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Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 08:45 am PT (11:45 am ET)

Fix in the works for Apple TV screen flickering issue

A software fix is said to be in the works for users who have experienced screen flickering issues after updating to the latest firmware for the Apple TV set top box.

An Apple support representative has confirmed that Apple is aware of the issues caused by the latest update to the Apple TV, software version 4.2, AppleInsider has learned. The Cupertino, Calif., company is said to be working on a fix that will address the screen flickering problems for a small number of users.

No timeframe was given for when the fix might be released, but it is a sign that Apple is aware of the problems experienced by some with older high-definition television sets.

Last week, AppleInsider first reported on the screen flickering problems caused by the 4.2 update for Apple TV. The problems occur on a variety of TV sets from different manufacturers, affecting major brands including Sony, Panasonic, Hitachi, Samsung and Toshiba.

Users have experienced flickers and screen flashes with direct HDMI video connections, as well as with an HDMI to DVI video adapter. The problems did not exist before Apple released the Apple TV 4.2 update last Wednesday.

The latest software update added streaming Major League Baseball and National Basketball League games, support for AirPlay wireless streaming in third-party applications, and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound output for Netflix Instant Watch streaming movies. But for some users converting the 720p output of the Apple TV, the software update also caused problems.

The new $99 Apple TV, released last year, does not output video in the 1080i high definition format. But some older HDTVs are only capable of displaying 1080i video.

Some TV sets and receivers will accept a 720p resolution video from a device like the Apple TV, and automatically convert it to the compatible 1080i resolution. While this conversion worked fine for many TV sets before the 4.2 Apple TV update, those with 1080i displays began experiencing the flickering issue after last weeks' update.

In addition, some users have been unable to change the HDMI output setting on the Apple TV with the latest software update. Affected users said their HDMI output has been set to "Auto," and their picture has been changed to a non-high-definition 480p picture, which cannot be changed.

Bugs related to resolution and download issues were addressed with a previous software update in December. That fix was issued about two weeks after the problems began to gain attention.