AppleTV SSD Upgrade — there is an issue

Along with many other folks who own, use, and enjoy Apple’s AppleTV product, I have been waiting on the release of the much rumored update to the Pentium M-based platform which has gone unchanged since its delivery to the market back in 2007. Back then Jill and I had just purchased our first HDTV — a 34″ Sony CRT model touting HDMI and 1080i — and decided that the AppleTV was a product worth rolling the dice on. The purchase was on the heels of us getting rid of our long-term relationship with Dish Network several months earlier after not being able to stomach new users getting free upgrades to HD while customers like us, who had never missed a payment for service in 12 years, were treated like distant cousins. Which is to say: poorly.

The AppleTV product itself is part iPod and part iTunes Store.  It requires a host computer to be its “mother” while it can also bypass mom and go straight to bid-daddy’s digital stash in the cloud.  Once set up, you can just order movies and music directly through the iTunes Store interface as purchases or rentals without going back through the mother-computer.  Coupled with our high-speed internet the match has worked very well.  Well enough, in fact that as we added an LCD HDTV to our bedroom back in 2009 we bit the bullet and got a second AppleTV.  This LCD was a 32″ Sony XBR model with ‘only’ 720p.  With our viewing distance, it made sense and just happened to be the highest resolution that the processor in the AppleTV would pump out.  Happy days.

That is, other than the ever-present click of the hard-drive.  I am a heavy sleeper, but I found the ‘click-click’ of the drive very annoying — even with the fan on in our room masking the noise.  So annoying that when we redid the basement I didn’t think twice about just moving the AppleTV down there instead of just getting another one.  With the next version touted to be capable of 1080p and using flash-based storage instead of the spinning ‘clicky’ media, I decided I could wait.

And I have… for a long time it seems.  Until I purchased two SSDs from Crucial several months ago.  One for the iBook and the other for the PowerMac G5 we’re using before it heads to Africa next summer.  The iBook upgrade was a snap but I couldn’t get the G5 to recognize the SSD for some reason.  (Still haven’t figured that out)  The SSD just sat in the drawer collecting dust until last week when I began thinking that, if Apple isn’t going to provide a product that fits my needs right now, I will just have to improvise.

I searched around and found a used AppleTV on eBay for around $100.  I then searched around to see if anyone had installed an SSD in one and one guy had.  But I didn’t notice something key, which I wanted to point out here.  The AppleTV uses an IDE interface to a laptop hard-drive.  Almost all SSDs manufactured today use SATA instead.  Without checking I assumed that a very thin IDE-to-SATA bridge existed and put all this in motion… and then didn’t find one that would fit inside the AppleTV’s housing.

So, okay — the SSD I have isn’t going to work.  What’s out there for IDE SSDs?  Not much.  Basically it comes down to just one affordable product (in my brief search): the Transcend TS32GSSD25-M 32GB SSD for $99.  But that’s the issue: if I spend another hundred on this upgrade and then Apple comes out with the new product in that same price point I am going to be upset… so I think I’ll deal with the clicks for now.

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