What’s in the box?
Apple seems to run the sale of the second generation of Apple TV by the “less is more” creed. The only things you will find in the box are the Apple TV device, Apple Remote, power cable and documentation.
Compared to the previous version, the 2.0 version is a lot tinier – it’s only 3.9” x 3.9” x 0.9” and weighs just 0.6 pounds, powered by an Apple A4 chip. It supports various video formats like H.264 of up to 720p at 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats. MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats. Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format.
Audio formats supported include HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV; Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through.
It also supports JPEG, GIF and TIFF image formats. The Apple TV 2.0 is compatible with high-definition TVs with HDMI and is capable of reproducing 720p at 60/50Hz quality. In terms of ports and interfaces it’s equipped with HDMI, 10/100Base-T Ethernet, MicroUSB for service and support, Optical audio and built-in IR receiver. Unfortunately, you don’t get HDMI and optical audio cabels in the box, so you will have to buy them yourself. Apple TV 2.0 is Wi-Fi connection capable for 802.11a/b/g/n.
Like we said before, Apple TV 2nd Generation is a very small device. In terms of appearance, it’s a simple black box with no buttons anywhere on it. Discretely built-in at the front is an IR receiver for the remote control and a white LED that signals if the box is being used. All the connections are placed at the back. The remote used is typical small aluminum remote with 3 buttons that you can use to control other Apple devices, like iPods, iPads and iPhones, which can sometimes be unpleasant, since the other devices can receive commands that were intended for Apple TV.
For using the Wi-Fi, Apple recommends a stabile 2.5Mbps connection for standard-definition and 6Mbps connection for HD programming.
Image quality is impressive even though the videos are streamed. Audio quality is also excellent – stereo sound is as good as stereo sound can be, and 5.1 surround is vivid and clear.
Even though competitors offer solid devices and quality, none of them can compare the simplicity and joy in the use to Apple TV 2nd Generation, especially having in mind the very affordable price of $99.