is different than Front Row behavior on a Mac mini—Front Row uses QuickTime and all of its associated plugins. With Front Row, Dolby Digital (AC3) encoded audio can be output through the optical cable, giving “true” surround sound. Since there is no way (that we know of) to play Dolby Digital or DTS encoded audio in iTunes, that leaves AAC 5.1 for the Apple TV, which the device treats the same way as a default 10.4 QuickTime install does—by putting all five channels into two. So, there is no 5.1 surround sound, just the older Pro Logic II, two-channel Dolby format.


  4. Or to simplify the two articles down to a few words.

    “Blah Blah Blah, no 5.1 sound for you today or any time soon”

    “Blah Blah Blah, yes Xbox 360 does everything Apple TV does and more, but you really want an Apple TV instead because Apple is the best company ever and Microsoft Sucks”

  5. I’m one of those people who have an XBOX 360 and was saying “meh” to the AppleTV — I’ve now used both and I am still feeling the same way.

    What is a bummer is that the content that is offered by Apple looks terrible on a good TV — go to the Apple Store and play one of the videos…

    I’ve seen HD content played on the XBOX 360 and it looks pretty good. I’ve also used the Media Extender and it too looks good.

    Now, the menu system isn’t nearly as simple and elegant as the AppleTV — but it has a lot of function. The issue for me is that I refuse to have a Windows box in my house and Connect 360 isn’t as full featured as it needs to be.

    I guess I am an Apple traitor since I actually really like my XBOX 360 and I am not impressed with AppleTV right now.

    I’d rather get a Mac Mini and use that.

  6. I didn’t like his boiling down of the 5.1 that Dolby Pro Logic II through Apple TV gives you 5.1. I’d say, if you can’t tell the difference between Pro Logic, DD 5.1 and DTS…your crazy. I don’t even have a hard core surround sound system, and I can tell the difference when I throw in a DTS DVD. One of the best things about DVDs is the surround sound. Until I can get that through Apple TV, I won’t own one period.

    And on the most everyone who has 5.1 audio listens to it on stereo speakers…I find that an odd comment. Even my 91 year old grandfather has surround sound speakers mounted in his house. He wanted them for when he watch the Lord of the Rings…

  7. @hedghogfrenzy, You’re points are well made, and the fact that AppleTV does not have 5.1 yet (even though it is technically availabe on the TOSLink connector, but not available with movies and programs from iTMS), keeps me slightly at bay, even though I really really want to be able to get my iTMS tv programs down to our main tv without running wires.

    Copying and pasting one of my posts from another MDN News Posting – (sorry, I’ll never do it again).

    @rahrens offered this link in his posting to MDN “Ars Technica in-depth review…”:

    Very interesting and insightful article. I really want to post the parts that clearly demonstrate how MS bastardized the mpeg4 codec, especially in light of the perception that everything Apple does with online media is “proprietary”, when in fact, and I’ve said this all along, Apple is often either setting the standard, or conforming to real media industry standards. as opposed to contrived industry standards like V3, VC-1, and even WAV, which essentially became a standard simply because there were so many Windows installations on the planet, not because it offered anything better than AIFF was already offering. Its incredible how many people perceive AIFF as being an Apple exclusive, incompressed audio format and of couse nothing could be farther from the truth. AIFF has been the true universal industry standard for uncompressed digital audio since the beginning of audio CDs going on thirty years ago. I still wish that MS would get off of the WAV crap and simply conform to the already established AIFF – which DOES NOT stand for Apple Interchange File Format – dammit.

    I did not agree with the article’s implication that the average user would not hear the difference between Dolby Pro Logic Surround, and Dolby 5.1. For any media that was orginally produced with 5+1 audio post production, and given a room where a listener could quickly A/B betweent the two, the average listener would instantly pick up the difference assuming that they were listening to a part of the program or movie that was actually utilizing more than two channels at that moment. This fact does not imply one is simply better than the other, only that there is a difference.

    The author also was a little ambiguous on how Dolby Pro Logic should actually be setup to actually take full advantage of what it has to offer. Pro Logic is basically a free-space matrix developed by this formula: (L+R)+(L-R)=surround matrix. While its true that there is only one physical connection (one pair of wires) for the surround content in Pro Logic, the way that surround channel is distributed is what actually gives you a sense of “immersion” when listening. In a true Dolby Pro Logic decoder, that single surround channel actually shows up as two speaker connections on the back: One speaker is wired with the positive and negative leads in phase with the front speakers, and the other surround speaker connection is meant to have it’s leads wired with positive and negative reversed, or out of phase with the front speakers. It is only in this configuration that Pro Logic Surround sound can be fully realized. One thing I like about Dolby Pro Logic Surround sound is that audio production that is only available in stereo can take on a surround sound like quality by allowing the listener to hear out of phase audio material more discreetly, where a simple stereo playback of the same material would tend to mask out the more out of phase audio.

    With my DVD player I don’t even have to think about it, I just hook up all of the 5.1 outputs to my amplifier with corresponding speakers, and the DVD player takes care of the rest. If it senses a movie with Pro Logic surround then it automatically reverses the phase of the Right Rear Channel thus automatically rewiring my system to take full advantage of what Dolby Pro Logic has to offer. Most if not all DVD players with discreet 5.1 analog (RCA) outputs offer this convenience, I’m not sure about DTS.

    MW=”toward”: As in – Toward a better understanding of how MS continues to screw the consumer.

  8. Apple TV looks like a great product but as far as movies are concerned, why would anyone download an “almost-DVD” quality movie that doesn’t even have true Dolby or DTS 5.1 audio. That would be like buying a widescreen HDTV and then purchasing fullscreen versions of your videos. Most people who have the $$$ and the brains to buy an Apple TV will definitely have true surround sound systems.

  9. “Most people who have the $$$ and the brains to buy an Apple TV will definitely have true surround sound systems.”

    To buy Apple TV today you need lots of dollars and no brains. If you buy Apple TV it’s because you don’t really care about audio or video quality. Why would these technically illiterate people be likely to have true surround systems?

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