All About the Second Generation Apple TV

Apple TV at the base of a tv showing the apple tv 2 native apps

 Apple Inc.

The second-generation Apple TV is the successor to the original Apple TV, Apple's first entry into the set-top box/Internet-connected TV market. This article details its key hardware and software features. It also provides a diagram to help you understand what each of the device's ports does.

Released: Late Sept. 2010

Discontinued: March 6, 2012​

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Get to Know the Second Generation Apple TV

2nd Generation Apple TV

 Apple Inc.

While the original Apple TV was designed to store content locally — whether by syncing from a user's iTunes library or via download from the iTunes Store — the second generation model is almost entirely Internet-centric. Instead of syncing content, this device streams content from iTunes libraries via AirPlay, the iTunes Store, iCloud, or other online services using built-in apps like Netflix, Hulu, MLB.TV, YouTube, and more.

Because it doesn't need it, the device doesn’t offer much in the way of local storage (though there is 8 GB of Flash memory used for storing streamed content).

This version of the Apple TV appears to run a modified version of the operating system used on the original device. While it bears some resemblance to the iOS, the operating system used by the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, it's not the same from a technical perspective. (The 4th Generation Apple TV ushered in tvOS, which is indeed based on the iOS.)

The second-generation Apple TV debuted with a price of US $99.

Apple A4

802.11b/g/n WiFi

HD Standard
720p (1280 x 720 pixels)

Outputs HDMI
Optical audio

0.9 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches

0.6 pounds

iTunes 10.2 or later for Mac/PC connectivity

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Anatomy of the 2nd Gen. Apple TV

Second generation Apple TV hardware

 Apple Inc.

This image shows the back of the second-generation Apple TV and the ports that are available there. Each of the ports is explained below, since knowing what each does will help you get the most out of your Apple TV.

  1. Power Adapter: This is where you plug in the Apple TV's power cord.
  2. HDMI port: Plug an HDMI cable in here and connect the other end to your HDTV or receiver. The Apple TV supports up to the 720p HD standard.
  3. Mini USB port: This USB port is designed to be used in service and technical support, not by the end-user.
  4. Optical Audio jack: Connect an Optical Audio cable here and plug the other end into your receiver. This allows you to enjoy 5.1 surround sound even if your receiver doesn't support getting 5.1 audio via the HDMI port.
  5. Ethernet: If you're connecting the Apple TV to the Internet via a cable rather than Wi-Fi, plug the Ethernet cable in here. 
  6. Remote Control (not shown) Used to control onscreen menus, play video, and turn the Apple TV off and on.