best home theater internet device (xbox, appletv, etc)

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Jensen G, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    #1
    I have decided to shut off my cable tv and get all of my media from the internet. I'm having a really tough time figuring out which solution will fit my needs best though.

    My needs include Netflix on-demand, occasional movie rentals, and generally easy access to the media library I have on my computer.

    Some I have considered include:

    Apple tv: perfect for iTunes content but extremely limited for things like Netflix or non-iTunes file formats. Software like Boxee is buggy and does not fully support Apple TV because of its slow processor.

    Roku box: great for netflix and cheap, but not a comprehensive solution

    xbox 360: seems like the best choice so far. Can buy software to connect it with my Mac. Plays netflix and has some kind of movie rental system included (right?). However, an expensive solution at around $300 for a system +HD and remote.

    Any other good mac-friendly solutions out there? Any opinions on the ones I've posted above? Thanks!
     
  2. macrumors 68020

    geoffreak

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    #2
    Mac Mini + Plex + Elgato EyeTV for OTA broadcasts.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    #3
    I should say that my budget is $300-$400 max initial cost and it has to be minimal setup so that my non-techy girlfriend can use it when I'm not around.

    My setup thus far is to plug my Macbook into the tv and stream stuff directly, but this will not work long-term because it's my only computer and often not available.
     
  4. macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2009
    #4
    xbox 360 and connect 360 work great for me you can even run a trial of it to test it.
     
  5. macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #5
    It's quite possible the ATV gets updated in September, no guarantees though. If you can wait a month, do. It may be worth your while, or you might have wasted a month. Wish Apple had intel-like roadmaps...
     
  6. macrumors regular

    aidricksdad

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Location:
    Round Rock
    #6
    i have both xbox and appletv and my wife will not touch the xbox, the appletv is far more user freindly for watching movies/music/pictures.....my wife is anti-gadget and even she loves the appletv...rip you dvd's and stream everything get a netflix acount and you can rule the world like me
     
  7. macrumors 68020

    geoffreak

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    #7
    Reports are the :apple:TV will be replaced by the Apple "tablet", so no guarantees if it will still be around post-September event.
     
  8. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    #8
    Until the Apple TV gets netflix on-demand support, it will be hard to convince me to buy. I like to be impulsive in my movie-watching, which means easy access to downloadable/streaming content is a must. I do appreciate that it is likely easier to use than an xbox though.
     
  9. macrumors regular

    aidricksdad

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Location:
    Round Rock
    #9
    how often do you watch movies?
     
  10. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    #10
    a couple times per week
     
  11. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Location:
    Northern VA (outside DC)
    #11
    can you extend the desktop on your macbook so it's only full screen on your tv but you can still use your computer?

    It may not be the solution you're looking for, but it might get you by for another month.
     
  12. macrumors 6502a

    GreatDrok

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #12
    I have Xbox 360 with Connect 360 and an ATV. The user interface on the 360 when streaming from the Mac sucks. Sorting is screwy when your library gets big. Also, the damn fans in the Xbox make it really unpleasant.

    ATV is much smaller, much quieter, much easier and I can rent movies from iTunes.

    As with another poster, my wife won't touch the 360 but happily uses the ATV. Even my 2 year old can use it.
     
  13. macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #13
    I spent major coin on a 52" XBR that has a native resolution of 1080p and a Sony AVR with 7.1 sound and 1080p pass-thru to match... it's just mind boggling that the AppleTV hasn't been updated to support 1080p. Are most AppleTV customers just not that discerning? (present company excluded, of course! :p)

    I mean really, new resolutions in TV come along what, every 40-50 years?! :mad: Is it too much to ask Apple to support the current standard? :confused:

    It's just hard to justify an AppleTV given it would be the weakest link in the signal chain.

    I guess my Asus powered Vista HTPC will continue it's entertainment duties for now. :rolleyes:
     
  14. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    #14
    Samsung BD-P3600. Blu-ray player, Netflix streaming, Pandora streaming. Hook an antenna up to your TV. No Hulu, but I don't think anybody has that on a box without using a Mac Mini. I have that BD player, and it's awesome. Very fast load times, comes with a wireless adapter.
     
  15. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    #15
  16. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Location:
    Boston
    #16
    It's 5 years old... Probably wont support anything you throw at it today.
     
  17. NOD
    macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2008
    #17
    none of the above
     
  18. macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #18
    Agree on all the above. I use the 360 from time to time, but the drone from the 360 is a constant distraction.

    If playing videos from the Mac is a major consideration, then there's problems with the limited number of formats you can play on 360 & PS3.

    For that reason, I'll probably go with a Mac mini and hook it up to the TV via VGA & optical audio. Use Plex for the interface (though I'll probably write my own to suit my own needs..). It's a bit above your budget though.
     
  19. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    #19
    Oh, not necessarily the same model as they have newer ones. It is the idea itself that I would like to inquire about.
     
  20. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    #20
    see http://www.macworld.com/article/142213/2009/08/roku_mlb.html?lsrc=rss_main

    As an update, Roku now supports MLB.TV (a service I use a lot) as well as Amazon Video On Demand (a service I know nothing about...anyone have experience with it vs iTunes rentals/purchases? I assume with Amazon you can both rent and purchase..I would be much more interested in the rental).

    So this actually makes me consider a Roku box more and use my Macbook to stream video from my computer during the (hopefully rare) times I would need to; Especially since people say the xbox interface isn't great and has sound issues (which I knew about but wasn't sure how it impacted real-world viewing experience).
     
  21. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2008
    #21
    Something to consider: if you are cutting the cable completely...

    Besides Netflix (which IS great), you'll most likely want hulu on your TV. Boxee Hulu on ATV is really quite buggy and rather poor quality. With Playon ($40 one-time cost), you can get hulu, espn, cnn, cbs, foodtv, HGTV...etc on the xbox 360 and the quality is the best I've seen using any box on a TV.

    If I were you, I'd honestly go with the 360 (though I love my ATV's). Being able to get netflix AND hulu...along with an OTA antenna, gives me just about everything I need without cable. Netflix on demand and still very limited, and you have to wait for DVD releases for TV shows. On Hulu, you can keep up to date on most shows. Its nice having stuff like the tonight show easily available (though you should be able to get it OTA too..i hate staying up that late).

    Again, if this is a TV replacement solution...I'd go 360. The best of all worlds (imo) is to have 360, ATV and OTA on the tv. It works great. My wife has no problems using the 360, but if yours does not like the controller, you can get a remote for it. I still rent and watch movies over the ATV and buy certain shows that are HD and I want to look nice. I also still use the ATV for all my HD podcasts which are great.
     
  22. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #22
    The mention of MLB.TV got me thinking...

    What if Apple updated the ATV and included some kind of App Store? Then, all of a sudden, it becomes an internet sourcing, media streaming, game playing awesome piece of kit! Oh, and a massive revenue stream for Apple with pretty much zero effort once the SDK is completed.

    For example, I love the MLB At-Bat app on my iPhone. If that was available on ATV, I could have it up in PIP while watching something else from another source on my TV. I could also watch the complete game highlight package for any game I missed, in full screen on a big TV.

    It's never going to rival PS3 or XBox for gaming, but an ATV with 1080p* and an App Store would be incredible, IMHO.

    * I know that bandwidth is going to limit the ability to offer movie downloads in 1080p, but that shouldn't mean that it can't handle that format streamed or synced from a local source.
     
  23. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    #23
    I agree that the space is certainly ripe for an Apple TV update. the ATV is so ridiculously limited compared to other solutions out there that there HAS to be an update in the works for it. It's just hard to wait when there are other exciting solutions out there.

    The only problem I see with Apple developing what we actually want out of the ATV is that our preferred solution requires openness (we want all the good services such as netflix, Hulu, etc) but Apple often does not open its platform up enough to allow all solutions in. Case in point, flash on the iPhone. If Apple does not think consumers need it, then Apple will not only not help to make it happen . . it will actively block that solution. So I am not sure if Apple will come out with something that is actually valuable in comparison to more open devices (and it's ironic that Microsoft's xbox is actually more open in this case).
     
  24. macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #24
    I checked Playon's website and I couldn't readily find some answers to a few questions... Hoping you or others could lend some knowledge.

    My biggest hurdle from going cableless is live sports. Do you get ESPN's live coverage? Is it free? Same for the NFL, CBS and other sporting event content providers?

    Any experience with it on the PS2?

    Any talk of a port to AppleTV?

    Really, any reveiw you could share would be excellent. Thanks!
     
  25. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    #25
    My preferred setup:

    ATV + NitoTV + Firefox 3.5.1 + Flash Player + Silverlight + RealPlayer + Quicktime + Flip4Mac

    This setup allows me to surf the web, watch just about any file format out there, stream all the content I could ever dream of, and everything runs stable.

    As an added touch, I have Hulu desktop installed for all my Hulu streaming w/o bouncing in and out of Boxee. However, it can be a little buggy since it's still in beta.
     

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