ATV questions before purchasing

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by FortWorthMac, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Location:
    the parched earth of North Texas
    #1
    Hello all,

    I'm thinking of purchasing an ATV to go with my new LCD. It's going to go on my TV in my (home) office so that I can watch video on my TV as opposed to having to watch it on my iMac.

    My questions are, it does play movies on my computer correct? In other words, will in play movies and TV shows that I've downloaded and ripped myself that are not in iTunes? FrontRow does this just fine but I'd rather not put my entire library into iTunes. I envision that ATV works and looks similar to FrontRow.

    Also, I understand that ATV can work wirelessly. With that being the case, I have a good wireless network and don't plan on streaming HD, why not save the money and go with the 40GB device? Or I'm I missing something?

    Thanks
    David
     
  2. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    #2
    Not without hacking. The atv works only with iTunes out of the box.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Location:
    the parched earth of North Texas
    #3
    Of course. It would make to much since to allow one access to one's library. I guess that also means converting the media into an iTunes friendly format?

    I had to hack my iPhone (JB) guess I'll have to look into and search ATV hacks.

    Thanks
     
  4. macrumors regular

    byocrysis

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2007
    Location:
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    #4
    Easy AppleTV Hack

    I am planning on getting an apple TV for the same reason. You should check out aTV flash; only 50 bucks and lets you play ripped movies. Also has boxee, xbmc, plex, hulu and some other stuff. The website for the program is www.atvflash.com. Oh yea and it doesn't void the warranty either so that's a plus.
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
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    #5
    Hmmmm. This looks interesting. Thanks
     
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    #6
    check patchstick.ca - they offer the same functions for as low as 29.99 USD.
    They also offer a free base version that gives you a feeling for the full version.
     
  7. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2003
    #7
    Or you can just create the patchstick yourself and save yourself the money. At this point it's point & click simple. It really is a no brainer. Download atvusb-creator plug in a flash drive, run the program, plug the flash drive into the AppleTV, plug it in, let it do its thing, reboot the atv and you're done. That easy. After that you can install any kind program you'd like.
     
  8. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2009
    #8
    Just a side note, I'd say it would be prudent to wait until after the upcoming Apple media event before buying anything, as there's a chance the Apple TV will be updated there.
     
  9. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Location:
    the parched earth of North Texas
    #9
    Yeah I had already thought about that. But thanks though.
     
  10. macrumors member

    rogervzv

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2009
    Location:
    Huntington Beach, CA
    #10
    Getting back to your original question, you can play any movie on the ATV that is playable in iTunes and that has been imported into iTunes. Which means that if you have ripped a DVD to MP4 format, for example, you can watch it on the ATV. This means that yes, there really is no need to download the file to the ATV HDD as long as the movie is on the main computer in your house that has iTunes and the library of movies. You can stream it from your computer to the ATV and enjoy it on your big screen TV that way. That's what I do and it works really well.
     
  11. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
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    the parched earth of North Texas
    #11
    That's why I was originally confused. FrontRow plays just about any media file in my "Movies" directory. They do not have to be in iTunes and they do not have to be converted to MP4. I don't understand why, out of the box ATV doesn't allow similar functionality .

    I have hundreds of videos and not really looking forward to converting and importing them all just so I can play them on ATV. I'm going to wait and see if they update the line next month but then I may start looking for another brand of media player.
     
  12. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2009
    #12
    +1
     
  13. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    #13
    Not totally true, iTunes for instance can play back 1080p and encodes with weightb. The appleTv will not take the former whatsoever and chokes on the latter.
     
  14. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    #14
    -1

    Maybe you can tell me what ATV Flash (and Patchstick.ca) has that ATVUSB-Creator doesn't have? And while doing that maybe tell me which patchstick was created by the developer who created the bootloader all patchsticks use? And then I'm curious if you could tell me which patchstick is blessed by the most ATV plugin dev's? And lastly, maybe tell me which one is free?
     
  15. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2009
    #15
    David,

    That's exactly what I did - 5Ghz wireless N *only* - and it's working very well streaming. I bought the 40GB and have nothing on it - all content is streamed. It works very well.
     
  16. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #16
    If you don't plan on syncing files to the device, save the money and get the small one. If you have a strong network, wireless streaming is perfectly fine - even for watching on-demand HD movies from the iTunes store.

    If you don't have an exclusively "n" network, though - i.e. you have "b/g" devices on the network at the same time - you might want to think about creating a dual band network. On "n" only for your iMac and Apple TV, and one for everything else. That way you get the best performance from your Apple TV.
     
  17. macrumors member

    rogervzv

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2009
    Location:
    Huntington Beach, CA
    #17
    If your movies are already on hard disk, as long as they are in a format compatible with ATV it takes only a minute or so to import them into iTunes. If they are still on DVDs then yes, the ripping procedure takes a while.
     
  18. macrumors member

    rogervzv

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2009
    Location:
    Huntington Beach, CA
    #18
    I totally agree about the dual band network. It hugely enhances the ATV.
     
  19. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Location:
    the parched earth of North Texas
    #19

    Okay so will ATV play formats that iTunes doesn't? ie WMV, AVI, MPG?

    It's funny that FrontRow does natively(sp?) on my Mac but iTunes doesn't.

    Thanks
    David
     
  20. macrumors 6502a

    sandman42

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #20
    Again, not without hacking. From the :apple:TV specs page, the file types accepted by the :apple:TV (out of the box) are:

    Video formats supported

    • H.264 and protected H.264 (from iTunes Store): Up to 5 Mbps, Progressive Main Profile (CAVLC) with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps (maximum resolution: 1280 by 720 pixels at 24 fps, 960 by 540 pixels at 30 fps) in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

      iTunes Store purchased video: 320 by 240 pixels, 640 by 480 pixels, 720 by 480 pixels (anamorphic), or high-definition 720p

      MPEG-4: Up to 3 Mbps, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps (maximum resolution: 720 by 432 pixels at 30 fps) in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

    The :apple:TV plays a subset of the files types that are playable FrontRow, QuickTime, or iTunes. In other words, anything :apple:TV can play the others can play, but not the other way around.

    Also, I'm not sure if anyone's said this explicitly, but you can add files to your iTunes library without duplicating or moving the existing file. Uncheck 'Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library' (in 'Preferences' --> 'Advanced') and you can use the 'File' --> 'Add to library...' command to make a compatible file accessible via iTunes without having to copy it to iTunes' library.

    Sound like hacking would be a better solution for you though, as the :apple:TV, out-of-the-box, is somewhat restrictive.
     
  21. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Location:
    the parched earth of North Texas
    #21
    <fail>

    You all have a couple of got links for hacking the ATV? I of course did a search and saw some info but I would rather stick to the proven methods.

    Thanks for all the help all.
     
  22. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2009
    #22
    My experience with the various hacks has not been pleasant.

    That's not to say they didn't work, they just weren't satisfactory. Boxee is an alpha, and is as buggy and unstable as you'd expect an alpha to be. XBMC is better, but the interface (IMHO) is an abomination.

    If I were you, I would spend the time to encode media in an Itunes playable format - you'll be happier in the long run not having to fuss with the hacks.

    I put Boxee/XBMC on for a few days and ended up factory restoring to wipe it after being frustrated with the lock ups and general alpha-ness of it all.
     
  23. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Location:
    the parched earth of North Texas
    #23
    Just read a blog post and got me thinking. I'm fairly new to Mac's so I don't know if this would work or not so please let me know.

    I upgraded to Snow Leopard last night and today saw this blog post:

    http://www.tuaw.com/2009/08/31/mac-os-x-now-hdtv-ready-with-10-6/

    My HD TV is only 5 feet from my iMac, so, would I be able to simply run a cable from my iMac to my HDMI port on the the HD then use the TV as a second monitor? I was able to do something similiar to my Windows box to my SD TV that I used to have but not sure it'll work the same way on a Mac. Advice? Comments?

    Thanks
     
  24. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Florida
    #24
    ATVFlash

    You can get the free patchstick and sit there and play with the plug ins... but, time is money... and ATVFlash has already done all the tinkering for you. Its money well spent.

    The latest version makes it super easy to play whatever you wish on the atv.

    Their files plug in works with the iphone remote app.

    The NitoTV plug in makes it a cinch to stream content from your network.

    [​IMG]

    There is even a command line option to set the atv to use an attached usb to sync media... so buying the 40 gig is a viable option.

    me personally, I have a 1tb drive attached to my time capsule and I stream all content from there.

    I have plenty of movies in plenty of formats and the picture quality is more than sufficient.
     
  25. macrumors demi-god

    xraydoc

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    192.168.1.1
    #25
    Think of the Apple TV as an iPod for your TV. As like with the iPod, the Apple TV is dependent on iTunes for its content. Like the iPod, once media copied (synced), you can disconnect the Apple TV from iTunes and play/display your media. Just like with the iPod, if its not on iTunes, the Apple TV (or iPod) won't have access to the media.

    The Apple TV has one thing the iPod doesn't, and that's media streaming, whereby as long as the Apple TV has a network connection, it can play anything in your iTunes library, even if there's too much to fit on the Apple TV's hard drive. But streaming requires the computer in the other room to have iTunes up and running (but it can be minimized/hidden).

    If you want Front Row-type access, a Mac mini would be a better solution.

    For me, I have 3 Apple TVs in my home and I'm very satisfied with them. My desktop (see sig below) is on 24/7 with iTunes running in the background. It acts as the home iTunes/media server. All my media is in an iTunes-compatible format which gives me access to all the same media on our iPhones, iPods and Apple TVs. While it may not be the ideal in terms of high-fidelity, for most of my stuff its good enough and the compatibility with all my other devices (my wife, 3 kids and I have iPhones and the kids also have iPod nanos) is very, very convenient.

    For my "important" movies, I buy 'em on Blu-Ray and watch 'em on a 107" DLP projection screen :)
     

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