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View Full Version : best home theater internet device (xbox, appletv, etc)




Jensen G
Aug 10, 2009, 01:25 PM
I have decided to shut off my cable tv and get all of my media from the internet. I'm having a really tough time figuring out which solution will fit my needs best though.

My needs include Netflix on-demand, occasional movie rentals, and generally easy access to the media library I have on my computer.

Some I have considered include:

Apple tv: perfect for iTunes content but extremely limited for things like Netflix or non-iTunes file formats. Software like Boxee is buggy and does not fully support Apple TV because of its slow processor.

Roku box: great for netflix and cheap, but not a comprehensive solution

xbox 360: seems like the best choice so far. Can buy software to connect it with my Mac. Plays netflix and has some kind of movie rental system included (right?). However, an expensive solution at around $300 for a system +HD and remote.

Any other good mac-friendly solutions out there? Any opinions on the ones I've posted above? Thanks!



geoffreak
Aug 10, 2009, 01:27 PM
Mac Mini + Plex + Elgato EyeTV for OTA broadcasts.

Jensen G
Aug 10, 2009, 01:31 PM
I should say that my budget is $300-$400 max initial cost and it has to be minimal setup so that my non-techy girlfriend can use it when I'm not around.

My setup thus far is to plug my Macbook into the tv and stream stuff directly, but this will not work long-term because it's my only computer and often not available.

travisjacques
Aug 10, 2009, 01:36 PM
xbox 360 and connect 360 work great for me you can even run a trial of it to test it.

Tilpots
Aug 10, 2009, 02:01 PM
It's quite possible the ATV gets updated in September, no guarantees though. If you can wait a month, do. It may be worth your while, or you might have wasted a month. Wish Apple had intel-like roadmaps...

aidricksdad
Aug 10, 2009, 04:58 PM
i have both xbox and appletv and my wife will not touch the xbox, the appletv is far more user freindly for watching movies/music/pictures.....my wife is anti-gadget and even she loves the appletv...rip you dvd's and stream everything get a netflix acount and you can rule the world like me

geoffreak
Aug 10, 2009, 05:11 PM
Reports are the :apple:TV will be replaced by the Apple "tablet", so no guarantees if it will still be around post-September event.

Jensen G
Aug 10, 2009, 05:17 PM
i have both xbox and appletv and my wife will not touch the xbox, the appletv is far more user freindly for watching movies/music/pictures.....my wife is anti-gadget and even she loves the appletv...rip you dvd's and stream everything get a netflix acount and you can rule the world like me

Until the Apple TV gets netflix on-demand support, it will be hard to convince me to buy. I like to be impulsive in my movie-watching, which means easy access to downloadable/streaming content is a must. I do appreciate that it is likely easier to use than an xbox though.

aidricksdad
Aug 10, 2009, 05:31 PM
how often do you watch movies?

Jensen G
Aug 10, 2009, 05:32 PM
how often do you watch movies?

a couple times per week

dlegend
Aug 10, 2009, 06:43 PM
can you extend the desktop on your macbook so it's only full screen on your tv but you can still use your computer?

It may not be the solution you're looking for, but it might get you by for another month.

GreatDrok
Aug 10, 2009, 11:46 PM
I have Xbox 360 with Connect 360 and an ATV. The user interface on the 360 when streaming from the Mac sucks. Sorting is screwy when your library gets big. Also, the damn fans in the Xbox make it really unpleasant.

ATV is much smaller, much quieter, much easier and I can rent movies from iTunes.

As with another poster, my wife won't touch the 360 but happily uses the ATV. Even my 2 year old can use it.

VirtualRain
Aug 11, 2009, 01:42 AM
I spent major coin on a 52" XBR that has a native resolution of 1080p and a Sony AVR with 7.1 sound and 1080p pass-thru to match... it's just mind boggling that the AppleTV hasn't been updated to support 1080p. Are most AppleTV customers just not that discerning? (present company excluded, of course! :p)

I mean really, new resolutions in TV come along what, every 40-50 years?! :mad: Is it too much to ask Apple to support the current standard? :confused:

It's just hard to justify an AppleTV given it would be the weakest link in the signal chain.

I guess my Asus powered Vista HTPC will continue it's entertainment duties for now. :rolleyes:

Michael CM1
Aug 11, 2009, 01:52 AM
Samsung BD-P3600. Blu-ray player, Netflix streaming, Pandora streaming. Hook an antenna up to your TV. No Hulu, but I don't think anybody has that on a box without using a Mac Mini. I have that BD player, and it's awesome. Very fast load times, comes with a wireless adapter.

ZizousamA
Aug 11, 2009, 02:01 AM
http://www.amazon.com/KiSS-DP-600-Networkable-DVD-Player/dp/B00062KRFA

what do you guys think of this DVD player and the sort. It is supposed to take your video from your pc/mac and wirelessly transmit it to your tv. The quality is said to be great and there isn't lagging. If any one tried it or anything like it, please share with us.

NJuul
Aug 11, 2009, 02:53 AM
http://www.amazon.com/KiSS-DP-600-Networkable-DVD-Player/dp/B00062KRFA

what do you guys think of this DVD player and the sort. It is supposed to take your video from your pc/mac and wirelessly transmit it to your tv. The quality is said to be great and there isn't lagging. If any one tried it or anything like it, please share with us.

It's 5 years old... Probably wont support anything you throw at it today.

NOD
Aug 11, 2009, 03:29 AM
none of the above

whooleytoo
Aug 11, 2009, 05:36 AM
I have Xbox 360 with Connect 360 and an ATV. The user interface on the 360 when streaming from the Mac sucks. Sorting is screwy when your library gets big. Also, the damn fans in the Xbox make it really unpleasant.

Agree on all the above. I use the 360 from time to time, but the drone from the 360 is a constant distraction.

If playing videos from the Mac is a major consideration, then there's problems with the limited number of formats you can play on 360 & PS3.

For that reason, I'll probably go with a Mac mini and hook it up to the TV via VGA & optical audio. Use Plex for the interface (though I'll probably write my own to suit my own needs..). It's a bit above your budget though.

ZizousamA
Aug 11, 2009, 06:41 AM
It's 5 years old... Probably wont support anything you throw at it today.

Oh, not necessarily the same model as they have newer ones. It is the idea itself that I would like to inquire about.

Jensen G
Aug 11, 2009, 09:05 AM
see http://www.macworld.com/article/142213/2009/08/roku_mlb.html?lsrc=rss_main

As an update, Roku now supports MLB.TV (a service I use a lot) as well as Amazon Video On Demand (a service I know nothing about...anyone have experience with it vs iTunes rentals/purchases? I assume with Amazon you can both rent and purchase..I would be much more interested in the rental).

So this actually makes me consider a Roku box more and use my Macbook to stream video from my computer during the (hopefully rare) times I would need to; Especially since people say the xbox interface isn't great and has sound issues (which I knew about but wasn't sure how it impacted real-world viewing experience).

dmm219
Aug 11, 2009, 09:23 AM
Something to consider: if you are cutting the cable completely...

Besides Netflix (which IS great), you'll most likely want hulu on your TV. Boxee Hulu on ATV is really quite buggy and rather poor quality. With Playon ($40 one-time cost), you can get hulu, espn, cnn, cbs, foodtv, HGTV...etc on the xbox 360 and the quality is the best I've seen using any box on a TV.

If I were you, I'd honestly go with the 360 (though I love my ATV's). Being able to get netflix AND hulu...along with an OTA antenna, gives me just about everything I need without cable. Netflix on demand and still very limited, and you have to wait for DVD releases for TV shows. On Hulu, you can keep up to date on most shows. Its nice having stuff like the tonight show easily available (though you should be able to get it OTA too..i hate staying up that late).

Again, if this is a TV replacement solution...I'd go 360. The best of all worlds (imo) is to have 360, ATV and OTA on the tv. It works great. My wife has no problems using the 360, but if yours does not like the controller, you can get a remote for it. I still rent and watch movies over the ATV and buy certain shows that are HD and I want to look nice. I also still use the ATV for all my HD podcasts which are great.

rayward
Aug 11, 2009, 09:28 AM
The mention of MLB.TV got me thinking...

What if Apple updated the ATV and included some kind of App Store? Then, all of a sudden, it becomes an internet sourcing, media streaming, game playing awesome piece of kit! Oh, and a massive revenue stream for Apple with pretty much zero effort once the SDK is completed.

For example, I love the MLB At-Bat app on my iPhone. If that was available on ATV, I could have it up in PIP while watching something else from another source on my TV. I could also watch the complete game highlight package for any game I missed, in full screen on a big TV.

It's never going to rival PS3 or XBox for gaming, but an ATV with 1080p* and an App Store would be incredible, IMHO.

* I know that bandwidth is going to limit the ability to offer movie downloads in 1080p, but that shouldn't mean that it can't handle that format streamed or synced from a local source.

Jensen G
Aug 11, 2009, 09:36 AM
I agree that the space is certainly ripe for an Apple TV update. the ATV is so ridiculously limited compared to other solutions out there that there HAS to be an update in the works for it. It's just hard to wait when there are other exciting solutions out there.

The only problem I see with Apple developing what we actually want out of the ATV is that our preferred solution requires openness (we want all the good services such as netflix, Hulu, etc) but Apple often does not open its platform up enough to allow all solutions in. Case in point, flash on the iPhone. If Apple does not think consumers need it, then Apple will not only not help to make it happen . . it will actively block that solution. So I am not sure if Apple will come out with something that is actually valuable in comparison to more open devices (and it's ironic that Microsoft's xbox is actually more open in this case).

Tilpots
Aug 11, 2009, 12:58 PM
With Playon ($40 one-time cost), you can get hulu, espn, cnn, cbs, foodtv, HGTV...etc on the xbox 360 and the quality is the best I've seen using any box on a TV.


I checked Playon's website and I couldn't readily find some answers to a few questions... Hoping you or others could lend some knowledge.

My biggest hurdle from going cableless is live sports. Do you get ESPN's live coverage? Is it free? Same for the NFL, CBS and other sporting event content providers?

Any experience with it on the PS2?

Any talk of a port to AppleTV?

Really, any reveiw you could share would be excellent. Thanks!

kadeschs
Aug 11, 2009, 01:05 PM
My preferred setup:

ATV + NitoTV + Firefox 3.5.1 + Flash Player + Silverlight + RealPlayer + Quicktime + Flip4Mac

This setup allows me to surf the web, watch just about any file format out there, stream all the content I could ever dream of, and everything runs stable.

As an added touch, I have Hulu desktop installed for all my Hulu streaming w/o bouncing in and out of Boxee. However, it can be a little buggy since it's still in beta.

xxBURT0Nxx
Aug 11, 2009, 02:19 PM
http://promos.asus.com/US/eblast/EeeBox/index.html

I think that a net top would do you well. Will stream everything that you want to stream, and you can use Media Center to make the interface easier for your girlfriend/non techy people.

cheaper here (http://www.buy.com/retail/product.asp?sku=209840847&listingid=33605812), and then you could buy 2gb of ram and upgrade it and still be within your 3-400 budget.

Or you could try the Acer Aspire Revo which also seems to be a popular nettop, but I don't have experience with either to tell you which would be better.

dmm219
Aug 11, 2009, 03:14 PM
I checked Playon's website and I couldn't readily find some answers to a few questions... Hoping you or others could lend some knowledge.

My biggest hurdle from going cableless is live sports. Do you get ESPN's live coverage? Is it free? Same for the NFL, CBS and other sporting event content providers?

Any experience with it on the PS2?

Any talk of a port to AppleTV?

Really, any reveiw you could share would be excellent. Thanks!

No, ESPN is not live sports, mostly shows (sportscenter....etc). Basically, what is available for free at these services websites, is what is available through playon. There isn't much you can do right now for live sports except MLB.tv on the ATV (via Boxee) or Roku. Hopefully, we'll see MLB.tv in a lot more places soon (like Netflix). I would also hope that someone builds a plugin for Playon (or an app for boxee) for ESPN360 (live sports). The problem here is it would only work over supported ESPN360 networks..so not everybody could use it.

Honestly, for live sports, I use OTA. If you are a heavy sports junky and live for ESPN, there is really no solution other than cable out there for you right now.

I have only used Playon on the 360 and the Wii. Quality on the 360 is the best. However, the quality on the Wii was better than boxee quality on the ATV in my opinion.

No word on an ATV or Mac port. I figure it would work better than Boxee on the ATV, as it does all the processing on the PC and just streams to the set top box, I imagine this would remove the tons of limitations the ATV poses for boxee...

Michael CM1
Aug 11, 2009, 03:16 PM
I agree that the space is certainly ripe for an Apple TV update. the ATV is so ridiculously limited compared to other solutions out there that there HAS to be an update in the works for it. It's just hard to wait when there are other exciting solutions out there.

The only problem I see with Apple developing what we actually want out of the ATV is that our preferred solution requires openness (we want all the good services such as netflix, Hulu, etc) but Apple often does not open its platform up enough to allow all solutions in. Case in point, flash on the iPhone. If Apple does not think consumers need it, then Apple will not only not help to make it happen . . it will actively block that solution. So I am not sure if Apple will come out with something that is actually valuable in comparison to more open devices (and it's ironic that Microsoft's xbox is actually more open in this case).

Put a Blu-ray Disc drive in it, add Netflix support and allow add-ons. Charge $349ish for it and you've got a hit. Maybe charge $249 for a DVD model. Until Apple adds an optical drive, it'll be relegated to the "hobby" world because it's just another box. I went with my Samsung BD player because it plays BDs and does Netflix streaming.

Tilpots
Aug 11, 2009, 04:18 PM
If you are a heavy sports junky and live for ESPN, there is really no solution other than cable out there for you right now.



Damn, that's what I thought, though. Thanks for the info. I wish ESPN360 was available to everyone. For me to get it, I'd have to cut my connection speed in half.:eek: Not willing to do it...

The way MLB.TV is spreading, I'm hoping other leagues catch on and offer ways to see games over the internet. Hopefully an AppleTV update (dreaming I know) will entice the NFL and others to offer viewers other ways to see games, especially out of market ones...