Apple TV 1080p Review: A Cordcutters Perspective

In addition to announcing the new iPad at last weeks event, Apple introduced a revamped Apple TV, the Apple TV 1080p. Much to the relief of ATV users, this device comes equipped with an A5 processor, the same as you get with the iPhone 4S. More powerful than its predecsor, the A4, this chip allows 1080p playback and iOS 5.1 support, arguably making it the best htpc device that can fit in your hand.

Let’s take a closer look at the Apple TV 1080p hardware

Side by side with the second generation, it’s difficult to tell the difference between the devices. The outside shell is identical and contains all the same ports you’d find on the ATV2. That includes hdmi, opitcal audio, ethernet, and microUSB. Additionally, you still get the 7 button silver remote. So aside from internal hardware modifications, Apple made no changes to the appearance of the device.

Apple TV 1080p Jailbreak

We are all very anxious to see the release of a jailbreak. Due to software changes we can most likely expect a bit of a wait period before anything gets released. When that does occur, it will be coming from firecore. According to their blog, they already have test units coming in, read more here: http://blog.firecore.com/.

The jailbreak solutions that existed for the ATV2g were great. However, there were times when video playback was sluggish, unresponsive, and flaky, and then times when playback was flawless. With new hardware we hope that it leads to better reliable software. If that’s the case, then the Apple TV 1080p will once again become the front and center of my HTPC setup.

Plex and XBMC on the Apple TV 1080p

Once the jailbreak is ready, the community can then get to work on prepping the media center applications for the device. After browsing the community forums I learned that the developers are very excited at the potential of the new Apple TV 1080p. But development and testing can’t start until a jailbreak is ready. Plus, the new ATV has a major software update; we can expect that Plex and XBMC in their current state will not work right away.

Should you upgrade?

Overall, the changes look promising, but the big questions everyone is asking is should they upgrade? This scenario reminds me of when Apple announced the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S mainly received a processor upgrade over the iPhone 4, similar to what is happening now with the Apple TV.

In my opinion, if you’re only using the stock Apple TV features, then there’s no reason to upgrade. The new user interface will be available as a free upgrade anyways, so the only thing you’ll be missing is the 1080p capabilities. Keep in mind, most people struggle with telling the difference between 720p and 1080p content.

On the other hand, Cordcutters should consider upgrading since the new processor should add a much needed performance boost. Users who currently use the Apple TV as their HTPC know that it doesn’t have enough juice to play quality content.

What will you be doing? Let us know below.

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