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Latest firmware update bricking some Apple TVs

updated 12:42 pm EST, Tue November 20, 2012

Black screens, dead network connections happening in some cases

Some people updating their Apple TVs to the latest firmware have found it rendering their set-tops useless, notes AppleInsider. Posters on Apple's support forums complain that following the update, an Apple TV may be left with a blinking light and a black screen. Alternately, the device may still work on a basic level but be unable to connect to a LAN, rendering it useless anyway.

The issue actually extends back to the v5.1 update in September, but is still ongoing. The only fix appears to involve connecting an Apple TV to a Mac or PC via micro USB, and then manually restoring from an IPSW file using iTunes.




by MacNN Staff

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  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08

    I had problems w/ 5.1 as well but for me it was the loss of a functioning Netflix and Hulu Plus features. Downgrading to 5.0.2 restored my Apple TV's fully. Here is a Apple Forum thread that gives the instructions on how to accomplish this:

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4372428?start=15&tstart=0

  1. PJL500

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-18-11

    The Oct 2012 update bricked my Apple TV-2, although the update went the same as previous updates and the unit worked for a few minutes. Then, next time I restarted it got stuck on "Whats New?" screen (the Continue button would not respond.) After about 7 minutes wait it went to the Home Screen but without response from the remote (I changed in a new battery too.) Then it went to the screensaver and stayed stuck on that. It refused to soft-reboot. I could not restore it either as iTunes (via Micro-USB cable) on my Macbook would not recognize the ATV2. (I tried all kinds of permutations and two Micro-USB cables.)

    So I tried putting the ATV2 in DFU (Device Firmware Update) mode using iTunes in Windows 7 (Pro) on Parallels (7). This worked.

    Here is How to Put the Apple TV into DFU Mode: (I had to try variations on this to get iTunes to see the ATV2 in Devices.)

    Note: You will need a Micro-USB cable to connect your AppleTV with iTunes-for-Windows running.

    Step 1: Connect the ATV2 via Micro-USB to computer.

    Step 2: Hold menu+down for 6 seconds to reboot. (As that did not work for me I had to disconnect/reconnect power instead.)

    Step 3: Then immediately hold Menu+Play (on the ATV2 remote) to go into DFU mode. (Rapid flashing followed by less rapid flashing.)

    It (eventually after restarting iTunes, Windows etc) showed up in iTunes/Devices just like an iPhone etc.

    Click Restore.

    I then had to babysit the update as there are a number of messages to be OK-ed, and, at one time, iTunes for Mac began starting up.)

    Back to normal (for now.)

    This process was tenuous and required patience - I almost gave up trying to get iTunes to see the device.

    [There's probably a hardware issue on some devices (different vendors?). Apple should exchange these defective units for refurbished ones. After all it's their software update that broke the units.]

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