Apple TV and Wi-Fi network protocols

Q: Regarding the Apple TV, will it only work with the new Airport Extreme (802.11n) base station, or will it work fine with my now outdated UFO-shaped Airport Extreme (802.11g) base station? I don’t want to buy an Apple TV only to find that I need to also buy a new Airport. Thanks!

– Andrew

A: First of all, let’s clarify your question for other readers: an Apple-branded Airport device will never be explicitly required – Apple TV requires only an 802.11-based wireless network (or an ethernet connection) to function – the manufacturer of the router powering the network not important.

Second, the Apple TV will indeed work with any Wi-Fi connection of the b, g, or n variety for much of its functionality. Video streaming – especially for 720p HD content – is the one mode of operation that Apple’s technical specifications page specifically states requires “either 802.11g or 802.11n”.

To definitively answer whether 802.11g is truly sufficient for streaming 720p video to an Apple TV in a real-world environment, however, we’ll have to wait for hands-on testing with a shipping unit. Our gut instinct is that Apple TV users looking to stream 720p content will likely want to have an 802.11n network for reliability, even though under ideal conditions, 802.11g should technically be able to handle the stream. In either case, an 802.11n setup will certainly be helpful for very high speed syncing of the Apple TV’s hard drive with your iTunes library.

We’ll be conducting full tests of the Apple TV as soon as our unit arrives – stay tuned!

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