New Apple TV Has Its Share of Bugs

10/06/2010

I got my new Apple TV today. It’s a nice little device, smaller and especially cooler than the previous model. I have no issues with not being able to store content on the device, and streaming works fine for me.

However, it seems that the Apple TV software has a fair number of bugs. While there aren’t a lot of threads in Apple’s forums – the device has only been shipping for a few days – there are enough to confirm that the problems I’ve had are not unique.

First, when entering info for my wifi network, the Apple TV got to a point where it displayed “Waiting for Network Services…” After a few minutes, I restarted the device; at that point, it was connected to my wifi network.

Next, when trying to enter my Apple ID – necessary to stream content, as well as to buy and rent content from the Apple Store – it failed, telling me that the password and/or user name were incorrect. A post on the Apple forum suggested resetting the device, which I did.

So, after the reset, it no longer saw the wifi network I wanted to use. (I have two networks, using an AirPort Extreme base station: one for 802.11n devices, and one for others.) I had to type its name to get it recognized. This time, entering the password worked, and I was able to enter my Apple ID and get it accepted.

I then added the library on my Mac mini, which has all my content, and found that the Playlists section showed only a blank screen. All the other sections display correctly, though sometimes there’s a lag as the Apple TV has to load the library (yet again; it seems to do this a lot). Playlists finally displayed, but only after the display had switched to show a currently-playing track. It turns out that it takes quite some time for playlists to display; more than 20 seconds. I have a couple hundred playlists, but if the library itself is copied to the Apple TV, it shouldn’t take more than a few seconds. After all, my Artists or Composers lists display immediately, or even my Songs list, which contains more than 56,000 items. At least playlist icons have colors, those that Apple removed from iTunes.

The new Apple TV’s volume is very loud; much louder than the previous model. For example, my amp was set to a volume of 45 before, and content I played on the old Apple TV was at the correct volume. I’ve had to lower the volume to 30 with the new device, which means that every time I change sources I’ll have to shift the volume more than before. You can no longer control its volume from the remote, and there’s also no volume control available from the Remote app on the iPod touch. (Though it probably makes more sense, when streaming music at least, to stream it from iTunes and control it on the iPod touch, rather than use the Apple TV’s screen; this way you can adjust the volume being sent from iTunes.)

On the up side, the new Apple TV’s interface is much snappier, so over time I’ll be able to tell whether it’s a real improvement. One thing I won’t need to do any more, at least, is sync content to it. I get the Daily Show from the iTunes Store, and I’d have to sync it after it downloaded to my Mac mini; now, in the future, I’ll just mount the library and stream, saving a step.