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Old Apr 16, 2010, 08:35 AM   #1
mrgreen4242
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OK AppleTV haters, time to put up...

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.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 08:40 AM   #2
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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.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 08:49 AM   #3
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Mac Mini with Plex.

Costs more and no HDMI but it is the most superior Apple HTPC set up available. Totally worth the price.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 08:53 AM   #4
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no HDMI
I have an adapter which let's me run both audio and video via HDMI. So while not native, you can do it.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 09:09 AM   #5
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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?
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 09:11 AM   #6
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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.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 09:13 AM   #7
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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!
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 09:18 AM   #8
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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.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 09:26 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by mrgreen4242 View Post
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.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 09:48 AM   #10
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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.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 10:45 AM   #11
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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!!

Last edited by djdirect; Apr 16, 2010 at 10:52 AM.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 10:54 AM   #12
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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!
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 11:14 AM   #13
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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 ?
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 06:34 PM   #14
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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).
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 06:55 PM   #15
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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.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 07:10 PM   #16
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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.

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Old Apr 16, 2010, 07:13 PM   #17
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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?
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 07:21 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by mrgreen4242 View Post
-.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.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 08:26 PM   #19
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how bout a tv with boxee.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 08:50 PM   #20
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how bout a 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.
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Old Apr 17, 2010, 12:08 AM   #21
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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.
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Old Apr 17, 2010, 03:20 AM   #22
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The Apple TV fits your criteria perfectly. I'd get one of them
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Old Apr 17, 2010, 11:56 AM   #23
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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.
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Old Apr 17, 2010, 12:42 PM   #24
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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.
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Old Apr 17, 2010, 01:01 PM   #25
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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.
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.
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