Apple TV = hacked

Apple TV = hacked

Summary: The first day after Apple TV began shipping a bunch of sharp-as-a-tack coder types hacked Apple's new set top box to shreds.


Apple TV = hackedThe first day after Apple TV began shipping a bunch of sharp-as-a-tack coder types hacked Apple's new set top box to shreds:

Non-Apple TV owners can enjoy the out of box experience by viewing the opening video which one crafty person ripped from the hard drive and posted in all of it's 720p glory. You can also download the Quartz Composer Screen Saver and the Now Playing Screen. And if you're truly hard-core you can download the entire Apple TV OS, and (conceivably) install it on another Mac.

But this is just scratching the Apple TV surface.

True hackers will want to immediately take it apart (photos) and upgrade the wimpy 40GB HDD to 80 or 120GB - it's a standard 2.5-inch notebook mechanism (another HDD upgrade tutorial is here).

If you really want to hack it to the next level you can play Xvid movies on Apple TV, but it ain't pretty and involves removing the HDD (covered above) and un-breaking SSH (using Perian and DropBear) so you can access the Apple TV remotely.

If that's too much hassle for you there's a solution to automatically convert Xvid, Divx, WMV files to Apple TV format, and then import them into iTunes with a convenient Automator workflow.

You can even turn a Mac mini into an Apple TV or an Apple TV into a Web server (by installing Apache).

Keep up with even more Apple TV hacks at

Topic: Apple

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  • Cool!

    I see you've applied the original meaning to the IT term "hack"!

    The more the merrier - the more people extend this thing, the better. Though some
    of the hacks are a bit hard-core for an average home user.
    Fred Fredrickson
    • Apple TV is a waste of Time

      There are thousands of reasons not to purchase this inferior product.

      It is a proprietory software - centric direction that complicates peoples lives by encouraging the need for converting software and the time to run it. Why pay for a device that requires me to convert media to its format.

      It does not support HD or 5.1 Surround. This is OK if the year was 1985, but it is a piece of garbage that will require replacing sooner rather than later.

      Why would I buy something I need to take apart and replace a hard drive or hack in order for it to function (still in an inferior fashion).

      I am waiting for someone to simplify my life by tieing all functions and formats together in a neat, uncomplicated fashion. When an High Definition PVR (that supports various satelitte providers) is built that can either play and record DVD's and music CD's or connect to an external Hard Drive/DVD burner through a USB connection (and can play music and movies in all formats) I will be interested in buying something else. This Apple TV machine is falling far short of that...
  • Your title is wrong. Should be "Apple TV = Improved"!

    Hack has bad conotations. Improved is the better term.
    • shame on your George

      Hack only has bad conotations [sic] to idiots. True power users know "hacked" is just changed. Change can be good or bad.

      I don't think the fine folks over at would appreciate your attitude!
    • Don't be naive!

      Come on, George... don't be naive.

      "Hacked" only has bad connotations because people who don't know any better continue to perpetuate said connotations.

      Take it in context. When I read "Apple TV hacked!" I interpret that as "improved." When I read " hacked!" I interpret that as "compromised" -- acknowledging the common misuse of the word.
    • Heaven Forbid...

      This basically the headline George has been wanting to run for the last 9 months and
      now it has been used up. Well done Jason for stealing his thunder. George SO wanted
      to run "OSX Hacked" and stick it to the Mac community. He is so short sighted he
      seems to have forgotten the original meaning of the word.
    • Hack is what you make of it...

      Depending upon who you are speaking to. There is a large group of "hackers" that would like to return the term to its original meaning, but that seems to be a pipe dream.

      However, hacker only has bad connotations to those that dislike what they do. I find it amusing watching hackers take down technology all around us. We need more challenges to our society, criminal or not. We're too damned complacent, and unfitted for survival in anything but an artifically-maintained technological world. It's just not good for us.
    • i'm proud to say I hack

      I take video cards that are meant for PCs and convert them to PPC/Macintosh open firmware. If that makes me a bad person, then so be it.
    • I agree should be Apple TV = modded

      Let's face it this is a solution that's a problem in itself. Propietary format 40GB (ROFL) hard drive - need I go on.
  • Your title is wrong. Should be "Apple TV = Improved"!

    Hack has bad conotations. Improved is the better term.
    • you only need to click submit my reply once.

      everyone should know this.
  • Product in search of a market... and missing it

    Well I was wondering what this product could be aimed at, and this effort on the part of the community at large shows that Apple missed the boat here. What ever they were thinking about with this as a separate product from the Mini is beyond me. It clearly shows that the product was a cut down hardware platform for a software solution. Why not improve the Mini's features and cut price by a couple of hundred (all the development $ wasted on this product) and sell the "TV" software option as a $79 deal on top... tsk tsk. A mis-step from a company that normally has a pretty good batting average with consumer targeting.
    • Not to argue with your premise.

      Not to argue with your premise however I think your judging prematurely. Give the AppleTV a month then revisit the topic. You may be correct, or surprised.

      However to reinforce your argument, any device sold today as a "DVD player for the Internet age" that doesn't include at least 5.1 surround sound is quite frankly a joke.

      For that reason alone I'm not purchasing one, and I really wanted one of these.
      • If I am correct...

        None of the movies on iTunes are in 5.1 surround, so what is the point, at this time,
        in selling a 5.1 piece of hardware? Like the iPod, the first incarnation was not
        perfect, but got better over time.
        • Nor are they Hi-Def

          But that isn't holding me back. The point for me is that my home's audio system expects 5.1. If I give it stereo, it sound's flat and ugly. More so than most typical AV systems.

          What I don't understand is why NOT to include 5.1. Charge me $350 and give me 5.1 and I'd buy it.

          So to get down to the real point. The AppleTV is a Hi-Def device than can play Hi-Def video. Part of the Hi-Def standard is 5.1 surround. It's like a Ferrari F50 that you can't hear due to excessive muffling. What's the point?
          • Same with satellite

            The DVR that I have has an optical digital output, which I have connected to my digital amp. But, alas, the HD channels do not include 5.1 surround?!?!!? The only Dolby Digital (DD) that is available now is from pay-per-view channels. That was one of the reasons that I got the DVR, digital surround.......WTF?
            Spoon Jabber
          • Improvement = more functions less work

            This Apple product is a large disappointment and simply a waste of time..

            The PVR that comes with my Satellite Television scans shows as you watch them allowing you to;

            Re-watch a portion of a live show that you missed
            Record movies in HD (or not if the maximum quality is less?)
            Record radio programs
            Play in 5.1 Dolby surround (directly to my audio system)

            My DVD Recorder can make a DVD of programs on PVR if I want to transport them to another TV or disk player.

            My DVD player also plays MP3 disks. I can burn and play anything onto data DVD disks and listen to them no matter what the age of my stereo.

            There are no new functions or conveniences offered by this thing. I have to watch all its content in low resolution and listen to it in low quality audio. In order to make it do anything useful I have to hack it.

            I would like someone to take the well developed PVR (mine is a Bell HD model) and add the ability to connect external hard drives and DVD players via the USB connection. If this PVR could play all audio and video formats it would succeed in being a multi-purpose entertainment machine. The PVR handles satellite signals as well by definition.

            The public wants something that reduces hardware pieces and expands what they can do, with little or no effort on their part. The i-phone looks at first glance like a device that accomplishes that. This Apple TV thing does not. It is a dog.
        • More ways

          Like the Ipod, this is just more ways for the roten apple to grab cash from mac Head(less) drone. Why make our overprice useless unsecure gadget complete with 5.1 sound... we wil just make one with it in 3 months and typical clueless mac user users will buy it.
          • Nice

            [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Brown Eye]
    • Nope 2 different devices

      So you want Apple to sell the Mac Mini at a loss? No, thats the way Microsoft thinks - not Apple. This way they don't mind if people hack the AppleTV to play other formats. In contrast MS and SOny clamp down on anyone trying to break into their walled gardens of games and content. Not Apple.

      Think of this as the Mac Nano. Even slimmer and more streamlined than the regular Mac Mini with just the features needed for the bulk of it's market.

      People like you and I will stick to our Mac Minis with EyeTVs and data projectors as a big screen etc, but that doesn't negate the 100 million iTunes users out there who will be very tempted to go for the AppleTV.

      Horses for courses.