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Discussion Starter #1
G'day! I've been having brutal download speed issues with our 2 month old ATV2 when I rent from iTunes. Anyone else seeing this? It's like playing russian roulette as to whether or not we're going to have problems with a movie rental and twice now Apple has refunded the movie cost due to download speed issues.

Once in a while a rental will play just fine and more often than not now it stops several times in the movie to re-fill the buffer. Netflix is fine, Sony HD movie rentals on our PS3 are fine and our old ATV was virtually flawless in over two years of operation. We probably rent over $600 a year in flicks from iTunes.

I have a new Airport Extreme router and the ATV2 is connected via 5ghz with full signal bars and no interference. 15Mbps account from Shaw and everything else is working perfectly on the network. Streaming from the iMac to the ATV2 also works flawlessly. I'm 100% convinced this is some problem at Apple's end which the last firmware update unfortunately didn't fix. It's got so bad I've finally put our original ATV back in play and unplugged the ATV2. Original ATV works just fine and now my wife has quit giving me stink eye. ;)

There are literally hundreds of messages on the Apple ATV forum regarding the same problem for a lot of folks with new ATV2's. The slow downloads even made the news on AppleInsider a couple of weeks back. Just wondering if anyone else has seen this and if you had a fix that worked for ya. I really want to like this thing but so far horribly disappointed. Thanks!

James
 

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Once in a while a rental will play just fine and more often than not now it stops several times in the movie to re-fill the buffer. Netflix is fine,
I'm convinced its simply because Apple's servers are overwhelmed. Aren't they in the process of building out several new server farms?
 

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I read something about one problem was using Google for the DNS server as reported by Appleinsider.
I think that this explanation doesn't hold water.

Content providers like Apple can easily use the IP address to determine approximate geographic location to deliver content from servers that are close to the user. I suspect (as Hugh has said) that this is a diversion tactic because their server are presently overloaded.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm convinced its simply because Apple's servers are overwhelmed. Aren't they in the process of building out several new server farms?
You may be right Phil but that still doesn't explain why my original ATV seems to work just fine. Unless maybe they use different server farms depending on which type of ATV is connecting? It's possible if the two streaming services work differently.

Also, just to be on the safe side, I downloaded 6 HD movies this afternoon and they now are all sitting pretty on the hard drive of my ATV waiting to playback over the next couple of weeks without trouble. They all seemed to download pretty quick too. I sure wish they had included some usable storage on the ATV2 as that would have been really sweet. Cheers!

James
 

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Discussion Starter #8
You may be right Phil but that still doesn't explain why my original ATV seems to work just fine. Unless maybe they use different server farms depending on which type of ATV is connecting? It's possible if the two streaming services work differently.

Also, just to be on the safe side, I downloaded 6 HD movies this afternoon and they now are all sitting pretty on the hard drive of my ATV waiting to playback over the next couple of weeks without trouble. They all seemed to download pretty quick too. I sure wish they had included some usable storage on the ATV2 as that would have been really sweet. Cheers!

James
Phil? Where in the heck did that come from? Sorry Hugh! Time for a vacation me thinks....

Anyhoo, Apple store swapped out my ATV2 for a new one and as suspected, absolutely no difference in performance with iTunes rentals. The threads on the Apple ATV forum are getting large and loud regarding these slow downloads so sounds like Apple have some major problems on their hands. Not sure why it's working for some and not others but hopefully they sort this out soon.

As previously mentioned, our original ATV is working great so it stays in service for now. I have noticed however a HUGE difference in wireless signal levels between the original ATV and the ATV2. The readings are way worse for the new version and everything was tested in the same locations and same settings. Not sure if it's enough to cause my issues and again, Netflix is working fine and at maximum resolution.

I finally called Apple on this and had a lovely chat with a totally obnoxious tech guy. Certainly not my usual call in experience with Apple. He says he gets over 20 of these calls a day and there is nothing he can do about it... it's an overloaded server issue with iTunes and I need to contact iTunes. Sigh.....

In any event, he's basically confirmed that the trouble is on Apple's side and they know it. They just won't clue anybody in on what they're going to do about it. As usual. It will probably just get silently fixed and leave everyone guessing as to when that's actually happened. Cheers!

P.S. We've also now started renting HD movies on our PS3 from Sony rentals. Working perfectly and price is comparable for rentals. I don't like their interface as much as the ATV but at least the service works as advertised and the PS3 only has G wireless, not N. Video quality in HD is excellent, same as Apple. Just bringing this up as an alternative for those of you that have a PS3 and are having ATV problems. One thing I did find though is that you have to switch the audio track on the playing movie to get it to switch to the 5.1 soundtrack. Once that's done though it does have full DD5.1 support via PCM for those movies that offer it.

James
 

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It is a mystery why the ATV is fine but not ATV2. Your Apple tech confirmed my belief though that Apple is overwhelmed. Considering they are selling a zillion iPads and iPods and iPhones and ATVs a week, it's not hard to understand why their servers can't keep up.

I'm sure they must be adding hundreds and possibly thousands of servers a week in an attempt to keep up with demand.

I wonder if their financial statements disclose the capital cost of servers.
 

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Small point: Everything I've read indicates that Apple uses Content Delivery Networks like Akamai and Limelight to stream their stuff. This makes sense as none of the Apple blogs have reported on a massive increase of Apple's hardware infrastructure (nonwithstanding the future data centre in North Carolina) required to serve all these new products.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Small point: Everything I've read indicates that Apple uses Content Delivery Networks like Akamai and Limelight to stream their stuff. This makes sense as none of the Apple blogs have reported on a massive increase of Apple's hardware infrastructure (nonwithstanding the future data centre in North Carolina) required to serve all these new products.
I believe you're correct Neil. I remember two years ago about this time when we all started suddenly having problems with download speeds on our original ATV's. The Apple ATV forum got loud and nasty about it at that time as well. That I believe was right around the time that Apple starting using Akamai for distribution.

Within weeks Apple released a new firmware update that had a network speed test function built in that you could run and submit the test results directly to Apple. Literally within a month or so of that being released, the download issues magically went away so I'm guessing Apple got what they needed from the test data to figure out where the bottlenecks were. The speed test is still included in the firmware for the ATV2.

Cheers!

James
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It is a mystery why the ATV is fine but not ATV2. Your Apple tech confirmed my belief though that Apple is overwhelmed. Considering they are selling a zillion iPads and iPods and iPhones and ATVs a week, it's not hard to understand why their servers can't keep up.

I'm sure they must be adding hundreds and possibly thousands of servers a week in an attempt to keep up with demand.

I wonder if their financial statements disclose the capital cost of servers.
I'm sure that's probably not too far off base Hugh. Apple's movie traffic is widely believed to be only about 10% of what Netflix is doing and yet Netflix seems to have no issue keeping up. (and when Netflix does have problems they at least publicly acknowledge it and move along) I just read somewhere that in North America, fully 20% of all data traffic on the web is from Netflix during peak hours. Yikes! I also just read a blog on Zdnet today that is suggesting maybe Apple should buy Netflix... It would be interesting to see the studio reactions if that ever came about!

In any event, the original ATV is working fine and as a safety, we download movies that we want to watch during off peak hours and just leave them on the hard drive until we're ready to watch them. I'm sure Apple will sort this out sooner or later... Cheers!

James
 

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Looks like I may have spoke too soon. My wife was trying to watch a movie last night on our original ATV and it froze at 23% so she couldn't finish watching the movie. I had to physically unplug and reboot the unit today to get the movie download to continue.

I also noticed Sunday morning that movie trailers were loading very fast and then Sunday night trailers were loading slow and even paused during playback in some cases. Oh well, at least I can download movies to the internal drive for now during the week to get around this trouble or cozy up to Sony rentals on our PS3 some more. Sure hope Apple gets this sorted out soon. Cheers!

James
 

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I can confirm that my original ATV also has problems with download speeds. Sometimes they will be ready to watch in minutes without a problem and in others it will take hours to download enough to watch. Often even when it said it is ready to watch it will stop multiple times during playback to download more. It is erratic and those saying there are no problems on the original ATV were probably just lucky to only use it when there are no problems. We now have to plan ahead to watch a movie and download it. Sort of like the old days when you had to plan ahead and pick up a rental DVD. Sort of defeats the whole idea.
 

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I also noticed Sunday morning that movie trailers were loading very fast and then Sunday night trailers were loading slow and even paused during playback in some cases
Certainly consistent with my over-worked server belief.

Sunday morning: Servers are likely under utilized because everyone is sleeping or not watching tv.
Sunday night: Biggest TV watching night of the week so the servers are likely over loaded.

We now have to plan ahead to watch a movie and download it.
Whenever I have watched a movie on the old ATV, I did that because my internet connection is not blazing fast. Typically I did it about an hour before viewing but sometimes even earlier just to be safe.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
My first-gen AppleTV is still downloading without a problem. programming is always ready to view in less than a minute, and never studders during streaming.
The fact that her download stopped at 23% and stayed there even overnight leads me to believe it could be an anomaly so I'll keep an eye on it. Rebooting the unit finally allowed it to finish the download so she watched it the next night. We'll have to try again on the weekend when the servers are busier to see if streaming is still ok with our original ATV or if I need to keep downloading to the hard drive during the off peak hours.

James
 

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I know this is an older thread, but I had the same issues. It is with Apple's servers from all I can read. I found a way to beat the issue. I use my iPod Touch to rent the movie. It has to completely download before it can be viewed. No streaming there. Takes 15 to 20 minutes with a 10mbit connection speed from Rogers. As soon as it it downloaded, I use AirPlay to connect the iPod to the Apple TV. Perfect viewing all the time.

Actually, sometimes iTunes puts select movies for $1.99 for the iPod, whereas if you go to Itunes from Apple TV, they are $4.99.
 
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