Big things are obvious, but sometimes smaller things niggle as much

While I love my Apple TV, I would love it more if it just triggered my TV to change channel when it powered up.

I love my AppleTV, it’s the easiest way I’ve got to get music playing on my TV, which is the way to get music through my stereo.

The only thing that could make this nicer would be if Apple more fully used some of the features of HDMI. While I’m not really a fan of HDMI, it does have some useful things in it.

My PS3 can trigger my TV to turn on, or to change input to display it through the use of HDMI’s Consumer Electronics Control1.

The AppleTV doesn’t send any signalling: meaning that every time I’m sat playing music from my Laptop or iPad, if my TV isn’t in the right state, I have to find the remote control (or even worse stand up from the sofa).

It’s minor. Totally minor. But when I get this gripe most days, and when I know the thing sat beside the Apple TV can do this, it’s annoying.

People notice big things that are wrong in products, and complain about them vocally – but small recurrent niggles also wear down consumer satisfaction. It’s the only thing I really don’t like about my Apple TV. I forgive it not playing non-iTunes content, and its lack of favourites on radio stations.

I know it’s unlikely, and I don’t even know if the hardware supports it, but it would be lovely if an option appeared in settings after an update “Change TV input when Apple TV starts”.

Pretty please Cupertino?

  1. Consumer Electronics Control signalling allows the device to prompt the TV, and also for the TV to send remote key-presses to be processed by the device – allowing me to control my PS3 with my TV. Controlling devices like that can end up more a confusing novelty for anything more than basic 5-point navigation


HDMI was sold as a next generation connector, having used it a bit recently, some of the omissions surprise me.

  1. Explicit support for Audio and Video synchronisation only appeared in version 1.3. The forth revision of the standard. That’s a pretty big omission for a next generation audio-video connector; in the meantime every device seems to have optional delay values to tweak the setup.
  2. More generally the audio support is lacking. While you can deliver multiple audio formats, more with each revision, there isn’t (at least in early revisions) a way of sending both surround sound (AC3, DTS or better) and simple 2 channel PCM stereo at the same time. Devices have to elect which to send, and while some form of auto-negotiation is possible, devices like the HD TiVo require you to choose which form you send. And while your Amplifier can decode AC3/DTS, your TV potentially can’t. If the standard had just said from the beginning that you always send 2 channel PCM as a fallback/base level, and also any better standard if available, no negotiation or configuration would be needed.One workaround is to send Stereo audio to the HDMI connector, and send the AC3 audio out over S/PDIF connection, and get the surround sound amplifier to decode this. And then adjust various delays to provide lip-sync again. This is just faff that could so easily have been avoided by sending both, the connector is not lacking in bandwidth for audio.
  3. The inclusion of HDCP to provide the movie studios a misplaced sense of safety that content is protected. In reality all it does is cause sporadic errors when your Source, Amp and TV fail the negotiation and require you to power cycle everything. Meanwhile in the background is the threat that some studio somewhere could deem your TV insecure, and your expensive flat panel on the wall is prevented from showing certain HD content.

Having spent many years trying to get overly complicated SCART setups to work, I hoped that HDMI would be much better, and while impressed at the quality of HD, I’m disappointed at the level of user intervention and forethought required when they are setting equipment up, much of which could be avoided if some more pragmatic decisions were taken at the initial design meetings.