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View Full Version : OK AppleTV haters, time to put up...




mrgreen4242
Apr 16, 2010, 08:35 AM
My AppleTV is on the fritz, and while I might be able to keep it running for a few more months in the hopes of a hardware revision in the Fall, I may have to buy a new one.

Lots of people go on about what a failure the AppleTV is and how much it sucks, so, what's the superior alternative? I need something that meets the following criteria:

-.11g or better wireless
-Streams (wirelessly) h.264 files from my iMac, keeping in tact my surround sound audio tracks and soft subs
-Simple enough for my wife to figure out without explanation
-HMDI, component, and optical audio out
-Under $200

If it added netflix instant watch, that would be very convenient. So, there must be another option out there since there is such a large group of people who hate the ATV so much, right?

Note: I have a PS3 already and so I can assure you it is not a suitable replacement for the ATV - its wifi sucks and it can't play a movie via streaming. It also won't passthrough AC3 audio properly. It's so bad at media center duties, in fact, i am considering selling it.



SilentPanda
Apr 16, 2010, 08:40 AM
So, there must be another option out there since there is such a large group of people who hate the ATV so much, right?


There doesn't have to be another option out there. A Mac Mini with Plex does all of your requests and more, however it isn't in the $200 price range. That's what I went to when I got tired of my AppleTV.

Tilpots
Apr 16, 2010, 08:49 AM
Mac Mini with Plex.

Costs more and no HDMI but it is the most superior Apple HTPC set up available. Totally worth the price.

SilentPanda
Apr 16, 2010, 08:53 AM
no HDMI

I have an adapter (http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=104&cp_id=10428&cs_id=1042802&p_id=6331&seq=1&format=2) which let's me run both audio and video via HDMI. So while not native, you can do it.

NightStorm
Apr 16, 2010, 09:09 AM
There doesn't have to be another option out there. A Mac Mini with Plex does all of your requests and more, however it isn't in the $200 price range. That's what I went to when I got tired of my AppleTV.

Can Plex play iTunes-purchased content from within its interface?

ReggaeFire
Apr 16, 2010, 09:11 AM
The wireless will be your big stumbling block. If you were willing to look at either connecting to an Airport Express or one of the many Powerline type Ethernet solutions your choices would expand quite a bit (I can think of dozens of media players that do all you want, but only have ethernet).

If wireless is a must though, both D-link and Netgear make media streamers that should do what you're looking for. I haven't ever investigated them since I happen to have my router next to my TV, so I just used ethernet based players.


Also, your PS3 can stream movies, you just need to install a UPnP media server program on your iMac. There are variety of them, such as EyeConnect, Playback, or even XBMC, but if you have issues with your PS3 wifi that probably won't be a great solution. Worth a shot though, most have free trials and are notably cheaper than buying a whole new box.

SilentPanda
Apr 16, 2010, 09:13 AM
Can Plex play iTunes-purchased content from within its interface?

It can play iTunes purchased music but not video. I don't have a large amount of iTunes store video so while unfortunate, this wasn't an issue for me although it may be for others. Good question/point!

Dimwhit
Apr 16, 2010, 09:18 AM
I've heard good things about the WD TV Live HD Media Player. I might actually get it myself. Cheaper and more flexible, from what I've read.

emptyCup
Apr 16, 2010, 09:26 AM
Lots of people go on about what a failure the AppleTV is and how much it sucks, so, what's the superior alternative?

There are people who hate everything Apple makes. If you have been happy with AppleTV, and don't want to spend more on an alternate solution, buy another one. It's okay.

Bye Bye Baby
Apr 16, 2010, 09:48 AM
Go with the ATV. It is a great little machine. Does all that you need.

I do wish that it would play all my iTunes video files, not just ones for the ATV.

djdirect
Apr 16, 2010, 10:45 AM
I'm on the fence about getting an ATV too. I'm an Apple fanboy, but that popbox that's coming out in the spring might just be the way to go. Not sure about the audio end of it, but it will pretty much do any video codec you throw at it. And i agree with the last comment that ATV should play anything that iTunes has in it's library. I believe that there will be two popbox's. One without wireless and one with. The one with wireless N, i believe, will be about $149. Oh and it will have Netflix 2.0, HDMI and that optical thingamajig your looking for!!

BEEFc58
Apr 16, 2010, 10:54 AM
For your reqirements, I don't know of anything better. Becasue you have a desktop (iMac or Mac Mini), getting a Mac Mini is overkill. The iMac already allows you to do everything you need. If you only had a laptop, I would say to go with a Mini/iMac.

I have a set up with a Mini hooked up in my living room and a ATV in my bedroom. Mini streams everything to the bedroom. Works great! Go for it again!

dynaflash
Apr 16, 2010, 11:14 AM
Well, gotta agree that given your criteria I think you pretty much describe the atv in general. If I might ask what do you think is borked on your exisiting appleTV ?

mcdermd
Apr 16, 2010, 06:34 PM
I have a set up with a Mini hooked up in my living room and a ATV in my bedroom. Mini streams everything to the bedroom. Works great! Go for it again!

I use the same sort of setup. I have one central iMac with a 1TB drive. It has all the TV shows, music and movies in the iTunes library. The two AppleTVs in the house stream content from the iMac over 802.11n. The only local content on the AppleTVs themselves is photos for the screen saver (which is a great source of entertainment for guests).

codymac
Apr 16, 2010, 06:55 PM
It can play iTunes purchased music but not video. I don't have a large amount of iTunes store video so while unfortunate, this wasn't an issue for me although it may be for others. Good question/point!

You can also launch Front Row from within Plex to play iTunes video content. It will shut down Plex, launch Front Row, and return to Plex when you exit Front Row. Somewhat clunky, but it works.

glennsan
Apr 16, 2010, 07:10 PM
I've heard good things about the WD TV Live HD Media Player. I might actually get it myself. Cheaper and more flexible, from what I've read.

I have a WD TV Live HD and while I really do like it I do not believe it will stream content from his iMac.

Glennsan

carlgo
Apr 16, 2010, 07:13 PM
A refurb is the cheapest way to go, should tide you over until the new model comes out. Even then, is the new one going to offer improvements that are important to you anyway?

Winni
Apr 16, 2010, 07:21 PM
-.11g or better wireless
-Streams (wirelessly) h.264 files from my iMac, keeping in tact my surround sound audio tracks and soft subs
-Simple enough for my wife to figure out without explanation
-HMDI, component, and optical audio out
-Under $200



I think an Xbox 360 with Connect 360 on the Mac can do all that (at least streaming works nice in my home network), but you'd probably have to spend a bit more than 200 bucks.

macfan881
Apr 16, 2010, 08:26 PM
how bout a :apple:tv with boxee.

OmegaRed1723
Apr 16, 2010, 08:50 PM
how bout a :apple:tv with boxee.

I use Boxee Beta on my ATV and love it. Since I don't have any iTunes video content I use the Boxee app exclusively. I enabled USB disk storage and afp access, so I keep all my media on a 1.5TB hard drive attached to the machine.

Since the hardware will likely never be upgraded, I'll move to a Mac Mini once it gets the audio over Mini DisplayPort so I can play 1080p content. Until then, I'll continue to enjoy my ATV.

KevinC867
Apr 17, 2010, 12:08 AM
I have a WD TV Live HD and while I really do like it I do not believe it will stream content from his iMac.

Glennsan

I also have a WD TV Live. I have no problems streaming from my Mac.

Previously, I needed to rename my iTunes ".m4v" files to ".mp4" files in order to get full fast-forward and rewind functionality. However, a recent firmware release fixed that problem.

I find that I use my Apple TV for playing music (controlling it via WiFi from the Remote app on my iPhone is *way* cool.) But, I use the WD TV Live for playing video. It plays any video format I throw at it (I have a bunch of .m2ts files) and the fact that it has a composite output allows me to use it when I go on vacation and don't have an HD TV.

Bevz
Apr 17, 2010, 03:20 AM
The Apple TV fits your criteria perfectly. I'd get one of them ;)

mrgreen4242
Apr 17, 2010, 11:56 AM
There are people who hate everything Apple makes. If you have been happy with AppleTV, and don't want to spend more on an alternate solution, buy another one. It's okay.

Oh, I love my ATV - it's just with the number of people who seem to really dog on it I figured someone must be making something better. Doesn't sound like it though. The WD TV Live is promising, but its about the same price when you add the wifi adaptor and doesn't really look to add anything new.

My ATV is dying a slow overheating death, but I think I'll be able to resurrect it. I've got it running upside down and bottomless now and it's back to working again. I'm going to replace the HDD with a CF card and replace the fan with something bigger and better, then build up a new, bigger enclosure (built off the stock one) for it so I can spread the components out a little more.

I'm hoping that this year we'll see a new ATV built off the iPhone/iPod system. If you take the 3rd gen iPod touch with 8gb of flash (that is, the actual 3G hardware with only 8gb, not the 2G 8gb model still sold), add a new UI layer, drop the screen/touch digitizer and battery, add a digital output board for HDMI and optical audio, an IR receiver, and maybe add a SATA bus for an optional harddrive (personally, I'd like one without the HDD as I don't store anything on it locally) you could a cheap, dead silent, cool running iTunes to TV bridge.

Trying to make the one I have last until then, though! If I can get it built up properly it should run for many more years, I think, so I can move it to the bedroom or the theatre room when we get a new one. :)

I appreciate all the replies though, it confirmed for me that the ATV is the best at what it does in its price range - which makes all the "it's a failure" comments people male even stupider. :p

Keebler
Apr 17, 2010, 12:42 PM
I'm on the fence about getting an ATV too. I'm an Apple fanboy, but that popbox that's coming out in the spring might just be the way to go. Not sure about the audio end of it, but it will pretty much do any video codec you throw at it. And i agree with the last comment that ATV should play anything that iTunes has in it's library. I believe that there will be two popbox's. One without wireless and one with. The one with wireless N, i believe, will be about $149. Oh and it will have Netflix 2.0, HDMI and that optical thingamajig your looking for!!

What popbox are you referring to? I'm curious. Pls provide links.

Tilpots
Apr 17, 2010, 01:01 PM
I appreciate all the replies though, it confirmed for me that the ATV is the best at what it does in its price range - which makes all the "it's a failure" comments people male even stupider. :p

What's really funny is you spending the money on two of these. Your first one is failing. The top is removed and it's upside down dying a slow death. For the price of two, you could have bought a Mini, had three times the functionality, and we'd never be having this conversation.;)

macfan881
Apr 17, 2010, 03:53 PM
I use Boxee Beta on my ATV and love it. Since I don't have any iTunes video content I use the Boxee app exclusively. I enabled USB disk storage and afp access, so I keep all my media on a 1.5TB hard drive attached to the machine.

Since the hardware will likely never be upgraded, I'll move to a Mac Mini once it gets the audio over Mini DisplayPort so I can play 1080p content. Until then, I'll continue to enjoy my ATV.

Ive been using boxee with my MLB.Tv sub and the one thing I love about there MLB app Boxee has is that there's a option to hide the scores so i can chose if I'm coming home from work watch the game if its still going on or start from the beginning with out being spoiled from logging into MLB.com first. normally and the quality has been better than the website so far.

ChrisRyan
Apr 17, 2010, 07:07 PM
having recently ditched something that was described a good media player - the Popcorn A110 - I have no regrets at all to be rid of it's stupidly over complex interface which baffles all but the most technical of users. Yeah it plays 1080p and all that but TBH I don't really care as a 1080p anything is huge file sizes and hardly worth the effort over just firing up the blu-ray player instead. I don't want to sit down and operate the remote for my 4 year old daughter everytime she wants to watch some Disney film or my wife when she wants to watch a corny horror movie that she likes, this is the interface limitations you have to live with on just about all the media players I have tried thus far. Clunky interfaces, lack of things like meta tagged info, limited or bespoke file support or missing connectivity - LAN but no Wifi, no LAN but a USB port, no optical out yadda yadda. They are functional at best, annoying at worst.
Xbox360 and the likes of Tversity is a solution, if you don't care about just wanting to watch your movies rather than mess about with it every few minutes. If you want to pause or rewind a movie - say to watch a highlight or a bit you missed, it takes an age for it to respond if at all. Also how likely before the 360 falls over with its red lights flashing in the air or before it's drowned out your quiet movie with it's fans? I fail to see how it could ever be a solution for media .
I want to pick up the remote, fire it at the box and play my media without fussing about, you know like a DVD player or set top box does, which is what I now have in a hacked AppleTV and wish I had done it sooner as I only switched to the Popcorn for HD media when my old Xbox 1 started to get a bit long in the tooth with XBMC. The wife picked up the Harmony remote once I setup the ATV profile and away she went with no instruction at all, that's how this stuff should be!!!

macodyssey.com
Apr 18, 2010, 03:02 AM
look just go with the ATV, it is the most elegant and straightforward. Some times you just need to get the balance right.

Donar
Apr 18, 2010, 03:36 AM
I appreciate all the replies though, it confirmed for me that the ATV is the best at what it does in its price range - which makes all the "it's a failure" comments people male even stupider. :p
Having read some of the "it's a failure" comments myself - people mostly complain about the lack of 1080p playback and overheating issues. Price seems to be not a problem for them. Different horses for different courses...

The ASRock 330 HT (http://www.asrock.com/nettop/overview.asp?Model=ION%20330HT) with XBMC live installed could be something for you. But it's over 200$ and has no component output. I replaced my Popcornhour NMT-A100 in the cellar with one of these, work's nice but you have to setup some things like sound output over HDMI and Optical out at the same time with a configuration change in /etc/asound.conf via terminal.

mrgreen4242
Apr 18, 2010, 07:22 PM
What's really funny is you spending the money on two of these. Your first one is failing. The top is removed and it's upside down dying a slow death. For the price of two, you could have bought a Mini, had three times the functionality, and we'd never be having this conversation.;)

Mini's START at $600. I paid $150 for the 40gb model I have now, and it's three years old... I could buy FOUR for what I would have to pay for one mini (they are NEVER in the refurb store), or at least three if there are no 40gb models to be had anymore. Also, there's no reason to believe that a mini would have lasted any longer than three years.

All that said, the original ATV hardware is really poorly designed. I hope/think they will do a much better job on a revision, and will do it soon.

Lastly, there's NO WAY that a mini gives you three times the functionality. It would add, at best, a DVD player and Netflix player. I almost never use DVDs (hate discs), and I can get a good DVD player for <$50. As for Netflix, well, when I bought the ATV Netflix wasn't even offering streaming, and for $100 I can get a dedicated Netflix player. For the added $400 you are spending you are getting ~$150 worth of features.

AndyR
Apr 18, 2010, 08:50 PM
I love my :apple:TV!

Just needs this ash to clear over the UK so I can get it shipped out to me in NZ. Poor thing has been in storage for 12 months and its missing me :p

Lara F
Apr 18, 2010, 10:21 PM
Lastly, there's NO WAY that a mini gives you three times the functionality. It would add, at best, a DVD player and Netflix player. I almost never use DVDs (hate discs), and I can get a good DVD player for <$50. As for Netflix, well, when I bought the ATV Netflix wasn't even offering streaming, and for $100 I can get a dedicated Netflix player. For the added $400 you are spending you are getting ~$150 worth of features.

Got to disagree there. A Mini gives access to any digital file format without hacking. You can play programs like Spotify that have yet to be integrated in a set box. You can view a Slingbox stream. You can have the ideal Hulu experience compared to ATV Boxee. Using a VPN to view content from other countries (as I do with the UK) is so much easier. Wanting to relive the Olympics at nbcolympics.com is no problem. Etc. etc...

Of course you might not use these functions and so have little need for a Mini (I don't think the ATV is a bad machine btw, I enjoy mine). But it does offer much more than just a DVD and Netflix.

Tilpots
Apr 19, 2010, 09:36 AM
Mini's START at $600. I paid $150 for the 40gb model I have now, and it's three years old... I could buy FOUR for what I would have to pay for one mini (they are NEVER in the refurb store), or at least three if there are no 40gb models to be had anymore. Also, there's no reason to believe that a mini would have lasted any longer than three years.

All that said, the original ATV hardware is really poorly designed. I hope/think they will do a much better job on a revision, and will do it soon.

Lastly, there's NO WAY that a mini gives you three times the functionality. It would add, at best, a DVD player and Netflix player. I almost never use DVDs (hate discs), and I can get a good DVD player for <$50. As for Netflix, well, when I bought the ATV Netflix wasn't even offering streaming, and for $100 I can get a dedicated Netflix player. For the added $400 you are spending you are getting ~$150 worth of features.

The current price of an AppleTV is $229. So add that to your original $150 and your looking at $379. You could have, even three years ago, picked up a used Mini easily. Even today, for $379, you could get a great Mini on Ebay, that will blow away your AppleTV in terms of a media center. And the Mini is one of the most beautifully engineered computers ever made, so your "it won't last three years" talk is utter nonsense.

As for the three times the functionality bit, I was being kind. The Mini is many magnitudes better than the AppleTV in every single aspect. It's a full fledged computer! It can play SO many more files, has a DVD drive, can surf the web and play any video found there... Then there's the whole computer side of it where you can use it to email, rip DVDs and CDs, look at Google Earth (:D), etc., etc.

The Mini is in a totally different class than the AppleTV. It does cost a bit more, but if you want a real solution for a TV connected box, there's only one Mac choice. Viva la Mini!

djdirect
Apr 19, 2010, 12:12 PM
What popbox are you referring to? I'm curious. Pls provide links.

Here ya go. http://www.popbox.com/

dynaflash
Apr 19, 2010, 12:19 PM
I need something that meets the following criteria:

-.11g or better wireless
-Streams (wirelessly) h.264 files from my iMac, keeping in tact my surround sound audio tracks and soft subs
-Simple enough for my wife to figure out without explanation
-HMDI, component, and optical audio out
-Under $200


Hmmm, in the OP's specs I see little in favor of the macmini besides probably the wireless ... Just sayin'.

87vert
Apr 19, 2010, 12:45 PM
the Boxee box that is supposed to be coming out sometime this year might fit the bill if they ever announce its specs.


I personally love my appletv. I used to run boxee on a laptop w/ dock connected to my tv but hated not being able to use the laptop and boxee at the same time.

I bought a refurb 40gb for $150 and upgraded it to a 160GB drive. I also removed the wireless card (I have my tv area wired with 4 Cat5 jacks) and changed it to a Broadcom Crystal HD card. I have since stopped using Boxee and switched to XBMC since it will use the Crystal HD card allowing me to play ripped Blu-ray video's from the HDD.

Since it is on all the time I also can SSH into it to wake my powermac when I am away so I can VNC in (my router doesn't support the magic packets)

I also have a PS3 and I did use it for a while using TVersity on my windows machine but I wanted something that was a standalone device.

Keebler
Apr 19, 2010, 12:55 PM
Here ya go. http://www.popbox.com/

ah ok.. thanks!

Tilpots
Apr 19, 2010, 12:56 PM
Hmmm, in the OP's specs I see little in favor of the macmini besides probably the wireless ... Just sayin'.

Fair enough, but he started a thread to get the opinions of the AppleTV haters, then basically let us know his required specs were that of an AppleTV. The AppleTV works as advertised, but the Mini advocates will point out that there is a much better choice with exponentially more functionality available, albeit a more expensive one.

srexy
Apr 20, 2010, 04:42 AM
If you're prepared to do the initial setup (Linux on a thumb drive etc.) , an Acer Aspire Revo + XBMC will get the job done nicely. You'll have to factor in the cost of a remote if you don't already have one but the Revo goes for $200 or so. Google it and see if it's something you're up for.

XBMC blows Front row away.

B.A.T
Apr 20, 2010, 05:01 AM
Can you stream music to a mini like you can with an ATV? I may upgrade to a mini in another year or two but I would hate to lose this functionality (and I don't want to buy another airport to do this).

trip1ex
Apr 20, 2010, 08:19 AM
Mini is for those that want a hobby.

NightStorm
Apr 20, 2010, 08:44 AM
Mini is for those that want a hobby.

Exactly. Similar situation... I used to have a pretty sweet MythTV setup, but I grew tired of having to occasionally troubleshoot and tweak the config when all I wanted to do was watch a recorded TV show (after already spending the day troubleshooting computers/servers). I replaced everything with AppleTVs (along with getting rid of my cable) and haven't had any issues so far.

McGiord
Apr 20, 2010, 09:22 AM
Exactly. Similar situation... I used to have a pretty sweet MythTV setup, but I grew tired of having to occasionally troubleshoot and tweak the config when all I wanted to do was watch a recorded TV show (after already spending the day troubleshooting computers/servers). I replaced everything with AppleTVs (along with getting rid of my cable) and had any issues.

I think you mean that you had NOT any issues

How you get your TV shows without cable on your AppletTV ? you buy them?

NightStorm
Apr 20, 2010, 09:48 AM
I think you mean that you had NOT any issues

How you get your TV shows without cable on your AppletTV ? you buy them?

Yes, I meant not any issues... I've updated the post to reflect that.

I decided a few years ago that it would be cheaper to buy the season sets of the shows I really enjoyed from iTunes versus paying for cable TV every month and buying the DVD season sets when they were released at the end of the season. So far, this has worked out as I expected; I get to see the show shortly after it airs (typically the next day), and I own HD versions of the shows so I have no need to buy the DVDs.

BigMacIain
Apr 20, 2010, 10:55 AM
How did you do the soft subs on your ATV?

noah82
Apr 20, 2010, 11:22 AM
Yup, you can stream to a Mini...a much better option than an AppleTV in my opinion.

B.A.T
Apr 20, 2010, 02:52 PM
Thank you.

mrgreen4242
Apr 21, 2010, 06:40 AM
The current price of an AppleTV is $229. So add that to your original $150 and your looking at $379. You could have, even three years ago, picked up a used Mini easily. Even today, for $379, you could get a great Mini on Ebay, that will blow away your AppleTV in terms of a media center. And the Mini is one of the most beautifully engineered computers ever made, so your "it won't last three years" talk is utter nonsense.

As for the three times the functionality bit, I was being kind. The Mini is many magnitudes better than the AppleTV in every single aspect. It's a full fledged computer! It can play SO many more files, has a DVD drive, can surf the web and play any video found there... Then there's the whole computer side of it where you can use it to email, rip DVDs and CDs, look at Google Earth (:D), etc., etc.

The Mini is in a totally different class than the AppleTV. It does cost a bit more, but if you want a real solution for a TV connected box, there's only one Mac choice. Viva la Mini!

First, you are comparing new and used hardware to favor your point of view. You can get the ATV pretty much any time direct from Apple fo $189 or $199 refurb. Mini's are NEVER in the refurb store.

If you were using the device as a computer, sure the mini will be aces. It's not, though. It's a media player. One that I want to use because I don't like dealing with discs, so the added DVD drive is of marginal value, other than ripping, which I do from my iMac faster and more conveniently.

Other than out of the box file formats and 1080p, there's nothing media center related that the mini can do which an ATV can't. Both of those, for me, are non-issues. I can see where some people might want a computer connected to their TV, but that's not what I, or most people really, want.

Also, fighting with the mini to get the digital surround sound passed through is not my idea of being better.

Fair enough, but he started a thread to get the opinions of the AppleTV haters, then basically let us know his required specs were that of an AppleTV. The AppleTV works as advertised, but the Mini advocates will point out that there is a much better choice with exponentially more functionality available, albeit a more expensive one.

My requirements were to replace an ATV. Anything that is "better" should be able to at least replace the product its better than, right?

If you're prepared to do the initial setup (Linux on a thumb drive etc.) , an Acer Aspire Revo + XBMC will get the job done nicely. You'll have to factor in the cost of a remote if you don't already have one but the Revo goes for $200 or so. Google it and see if it's something you're up for.

XBMC blows Front row away.

Thanks for an actual suggestion, I will check that out!

Tilpots
Apr 21, 2010, 08:05 AM
First, you are comparing new and used hardware to favor your point of view. You can get the ATV pretty much any time direct from Apple fo $189 or $199 refurb. Mini's are NEVER in the refurb store.

What I'm saying is that even a used Mini is better than a brand new AppleTV. And it's true, Mini's are rare in the Refurb Store, but they are always on Ebay.

If you were using the device as a computer, sure the mini will be aces. It's not, though. It's a media player. One that I want to use because I don't like dealing with discs, so the added DVD drive is of marginal value, other than ripping, which I do from my iMac faster and more conveniently.

My Mini is BOTH a computer and a media player. Also, you have to have another computer to be able to use the AppleTV. Talk about costs!!!

Other than out of the box file formats and 1080p, there's nothing media center related that the mini can do which an ATV can't. Both of those, for me, are non-issues. I can see where some people might want a computer connected to their TV, but that's not what I, or most people really, want.

Can you watch live TV with an AppleTV? Maybe with a hack, I honestly don't know. Can you watch live TV, a DVD and internet video at the same time with an AppleTV? No. Can you watch a video and play music at the same time with an AppleTV? No. Can you surf the web and watch a video at the same time with an AppleTV. No. It's not a better media player. Period. Most people want functionality when they connect a device to their TV sets. Most people don't want an AppleTV in its current state, just ask Tim Cook. (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=901373)


Also, fighting with the mini to get the digital surround sound passed through is not my idea of being better.

Not sure what you're talking about here. The Mini has a digital optical out. Some of the Handbrake devs have posted in this thread, and they should be able to attest that it's a non-issue.

My requirements were to replace an ATV. Anything that is "better" should be able to at least replace the product its better than, right?


Absolutely. The Mini is better. You should try it. Again, it does cost more, but with it, I've been able to cancel my cable subscription. It has saved me $100 every month that I've owned it and I haven't missed one show that I watch, or a live sporting event, or live news. It is hands down the best device I've ever attached to my TV. The Mini will pay for itself in 6 months. In a year, I could buy two Minis with the amount I've saved on cable.

The wife loves it. My 1 year old loves it (mostly due to the Plex Sesame Street App). I love it. It's better.

satelshawn
Apr 21, 2010, 08:51 AM
Also, you have to have another computer to be able to use the AppleTV. Talk about costs!!!


Uhh that is totally incorrect. If you want to stream videos / music to it then yeah, sure, you gotta have a computer to stream the video / music from, but if you want to buy or rent TV shows, movies and music from the iTunes store and watch them you can do so without an additional computer, the files are stored on the internal drive. No external computer required.

I set this up for my sisters kids. I bought them an ATV for Christmas and replaced the internal drive with a much larger one and filled it up with all the cartoons I had, Flintstones, Jetsons, Thundercats, Scooby Doo etc. Thousands of episodes. They have no computer at home and are technologically inept, yet I didn't even have to show them how to use it.

That is the one great thing about the ATV, any idiot can use it, hell even my mom can use it and she can barely figure out a microwave. ;)

Tilpots
Apr 21, 2010, 08:55 AM
Uhh that is totally incorrect. If you want to stream videos / music to it then yeah, sure, you gotta have a computer to stream the video / music from, but if you want to buy or rent TV shows, movies and music from the iTunes store and watch them you can do so without an additional computer, the files are stored on the internal drive. No external computer required.

I set this up for my sisters kids. I bought them an ATV for Christmas and replaced the internal drive with a much larger one and filled it up with all the cartoons I had, Flintstones, Jetsons, Thundercats, Scooby Doo etc. Thousands of episodes. They have no computer at home and are technologically inept, yet I didn't even have to show them how to use it.

That is the one great thing about the ATV, any idiot can use it, hell even my mom can use it and she can barely figure out a microwave. ;)

So you don't need a computer as you stated, true. You could buy every single thing form the iTMS. But then what did you use to fill up the Harddrive? Uh, had to be another computer in there somewhere.:rolleyes:

mrgreen4242
Apr 21, 2010, 09:43 AM
snipped long quote
yes, the mini will do all the media center things the ATV will do, plus other non-media center things as well. I'm just saying that the mini is overkill in terms of price for those added features. I have ZERO desire to browse the web or do anything other than watch TV/movies on my TV.

Adding the cost of your home PC to the equation is just silly. It's a sunk cost; if you are looking at an ATV you. Almost certainly have a computer already. I can see the argument that a mini might be better for someone who has a laptop rather than a stationary, always on desktop system, but hacking the ATV to allow USB drives (and more file format support) is an equally valid solution. (Anyone capable of setting up a mini as a n HTCPC could figure out "hacking" an ATV).

We also canceled our cable over a year ago in favor of the ATV and Netflix. We don't even bother with live TV.

If the pricing was closer on the two devices I would agree with you, but apples to apples, I think the ATV provides more value, if a smaller feature set.

Tilpots
Apr 21, 2010, 09:57 AM
If the pricing was closer on the two devices I would agree with you, but apples to apples, I think the ATV provides more value, if a smaller feature set.

Here's is where I'll disagree, but everyone's entitled to their opinion because all of our situations our different. Buying the Mini has been the best computer purchase I have made to date. I work in TV and watch quite a bit of it. I couldn't get by on what the AppleTV offers. The Mini has filled every media need I've asked of it and it does so much more.

I wanted the AppleTV to succeed just like a lot of other folks, but after literally years of waiting for an acceptable upgrade, I had to move on. I'm glad I did.

randy98mtu
Apr 21, 2010, 10:49 AM
I have an ATV and I was getting tired of waiting for the update. The ATV is great, but I feel it could be made much better. I find the existing hardware falls short even for the advertised 720p playback. I see a lot of stuttering. So I got a Mac Mini and installed Plex. It's great for playing 1080p movies. But it doesn't "just work." It is more of a hobby than something you can just turn on and used. The overall experience is not as good as the ATV. I really miss the seamless integration with iTunes and the great picture slideshow screensaver. i have that running on my ATV any time we have people over and it's a great conversation starter. So i still find myself moving my ATV back and forth and the Mini is only used for 1080p movie playback.

So count me in the camp anxious for an ATV update, because I still find it to be the best media server.

B.A.T
Apr 21, 2010, 07:33 PM
Mini's are NEVER in the refurb store.

There are four of them in the refurb store right now.
http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/mac?mco=OTY2ODY3Nw

mrgreen4242
Apr 23, 2010, 07:14 AM
There are four of them in the refurb store right now.
http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/mac?mco=OTY2ODY3Nw

And they were gonetje same day, probably within an hour or two. It was a bit of hyperbole to to say they are never available refurb, but in reality they are very hard to buy refurbished.

Tilpots
Apr 23, 2010, 07:49 AM
So OP, after all this discussion, what are you going to do? Just curious...

mrgreen4242
Apr 25, 2010, 11:30 AM
So OP, after all this discussion, what are you going to do? Just curious...

Well, that's a good question! Short answer: sticking with the ATV.


Long answer: I have taken apart my AppleTV and got it working normally again. I'm 99.99% certain my issues were heat related, so I am going to rig up a larger enclosure for the ATV (basically, longer screws holding the bottom on so the device will be both latter and have more ground clearance) and install a quiet low RPM, case fan (probably power it off of the USB bus, or possibly off the stock fan power port, if I can figure out how much juice it puts out).

That should, along with an eventual replacing of the HDD with a CompactFlash card/IDE converter led should make the ATV last another several years, at least.

I will likely buy a new ATV if they do a significant hardware update (like move to an ARM platform and iPhone OS-based software) and move the old ATV to another room. Looking at the other options, I didn't feel that anything on the market gave the features of the ATV for near the price. There were some inferior looking, cheaper options, and some superior but more expensive ones out there, but for me the ATV fills the required needs at an acceptable price.

Also, I will probably get a Roku player, eventually, as that is the major shortcoming of the ATV. Although, if the Netflix iPad app works with the video out cables and they update it to support the iPhone as well, I might spend that money on the AV connection kit and some more homebrewing hardware instead. :)