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Old Jul 8, 2009, 04:32 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Apple TV Newbie Questions

Hi folks,

I'm quite clueless about Apple TV so hopefully you'll forgive my newbishness. I've searched a bit but since I have so many questions I thought maybe it'd be best to post anew.

I'm interested in AppleTV, but I need to be sure that it will fit my purpose...

1. Does it have to stream from iTunes libraries, or can I point it to a folder on a hard drive? Reason being that I don't use iTunes for my video and I prefer not to make it untidy on a machine for AppleTV alone - i.e. I'd still not watch it on that computer.

2. Is it capable of playing files from external hard drives plugged into a computer and, more specifically, those formatted NTFS? As a recent switcher I've still got two external drives with a lot of stuff on them that are formatted NTFS. My Xbox can't read from them Failing that can it read from FAT-32 externals plugged into a computer?

3. Does it cope ok with DivX files? I've got lots

Any other things that you can say about it that really sold it to you?

I basically love watching TV/shows. I don't always give 100% of my attention - but I basically always have something running e.g. at the moment I've got my Friends DVDs rolling and I'll watch them from start to finish whilst I'm doing other things; that's kinda how I work. Would it be a good addition to me you think, as a person who already has a lot of content she wants to watch? (I wouldn't necessarily be buying or renting a load of movies from it because I'm not much of a movie person). I've got a DivX DVD player so I use that a lot of the time but it's a bit more clunky and of course, I have to burn stuff to disc to use it...

Edit: Ack, some more searching has found that it's not compatible with DivX unless I convert my files

Last edited by suekitch; Jul 8, 2009 at 05:24 AM.
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Old Jul 8, 2009, 06:55 AM   #2
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It won't do what you want in stock form. Check out ATV Flash. I haven't gotten it, but from what I've seen it will give you what you are looking for. Looks like it would be $50 on top of the price of the ATV. I love my ATV, but all my stuff is in iTunes so I have no reason to modify mine.
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Old Jul 8, 2009, 07:20 AM   #3
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What you want to do requires some hacking.
Depending on how good your *nix knowledge is, you can either do it yourself, or use a commercial solution.
ATVFlash costs 50 buck for 1 year, and there is no way to try it out to get a feel for what it offers.
patchstick.ca's solution can be downloaded for free and you can test it as long as you want. If you want to use the full verison, it costs 29.99 USD per year (subscription)
There is also ATVUSBcreator, which is free, but does not provide any support.
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Old Jul 8, 2009, 07:23 AM   #4
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It does have to stream from the itunes library, but you can keep the files wherever you want, they don't have to be 'inside itunes', you can add them as a referenced link to iTunes and so long as it stays in the same place iTunes knows where it is and can play it, iTunes won't duplicate the file. Have a look at this article to tell you how to do it:


We converted a lot of DVD TV shows to play on the AppleTV, and it is a really great way to watch them, you can flick between shows, seasons and episodes very quickly and easily. You can sometimes get TV shows cheap from the iTunes store, and some of the HD ones are incredible to watch on a big TV.

Don't be too scared of converting for AppleTV, it is pretty painless with Handbrake. If you have the files on a computer already, you can just set them up as a queue and leave it to it, it'll just plod through churning out the .m4v's.

Handbrake has an AppleTV preset so you don't really have to worry about settings, but I convert TV shows DVD's using the Apple Universal preset so they can also be watched on my iPod touch.

EDIT: "newbishness" Great word!!
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Old Jul 8, 2009, 07:29 AM   #5
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Location: AZ
You are going to have to hack it.

My recommendation is to turn your research towards http://forum.boxee.tv/ & http://xbmc.org/forum/

I have never used ATV Files but have heard plenty of good things about it. I do use XBMC (mainly), boxee (occasionally) and NitoTV (just to add ext USB support, AFP & SMB file transfer). Plex is another spin off of XBMC that some people really like. All of these are free and very easy to setup.
MacBook 2.4, AEBn Dual-Band, Tv (XBMC, PlayOn & Boxee), iPod Classic, iPhone 3GS
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Old Jul 8, 2009, 09:51 AM   #6
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Hi folks thanks a lot for the replies. Still considering it but the idea of converting really does put me off so I'll have to look more in depth at the other solutions you have kindly offered me.

I know I'm being a bit.. snobbish or something with the converting but if I just want to throw something on I don't want to be limited by whether or not I have converted it or not yet. Plus I use the video other places (as mentioned the X box though an Apple TV would render it redundant) as it is now...

Would it happily play files off an external hard drive, if I told my iTunes that's where they lived?

Edit: Although Shuttleworth I have to say your comments are going some way to convincing me It's just I can't help but think I'd have to keep my originals and so I'd be doubling up with my formats. Maybe I'm just being a bit hesitant since I'm still a new switcher and it feels like I'm still hanging onto my PC compatibility with my videos

Last edited by suekitch; Jul 8, 2009 at 11:14 AM.
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Old Jul 8, 2009, 02:48 PM   #7
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I get what you mean! I decided to go the other way! A few years ago I changed all my cd's to mp3 and since then have only listened to them in that format. It tidied everything up for me.
I decided to jump in and do the same with my DVD's, get everything in the same format, and that will expand to include home video, photo's and TV recordings from EyeTV, and the beauty of AppleTV is it's easily acessible by the whole family with an interface a six year old and a forty year old can understand. To be honest, I don't see a need for any change to the AppleTV, but I understand those that do want more from it.
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