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Old Dec 10, 2012, 06:00 PM   #1
L.Brasi
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Is the ATV 1 Right for Me

Hi guys, I'm new to the forums and was hoping to get some feedback from some members about purchasing an ATV. I've been researching them for a few weeks now and wanted to make sure I'm choosing the right device.

I'm looking for something that I can hook my portable HD to and play my collection of movie rips. That's the only feature I am really looking for. I have a PS3 that I've been using with a USB drive to play files smaller than 4GB (due to the FAT32 size limitations) and occasionally stream files from my desktop. The majority of my files are 720P and in MKV format. I do have a few 1080P files that I'd been streaming via my PS3. I prefer to be able to play the files from a HD because it's just smoother and easier in my opinion.

I have found a couple ATV1's on CraigsList for around $100 and was thinking this might be the perfect solution. The way I understand it, I can jailbreak the ATV 1 and store many file types on its internal HD and plug in my own and play those on my television up to 720P. I could even install a CrystalHD card and play 1080P if I wanted. Is this correct? Is this an overkill solution for a goal as simple as playing movie files from a HD? The majority of people seem to use the device for streaming from Plex or similar programs. I'm aware of the WD TV which performs a similar function, but I've heard the UI isn't the best and it has a lot of bugs. The ATV appeals to me because of the smooth UI and how simple it is to operate once all is said and done. Is there something else I should be considering?

I apologize if this is a little long winded. I am just hoping to get some opinions on whether or not I'm headed in the right direction. I'm also considering LaCie's LaCinema, but it's twice the price of the ATV (although it's new and has 2TB of storage) and would be cumbersome to move files to from my PC compared to a portable drive. I'd really appreciate any help you guys have to offer.

Thanks
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 06:17 PM   #2
jezzy
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I've got a wdtv live first gen, with brad's wdlxtv firmware, works great. it does indeed play everything I throw at it. all my collection is 1080 mkv's. I'm not in love with the interface either but it's nicer with brads firmware.

I also ventured a while back and picked up a atv 1 with 160gb, threw in a crystal hd (0012) and sadly, it still wasn't able to stream my 1080 movies without jittering, very disappointing. so sold it and kept my wdtv. I just found a atv 2 new in box for 100$! so I'll try that out. although it'll only output 720.. I'll see if it makes a big difference.

I also had a atv 3, but without a jailbreak, unable to stream from my raid server. I'd have to convert it all. no thanks!

so if your collection is 720.. I say get a atv 1! it's beautiful and onboard storage is nice. I'll buy another one for my collection one day!
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 06:50 PM   #3
L.Brasi
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Originally Posted by jezzy View Post
I've got a wdtv live first gen, with brad's wdlxtv firmware, works great. it does indeed play everything I throw at it. all my collection is 1080 mkv's. I'm not in love with the interface either but it's nicer with brads firmware.

I also ventured a while back and picked up a atv 1 with 160gb, threw in a crystal hd (0012) and sadly, it still wasn't able to stream my 1080 movies without jittering, very disappointing. so sold it and kept my wdtv. I just found a atv 2 new in box for 100$! so I'll try that out. although it'll only output 720.. I'll see if it makes a big difference.

I also had a atv 3, but without a jailbreak, unable to stream from my raid server. I'd have to convert it all. no thanks!

so if your collection is 720.. I say get a atv 1! it's beautiful and onboard storage is nice. I'll buy another one for my collection one day!
Thank you for the response. I've been reading about changing the firmware around on the WD TV, but was still leaning towards the ATV because of the nicer UI. As for streaming, ideally I'd like to not have to ever stream a movie. My goal is to put my entire collection on a HD and plug that in and watch them from that. In your experience was your ATV1 the better option for this vs the WD TV? Are there any huge drawbacks to doing this that I have overlooked?
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 07:09 PM   #4
jezzy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L.Brasi View Post
Thank you for the response. I've been reading about changing the firmware around on the WD TV, but was still leaning towards the ATV because of the nicer UI. As for streaming, ideally I'd like to not have to ever stream a movie. My goal is to put my entire collection on a HD and plug that in and watch them from that. In your experience was your ATV1 the better option for this vs the WD TV? Are there any huge drawbacks to doing this that I have overlooked?
it's nice having everything apple, and I yet to have a better method of playing my collection than the wdtv. I was disappointed by the atv1, perhaps with your 720 collection, it may behave better. if it was me, you should get yourself a used wdtv live, put the custom firmware on it and sit back knowing you'll never have issues playing ANYTHING.. even 1080 when your ready. it just works!

find a used first gen wdtv live 40-50$ and try it out, you might be surprised! if not, sell it with no loss and try an atv1..

my best setup was a Mac mini server, but way overkill. I've now run a hdmi cable from my hackintosh server and will try using that as my xbmc system..
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 08:39 PM   #5
dynaflash
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Afaict, the Atv 1 hacked with linux xbmc ( which among many other things allows the use of the usb port for an external storage drive) plus if you want a chd chip (last I checked about $35 U.S.) would fit your needs quite nicely. W/out the chd would do 720p playback from the external and with the chd has no issues decoding and displaying 1080p raw decrypted blu-ray.

With the xbmc Quartz skin its like but much better than the native atv OS.

----------

Oh, and your correct imo (and I have been doing this a very long time) local is much better than streamed content imo. No chance of any network issues plus its self contained.
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 09:35 PM   #6
OmegaRed1723
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A 1st-gen TV + CrystalHD card + custom version of XBMC makes for a very, very good media playback device. Over wifi I can play most h.264 encoded 1080p files. Over a hard-wired connection, I can play full Blu-Ray rips of even the most demanding files (e.g., the 40+Mbps monarch butterfly scenes from BBC's 'Life'). I use the Metropolis skin, which I think looks really slick. The only thing I wish it could do is pass through lossless audio (DTS-MA, TrueHD), but apparently the hardware isn't up to spec for that.
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 05:21 PM   #7
L.Brasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jezzy View Post
it's nice having everything apple, and I yet to have a better method of playing my collection than the wdtv. I was disappointed by the atv1, perhaps with your 720 collection, it may behave better. if it was me, you should get yourself a used wdtv live, put the custom firmware on it and sit back knowing you'll never have issues playing ANYTHING.. even 1080 when your ready. it just works!

find a used first gen wdtv live 40-50$ and try it out, you might be surprised! if not, sell it with no loss and try an atv1..

my best setup was a Mac mini server, but way overkill. I've now run a hdmi cable from my hackintosh server and will try using that as my xbmc system..
Thanks for the insight. I appreciate the first hand experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dynaflash View Post
Afaict, the Atv 1 hacked with linux xbmc ( which among many other things allows the use of the usb port for an external storage drive) plus if you want a chd chip (last I checked about $35 U.S.) would fit your needs quite nicely. W/out the chd would do 720p playback from the external and with the chd has no issues decoding and displaying 1080p raw decrypted blu-ray.

With the xbmc Quartz skin its like but much better than the native atv OS.

----------

Oh, and your correct imo (and I have been doing this a very long time) local is much better than streamed content imo. No chance of any network issues plus its self contained.
Good to know I'm headed in the right direction. I think I'll start hunting for an ATV on CraigsList. I do have one question about the ATV1 that I hadn't yet considered. Do I have to run linux to use an external HD with the ATV? I've read that most people run linux and xbmc, but I thought that was more for streaming media. I'm pretty new to this so sorting through all the info gets a little confusing. Is there a version that's nearly the same as the native atv os?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OmegaRed1723 View Post
A 1st-gen TV + CrystalHD card + custom version of XBMC makes for a very, very good media playback device. Over wifi I can play most h.264 encoded 1080p files. Over a hard-wired connection, I can play full Blu-Ray rips of even the most demanding files (e.g., the 40+Mbps monarch butterfly scenes from BBC's 'Life'). I use the Metropolis skin, which I think looks really slick. The only thing I wish it could do is pass through lossless audio (DTS-MA, TrueHD), but apparently the hardware isn't up to spec for that.

Thanks for those links! I've bookmarked them.
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 05:37 PM   #8
dynaflash
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The quoting on this forum is a pain, but in reference to your question directed at me:

afaik linux on atv is the only one that enables the usb port for storage. Actually, it also can be used on a usb hub, basically once hacked with linux / xbmc ... the atv is like a computer usb-wise. I have one that has a hub hooked up to it with two usb drives as well as a usb dvd drive. Linux / XBMC recognizes each correctly. which is kind of nice cause you can lose your extra dvd drive if you want and save an input to your tv.

Now note: I come from a fairly serious atv 1 stock os ui experience ... it took me a long time to try to get the stock atv experience via modding the atv to linux / xmbc. So given xbmc looks and behaves as well as whatever skin you are using, imo (and I have tried them all) if you want a true atv stock os gui on steriods experience you want to be using the Quartz skin. Its pretty much everything you expect from the atv os gui and as well, has some very nice pieces added you can enable if you want to run on steroids.

why linux ? simple ... because it uses almost no ram. the atv 1 has one crucial issue, only 256 mb of ram and its soldered on.

So you cannot do a hardware upgrade.

Properly done, you never really see linux beyond the boot sequence. it boots right into xbmc same as the xbmc os x hacks. The downfall with those hacks is ... they eat up every bit of ram the atv has just to even run. 1080p to display is physically impossible and the ui is sluggish at best.

If properly done, the atv 1 with the chd chip running a proper linux / xbmc install ... is imo the best general use media center. Bar none for what it is. Including eating raw blu ray with no frame drops rendering to a 1080p display. Now afaik that is about as much as you can expect.

Just my .02

Last edited by dynaflash; Dec 11, 2012 at 05:44 PM.
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 09:03 PM   #9
L.Brasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dynaflash View Post
The quoting on this forum is a pain, but in reference to your question directed at me:

afaik linux on atv is the only one that enables the usb port for storage. Actually, it also can be used on a usb hub, basically once hacked with linux / xbmc ... the atv is like a computer usb-wise. I have one that has a hub hooked up to it with two usb drives as well as a usb dvd drive. Linux / XBMC recognizes each correctly. which is kind of nice cause you can lose your extra dvd drive if you want and save an input to your tv.

Now note: I come from a fairly serious atv 1 stock os ui experience ... it took me a long time to try to get the stock atv experience via modding the atv to linux / xmbc. So given xbmc looks and behaves as well as whatever skin you are using, imo (and I have tried them all) if you want a true atv stock os gui on steriods experience you want to be using the Quartz skin. Its pretty much everything you expect from the atv os gui and as well, has some very nice pieces added you can enable if you want to run on steroids.

why linux ? simple ... because it uses almost no ram. the atv 1 has one crucial issue, only 256 mb of ram and its soldered on.

So you cannot do a hardware upgrade.

Properly done, you never really see linux beyond the boot sequence. it boots right into xbmc same as the xbmc os x hacks. The downfall with those hacks is ... they eat up every bit of ram the atv has just to even run. 1080p to display is physically impossible and the ui is sluggish at best.

If properly done, the atv 1 with the chd chip running a proper linux / xbmc install ... is imo the best general use media center. Bar none for what it is. Including eating raw blu ray with no frame drops rendering to a 1080p display. Now afaik that is about as much as you can expect.

Just my .02
I appreciate the detailed explanation. It sounds like that's the way I'll want to go. I have heard about the numerous capabilities linux offers and I'll spend some time going through them.

I'm looking forward to trying it all out. Once I get it up and running I'll try to update and let everyone know how it went.

Thanks
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 11:24 PM   #10
dynaflash
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L.Brasi View Post
I appreciate the detailed explanation. It sounds like that's the way I'll want to go. I have heard about the numerous capabilities linux offers and I'll spend some time going through them.

I'm looking forward to trying it all out. Once I get it up and running I'll try to update and let everyone know how it went.

Thanks
btw, your first name isn't "Luca" by chance is it ?

----------

If you really wanna go this route let me know ... I can probably give you a fair bit of help.
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 11:46 PM   #11
justperry
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dynaflash View Post
The quoting on this forum is a pain, but in reference to your question directed at me:

afaik linux on atv is the only one that enables the usb port for storage. Actually, it also can be used on a usb hub, basically once hacked with linux / xbmc ... the atv is like a computer usb-wise. I have one that has a hub hooked up to it with two usb drives as well as a usb dvd drive. Linux / XBMC recognizes each correctly. which is kind of nice cause you can lose your extra dvd drive if you want and save an input to your tv.
And AFAIK you're wrong, there are at least two ways more.
One is installing OS X on it but it is slow due to the limited RAM and another one is to hack it with software like aTV Flash.

You don't need aTV Flash though, it is not free software but also can be done if you look around on the net.

I did it myself and USB is enabled, runs XBMC, Boxee and other plugins.

aTV Flash site.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 01:49 PM   #12
L.Brasi
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Originally Posted by dynaflash View Post
btw, your first name isn't "Luca" by chance is it ?

----------

If you really wanna go this route let me know ... I can probably give you a fair bit of help.
There's a good chance I'll take you up on that. I've been looking through all the options for jailbreaking and it's a little complicated. I'm thinking I'll run linux on it to start so I can play my MKV files from my HD and add the CHD card later on after I see how well I like the device. I read somewhere that on stock hardware MKV's can only be played up to 480P, but XBMC's wiki page seems to say it'll handle up to 720P. The majority of my collection is 720P so if it will be able to play 720P MKV's I'll be fine for the moment and can put off installing a CHD card.

My first name is actually Luc. The similarity to Luca from The Godfather is just a coincidence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by justperry View Post
And AFAIK you're wrong, there are at least two ways more.
One is installing OS X on it but it is slow due to the limited RAM and another one is to hack it with software like aTV Flash.

You don't need aTV Flash though, it is not free software but also can be done if you look around on the net.

I did it myself and USB is enabled, runs XBMC, Boxee and other plugins.

aTV Flash site.
I have seen some people use aTV Flash, but I thought that a lot of people discouraged it because it's not free and the same can be achieved through free means. I also saw people running OSx and Ubuntu, but I hadn't planned on any of that. I was hoping for something relatively simple that I can just store my entire library on and watch when I want without having to split the files because of FAT32 file size limitations or deal with streaming. The Apple TV seems like it'll be a little bit of work upfront, but once I get it all running it seems to be pretty convenient.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 02:09 PM   #13
bearcatrp
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Thats a bit high price for an ATV1. Just sold one of mine for 50 bucks. For 100 bucks you can get a ATV3, which is allot better, but doesn't allow storage.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 03:00 PM   #14
L.Brasi
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Thats a bit high price for an ATV1. Just sold one of mine for 50 bucks. For 100 bucks you can get a ATV3, which is allot better, but doesn't allow storage.
Was yours a 40GB or 160GB? This one's 160, so I should offer around $50? I saw 3 posted in my area from $80-$100 and was under the assumption they usually sold on eBay for around that price, but the majority I see are already jailbroken and have upgraded CHD cards and fetch more. If $100 is too high I have no problem waiting for the right one to come along, I'm in no hurry.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 03:59 PM   #15
jezzy
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Wow id love to get one for 50$.. I see the 160's on ebay fetch around 100$+
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 05:10 PM   #16
OmegaRed1723
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Prices have gone up on the TV1 the longer it's been out of production. It's become a tinkerer's toy, and sellers know they can charge more for it. I used to be able to find 40gig models for around $50-60; now they're usually selling for $90-100. Even so, I find that the addition of the CrystalHD card and Crystalbuntu makes the 1st-gen model a better value proposition than the current TV.
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Old Dec 13, 2012, 05:01 PM   #17
L.Brasi
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So, $100 doesn't seem too out of line. I was checking eBay and wasn't able to find anything better after shipping and all that in 160GB.
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Old Dec 13, 2012, 05:32 PM   #18
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Mine was the 40gb. Changing the hard drive is fairly simple. Find a 40gb and save some cash. Then change to drive yourself.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 10:41 AM   #19
dynaflash
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Having done about every hack (including 750 GB eSata drive) to the atv I do suggest using linux xbmc. every os x based setup simply uses way too much ram, even if it can decode 1080p it *can not* render it to display so its downscaled to 720p, which is a complete waste, and yes even with the chd chip in it.

I happen to have an extra with a chd chip hanging around.

Btw, I stand corrected that the osx hacks do allow the usb port. My bad I forgot about that one.
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