Does AppleTV do Standard Def, now it’s maybe?

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: News

AppleTV on WEGAOk. More information on the possibility of connecting the Apple TV to a standard definition TV keeps coming in. Now “maybe” seems to be the right answer and likely why Apple simply decided to officially say no. This report from Rogue Amoeba’s blog claims that Apple TV will work with SD sets that offer component inputs. I have also seen reports elsewhere of people successfully connecting them to non-HDTVs. Generally, users are discovering that the Apple TV will work with a limited number of standard definition TVs though often with limited success. I have seen reports of some TVs working without issue, but those are rare. More commonly, I am reading about images that are squished or distorted. To get an Apple TV to work with a SD set at all, you do need to put the unit into the 480i mode and connect it using component video cables. For me (I own a 32″ Sony WEGA), the most promising report came from listener Ed who connected an Apple TV to his 27″ Sony WEGA (model #KV-27FS100). Ed reports the picture looks great (see picture). I asked him if his WEGA had the 16:9 enhanced mode offered by my unit and if he needed to enable it to avoid distortion. He said no. This is good news. If I can achieve a picture like Ed’s then maybe an Apple TV is in my living room’s future after all. I will keep you up-to-date as more information comes in.

There are 16 comments on Does AppleTV do Standard Def, now it’s maybe?:

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  1. Petrus | Mar 23 2007 - 06:08
  2. aplardi | Mar 23 2007 - 10:34

    That TV in that mentioned article however does have the correct inputs. The problem would be nothing more than getting a good converter box if you’re TV doesn’t have them. As long as you can get the aspect ratio to work correctly, there should never be a problem getting any video output to go into any video input with the proper cable converters.

    You could, again in theory, hook up and Apple TV to a 4 inch black and white TV using an RF/Antenna converter. :) Hacking is great. Good letting people know. I think Apple stating that it was only for Widescreen TVs (ED/HD) was for simplicity sake, because ED/HD TVs are usually the only one with compatible inputs/outputs.

    In the end, I just find it funny that Apple would try to make this product “HD/ED only” to begin with.

  3. Jeff Koke | Mar 23 2007 - 12:28

    You might also be interested in seeing that the folks at SomethingAwful have successfully hacked the AppleTV to support XVID/DVIX formatted videos. See the thread here:

  4. Jonathan C | Mar 23 2007 - 12:01

    O great, that looks like my tv, now I can get an apple tv! :)

  5. Rene | Mar 23 2007 - 05:57

    Wow, those guys at SomethingAwful are really hacking that Apple TV, and it seems to be far more easy to hack than the XBox 360.

    Apple TV runs a version of Mac OS X 10.4.7 without Finder. Hopefully they can get the USB port working to connect an external USB device (mouse and keyboard, of course), so you have, in essence, a low-budget Mac.

  6. Jimmy CraicHead | Mar 23 2007 - 07:14

    Adam, enough of this junk about Apple TV working with a standard def TV which I guessing, you mean analog. Go to Best Buy and pick up a digital CRT for less than $500. Using analog in 2007 is like a 1999 PC running Windows 98.

  7. aplardi | Mar 23 2007 - 10:12

    Apparently Jimmy, a LOT of people are indeed interested. :)

    Personally, I’m just gonna throw my cash at getting an iPod A/V dock… which I can’t seem to find anywhere.

    However, good to know.

  8. Rene | Mar 24 2007 - 02:50

    @Jimmy CraicHead: I’m hearing this argument more and more. Y’know, why throw away a perfectly good working PC only because Microsoft is so shortsighted not to support the long tail of computers handed from user to user anymore? Sames as: why throw away a perfectly functioning analogue TV, simply because some company, which name starts with an “A” and ends with “pple” decided not to support it anymore?

  9. Jimmy CraicHead | Mar 24 2007 - 05:34

    Rene and aplardi, I’m not saying throw away anything, maybe donate it. I just find it ironic that after 2 years of listening to Maccast, that Adam mentions on his Apple TV special that he does not have a digital tv. Digital hi def blows away an analog system that has been a stagnant technology since the 1950’s. The cost of these digitals tv’s has fallen so low (under $400) and now come with the tuner to get hi def brodcast in most major cities. Analog is to tv, what polaroid is to film.

  10. aplardi | Mar 24 2007 - 10:32

    I suppose, but at the same time if you already own a good TV it would be more practical to get a converting box/set of cables rather than blowing money on a new TV.

  11. Jimmy CraicHead | Mar 24 2007 - 11:50

    aplardi, “a good tv” is like a good cassette deck is to music. If you are in the US and can catch the quality of an NCAA game the next couple weeks in a bar/restaurant or Best Buy with hi-def you will literally future of broadcast. Peace out from Philly!

  12. Ted E | Mar 24 2007 - 11:07

    So far I am loving my AppleTV.

    Arrived yesterday and was beyond easy to hook up.

    It does have a 1080i mode (that is what I am running).

    I have only had one streaming hiccup so far while watching
    a program from my iMac to the AppleTV. That was while it
    was doing its initial syncing.

    The big test, lest for me, will be tomorrow night. Since I already
    have a EyeTV set up, and it can export to a format that an iPod
    and by that virtue iTunes, can handle, I should have the
    season final episode of Battlestar Galactica on my AppleTV
    when I wake up Monday morning.

    That will give me a sudo PVR set up. YA!

  13. Rene | Mar 25 2007 - 06:01

    I have given it some more thought, this Apple TV, and think it will convince many people to replace their SD TV with a HD version, especially if more and more content providers are going HD.

    The reason some people don’t switch to HD at this moment, is because SD content looks so awful on an affordable HD TV, because those still have bad upscaling processors. Watching HD content on a HD TV is no problem, of course. Once the majority of content (broadcast, streaming online and podcast) is in HD (720p, 1080i, or otherwise), the “big switch” will certainly occur, and (4:3) SD TV will be a thing of the past.

    The Apple TV is just a precursor of what is to come in the near future.

  14. Jack | Mar 25 2007 - 08:19

    For the people saying to get an RF convertor, please stop. Radio Frequency modulation is used to separate out the bands that are in coaxial cables…composite is coaxial, F is coaxial, and S-video is two coax cables in one wrapper.

    Frequency modulation is not the technology used when a signal is being fed through component cables. The color information is already separated.

    There is a difference between what can be connected and what signals can be converted.

    A tv that has component inputs wants that signal. Whether or not that TV has the smarts to know what aspect ratio is being delivered, or whether it has the means for you to tell it varies by tv.

  15. steve | Mar 25 2007 - 10:02

    I tested out an apple tv at my apple store here in LA the other day and besides the photos showing up nicely, nothing else looked good. The video podcasts were the worst, horrible distortion and pixelation. The movies and tv shows looked equally as bad.

    I upgraded to an HDTV at the beginning of this past football season and it is very hard to watch SDTV. Until apple tv has a way to getting HD content there is no way I will buy one.

  16. Mopar_Dan | Mar 25 2007 - 03:46

    If you watch in the video, you can see the apple TV hooked up to an SD TV. I think the biggest thing is the fact that the aspect ratio that the A-TV outputs is permently set at 16:9. So on an 4:3 set without a 16:9 mode, the picture will be squished to fit the TV.

    With widescreen CRT’s I think its probebly important to make sure that the TV itself isnt set on a 4:3 or zoom mode as that will cause the picture to distort, not filling the full 16:9 portion of the screen.