Saturday, October 30, 2010

Apple TV Failure

I bought one of the new Apple TVs yesterday. I'm an Apple fan and as a Mac, iPhone and iTunes user it just seemed to make sense. I do have a cable to connect my MacBook Pro to the TV but it's a nuisance dragging it out every time I want to watch something from iTunes on the TV and it meant my laptop had to stay beside the TV. I thought the Apple TV would be the perfect device to link my home entertainment together.

Indeed it does work quite well. It connected without any problems to my Airport Extreme and from there out to iTunes for movie rentals and onto my computer to access my local iTunes library. Everything was perfect, for about an hour or two.

Suddenly the screen went green/magenta. All the blacks were gone. Ok I thought maybe it's just gotten a little overloaded with my playing with all the different features and streaming too much different content to it. I unplugged for a minute and everything returned to normal. Unfortunately a short while later the same problem occurred again. I switched HDMI ports on the TV, things returned to normal, for a few minutes. This time the picture changed to green, but then changed back after a few seconds, then 5 minutes later it changed again and this time stayed green. As the day went on the problem got worse and finally I restored the device back to factory settings. Things were ok for an hour or so and then another green screen. It's basically unusable for movies or anything longer than a YouTube video.

A search on the Apple discussion forums reveals mine is not an isolated incident. It appears that Apple have a bit of a problem with the HDMI handshaking on some TVs. The brands affected are Philips and Sony. Mixed messages seem to be coming out of Apple support, some staff say it's a known issue and a future firmware update might fix it, others say it's a problem with the TVs and refer the customer to Philips. Going out on a limb here I'd guess Philips and Sony might have a better idea of the HDMI spec than Apple and if either of those manufacturers were pumping out HD TVs that didnt work properly with HDMI it would likely have been noticed before Apple released a HDMI device. It seems to me that this is certainly an Apple problem to fix.

Until they do I would advise anyone with a Philips or Sony TV to avoid the Apple TV. It might work or it might not but unless you can get one to test for several hours it wont be worth the trouble if you have a similar problem to mine. I'm in contact with the store I bought mine from and I'll see what they say but at the moment unless I hear there is a firmware update on the way soon I think I'll be returning it.


Richard Taylor Writer said...

I think your logic is flawed. If Sony and Phillips are the only manufacturers whose HDMI ports are affected, and no other brands are, then it's obvious they have tweaked them in some way for added utility and the tweak has resulted in their ports not being standard. If, conversely, Apple's hardware works well with Toshiba and Panasonic and the others, and the brands it does work with far outnumber the brands it doesn't work well with, then it stands to reason it's Sony and Phillips who are at fault. IMHO.

Declan said...

Yeah, with the benefit of a few hours away from my green tv I think I have to agree with you. Perhaps the Philips and Sony TVs share a supplier. Still I've never had a problem with other devices so I have to vent my frustration at the one device that exposes the problem. I think the simplest solution would be for Apple to provide a fix even if Philips and Sony have to provide the fix to them, deploying the fix onto the Apple TV would be much simpler than producing new firmwares for all the TVs.

KBConsulting said...

HDMI is evil, it is a shame that the CE industry has standardized on it. These problems are with all HDMI connections, the handshaking is optimized for DRM not viewing.

YOu can try using different inputs or cable lengths but the problem is inherent with HDMI, and varies from TV to TV, I have 2 Inignia TV's they both have problems with different devices at times, I have had to resort to using composite inputs for my cable box on one to keep it working consistently.

Declan said...

As an update last night we managed to see most of the movie Alien before the screen turned green (5 minutes before the end as Ripley was running around the shuttle). The trick to maximising the time between green screens seems to be to go into Settings and select "Sleep Now". Then when I wake the device back up I can get between an hour and 2 hours before hdmi problems

topgold said...

Apple Minis aren't the only sitting room gear that get by connections. For what it's worth, I've succeeded in confusing a bog-standard Humax digital receiver when connected to a Sony Wega television. The channel won't change when spurious inputs come from an ethernet connection behind the unit. If the ethernet does not find a Media Center's directory, the digital receiver needs to be powered down and restarted.

Declan said...

Ok so i should update this old post since people come here to find it. Apple updated the iOS some months ago and since then it's worked fine. The fix did take a long time to arrive from Apple but once it did the device worked perfectly. I like it, it's perfect for movies and video podcasts. I'm looking forward to the iOS 5 and a bunch of new features to link the iPad and Apple TV.