Can You Upgrade An AppleTV Past 250GB?

Last year, I wrote about upgrading the AppleTV from 40GB to 160GB.  As I’ve starting converting my entire video library to MP4, I’ve quickly run out of space on the AppleTV again. The software on the AppleTV continues to be a generation ahead of the software included on Mac OS X (10.5), so I was thinking about how to upgrade the AppleTV.

You can now find 250GB, 320GB, and soon, 500GB SATA 2.5″ drives on the market.  Unfortunately, it seems that only Western Digital is making an ATA-6 drive above 160GB, and the biggest drive they are selling is 250GB.  Not going to cut it, as my iTunes movie library is now over 350GB and growing.

I was curious whether anyone out there knew whether or not ATA-6 was effectively dead for 2.5″ drives?  If so, why?

Assuming you can’t get the AppleTV hard drive above 250GB, then I’m going to be left with replacing the  AppleTV with a Mac Mini, my current solution for the family room.  Not perfect, of course, because the current version of FrontRow:

  • Can’t do iTunes Rentals (not sure I care about this at all)
  • Can’t organize movies by genre (big problem when you have 200+ movies)

I guess it stands to reason that Apple will upgrade the FrontRow software shortly to match the features of AppleTV 2.0.

I hate to see my AppleTV so limited by storage, though.  If you have any ideas, pointers, or tips on how to add more storage to an AppleTV, please let me know.   I’d love to be able to take it up to 320GB or more.

I’m really not sure why Apple’s streaming solution for the AppleTV isn’t working for me – I would think Apple would just cache the first 10 minutes of each movie on the AppleTV, and then stream in the rest of the movie when I select one.  160GB would be an extremely effective cache for my iTunes library, since it’s effectively 1/3 the size of the library.  Maybe I’ve configured something wrong here, but when I tell the AppleTV to synch “all” of my movies, a vast majority don’t show up on the AppleTV.

Update (4/27/08): OK, I’ve found a huge amount of info on great hacks for the AppleTV.  Here is an AppleTV archive on Hackszine.com.  Here is the site AppleTVHacks.net.  Well known hacks include ability to use external drives, SSH support, RSS, etc.  Lots of very cool stuff to check out.

Update (4/27/08): Last comment.  Here is a wiki at AwkwardTV.org that gives step by step instructions on how to install SSH on your AppleTV Take 2, and then add USB Hard Drive support.  It’s not trivial.

3 thoughts on “Can You Upgrade An AppleTV Past 250GB?

  1. I’ve finally given up on my Apple TV, after learning about Sage TV. It’s an $80 piece of software that turns your PC/Mac into a media server, combined with a $100 (SD) or $200 (HD) extender that plugs in to your TV. It’s the same “beefy server, streamlined browser” model I expected them to use for Apple TV, with all sorts of additional bonus features.

    It does all the streaming goodness that Apple TV does, but also replaces your TiVo, lets you rip your DVDs the way you would CDs in iTunes, lets you make a local cache of the YouTube videos you watch, and has an open source interface that people have customized like crazy (weather feeds, RSS feeds, all sorts of wacky goodness). It even has an additonal $40 license to be able to watch anything on your server from your laptop while you’re away from home.

    I thought the movie rentals might be a reason to keep the Apple TV, since my roommates are constantly renting. But after giving it a try, they opted to continue walking down to Blockbuster since Apple doesn’t give you the special features that a normal DVD rental does. They’re all about the commentaires, outtakes and alternate endings.

    The only real drawback I’ve seen to Sage so far is that the extenders don’t do wireless. But that’s not a deal breaker for me, since my house has ethernet jacks in every room (yay geeky landlord!). And it’ll be easy (and cheap) to swap the current extenders out for wireless ones when they come out, and move the old ones to other TVs in the house.

    I haven’t set up my Sage TV system yet. But you can bet that when the xmas sales start I’ll be shopping for all the necessary components to build the ultimate 4-6 TB digital jukebox for my 400+ movies, 100+ TV box sets, voracious DVR habit, relatively small music collection, and gigs upon gigs of non-iPhoto photo galleries.

  2. The AtvFlash allows you to use the USB port for an external HD, so then multiple TBs are possible. Also, there are micro adapters available to convert a 2.5″ 500GB ESATA to IDE, and I am assuming that would also be possible, but the heat issue may come into play. I have chosen to upgrade my 40GB with a 160GB and then will add external when needed. You will find on eBay 500GB AppleTVs being offered, and when I asked them what drive they were using, you guessed it, they did not reply. So, I assume it must be the ESATA/IDE concept.

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