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View Full Version : I really want to buy an Apple Tv but......




Alx9876
Jan 26, 2008, 06:11 PM
Greetings to everyone here,

I have been on and off since July 2007 about buying an Apple Tv. Like many of you I have already converted and properly tagged my dvd collection of Family Guy, King of the Hill, The Simpsons (All Seasons), American Dad and Futurama.

What I wanted to know is how good is the quality of video using HDMI to a 65 inch Mitsubishi DLP 1080P HDTV going to be if I go this route?

When I buy an Apple tv, I want to convert my dvd movies next. I know some of this stuff is not picture perfect but compared to Family Guy tv shows via Xbox Live on my Xbox360, are they similiar in Picture quality?

If they are similar picture quality then I will have no problem buying the Apple Tv asap.

I am looking forward to getting rid of all my dvd's eventually the same way I did my CD's years ago. I am embracing the digital age that is upon us already.

I just need advice from people that already own the Apple tv and can tell me what they think.

I don't need a sales pitch just hands on experience. Thank you for reading this.

-Alex.



maokh
Jan 26, 2008, 08:43 PM
I hope this doesnt offend you, but i have to say it...

if you can sit down at a tv, pick up a video game controller, download movies/tv to watch -- all while keeping a straight face -- then perhaps the apple tv is not for you.

Now, mind you, the xbox 360 and the ps3 are GREAT at playing games..but lets just keep the game consoles doing just that -- games. Let the media set-top boxes be set-top boxes.

Please do not compare the Apple TV to a game console. we know its not. The Apple TV is the future of TV -- even if it ends up not being the actual poster child product.

Alx9876
Jan 26, 2008, 09:48 PM
Dude, your post doesn't offend me. I love the idea of Apple Tv and everything about it. I almost bought one last year when no one was talking about it. But then I backed off because of all the jaggies I saw on the LCD screen at the Sacramento Apple Store.

So if those jaggies are not there with my own content then I would jump at the Apple tv now.

You guys can't possibly get offended because I mentioned a video game console that does movies and games?

I just need some one to tell me that it's awesome and everything can't be worked or adjusted in the settings menu.

But also will there be a bigger hard drive coming out in the future?

I would need atleast a 320 gig hard drive minimum for my tv shows and movies.

Hopefully someone can just answer my question instead of getting annoyed at my post?

err404
Jan 26, 2008, 09:49 PM
As a owner of both an XBOX360 and AppleTV, i've got to say that you are a bit off in your assessment. The 360 is arguably a better media player then the Apple TV. First the 360 works great with a remote and the current dashboard has a very nice media interface. The online store is also very well done and has been working to order movies and TV shows from my couch a year before Apple delivered that functionality. It's also better media streamer, supporting Xvid, Divx and WMV in addition to H264. It's capable of full 1080P movie playback with 5.1 audio from my media library. I also like that it can play my existing collection of DVDs. If you count the MCE interface, you'll get a well done PVR experience.

Now, that said, I bought an Apple TV after the announcements at this years MacWorld. After everything I just said praising the 360 you're probably wondering why.

First: the XBL online store interface doesn't mean much if the selection is missing my favorite shows/movies. It looks like Apple has successfully pulled in the content required for iTunes to replace my cable bill and the Apple TV is the cheapest way to get it playing on my TV. I also prefer iTunes for managing my content and I like the idea of owning TV shows instead of renting(i like to refer back when past events are referenced).

Second: You have a point with the 360 being a high end game console having baggage. For a media device the 360 is just too loud. Even at the lowest speed the fans are distracting and when the DVD drive is spinning, it just gets worse. This more then anything else, left me feeling unsatisfied with the 360 as a media center.

err404
Jan 26, 2008, 10:01 PM
@Alx9876
Why do you think you need a bigger HDD in the Apple TV? I'm not sure of your setup, so you might have a good reason (like you're machines being laptops...)

The Apple TV has very good content controls for using the space on the drive efficiently. For example you can have the HDD in the Apple TV store all of the content from the last month while the older content can stream real time over the network. The streaming works very well and does not affect quality, but you might notice that fast-forward is more jaggy then with locally stored content.

Also keep in mind that the Apple TV is like an iPod in that the content on the drive is copy of a source machine's iTunes library. Meaning that if you have 300G of content on your Apple TV, that is mirrored with 300G of content on our computer.

Scottyk9
Jan 26, 2008, 10:20 PM
There are complexities here that I won't go into, and perhaps some uncertainties that will be further illuminated when the software update comes out, but from my perspective:

- it plays 720p HD (I frankly do not see the value of 1080p over 720p, but other may have differing opinions)

- I have do not find a discernible difference between DVDs and DVDs ripped and stored on the apple tv. I would also venture that how you rip the DVDs is a more important consideration with respect to quality

my 2 cents anyway

Alx9876
Jan 26, 2008, 10:24 PM
Thanks for the post. I am thinking that I need a bigger hard drive so that I can store my content on the apple tv and not have to stream since streaming sucks.

I don't like to stream because sometimes tv shows will stop or hiccup half way through the show. Then you get a connection failure. So I would just like to bypass the b.s. and download it strait to the apple tv hard drive much like the Xbox360 hard drive.

It's basically on demand from the box itself. No computers. Also I would like to carry the Apple tv in my travel bag while I'm traveling and not half to worry again about streaming.

How is the picture quality though? The Apple store tv/movie content looked horrible on the 37 inch Sony LCD screen they were using as a demo for Apple Tv.

Please tell me it's not like that when you actually get it home?

Alx9876
Jan 26, 2008, 10:28 PM
There are complexities here that I won't go into, and perhaps some uncertainties that will be further illuminated when the software update comes out, but from my perspective:

- it plays 720p HD (I frankly do not see the value of 1080p over 720p, but other may have differing opinions)

- I have do not find a discernible difference between DVDs and DVDs ripped and stored on the apple tv. I would also venture that how you rip the DVDs is a more important consideration with respect to quality

my 2 cents anyway


Scotty thank you for your input. I am not worried about 720P vs 1080P but 1080P is what my tv is.

I know all about the quality bit rates you have to consider when you convert movies over.

But you have answered my question and that's what I really needed to know. Thank you for your 2 cents. It has pretty much helped me come to a positive decision on this.

err404
Jan 26, 2008, 10:53 PM
I see where you are coming from, but consider this. For the price of an HDD upgrade you can get a good 802.11n router. I have mine setup this way in an area that has very high interference and it works flawlessly. Configuring a show to sync to the HDD is trivially easy and fast. You can set days of content to sync via iTunes and be out the door with your Apple TV in minutes.

I'd recommend getting the 160G and an 802.11n router. See how it goes and hack the HDD to a bigger one later if you find it's not working for you.

As for 1080P vs 720P, I agree that 720P makes more sense today. It's 1/2 the file size and you'd be hard pressed to see the quality difference.

Alx9876
Jan 26, 2008, 11:11 PM
I see where you are coming from, but consider this. For the price of an HDD upgrade you can get a good 802.11n router. I have mine setup this way in an area that has very high interference and it works flawlessly. Configuring a show to sync to the HDD is trivially easy and fast. You can set days of content to sync via iTunes and be out the door with your Apple TV in minutes.

I'd recommend getting the 160G and an 802.11n router. See how it goes and hack the HDD to a bigger one later if you find it's not working for you.

As for 1080P vs 720P, I agree that 720P makes more sense today. It's 1/2 the file size and you'd be hard pressed to see the quality difference.


Good Post.

I will try it the way you mentioned. I might be a bit ignorant on a few things but that's only because I don't own an Apple Tv yet. I wouldn't know the in's and out's of this thing fully until I get my hands on one.

I agree all the way. But are you pleased with picture quality thus far? Being that you also own a 360 so you know exactly what I'm talking about with tv shows on xbox live?

The other poster Scotty mentioned that picture quality is not bad at all and I would be hard pressed to see the difference in regular Dvd quality over similar dvd quality conversions?

For me that is extremely good enough reason to buy an Apple Tv and start messing with it. So far I have all 10 seasons of The Simpsons converted over and looking good in my itunes library. I increased the bit rate so that picture quality wouldn't suffer.

I plan on buying this no matter what. I just want to gather a little more information first. You know Asked a few questions?

Oh I forgot to mention that I already have a wireless 802.11n router so I'm already covered with that.

FreeState
Jan 27, 2008, 01:49 AM
The other poster Scotty mentioned that picture quality is not bad at all and I would be hard pressed to see the difference in regular Dvd quality over similar dvd quality conversions?.


I would agree with this as well. I can not tell the difference - I use handbreak with the AppleTV setting and double pass encoding on the SD DVDs.

I have about 120 movies that are 720p and look great, better than broadcast 720p TV (I did not encode these so I dont know how it was done). Also I stream with Airport Extreme N all of those from my office Mac Mini to the TV and never have a problem with stuttering or what not. Using the remote to fast forward works only okay and using it to rewind is awful - but I have read that it has been vastly improved in AppleTV 2, so we will find out about that soon.

err404
Jan 27, 2008, 10:51 AM
What the others have said is true, the video quality CAN be very good on the apple tv. But there is a small catch... shows that you order from iTunes are slightly more compressed then you might like. I'd say they are roughly on par with SD broadcast tv, but not as good as a DVD. It's a hair worse than SD XBL. This is mostly because apple wants to sell the same file used for iPods for your HDTV. I'm hoping that as the Apple TV gains in popularity, they will push the quality up a bit or offer HD TV shows.
If you want to experience the quality for yourself, you can download some shows from iTunes for free. Freebies will be listed on the main tv section in iTunes under FREE ON iTunes. if you have a laptop, you might even be able to hook it up to you TV and see exactly what the quality would be on an apple TV.
like I said, coming from a 360, I am satisfied with the apple TV quality and the integration withiTunes makes it a better experience overall.

BTW - There are a lot of HD Podcasts that are great watching on a TV. These by them self, are almost worth the price of admission.

Alx9876
Jan 27, 2008, 03:44 PM
That's a great answer. I have been sold on the Apple Tv idea for quite some time. I have already paid for a few movies and a few South Park tv shows for my ipod months ago. I also convert my own dvd's so that they are for Apple tv only.

As long as I know that I could add my own videos from itunes instead of relying on the itunes service then I am game for this cool device. Yeah I always wondered about the HD podcast? That's awesome stuff.

I don't have a lap top but my brother does so I will have him come over and hook it up to the big screen tv.

I went to the apple store last night about 5 pm California time and played with the Apple tv. I also played with the front row feature on the new iMac. I have a short story to share with you about my experience last night at the apple store.

I brought my passport external hard drive with my own converted shows and asked the sales guy if he could plug it in and play a few tv shows I converted on the new iMac screen?

The Apple store worker had no problem as long as he was doing it himself. Anyhow the movies and tv shows that were already on the iMac's looked crappy because the iMac's screen is high def. But the iTunes content wasn't high def. It was standard.

When he played my converted show's such as Simpsons and Futurama, the video quality showed no pixalation or any thing bad. It looked great and real clear. The sales guy was excited and asked me what program I used to achieve these great results?

After that, he told me that if I put this on the Apple Tv it would look the same on my Mitsubishi tv as it did here on the iMac screen (Both are HD). Oh the iMac screen was the 24inch model and he blew the quick time picture up to full screen. Or as much full screen as it could go.

Everyone here has basically sold me on this thing. I like everyone's response and I understand that it could look bad but it can also look great. I know how to achieve those similar dvd quality results with my conversions. As long as I can hit close to that then I'm happy and sold on it.

If theres any else I should know please let me know. Thanks for your time on this.

-Alex.

danny_w
Jan 27, 2008, 04:23 PM
Pardon me, but I have a question in basically the opposite direction. I have an :apple:TV, but I use it only for audio at the moment b/c it does not support 4:3 format (I have an analog bigscreen w/ component in). I have absolutely no interest in going to hdtv anytime soon (I have my reasons). I have heard about the Xbox360 media center, and heard that it does indeed have support for 4:3 format as well as widescreen. How does the Xbox360 compare from an audio and 4:3 perspective? One thing that I don't like about the :apple:TV even if I did have hdtv is that it does not support 5.1 surround, which is much more important to me, but somebody here saud that the Xbox does support 5.1 - is this correct? How would I encode my dvd's and copy or stream them to the Xbox? Is there a good site that I can go to in order to learn more about it?

cowm007
Jan 27, 2008, 04:23 PM
My view is that if you are a heavy iTunes user for your media, meaning you rip DVDs to it using HandBrake, convert downloaded videos to mp4, and/or buy iTunes stuff, then the Apple TV will be a great addition. There really is no other substitute that has the simplicity and ease of use as it.

If you don't use iTunes, then you're gonna find yourself unhappy trying to get Apple TV to do what you want it to do.

Now once you make that decision, Apple TV video quality is really all about the videos you rip to it. The device handles 720p nicely so as long as your rips are high resolution and high bit-rate, you'll get great picture.

billabong
Jan 27, 2008, 04:25 PM
My view is that if you are a heavy iTunes user for your media, meaning you rip DVDs to it using HandBrake, convert downloaded videos to mp4, and/or buy iTunes stuff, then the Apple TV will be a great addition. There really is no other substitute that has the simplicity and ease of use as it.

If you don't use iTunes, then you're gonna find yourself unhappy trying to get Apple TV to do what you want it to do.

Now once you make that decision, Apple TV video quality is really all about the videos you rip to it. The device handles 720p nicely so as long as your rips are high resolution and high bit-rate, you'll get great picture.

Now with the rentals directly from the AppleTV you don't need to be a heavy iTunes user at all.

zap2
Jan 27, 2008, 04:29 PM
I hope this doesnt offend you, but i have to say it...

if you can sit down at a tv, pick up a video game controller, download movies/tv to watch -- all while keeping a straight face -- then perhaps the apple tv is not for you.

Now, mind you, the xbox 360 and the ps3 are GREAT at playing games..but lets just keep the game consoles doing just that -- games. Let the media set-top boxes be set-top boxes.

Please do not compare the Apple TV to a game console. we know its not. The Apple TV is the future of TV -- even if it ends up not being the actual poster child product.

I'm sorry, what are you talking about? The Xbox 360 does a very very good job as an AppleTV replacement if you didn't use iTunes(and until recently did a heck of a lot more)

Just because it plays games, doesn't mean its bad at the media part too...

danny_w
Jan 27, 2008, 04:41 PM
I'm sorry, what are you talking about? The Xbox 360 does a very very good job as an AppleTV replacement if you didn't use iTunes(and until recently did a heck of a lot more)

Just because it plays games, doesn't mean its bad at the media part too...
I thought that Connect360 interfaced your iTunes library to the 360. What about that? And what changed recently (I don't keep up with these things).

FreeState
Jan 27, 2008, 04:41 PM
One thing that I don't like about the :apple:TV even if I did have hdtv is that it does not support 5.1 surround, which is much more important to me...

The new software coming out this week will make AppleTV support 5.1 audio.

danny_w
Jan 27, 2008, 04:51 PM
The new software coming out this week will make AppleTV support 5.1 audio.
Really? But still no 4:3, so this leaves me (and a lot of others) completely out. That's a real shame, and it would be such an easy thing to support too (even the iPod and iPhone support 4:3),

Alx9876
Jan 27, 2008, 04:58 PM
My view is that if you are a heavy iTunes user for your media, meaning you rip DVDs to it using HandBrake, convert downloaded videos to mp4, and/or buy iTunes stuff, then the Apple TV will be a great addition. There really is no other substitute that has the simplicity and ease of use as it.

If you don't use iTunes, then you're gonna find yourself unhappy trying to get Apple TV to do what you want it to do.

Now once you make that decision, Apple TV video quality is really all about the videos you rip to it. The device handles 720p nicely so as long as your rips are high resolution and high bit-rate, you'll get great picture.

Everything that is bolded is exactly me! I am a heavy iTunes user and I have all kinds of cool music, talk radio, podcast, tv shows, movies, everything. I use almost all the features that iTunes provides. I love it. And that's what prompted me to start looking into the Apple Tv in the first place.

And with video rentals on demand then it is another great benefit to my entertainment. I would much rather rent movies off the Apple tv then my Xbox360. Mainly because I don't have enough room on the 360's super small 20 gig hard drive.

To the other poster that wanted to know if you could convert videos over to the Xbox360 the answer is NO. You have to buy them off Xbox live using the points system.

I do watch videos on my Xbox360 that is connected to my 65in Mitsubishi DLP HDTV. It's great and I love it. However for the price it will cost to get the bigger 120 gig hard drive why not just go all the way and get the Apple Tv?

I would much rather put my own videos on Apple Tv and use that instead of my Xbox360. But this is not 360 vs Apple Tv.

I don't want to get into that discussion because it's not relevant to what were talking about.

FreeState
Jan 27, 2008, 05:03 PM
Really? But still no 4:3, so this leaves me (and a lot of others) completely out. That's a real shame, and it would be such an easy thing to support too (even the iPod and iPhone support 4:3),


http://www.apple.com/appletv/features.html#movies

"Rent high-definition movies with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and standard-definition movies from the same place you watch them: your couch. Just click to rent and with a fast broadband connection start watching in seconds. Already have movies on a computer paired with Apple TV? Select My Movies and play them on the big screen."

danny_w
Jan 27, 2008, 05:19 PM
http://www.apple.com/appletv/features.html#movies

"Rent high-definition movies with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and standard-definition movies from the same place you watch them: your couch. Just click to rent and with a fast broadband connection start watching in seconds. Already have movies on a computer paired with Apple TV? Select My Movies and play them on the big screen."
Thanks, I didn't realize that. There are multiple other thread talking about how it is impossible to rip a dvd w/dd 5.1 and have iTunes/:apple:TV recognize it. I guess that is about to change.

pjarvi
Jan 27, 2008, 05:22 PM
I watch TV shows and movies on both my Xbox 360 and AppleTV, but prefer the :aaple:TV+iTunes for both. Aside from the fact that it's easier to move ripped content into iTunes then the 360, iTunes offers "Season Passes" for TV shows and an easier interface to see everything that you have. Also, turning on the 360 to watch a TV show is a bit of overkill considering the heat and noise the 360 makes compared to the :apple:TV.

Drive space may be a problem if you already have more than 160GB of content, but if you already have that content in iTunes then you can just stream anything that you can't fit on the drive. The only downside to streaming is that you have to leave your computer on, but if you already leave your computer on instead of shutting it down when not in use then this won't be an issue. I've already filled up over 100GB of mine, but I expect that a higher capacity version will be replaced sometime in the future, and when I need more space i'll just buy a larger one at that time. My current one I can always setup for my parents to use so they can view the movies and TV shows i've purchased or ripped.

The single biggest benefit that I bought an AppleTV for was not having to turn anything else on (I don't stream anything). It turns on instantly, I watch what I want, and turn it off when i'm done. For myself, the TV shows and movies look better on the AppleTV than they do on my computer, but that's because they are being displayed on a screen with a lower resolution than my computer monitor, so it's harder to see the compression artifacts. However, if you encode something at a low bitrate such as the iPod preset in handbrake/Turbo.264 then it will look like crap on the AppleTV.

Alx9876
Jan 28, 2008, 10:03 PM
I watch TV shows and movies on both my Xbox 360 and AppleTV, but prefer the :aaple:TV+iTunes for both. Aside from the fact that it's easier to move ripped content into iTunes then the 360, iTunes offers "Season Passes" for TV shows and an easier interface to see everything that you have. Also, turning on the 360 to watch a TV show is a bit of overkill considering the heat and noise the 360 makes compared to the :apple:TV.

Drive space may be a problem if you already have more than 160GB of content, but if you already have that content in iTunes then you can just stream anything that you can't fit on the drive. The only downside to streaming is that you have to leave your computer on, but if you already leave your computer on instead of shutting it down when not in use then this won't be an issue. I've already filled up over 100GB of mine, but I expect that a higher capacity version will be replaced sometime in the future, and when I need more space i'll just buy a larger one at that time. My current one I can always setup for my parents to use so they can view the movies and TV shows i've purchased or ripped.

The single biggest benefit that I bought an AppleTV for was not having to turn anything else on (I don't stream anything). It turns on instantly, I watch what I want, and turn it off when i'm done. For myself, the TV shows and movies look better on the AppleTV than they do on my computer, but that's because they are being displayed on a screen with a lower resolution than my computer monitor, so it's harder to see the compression artifacts. However, if you encode something at a low bitrate such as the iPod preset in handbrake/Turbo.264 then it will look like crap on the AppleTV.


Wow that's great information to have. I am glad that you posted this. I plan on picking up the Apple tv here really soon. With the update allowing DVD quality and better, I can't wait. I plan on using the HDMI connection for the best picture quality. I like the 360 but I don't plan on using that for my main tv experience. It's good for now but I want to load up my own content on the Apple Tv.

I just hope that Simpsons, King of the Hill, Futurama stuff all looks great on the big screen. Anyhow thanks for the great post.:)

All my Fox Tv shows that I own on DVD are converted to MPEG-4 at 1500 bit rate with 250 MB per episode. I gave up on H.264. Forget it. They look the same anyway. So with that I hope they look good running through Apple Tv on the Mitsu 65 inch HDTV. They were crystal clear on the new iMac's so I hope I get similar results.

danny_w
Jan 29, 2008, 08:43 AM
Sorry if I am just dumb (I don't own a 360) but a lot of this discussion seems to be centered around the idea that :apple:TV connccts with iTunes but 360 does not and you cannot download movies to the 360. Doesn't Connect360 do exactly that? It is only $20 and I understood that it worked well. Has there been some change that makes this not work? What is missing here?

EDIT: I currently own an :apple:TV but can't use it for video without stretching b/c it does not support a 4:3 format (I knew this when I bought it but I only wanted it for audio).

Alx9876
Jan 29, 2008, 03:11 PM
Yeah, I know this already and don't care about the 360 connecting to iTunes or a Mac computer. Anyone that know's anything knows you cannot load up your own videos to the Xbox360. I saw another poster asking about this?:)

I just wanted to know how good the picture looks and with this new update on the horizon any day now, I think I will have my answer about the picture quality. This update will allow a few things to get improved so I can't wait to hear everyone talking about it soon.:)

danny_w
Jan 29, 2008, 03:23 PM
Yeah, I know this already and don't care about the 360 connecting to iTunes or a Mac computer. Anyone that know's anything knows you cannot load up your own videos to the Xbox360. I saw another poster asking about this?:)
Well I did say that I didn't know anything:), I as just going by Nullriver's Connect360 web page. They claim that you can load your own videos onto the 360 via iTunes. Just shows you can't trust everything you read. Just because Macworld says you can do it too I guess is wrong too:confused:.

Alx9876
Jan 29, 2008, 04:41 PM
I'm sorry. I stand corrected on this. :) I never heard of anyone doing this?

Anyhow I just wanted to know about the Apple Tv. I'm buying one this weekend. Can't wait. Va Disability $$ is paying for this.