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JimmyDThing
Feb 15, 2008, 07:02 AM
I have been saving money for a long time for something that I unfortunately will not be able to use it for. As such, I'm looking into re-thinking my entertainment center.

I'm going to buy a big screen LCD HDTV... not sure how big yet... I have a receiver but I'm going to buy some new speakers, maybe a PS3 so I have a blu-ray player... but whatever, this is inconsequential right now.


I'll have digital cable and I COULD spend an extra like 5 or 6 bucks a month for DVR (time warner)... but I have so many digital copies of my movies on an external hard drive that's hooked up to my AEBS. Currently, if I want to watch one, I do so through my MacBook... but this is a little bit of a pain in the neck and since I'm spending money... and I'm looking at a monthly DVR payment (albeit a small one)... I figured I would at least look into something like Apple TV.

Will Apple TV let me access digital media on my network drive? And also... because AirDisk has been a god damn nightmare, could I move media onto Apple TV's local hard drive in the likely case that AEBS/AirDisk can't handle a connection for longer than half an hour?


Does this idea make sense? Or does anyone have any other advice for me? I really don't care that much about being able to rent movies because I can do that with my digital cable... so a cheaper similar device that can fulfill my needs described above would actually be idea.

I'm curious to see what anyone says about this... I'm a n00b when it comes to media devices.

Thanks in advance for any and all help or advice.



rand()
Feb 15, 2008, 07:54 AM
The DVR and PS3, to me, are irrelevant to the conversation. They fill completely different niche's than the ATV. DVR's are great for recording/pausing broadcast TV, but they don't help you get at your current library. PS3 is fantastic for games in HD, and Blu-Ray, which looks to be the winner, but isn't a cohesive device for library playback either. It sounds to me like what you would like is all three, and that's up to your budget.

The ATV will replace that laptop in your current setup. There are a few pitfalls to watch out for; it has limited file format support being the key. Since you already have digital copies, my question for you is: what file format are they in? Did you encode them yourself, using an AppleTV/iPod friendly output setting, or are they from another source? If they are an AVI, you're either going to need to transcode, or re-encode from the source.

If you are currently running those flicks right out of iTunes or Front Row, there's a good chance that ATV will like them as well. If you can run them on an iPhone/iPod touch/iPod Video, then they will definitely work on an Apple TV.

The ATV can not read directly off your network drive; there's simply no "file browser" in that sense. What the ATV does is look for shared iTunes libraries. Whatever is in an iTunes library, ATV can at least try to play back; any media purchased from Apple will work for sure, and anything encoded using Handbrake (or various other programs) with an ATV/iPod Video preset should play back as well. But the key is that those media files need to find their way into an iTunes library to be shared or synced.

As for direct media storage, yes it can do that. Like an iPod, the ATV can be told to "sync" with a specific library (probably your laptop's). Then, with your laptop off, the media will still be accessible from the ATV's internal drive - assuming the sync has completed.

Hopefully that helps your decision. Let us know if you need any additional info!

-rand

JimmyDThing
Feb 15, 2008, 08:22 AM
Thanks for all the info! It is a great help... but I think maybe I was unclear. I DO want DVR... I want to be able to record television... if I don't buy a DVR, I'll subscribe to Time Warners DVR...

But I figure, why spend 5 bucks a month and not have control over the video I'm recording? Ideally, if I record something, I may want to keep it on my network drive and I want to be able to do that... I'm not sure you can do that with Time Warner's DVR.

Right now, I could use my modded Xbox for accessing media from my library on my network drive. The problem with that is it's not wireless (though I'm pretty sure there's something I could buy for that), I'm pretty sure I'd have to use a separate remote (not that big a deal, but still a pain in the neck), and it would be there JUST to watch things on my hard drive... I don't really play video games anymore (and if I did, it wouldn't be on Xbox), and it takes up a lot of space for something so useless. Yeah... I'd LOVE to have all three in 1... something that plays Blu-Ray, can access my network drive (wirelessly would be preferred), and can record digital video in a way such that I have access to my recordings.

I just don't think such a device exists, lol. My cheapest option right now is to do the Time Warner DVR and use my Xbox for my library... I just wish there was something that could do it all!

Thanks again for your help!

rand()
Feb 15, 2008, 09:54 AM
:-)

That's what I was saying too; the ATV isn't a record device in any way. If you want a DVR for live events, then that's what you need to get, the ATV doesn't have that kind of functionality yet. That all-in-one device just isn't out there for you yet.

I personally am neither here nor there on the Blu-ray, simply because I don't see physical media being a real factor for more than another few years. With bandwidth costs dropping and hard disk storage rising, eventually it will make no sense to clog up the physical world with knick-knacks like CDs/DVDs. If I could buy (not rent) HD content from iTunes, that would be what I'd be clogging my drives with.

You might have a look at the EyeTV - that's another device you can attach to your Mac. It would handle the recording of live TV for you - it converts the signal to digital - and has software to prep the video for AppleTV. Perhaps worth a try, though I don't think it has quite the convenience of "pause live tv" that a real set-top DVR box has.

JimmyDThing
Feb 15, 2008, 09:57 AM
I personally am neither here nor there on the Blu-ray, simply because I don't see physical media being a real factor for more than another few years. With bandwidth costs dropping and hard disk storage rising, eventually it will make no sense to clog up the physical world with knick-knacks like CDs/DVDs. If I could buy (not rent) HD content from iTunes, that would be what I'd be clogging my drives with.


Good call. Honestly, I think you just talked me out of a PS3/Blu-Ray player... because I'm 100% with you on that.


Thanks for the advice! Yeah, Apple TV doesn't seem like it's what I need... I'm gonna check out EyeTV though! Thanks again!

rand()
Feb 15, 2008, 10:01 AM
I was suggesting the EyeTV in conjunction with the AppleTV - EyeTV would just record the shows to your computer. AppleTV can then take them back onto your TV set.

-rand

roland.g
Feb 15, 2008, 10:03 AM
The reason an Apple TV and AEBS Airdisk won't work is this. Unless you sync the data that is on your AEBS to your Apple TV based on a want to watch basis, or plug your drive directly into your computer rather than Airdisk, it will not stream a movie well.

The reason is this: The movie is located in iTunes. The location of the file is the Airdisk. When you ask the Apple TV to play it streamed from the computer (MacBook?) then it must wirelessly ask the MacBook for the data, which in turn wirelessly goes out to the Airdisk to grab the movie, which then transmits it back to the MacBook which then sends it to the Apple TV. It doesn't actually go directly from the AEBS Airdisk to the Apple TV. If you plug the USB? drive into the MacBook, then yes, it will stream just fine. Or, prior to watching the movie you can simply go into iTunes (still using your AEBS and Airdisk setup) and choose to sync a particular movie. Once it is synced you can access it on the Apple TV.

Of note, anytime you want to stream from your MacBook anything not synced the MacBook must not be asleep and iTunes must be running. This is personally how I use it, but I have an iMac so I just keep iTunes running. Also I still have an older g version of the base station and it streams just fine. But I beleive you still run into packets/transmit issues when you use an N version in the config you were thinking of.

JimmyDThing
Feb 15, 2008, 10:04 AM
I was suggesting the EyeTV in conjunction with the AppleTV - EyeTV would just record the shows to your computer. AppleTV can then take them back onto your TV set.

-rand

Yeah... but so can my XBox.... with XBMC.

wwooden
Feb 15, 2008, 10:13 AM
You can use the PS3 to stream media to your entertainment center. It won't be as slick as the AppleTV but it does work. The PS3 also can play DivX files if you have any of those.

JimmyDThing
Feb 15, 2008, 10:17 AM
You can use the PS3 to stream media to your entertainment center. It won't be as slick as the AppleTV but it does work. The PS3 also can play DivX files if you have any of those.

But I can't access a network drive with PS3 can I? I was pretty sure it couldn't... correct me if I'm wrong! I hope I am!

JimmyDThing
Feb 15, 2008, 10:18 AM
Oh crap... I just realized something.


My network drive is formatted HFS+... this may make things a lot more difficult for me.

wwooden
Feb 15, 2008, 10:20 AM
I'm pretty sure you can use the PS3 as a uPnP device so I think it can access a network drive. I don't have a PS3, but maybe someone who does might be able to help.

I use Connect360 to stream media from my computer to my 360 and I think they same company has a released a ConnectPS3.

Edit: I just looked it up and it is called MediaLink, not ConnectPS3.