Apple TV Update

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Apple recently released a major update for Apple TV. You may not have noticed. My Apple TV did not notify me of the update. On a whim, I checked for updates (Settings > General > Update Software) and there it was.

It is a major update. It took over an hour just to download it. Installation ran approximately 10 minutes. Despite the large size of the update, the changes are not obvious. At first glance, Apple TV looks pretty much the same. In fact, the “what’s new” list displayed after the update is incorrect. It displays the new features from the previous update. This article covers the new features in the Apple TV update, as well as the flaws and whether you should update.

This latest update was released on November 29, 2012. Unfortunately, I was not notified as usual, but found out a month later when I checked for updates. I think many Apple TV owners may have missed it. Some may want to keep their existing version, as it does introduce some problems. Apple still seems to consider Apple TV to be a hobby. I love my Apple TV, but it is the worst Apple product I own. I can’t be too upset about an Apple product that costs less than $100. I use it every day, despite the flaws. Roku and Boxee don’t integrate as well with my Apple products. Both Roku and Boxee do offer smart phone and tablet integration, however, their offerings aren’t as comprehensive as Apple TV. Neither of them support AirPlay.

Netflix Worse, Hulu Plus Better:

The latest Apple TV update introduces some serious problems for Netflix. If you use your Apple TV mainly for Netflix, I would recommend waiting for a newer release. The main problem is that audio and video get out of sync. This happens a lot. It can happen more than 5 times in a one hour show. You can correct this issue by rewinding the program a little bit. Netflix will reload the video and the audio will be in sync.

Netflix seems to pause for buffering a lot more often. I checked my Internet speed, and it was fine. I checked Netflix’s twitter feed, and neither Netflix nor users were reporting problems. They did have a major outage on Christmas Eve, which was a night I had hoped to relax and watch Netflix.

Thank goodness for Hulu Plus. Even if I didn’t cancel cable, there’s really nothing on TV on Christmas Eve, and everyone is off work. This surge in online viewing can often bring down services like Netflix, as their data center does not handle surges well. After the holidays, people have new gadgets and are using free Netflix trial accounts. However, Netflix has stabilized their server infrastucture (which is hosted in Amazon’s data center). The latest update for Apple TV is clearly causing the problems. I experienced the audio sync issue immediately after upgrading my Apple TV. I can’t be sure if Netflix introduced the bugs, or if a change that Apple made is causing Netflix problems. (continue…)

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