PDA

View Full Version : Alternate Apple TV setup - much cheaper




felixkunze
Jan 28, 2008, 03:31 AM
I posted (http://octumo.com/blog/2008/01/apple-tv-like-setup-for-50-bucks/) about an alternative setup for viewing your iTunes content on your TV and I think its highly relevant for anyone who doesn't need/want an Apple TV but would still like to view their content.

Story link:
http://octumo.com/blog/2008/01/apple-tv-like-setup-for-50-bucks/



joefinan
Jan 28, 2008, 03:39 AM
If I'm reading that correctly, that plays it all through your iPod which has a much, much lower data rate and resolution. I think that'd look fairly terrible on a 32" TV.

Apple TV max: 1280x720, 5Mbps
iPod Touch max: 640x480, 1.5Mbps

Also, if you have an iPod then you must have a computer and most computers will have the necessary outputs to stream the AV to a TV at full res. That would work out at even less - a DVI cable is around 10 and audio cables are are fraction of that.

johny5
Jan 28, 2008, 04:21 AM
A nice informative post, but for someone that has doesn't have an ipod touch or iphone then it will be just as well to shell out the cash for apple tv especially when it will have better resolution capabilities.

Markleshark
Jan 28, 2008, 04:26 AM
Yeah, whilst a good idea it doesn't really constitute as an AppleTV alternative due to the quality on a decent sized HDTV.

Alx9876
Jan 28, 2008, 05:20 AM
Yeah I'm sure that's going to look great on my 65inch Mitsubishi HDTV? :eek::eek:


Money is no problem for me. I'm buying the Apple Tv no matter what.

harcosparky
Jan 28, 2008, 06:17 AM
OK so I am being sarcastic ...

If I can afford an iPhone, I should be able to afford an Apple TV.

Or maybe I should have neither? :D:D:D

By the way I love my Apple TV, and it's only been here since Saturday!

joefinan
Jan 28, 2008, 06:36 AM
Harcosparky - where are you based? America?

I'm in the UK and just can't see much use for Apple TV. I would be more inclined to buy it if it also acted as an off-air recorder. That way it could replace my PVR and be used for day-to-day recording plus be used to rent films as and when I want.

harcosparky
Jan 28, 2008, 07:00 AM
Harcosparky - where are you based? America?

I'm in the UK and just can't see much use for Apple TV. I would be more inclined to buy it if it also acted as an off-air recorder. That way it could replace my PVR and be used for day-to-day recording plus be used to rent films as and when I want.

Yes, I am in the states.

Off-air recorder would be nice, than I could get rid of my Panasonic DVD recorder. As it is now, I have to use the PVR to record and burn a movie to DVD, than rip the DVD on the computer for use on the iPod

I just bought an Elgato Tuner for my imac that I plan on using to record TV shows with. This should eliminate the use of the PVR to get shows to the computer and speed up that process.

What little TV we do watch, we record on the Panasonic. The Panasonic has a hard drive and DVD burner, we don't burn many shows though. We record, watch and delete.

I plan on using the imac as my PVR, or more to the point as a second PVR for instance where we want to record two shows at the same time.

We watch a lot of DVD movies here, and I fear damage from constant handling. The Apple TV will see use as a repository for DVD movies. I can buy a new DVD movie, burn it once and return it to its case. This way I can insure it's not damaged from constant handling.

I feel the Apple TV will get a lot of use here, and thus the cost can be justified.

MikieMikie
Jan 28, 2008, 07:34 AM
Harcosparky - where are you based? America?

I'm in the UK and just can't see much use for Apple TV. I would be more inclined to buy it if it also acted as an off-air recorder. That way it could replace my PVR and be used for day-to-day recording plus be used to rent films as and when I want.

I'm confused. Is there any difference between owning one in the UK and owning one here?

1. I rip & encode my DVDs. I then stream them to watch as my whim dictates. (Just as long as you understand that for me, my wife is my whim.)
2. I rip and synch music from my CDs. (almost done! Yay!)
3. I sync my photos from iPhoto, as well as a collection of fine art paintings my masters, downloaded from the internet (perfect as a screensaver).

So, what can't you guys across the pond manage? No DVDs there? Digital cameras? CDs? :confused:

GoCubsGo
Jan 28, 2008, 07:46 AM
If I'm reading that correctly, that plays it all through your iPod which has a much, much lower data rate and resolution. I think that'd look fairly terrible on a 32" TV.

Apple TV max: 1280x720, 5Mbps
iPod Touch max: 640x480, 1.5Mbps

Also, if you have an iPod then you must have a computer and most computers will have the necessary outputs to stream the AV to a TV at full res. That would work out at even less - a DVI cable is around 10 and audio cables are are fraction of that.
This is exactly the case. I've used my iPod hooked into a 42" HD LCD and it looked crap. It was a waste of a HD TV if you ask me. But also know this was before apple started releasing content in higher res.

joefinan
Jan 28, 2008, 07:59 AM
I'm confused. Is there any difference between owning one in the UK and owning one here?

1. I rip & encode my DVDs. I then stream them to watch as my whim dictates. (Just as long as you understand that for me, my wife is my whim.)
2. I rip and synch music from my CDs. (almost done! Yay!)
3. I sync my photos from iPhoto, as well as a collection of fine art paintings my masters, downloaded from the internet (perfect as a screensaver).

So, what can't you guys across the pond manage? No DVDs there? Digital cameras? CDs? :confused:

The three points you note, I use my PowerBook for. For films I plug my PowerBook into the TV, for CDs I use iTunes and Airtunes and, as for photos, I'm not sure that I personally would want to look at photos on my TV but, again, I could do so via my PB plugged into the TV.

Am I right in thinking that a lot of TV in the US is already subscription-based? In the UK is mostly free (unless one chooses to subscribe to a movie or sports channel) hence the fact our terrestrial broadcast system is called Freeview!

The idea of buying something to then rent TV shows that are already free seems a little odd to me. Not to mention the fact that they're quite pricey 1.89 per episode.

If it was a flat, monthly fee for full access I could understand it.

Also, once I've paid 269 for ATV and a further 380 filling it with TV shows, do I then have to delete stuff I've bought to continue using it?

MikieMikie
Jan 28, 2008, 08:11 AM
The three points you note, I use my PowerBook for.

Then you wouldn't need an :apple:TV. My iMac is in another part of the house, and controlling it remotely isn't a viable option.

Am I right in thinking that a lot of TV in the US is already subscription-based? In the UK is mostly free (unless one chooses to subscribe to a movie or sports channel) hence the fact our terrestrial broadcast system is called Freeview!

We have both, but most people who can afford the extra expense opt for subscription based cable or small-dish satellite. Some pay extra for premium channels (HBO, Showtime, etc.).

The idea of buying something to then rent TV shows that are already free seems a little odd to me. Not to mention the fact that they're quite pricey 1.89 per episode.

I couldn't agree more.

If it was a flat, monthly fee for full access I could understand it.

I, too, might consider it.

Also, once I've paid 269 for ATV and a further 380 filling it with TV shows, do I then have to delete stuff I've bought to continue using it?

I'm not sure I understand your question. If you have a 40GB model, there is a limit to what you can store on it. The same goes for the 160GB model, of course. Most people with large libraries tend to store their content on external drives connected to their computers and stream the content. Some sync a few, stream many.

In either case, TV shows you have purchased and synced to your computer and so live in your iTunes library.

I have my music, art, podcasts and photos on the :apple:TV, with films and TV shows on my external.

I have yet to rent or purchase video content from ITMS, BTW.

joefinan
Jan 28, 2008, 08:22 AM
Ah, ok. I understand now. So, in my opinion, I don't think Apple TV is particularly useful in the UK.

I work in TV and have often had Americans come to the studios (with American bands, actors etc.) and scoff at the fact we are 'taxed' to watch TV but I never realised that in the US, most people pay for TV and have to watch adverts, too.

In the UK, the BBC channels (and radio stations, website etc.) are paid for via an annual licence fee, whereas the remaining channels are free but paid for via commercials.

I can now see that paying for Apple TV and not having adverts is kind of similar to what we get from the BBC, and would appeal more to the American market.

MikieMikie
Jan 28, 2008, 08:30 AM
Ah, ok. I understand now. So, in my opinion, I don't think Apple TV is particularly useful in the UK.

I work in TV and have often had Americans come to the studios (with American bands, actors etc.) and scoff at the fact we are 'taxed' to watch TV but I never realised that in the US, most people pay for TV and have to watch adverts, too.

In the UK, the BBC channels (and radio stations, website etc.) are paid for via an annual licence fee, whereas the remaining channels are free but paid for via commercials.

I can now see that paying for Apple TV and not having adverts is kind of similar to what we get from the BBC, and would appeal more to the American market.

First, we have a BBC equilent: PBS. This is "listener/viewer sponsered" content, subsidised by our taxes, contributed to as if a charitable donation by those with too much money to understand that they are double-paying.

PBS, like the BBC, is void of adverts. Its purpose is to entertain, to educate and to present commercial-quality presentations that would normally not find a commercial sponser.

Apple TV only now presents rental opportunities in addition to its other useful features.

felixkunze
Jan 28, 2008, 09:00 AM
If I'm reading that correctly, that plays it all through your iPod which has a much, much lower data rate and resolution. I think that'd look fairly terrible on a 32" TV.

Apple TV max: 1280x720, 5Mbps
iPod Touch max: 640x480, 1.5Mbps

Also, if you have an iPod then you must have a computer and most computers will have the necessary outputs to stream the AV to a TV at full res. That would work out at even less - a DVI cable is around 10 and audio cables are are fraction of that.

I don't claim to be an expert on this subject, but the resolution I got out of my iPhone surely is the resolution at which you download the content, IE if a movie is rented, you get a certain resolution which is what the iPhone also displays. This setup won't work for HD content as the iPhone doesn't support it.

From what I know (I may be wrong), the older generation iPods did their video output through the minijack. I don't know if it makes a difference but the setup I mentioned in the post at the top uses the iPhone's Dock Connector.

Does anyone know if these devices output at a lower resolution than that of the content itself?

If the output is whatever the resolution of the video is, the setup works. If it is somehow reduced by the device (which I can't imagine), then Apple TV is a viable option.

As for using a computer to connect directly to the TV, unless you have a portable or Mac Mini (I have neither - mine is a 24 inch iMac in my office on the top floor), that wouldn't work.

flyingscott
Jan 28, 2008, 09:08 AM
My hope is that Apple TV really starts acting as the vehicle to get more IPTV (video podcasts or whatever the name) into the living room. Sure, you could hook your ipod/iphone (if you have one) up, but the quality on a 50" tv looks like crap... And a lot of people have big TV's these days... especially people watching tech shows online. I think if IPTV is going to have any chance, produces have to deliver good content (#1) and good quality (Hopefully in HD). A lot of people are already doing this, and the Apple TV will make it that much more accessible. I'm in the process of launching an online show in HD and I am banking on the Apple TV gaining momentum.

I know I kind of spun off topic a bit, but I wanted to chime in... The solution you presented is 100% valid, and cheaper if you already have said device. I just don't see it as a replacement for the Apple TV.

joefinan
Jan 28, 2008, 09:24 AM
I don't claim to be an expert on this subject, but the resolution I got out of my iPhone surely is the resolution at which you download the content, IE if a movie is rented, you get a certain resolution which is what the iPhone also displays. This setup won't work for HD content as the iPhone doesn't support it.


The video is 'optimised' (the resolution and bit-rate are reduced/down-scaled) for storage and playback on the iPhone/iPod.

Does anyone know if these devices output at a lower resolution than that of the content itself?

I do and yes, they do. Go to Apple.com and check out the technical specifications - it must say it there somewhere. You'll see that the iPhone/iPod Touch has a maximum data rate which is a lot lower than Apple TV (if it wasn't, the 16GB memory would be able to hold only a handful of films).

felixkunze
Jan 28, 2008, 10:11 AM
The video is 'optimised' (the resolution and bit-rate are reduced/down-scaled) for storage and playback on the iPhone/iPod.


I see, but isn't this already optimized in the content you download from iTunes? IE the stuff you buy? I'll have to double check but a 1.6 GB file takes up 1.6 GBP on my iPhone when I copy it on there, and I can't imagine iTunes itself compressing content while its copying it to the device.

Same goes for video Podcasts, Diggnation for example, comes through at a certain quality and then goes onto the device at a certain quality and outputs to the TV at a certain quality.

Put it this way - watching Ratatouille (rented from iTunes) on my 24 inch iMac vs my 32 inch TV didn't make a difference, the quality was surprisingly good without a notable difference on either the TV or iMac.

Can anyone confirm if it actually down-sizes the files? Apple TV of course can support higher output as it does "HD" (or whatever Apple's idea of that is).

joefinan
Jan 28, 2008, 10:29 AM
Content supplied via iTunes comes in a range of qualities and resolutions. From video podcasts at 320x240 (or even less sometimes) up to HD at 720p and bit rates of up to 5Mbps.

Anything greater than the 640x480/1.5Mbps supported by the iPhone/iPod Touch will be down-converted when it is transferred from ATV to the iPhone/iPod. This is all down to the video codec on the iPhone/Touch and the physical speeds of the processors they employ.

As for Ratatouille - I believe that's compuer animation? Computer-generated content has a very narrow dynamic range and the chroma/lumi is very consistent from frame-to-frame making it very easy to compress, so 1.5Mbps would look fine. If you tried it on a real-action film, you may see what I mean.

pagansoul
Jan 28, 2008, 11:24 AM
I have many of my DVDs ripped (about 250gb worth) to about 1GB each for a full 2 hour movie. I put them on my old 80gb ipod and watch them on my Sonic Impact (8 inch) or put it in my DLO base attached to my 36 inch HDTV. I suppose if I had an :apple:TV I could bypass the dock but so far it works for me.

bobm
Jan 28, 2008, 12:23 PM
I use an aTV at home and take the same files and watch them from the iPod to a 42" TV at the family place. Using the Svideo the quality is just fine. Note that I'm doing h264 encoding, standard mp3 encoding is pretty blocky for me.

So using an iPod (5.5G) is a nice traveling solution.

theBB
Jan 28, 2008, 12:33 PM
First, we have a BBC equilent: PBS. This is "listener/viewer sponsered" content, subsidised by our taxes, contributed to as if a charitable donation by those with too much money to understand that they are double-paying.
Considering government pays only about 15% of PBS expenses, your understanding of the matter is rather limited.

joefinan
Jan 28, 2008, 12:37 PM
Considering government pays only about 15% of PBS expenses, your understanding of the matter is rather limited.

He did say it was viewer sponsored and then subsidised by taxes - I would say his understanding seems quite accurate.

pacohaas
Jan 28, 2008, 12:43 PM
AppleTV is pointless for me until it contains a tuner.

andboom
Jan 28, 2008, 01:18 PM
Great thread. I have been using a setup similar to this for a couple of months now, only with an iPod Touch in place of the iPhone (connected with a composite cable to my 32" TV)

I've been waiting for someone to post about this as I am amazed what a good alternative it is to :apple:TV... though I felt compelled to write some more on this as there are two other cool features available from this setup that I don't think anyone mentioned, the first of which isn't even possible with an :apple:TV!

By far the most useful thing about using an iPod Touch/iPhone and TV cable for me is the ability to stream recorded content wirelessly from the Elgato EyeTV software (v2.latest or v3) directly to the TV screen via the iPod Touch/iPhone... that's right - it actually streams live from your Mac, through the wifi of your iPod Touch / iPhone to its TV output...

EyeTV encodes the freshly recorded programmes for iPod and you can be watching them anywhere in your house on your big screen TV within minutes without taking up your precious iPod/iPhone memory! You just point Safari on the iPod / iPhone to the local IP address of your Mac and a special EyeTV interface appears within Safari on the touchscreen. You select content from your library and it outputs it via the TV connection. Amazing!

While I'm aware you can stream iTunes content to :apple:TV, you would have to manually export EyeTV content and import it into iTunes before you could stream it to your :apple:TV... however, using an iPhone or iPod Touch, the whole process is automatic and does not even require iTunes.

The other great function is the ability to show YouTube content via the TV output of an iPhone or iPod Touch... ok you can do this slightly better on an :apple:TV because it has a remotely-viewable and controllable interface on the TV screen but you can still watch the same content on TV with an iPod or iPhone if you don't mind getting up to change clips or search for content. Not bad considering Apple don't seem to mention this as a feature anywhere in their marketing. Nice bonus!

In response to people pointing out that the picture quality of an iPhone or iPod Touch's TV Output is lower than that of :apple:TV this is not really much of an issue unless you are going to be watching mostly 720P footage (which isn't supported by iPhone / iPod Touch).

Apart from the ability to play 720P footage and the higher quality connection of the HDMI output, the :apple:TV's output is equal in terms of perceivable picture quality to that of the iPhone and iPod Touch - as opposed to the device, it is the content will determine the resolution, whether it be 640x480 H264, 320x240 H264, encoded for iPhone, YouTube... it will display the same on either device. Several people have pointed out that some content would look terrible on a big screen. This is true in a lot of cases - particularly YouTube... some badly encoded stuff is not suited to a large screen. However, it won't look any better on an :apple:TV as the poor quality is due to the content, not the device's output. The same goes for 320x240 H264 (the earliest iPod encode specs)... but in my experience most people use the 640x240 H264 updated specs these days anyway.

On the other hand, while it won't win any awards for picture quality, a lot of content is of an acceptable quality and I use the YouTube via TV Output feature quite a lot. 640x480 H264 encoded for iPod is perfectly watchable if you encode it using good settings such as those in VisualHub.

It doesn't look quite as good as a DVD (but then it's way more compressed!), but the tradeoff in order to be able to watch it on all devices (iPhone, iPod, :apple:TV and Mac) without separate encodes makes it all worthwhile to me. I don't want to use up all of my hard drive and iPod memory to huge video files which are way higher quality than I actually need - quality needs to be good, but when dealing with hundreds of episodes I want to be able to fit them all into the storage I have available! I also don't want to have to reencode footage for different uses... so I just click encode for 'All devices' in VisualHub with a 'High' quality setting, set a queue of several seasons worth of shows to encode and come back in a few days when its all done and loaded into iTunes. Then I can sync it to my iPod Touch and either watch it on the move (excellent quality - wouldn't ever need it to be any higher - really shows off the quality of the touchscreen) or on my 32" TV (great picture, no artifacts - slight perceivable loss of resolution but overall only slightly lower quality than DVD)

Anyway... just wanted to spread the word about some of the lesser known benefits of owning an iPhone / iPod Touch and an :apple: Component or Composite cable, particularly for people with Elgato EyeTV. :)

Anonymous Freak
Jan 28, 2008, 02:04 PM
First, we have a BBC equilent: PBS. This is "listener/viewer sponsered" content, subsidised by our taxes, contributed to as if a charitable donation by those with too much money to understand that they are double-paying.

As for the "double-paying" part... "PBS" gets less than half its operating budget from the government. (Well, PBS gets ZERO money directly from the goverment. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting gets money from the government, then parcels it out to the various public media companies (PBS, NPR, PRI.)

And here in Oregon, Oregon Public Broadcasting gets *ZERO* state government money. It is almost entirely public donation and corporate sponsor funded. (It does still get a small amount (less than 15% of their total income) from the CPB.)

If everyone stopped donating, Public TV and Radio would effectively shut down within months.

felixkunze
Jan 29, 2008, 09:42 AM
andboom - good post. I think you hit the nail on the head.

Will have to try out those other functions.