A couple of questions about ATV as cable replacement

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by calexandre, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. calexandre macrumors member


    Sep 21, 2008
    I've been considering the ATV instead of getting Comcast in my new apartment, but have a couple of questions (both of which likely showcase my computer ignorance, so apologies in advance).

    1. One reason the ATV seems a tempting option is that my iTunes library is using up all the space on my puny MacBook hard drive. Being able to keep my stuff on an ATV instead would be terrific, as it would free up a good deal of space for me. But I can't figure out whether it's possible to use the ATV in this way, or if in fact iTunes would always automatically download anything I order on the ATV to my laptop.

    2. I can't use an ethernet connection-- it will have to be wireless. Is there any reason the ATV's streaming capabilities would differ from my MacBook's? That is, can I use my MacBook's playback of Hulu, etc, as a guide to whether I'll be happy with the ATV's?

    Thanks, very much, for any replies. General advice/opinions/experience with doing this are also very welcome!
  2. Sonicjay macrumors 6502a


    Jan 1, 2008
    ATV is an extension of your iTunes library, meaning that it can contain a copy of your media, but not store it independantly. Now, an option would be to move your iTunes library to an external drive, then Option+drag it into your itunes library, and sync to the ATV; then your MB drive space is freed up by moving the content to the external drive.
  3. sanPietro98 macrumors 6502a


    May 30, 2008
    Using the AppleTV as a sole storage medium is not advisable. Unless you sync your ATV back to your computer, you'll have no backup if the device fails. Also, the ATV is designed to be like an iPod for your TV. It can be synced with iTunes and/or also stream content from your iTunes running on a computer.

    Also, the size of the ATV hard disk is rather limited by today's standards, so you'd fill it up pretty quickly with video content.
  4. Airforcekid macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2008
    United States of America
    Check out ATV FLASH allows external hard drive plus boxee etc.
  5. calexandre thread starter macrumors member


    Sep 21, 2008
    Thanks for the clear and helpful answers.

    Okay, it sounds like if I go for AppleTV, I might want to get the smaller, less expensive model (since I don't need to keep tons of stuff available at all times for viewing) and then add a hard drive (since I do need to store tons of stuff). Have I got the right idea, more or less?
  6. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Pretty much. I think of the little 40gb hard drive in the :apple:TV purely as an equivalent to RAM memory. It's a buffer much more so than a place to store video or audio (though I do store photos on it- but nothing else). It's plenty big enough as a buffer, but far from ideal for any kind of local storage of much video. Even 160gb will fill up (too) quickly if you try to store much on it. The best option is to think EXTERNAL hard drive for storing video.

    That external drive size is the big key for what you are wanting to do. Don't underestimate how much storage space you need. Video eats up a lot of storage space quickly. I would buy about twice as much as you think you can possibly use if I was you. If you have a DVD collection you plan to rip, think about 2.75Gb per 2-hour movie, to estimate just how much storage you need to put ALL of them on the :apple:TV (assuming you want a pretty high quality picture).

    If you are ditching cable, you might want to do a little old school buying and pick up an antenna (rabbit ears or outside) and a product like Elgato's tuners, which will give you a great way to get FREE local HD content into your Mac, and into the :apple:TV. iTunes can deliver a lot of specific shows, but there isn't much of a solution for LIVE stuff, like sports. Elgato plus rabbit ears can give you a lot of mainstream (network) live programming for free, as well as all of the upcoming's seasons new network programming. Elgato also gives you indirect DVR capabilities (with your Mac doing the heavy lifting, then piping the finished video to :apple:TV). But still, that's FREE content for :apple:TV vs. buying each show via iTunes.

    One key concept to realize: the computer running iTunes must be present for access to it's iTunes content. You can't store a ton of videos on that separate hard drive, disconnect the Mac and get anything on that hard drive into the :apple:TV directly. You can't hook that hard drive to the :apple:TV to bypass the iTunes-running computer either. You can't hook that hard drive up to a network device like time capsule or airport extreme, disconnect the computer running iTunes and have the :apple:TV access content through your home network. A few of these capabilities can be approximated via hacks, but the general key is that the iTunes computer to which the :apple:TV is connected must be ON when you want to access anything stored in that iTunes software. If you take your Mac with you when you travel, your :apple:TV at home won't be doing very much for any other family members.
  7. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    Imo, all extremely relavent points. Barring the eSata mod (yes, I know hacking the software will provide a usb plug in drive on the atv but presuming you don't want it smoked as soon as the atv gets a software update). The local storage is a big issue imo. Overcome ? Easily. But not without mods.
  8. calexandre thread starter macrumors member


    Sep 21, 2008
    Thanks very very much. This really helps me understand exactly what I'm getting into here, and what options I have. I'm so out of the TV loop that I didn't even know I could get HD content via antenna-- that's excellent news.

    EyeTV and ATV Flash both look handy as well.

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