Saturday, November 28, 2015

Apple TV 4 Setup Fails? Check your HDMI Switcher

I was very excited a few days back when my new Apple TV 4 arrived. I've been a big fan of Apple TV and have had the v3 Apple TV for a couple years now. In fact, I've had Apple TV before I even made the move to a widescreen TV -- it worked with my old Sony Trinitron TV.

I wasn't concerned about the setup for the new Apple TV at all -- child's play. Swap out the old Apple TV, plug in the new power cord, plug in the HDMI cable, and...nothing. Literally nothing: a blank screen, and the "no signal" message, the same screen/message I see when I switch from HDMI 1 to HDMI 2 and I haven't yet turned on Apple TV or the Blu-Ray (the two share the HDMI 2 port).

Hmm. Very odd. I tried hitting the Apple TV remote buttons to turn it on (there's no power button on Apple TV itself, but typically pressing the remote button "wakes it up"). I tried the old standby of unplugging/replugging Apple TV. Nothing.

According to Apple TV4 setup instructions I shouldn't have to do anything. Simply connecting it should bring up the Apple TV setup screen. Alas, a big fail for Apple TV setup. I had depressing thoughts of a visit to the Apple store to remedy this.

But then I thought of something. I do not have a direct connection between my TV and my Apple TV. Instead, my HDMI signal routes through a small box, an HDMI Switcher. This way the one HDMI port on my Samsung TV can be shared by my Blu-Ray and Apple TV without yanking out cables all the time.

I connected the TV's HDMI cable directly to the Apple TV's HDMI port, bypassing the HDMI Switcher. Lo and behold -- I got the Apple TV setup screen. My Apple TV works!

I had found the culprit. My trusty HDMI Switcher, which worked fine with the old Apple TV 3, is incompatible with Apple TV 4. Either the version of HDMI produced by the new Apple TV4, or something in the way it initiates the signal, has changed from v3 and is incompatible with my HDMI Switcher.

Temporarily I have been cast back in the dark ages of cable yanking to switch from Apple TV to Blu-Ray at home. The search is on for an HDMI Switch that is compatible with Apple TV4. I will post when I find such an animal.(Update: an Apple TV 4 compatible HDMI Switch has been found!).

The morale of the story: check your HDMI Switch if your new Apple TV 4 setup fails.
An HDMI Switcher - some are incompatible with Apple TV 4