Feeds

How to get colour composite-video from an Apple TV

Got a standard def 16:9 telly? Now you too can use an Apple TV

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Register Hardware's local Maplin provided the HDMI-DVI connector for a very cheeky £20, while an old Sapphire graphics card review unit furnished the DVI-VGA convertor - it's a stock ATI-branded unit. The first unit's connector is DVI-D, the second one DVI-I.

Apple TV hack - adaptors

Apple TV hack - adaptors
Apple TV adaptors: HDMI to DVI-D (left) and DVI-I to VGA

And yes, it does work. Reconnecting the Apple TV reveals there are now only two resolutions, one of which, 576i, is ticked. Movies, photos, album covers - all are now in colour. Here's the pic to prove it:

Apple TV hack - it works
Hurrah! Apple TV output in composite-video colour

Yes, the cable coming out of the Apple TV is the one that's feeding the TV's composite-video port.

Kudos, then, to Mauricio Pastrana for discovering this.

How does it work? The trick is clearly to fool the device into outputting in composite-video. Using the DVI-VGA converter is enough to make the Apple TV think it's connected to a real device - something that the HDMI-DVI unit alone wouldn't do. Removing the unit causes the Apple TV to fall back to the previous resolution, and that's 576i. The green component would seem to be connected to the unit's GeForce Go 7300 and ancillary signalling circuitry in such a way that it's capable of handling a composite signal too. When falling back from the 576p resolution, the Apple TV's video sub-system detects the present of a composite-video device - the TV - and adjusts itself accordingly.

The snag is that this hack doesn't survive powering down the Apple TV - plug the plug and when you restart the device, it's in black and white again. And the timing has to be exact - if you're too quick or too slow at removing the HDMI-DVI-VGA, you'll get the wrong resolution. Not to worry, though: just pull the power cable, restart the Apple TV and try again.

Update Wait until the LED on the front of the Apple TV goes a steady orange before yanking out the HDMI adaptor. It may be five seconds, it may be more. But that's the point at which the resolution is set.

But the bottom line is that Apple TV users shouldn't be forced to hackery when the gadget can support composite-video output. Yes, consumers are buying HD TVs but there are still many, many more standard-definitio screens out there, all of which can be supported by the Apple TV but are nonetheless ignored.

Heck, even if Apple offered a $30 dongle that would handle the conversion, that would still, for many buyers, be a worthwhile purchase and would certainly open up the Apple TV to a much wider audience.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.