New Apple TV Constantly Dropping Network Connections

03/18/2012

On Sunday mornings, I often like to sit in front of my stereo and listen to music, while I read a book, or the latest New Yorker. This morning, I wanted to listen to a new disc I bought (Towards the Horizon; Modificata; Incantations by Einojuhani Rautavaara), and since I had gotten my new Apple TV on Friday, and not hooked it up, I did so. Since it’s essentially the same as the previous model, I just connected it, entered the necessary passwords – notably for Home Sharing, to access my iTunes library – and sat down to listen.

Alas, this was not for long. After about 10 minutes, the connection dropped. I at first thought my router (AirPort Extreme) must have a problem, but when I went to my Mac, I saw that it was connected. Back to the Apple TV, it turned out that it wasn’t seeing any networks. I have two routers: the AirPort Extreme, with two networks, and a router provided by my ISP, which has one Wi-Fi network. In addition, I can see several neighboring Wi-Fi networks. But the Apple TV saw none of these, showing it was a problem with that device.

I went to check Apple’s support forums, and found that, alas, this is a common problem with the new Apple TV. A ten-page thread shows that many people are seeing this issue. Since the device has only been available for two days, this is especially disturbing.

I have been able to listen to music for a half hour, but at other times, the connection drops in less than a minute; often in less time than it takes to select music to play from the Apple TV’s menus.

Some of the posts in the Apple thread talk about ports and routers, but in my case, this is clearly not an issue. When the network connection drops, and I go to the Apple TV’s settings, no networks are seen, showing that it is, indeed, the Apple TV that is creating the Wi-Fi issue.

For now, I’ve resolved this by connecting it via Ethernet to a powerline networking device I have running to a video player box. But I’d rather not have to add another device – an Ethernet hub – to the many wires sitting behind my stereo and TV. Also, I’m pretty sure that 5 GHz Wi-Fi is faster than powerline.

Is anyone else seeing this?

Update: Apple has replaced the unit, and the new one works fine. So in my case there was clearly something wrong with the Wi-Fi chip.