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Old Jan 11, 2013, 06:44 AM   #26
Plutonius
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Consider a Roku. I recommend the Roku 2 XS (1080P video and a USB port so you can connect up a drive with video).
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 08:15 AM   #27
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Dude, I know this is the apple board but get a Windows HTPC. I'm typing this on a 50" 1080p plasma with the DPI at 150 and everything looks great and is readable from 8 feet away.
General purpose computing on a TV from a couch just plain sucks especially on only a screen that small and that far away. Heck, I don't even like doing it on my 120" screen in my theater, no what DPI setting I use. If I want to do that sort of thing on a couch, a laptop is much better.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 08:24 PM   #28
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my experiment...

I'm curious why your setup with an HDMI cable didn't produce better results...

I just went down a similar path but have been pleased with the results, especially the $50-70 saved/month since I cut the cable portion of my Comcast bill. I only kept my Comcast 6 megabit internet connection which has been sufficient to cover my streaming needs and home WiFi.

My iMac is in my home office next to the living room. Since my iMac was too old to support Airplay and I was sure AirParrot wasn't going to cut it via WiFi, I purchased quality HDMI and shielded audio cables (total $50) from Monoprice, connected my iMac to my 50" plasma, and turned on the display mirroring feature. When the sites are on their A-game, the picture is sharp and clear, and at least as good as Netflix in it's best quality. Now I'm not as happy with the quality of CBS' streaming, it's more pixelated. But USA, I can stream their shows and I'd say the quality I'm seeing is the equivalent of 720p at least (except for commercials which are at a lower/pixelated resolution). So if I can't watch it OTA ($35 antenna for uncompressed HD on the channels that provide it), I'll stream it off the net. And I only miss the DVR for it's commercial skipping capabilities.

The negatives? The biggest is my setup with the iMac in the next room. So if I have to change something, I have to get off the couch. But I don't watch a ton of TV, so right now it's no biggee. Also with mirroring I can't get the display to fill 100% of the screen. There's a small band on the left and right. I believe you can avoid this using the PC input on my TV, but I understand the quality is lower than using HDMI. Also, to get the best bang from the picture, invest a little time calibrating the iMac's mirroring output (via display preferences) as well as your TV on the input you use.

Strange coincidence, I'm also an F1 fan and plan on streaming this year's races. It was the only reason I kept my cable as long as I did.

This is the beginning of my 6 month experiment. And it's already paid for itself. If it works out I was already thinking of getting a Mac mini, wireless keyboard, remote and mouse and setting it up where the TV is located and end the back-and-forth. But maybe by then AppleTV will move forward another step (like adding a browser) or there will be another breakthrough. I know there are more options outside of the Apple ecosystem (and for less $), but I like it here and will keep experimenting. So far, it's working!

Good luck...

Last edited by mcalict; Jan 11, 2013 at 09:44 PM.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 09:41 PM   #29
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I haven't had cable in 3 years. The AppleTV with Netflix suits me just fine. Once you have gone a good amount of time without cable, the stuff on Netflix is great! If you are into your local sports teams, it can be tough because there is no way to pay for those games without cable. I use a slingbox at my parents house for this purpose, but in my opinion, sports is really all cable has anymore.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 10:58 PM   #30
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I haven't had cable in 3 years. The AppleTV with Netflix suits me just fine. Once you have gone a good amount of time without cable, the stuff on Netflix is great! If you are into your local sports teams, it can be tough because there is no way to pay for those games without cable. I use a slingbox at my parents house for this purpose, but in my opinion, sports is really all cable has anymore.
a combo of unblock us and any of the online sports packs can solve this problem. thats what i do atleast for basketball and football
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Old Jan 12, 2013, 12:25 AM   #31
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I returned my Apple TV and picked up a Mac Mini.

Sadly, it wasn't that great either. The resolution and text on the screen were poor. I managed to fix the resolution, but the text was just too choppy (I read other posts that said that's a common issue--it was hard to read from the couch). I used an HDMI-HDMI connection with a 1080p resolution.

Netflix and Apple trailers, both in HD, still had a bit of pixelation in full screen. I used ethernet, and it was still "off" in terms of HD quality.

I think I may look into downgrading our cable package for now, and perhaps new offerings will come out in the next year.
There's a couple things I just don't understand about the Smart TVs... Why do I want a browser on my TV? I mean for content, yes. For reading? No. I use an app for my keyboard / mouse to control my PC hooked up to my TV. I use it for Windows PC gaming, Plex, Netflix, AirPlay (AirServer http://www.airserverapp.com/ ) and managing my Linux server. Though I mainly do that from my MBA as it sits closer and more enjoyable to read from. I only have live TV cause it's included with the rent.

Though I did cut the cord from cable for 3 years from content from BluRay, iTunes and Netflix. (I tend to stay away from iTunes as it moves to the cloud because of licenses and DRM.) I lived without my sports besides the NHL as they did not blackout my team in my area, though the MLB did, arses.

Anyways, quality is there, it just might be your internet. May I ask what is your Mbps? And if so, how do they deliver it? How much does it vary during peak hours? Non peak hours? There's a lot of factors that can play in. I have moved to BluRay Rips/Plex with Netflix and have no problem with Netflix quality. Though I do have 38Mbps with fibre optics.
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Old Jan 12, 2013, 10:17 AM   #32
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I went a different route. I got a PowerPC G-5, filled it with RAM and dedicated its use to my primary television. I use a Presenter for the mouse. It works great. I love it. I also find that I don't watch cable nearly as much.
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Old Jan 12, 2013, 11:49 AM   #33
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I'm in the netherworld right now. I have cable for the internet and DishTV as my elderly parent wouldn't be able to figure out the navigation on an AppleTV or computer.

Other than the national and local news and watching one current TV series, I don't watch much off the 'air'. My viewing preferences are old movies and short amateur hiking and 'adventure' videos on youtube. An Apple TV satisfied my youtube habit and I also watched an occasional new release movie on the Apple TV but I didn't find much in the way of old movies on the Apple TV either from Apple's offerings or on Netflix.

After reading this thread, I tried XBMC on my laptop and thought it had potential so I installed it on my Apple TV 2 (after jail breaking) and am currently watching a movie on the classic movie channel. I'm impressed. The movie I'm watching right now (my first) is from the 1930's and isn't HD source material but is exactly what I was after - an old movie I hadn't seen before.

One thing XBMC gives me is the option to stream movies stored locally which is a plus when traveling. I think XBMC gives me the option to stream saved movies from my laptop.
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Old Jan 12, 2013, 01:54 PM   #34
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a combo of unblock us and any of the online sports packs can solve this problem. thats what i do atleast for basketball and football
This looks cool. Come baseball season, I'll be trying this out.
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Old Jan 12, 2013, 07:45 PM   #35
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This looks cool. Come baseball season, I'll be trying this out.
i highly recommend it. being a student i find that a sports pack is not only expensive, but becomes useless when i travel home. so if i go home for a couple weekends in the winter, i end up missing many football games im paying for. but with an app and apple tv, i get the game whoever i go (my family has an ATV at a couple tis)
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 06:11 PM   #36
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General purpose computing on a TV from a couch just plain sucks especially on only a screen that small and that far away. Heck, I don't even like doing it on my 120" screen in my theater, no what DPI setting I use. If I want to do that sort of thing on a couch, a laptop is much better.
No it doesn't. I've been using my htpc to browse the web, watch videos, xbmc, windows media center, ect for years. Of course I would never want to type out a Word document in this setup, but for browsing the web, I'd much rather do it from my couch on a calibrated 50" plasma with a backlit htpc remote, rather than look down at a 15" laptop with terrible viewing angles and washed out blacks, heating my lap and fans ramping up and down. In fact, I don't even use my laptop anymore except for work. All "entertainment" is done on the htpc hooked up to the tv.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 07:01 PM   #37
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I've been using my htpc to browse the web, watch videos, xbmc, windows media center, ect for years.
Same here. Been doing the HTPC thing for around 8 years now. When it comes to browsing the web from a couch, I'll take an iPad/laptop any day over a computer hooked up to a TV regardless of screen size, viewing distance, DPI settings, etc.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 07:53 PM   #38
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Same here. Been doing the HTPC thing for around 8 years now. When it comes to browsing the web from a couch, I'll take an iPad/laptop any day over a computer hooked up to a TV regardless of screen size, viewing distance, DPI settings, etc.
That's fine, but I returned an ipad after a week because I couldn't find any use for it. No adblock, no flash, tabs having to constantly reload when switching back and forth. That doesn't work for me. To each their own.

The laptop provides basically the same browsing experience on a much smaller screen, harder to read, smaller for videos and pics, so I'd prefer the larger monitor.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 11:23 AM   #39
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I use a slingbox at my parents house for this purpose, but in my opinion, sports is really all cable has anymore.
Ok. How would Slingbox at my parents house work? We cut the cord in August and the only negative is not having the Speed channel for Live Supercross.

They have cable and the Speed channel.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 11:34 AM   #40
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I have really tried to like the Apple TV 3, but I just can't get past how limited the customization is for the presentation of TV Shows and Movies and the control options. I used to have two Apple TV 2's jailbroken and running PLEX. I loved that setup and regret that I sold those and moved to the Apple TV 3. I have a Mac Mini and moved it to my main TV so I could run PLEX. I am considering getting a Roku to see how it runs PLEX.

Now I do love my Apple products. We have two iPads, a Macbook, Mac Mini, and iPhone in the house. I want my content to be iTunes compatible. In the house we use the PLEX app to watch shows on all these with the Mac Mini being the server. I have run everything through iFlicks and imported it into iTunes. I then direct PLEX to find my TVs and Movies in the iTunes folder so they are available both through PLEX and iTunes.

The only problem with this is that the videos purchased through iTunes is protected and doesn't show up properly in PLEX. Otherwise, I am pretty happy with the setup. I have access to my media through iTunes and PLEX as needed.
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Old Jan 17, 2013, 12:58 PM   #41
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Ok. How would Slingbox at my parents house work? We cut the cord in August and the only negative is not having the Speed channel for Live Supercross.

They have cable and the Speed channel.
I put the slingbox at my parents and I use the iPad app to watch TV and to AirPlay to an AppleTV. Picture quality will depend on your upload speed. And you will need a cable tuner now that there is no slingbox with a built in tuner. Mine isn't even hooked up to a TV. But since the new models don't have a tuner, you will need a cable box. Which is a monthly expense unless they have a little used TV you can hook it up to.
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Old Jan 17, 2013, 02:09 PM   #42
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I put the slingbox at my parents and I use the iPad app to watch TV and to AirPlay to an AppleTV. Picture quality will depend on your upload speed. And you will need a cable tuner now that there is no slingbox with a built in tuner. Mine isn't even hooked up to a TV. But since the new models don't have a tuner, you will need a cable box. Which is a monthly expense unless they have a little used TV you can hook it up to.
Thanks for the reply. I just realized the first thing they are gonna say when I tell them I put a slingbox in their house to watch Supercross is "why don't you just bring the kids over here to watch it with us."
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Old Jan 17, 2013, 02:20 PM   #43
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I am considering getting a Roku to see how it runs PLEX.
If you do, please let me know how you like it.

What are the filetypes of the videos you're playing (e.g., high-bitrate Blu-ray .mkv rips, etc.)?

Have you tried using the Plex app on your iOS device of choice and then pushing that to your ATV3 via AirPlay? From my experimentation, that works pretty well with the following two caveats:
1) The Plex app (or Plex server app doing the transcoding - I'm not sure which) doesn't support 5.1 audio.
2) Blu-ray style subtitles don't work on the iOS app (the entire screen goes gray but the audio will play - turning off the subtitles allows the video to display, but then you don't get subtitles). I only care about "forced subtitles" (e.g., when the Naavi are speaking in Avatar and the subtitles show the English translation).

Despite my experimentation with this, I don't personally use this approach, as my needs are met as follows:
1) A Windows 7 computer in my bedroom which acts as my Windows Media Center DVR, Plex server, and movie viewer (using either XBMC or Plex) in the bedroom. I also have an ATV2 in that room which I use for Netflix, iTunes rentals, and recently Hulu+. The desktop computer also has a Blu-ray drive and free software for playing Blu-ray movies. And the Windows Media Center software makes use of an SiliconDust HDHomeRun PRIME network-connected cablecard tuner box with 3 tuners (and I bought a 2nd one which I've yet to hook up). The bedroom TV is a 52" 1080p LCD. I've thought about upgrading the ATV2 to an ATV3 to get 1080p, but since I mainly use it for Netflix in that room, I don't care too much.
2) An Acer Revo 1600 nettop (NVidia ION CPU/GPU) running Windows 7 which acts as a client (using Plex or XBMC) in my living/movie room for playing back movies streamed from my bedroom server. In that room, I also have an XBox 360 for live TV/DVR (recorded TV shows are streamed from the Windows computer in the bedroom). The movie room also has an ATV3 and a Blu-ray player. The movie room gets the ATV3 for 1080p, since it has a front projection 1080p setup.
3) My daughter's room has an XBox 360, an ATV2, and an old Blu-ray player.
4) Portable iPads for playing live TV using an app called InstaTV Pro which interfaces with the HDHomeRun PRIME tuner and does a fair (but somewhat buggy) job of playing HD TV channels live. The Plex app (interacting with the Plex server app which does the on-the-fly transcoding) lets us play Windows Media Center recorded TV shows. We could also use it to play movies, but if I'm going to watch a movie, I'd do that on a big TV in the house. But the portable iPads are good for TV watching in the kitchen or when using the elliptical.

I would definitely love to streamline all of this and have nothing but an ATV (or similar-sized box) connected in the living room, my daughter's room, and the guest BR (which currently doesn't have any media source), but the capabilities aren't quite there yet. A step in the right direction would be for Apple to open up the ATV to 3rd party apps so that we could get Plex back on there. The other really big gap is getting live TV/DVR working on the ATV, which is what I currently need the XBox 360's for. I know that I can do both of those things (to some extent) with jailbroken ATV2's, but then I'd lose 1080p and I believe the DVR options would require XBMC, a lot of setup, and a poorer user experience compared to the XBox 360 UI.

Until then, I have to make due with a hodge-podge of several source devices.

Last edited by hipnetic; Jan 17, 2013 at 02:31 PM.
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 07:02 PM   #44
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If you do, please let me know how you like it.

What are the filetypes of the videos you're playing (e.g., high-bitrate Blu-ray .mkv rips, etc.)?
I have a hodgepodge of video files ranging from SD AVI files (now m4v) to Blu-ray rips (via MakeMKV & iFlicks). I have never really gotten into Airplay. My Apple TV 3 will play even the highest bitrate Blu-ray rips that I have. Everything is wired.

If you want to integrate live TV, you are correct that there just isn't anything clean enough to do it. XBMC and/or PLEX have plugins for EyeTV live viewing, but I've heard it isn't up to snuff.

I might be picking up a Roku on Monday and will post to this thread if I do. I've also considered one of the Samsung Blu-ray players that has the ability to run PLEX but have heard that don't run it smoothly.

Honestly, my beefs with the Apple TV aren't huge.
* I want the controls to work like Plex where I can skip forward 30 seconds and back 10 easily.
*I want to view an entire screen-full of Movies to choose from instead of about half a screen. Once you have a few hundred movies, it takes forever to scroll through the interface on the ATV3.
*I would like to be able to separate Kids TV & Kids Movies from Non-kids Movies & Non-kids TV without giving them all a generic Genre assignment (Non-Kid for example) that would never allow to search by Action, Comedy, etc.
Lastly (And most importantly to me)
*I want the TV Shows section to list the TV Show Series and then be able to click down to the list of seasons. Again, once you have double digit or more TV Shows it take forever to scroll through every season of every episode. I have seen people discuss ways around this, but it either takes a lot of work to re-label each TV episode or has some other drawback I don't like.

Otherwise, the Apple TV 3 has a very nice interface. It looks nice, is really responsive, and is easy to use. Hopefully, some of these things can be resolved eventually.
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Old Jan 26, 2013, 08:22 PM   #45
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If you do, please let me know how you like it.
I have tried both a Sony Google TV (newest model) and a Roku 2 XS. The Google TV probably had a better interface for navigation, but I liked the ease of use and playback buttons on the remote better on the Roku. I think I already mentioned that I have converted everything to m4v. Some of it is pretty high bitrate, including some Blu-ray rips. The Google TV from Sony could Directplay everything except the Blu-ray rips. Everything is wired (no wifi). Picture quality was good, but I still didn't like the Plex interface as much as on the Mac Mini. The Roku was very easy to use. It didn't Directplay a lot of files, but the transcoded video looked good. The Roku has a very simple remote, which I liked better than the more complicated one from the Sony GTV.

I returned both devices and will probably stick with the Apple TV 3 for now. I really wish a jailbreak would come along or that Apple would start an AppStore for the Apple TV 3. For my needs an Apple TV with Plex is perfect. I prefer the Plex interface on the jailbroken ATV2 to any other device (not including the Mac Mini of course). Despite being 720p, I still wish I still had my Apple TV 2's with Plex and XBMC on them. Selling them was a big mistake.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 01:10 PM   #46
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* I want the controls to work like Plex where I can skip forward 30 seconds and back 10 easily.
You CAN do this if you use the ATV's "learn remote" feature. The skip ahead/back functions give you 30 second skip ahead and 10 second skip back (during the learning process they look like clockwise/counterclockwise symbols). I agree that these functions ought to be defaulted into the packaged ATV remote. As it stands, I recommend that everyone just use the learn-remote function and use your favorite universal remote.

What I do, personally, is use a Logitech Harmony 300i (it's only about $30 online). I DON'T use the Apple TV or Apple Computer device function sets in Logitech's database. They are too limited. Instead I "program" it with the Tivo settings on myharmony.com, just so I can get tons of button functions that won't control my other AV devices (I don't own a Tivo). Then I use the ATV's "learn remote" feature to set the remote's button functions to do exactly what I want.

An odd workaround, I know, but once it is set up you can get the ATV to behave exactly how you want.

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*I want to view an entire screen-full of Movies to choose from instead of about half a screen. Once you have a few hundred movies, it takes forever to scroll through the interface on the ATV3.
Agreed this would be good. At least they should give you some options for how your ATV content is displayed. ("choose full-screen OR vertical list with previews on the side").

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*I would like to be able to separate Kids TV & Kids Movies from Non-kids Movies & Non-kids TV without giving them all a generic Genre assignment (Non-Kid for example) that would never allow to search by Action, Comedy, etc.
Also agreed. It think what would be ideal would be some sort of "suitable for kids" checkbox in the iTunes tags, separate from the "genres". Then the parents can arbitrarily decide which content they want classified as "for kids" and not.

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Lastly (And most importantly to me)
*I want the TV Shows section to list the TV Show Series and then be able to click down to the list of seasons. . I have seen people discuss ways around this, but it either takes a lot of work to re-label each TV episode or has some other drawback I don't like.
Are you sure this doesn't work already? Both "Series" and "Season" have tags in iTunes.. . are you saying Apple TV doesn't respect those iTunes tags?

Anyway, the simple workaround for this is to simply designate each TV Show SEASON as a separate SERIES. So I'd have "Star Trek: Season 1" as a separate SERIES from "Star Trek: Season 2". And you'd see them listed separately on the ATV.

I'm pretty sure this is how it works when you buy multiple seasons of a show from the iTunes store.

My EyeTV software does this automatically when it exports to iTunes. For example, we record Sesame Street for the kids from PBS. Sometimes we get current season, sometimes there are reruns from previous seasons. So when they finally get transcoded from EyeTV to iTunes, on my Apple TV, I see "Sesame Street Season 43" as a separate menu item from "Sesame Street Season 42". And selecting either will let me drill down to see all the recorded episodes within that season.
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 08:50 PM   #47
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You CAN do this if you use the ATV's "learn remote" feature. The skip ahead/back functions give you 30 second skip ahead and 10 second skip back (during the learning process they look like clockwise/counterclockwise symbols). I agree that these functions ought to be defaulted into the packaged ATV remote. As it stands, I recommend that everyone just use the learn-remote function and use your favorite universal remote.

What I do, personally, is use a Logitech Harmony 300i (it's only about $30 online). I DON'T use the Apple TV or Apple Computer device function sets in Logitech's database. They are too limited. Instead I "program" it with the Tivo settings on myharmony.com, just so I can get tons of button functions that won't control my other AV devices (I don't own a Tivo). Then I use the ATV's "learn remote" feature to set the remote's button functions to do exactly what I want.

An odd workaround, I know, but once it is set up you can get the ATV to behave exactly how you want.



Agreed this would be good. At least they should give you some options for how your ATV content is displayed. ("choose full-screen OR vertical list with previews on the side").



Also agreed. It think what would be ideal would be some sort of "suitable for kids" checkbox in the iTunes tags, separate from the "genres". Then the parents can arbitrarily decide which content they want classified as "for kids" and not.



Are you sure this doesn't work already? Both "Series" and "Season" have tags in iTunes.. . are you saying Apple TV doesn't respect those iTunes tags?

Anyway, the simple workaround for this is to simply designate each TV Show SEASON as a separate SERIES. So I'd have "Star Trek: Season 1" as a separate SERIES from "Star Trek: Season 2". And you'd see them listed separately on the ATV.

I'm pretty sure this is how it works when you buy multiple seasons of a show from the iTunes store.

My EyeTV software does this automatically when it exports to iTunes. For example, we record Sesame Street for the kids from PBS. Sometimes we get current season, sometimes there are reruns from previous seasons. So when they finally get transcoded from EyeTV to iTunes, on my Apple TV, I see "Sesame Street Season 43" as a separate menu item from "Sesame Street Season 42". And selecting either will let me drill down to see all the recorded episodes within that season.
I think you misunderstood what I meant in the last point. I want to only see one icon for each TV Series and then have to click on the series to see individual seasons or that series. It really clutters things up when every season of every series is listed separately. As of now the ATV shows every season and won't automatically group them into the one series like iTunes now does.
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 09:36 PM   #48
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I would never look at Apple TV as a replacement for cutting the cable. Airplay is nice, but other than that you should look at the Roku. Many many many more channels, and much more stable. I have Mac Mini, Apple TV, and Roku, and only use Apple TV for Airplay and sometimes Netflix. But usually Netflix on the Roku. It does not look as nice as it does on the Apple TV, but is easier to use and functions better with fewer issues. Remember some brick and mortar stores such as best buy allow you to return, so I suggest you try the Apple TV before you commit. Anything more than Airplay can be done better elsewhere.

Good luck on your choice.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 09:40 AM   #49
PaulKemp
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Location: Norway
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAMAC3 View Post
The only problem with this is that the videos purchased through iTunes is protected and doesn't show up properly in PLEX. Otherwise, I am pretty happy with the setup. I have access to my media through iTunes and PLEX as needed.
Have you looked into Beamer.app? Works very well for streaming .mkv and other formats to any Apple TV3. In my case, works way better than Airplay since it's optimized for video.

There's a 15 min trail as well. I'm very satisfied with it.

Link:
http://beamer-app.com/
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 10:24 AM   #50
DAMAC3
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulKemp View Post
Have you looked into Beamer.app? Works very well for streaming .mkv and other formats to any Apple TV3. In my case, works way better than Airplay since it's optimized for video.

There's a 15 min trail as well. I'm very satisfied with it.

Link:
http://beamer-app.com/
Looks like a fine app, but I don't really need it since I converted all my content and imported it into iTunes already. The Apple TV 3 will play all of it already.

In general I don't really like Airplay or any app that requires me to start the process of watching video on my Apple TV from another device other than my remote. Plus, my wife is not at all interested in tech, and things need to be as simple as possible.
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