Alternatives to Apple TV ?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by krapidler, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. krapidler macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2009
    #1
    Hi guys,

    We (my family and I) are moving to a new house soon, and my brother and I are planning to connect the entire building, to stream media to every relevant room via the Ethernet network (WiFi being to slow for HD). So far, we have planned a neat home-theater room, where we will stream content from both our computers to the PlayStation 3 to watch via a projector.

    Now we're looking to buy 2 Video Receivers to cover my bedroom and the living room (media will be stored on external drives in his room, so he won't need one), but the Apple TV is pretty damn expensive, especially if one buys two. Does anyone have good experiences with a receiver that is (way) cheaper?

    Also, I have another question (I'm new to this streaming-business), why does a receiver like the ATV have to have storage (I mean, obviously for the OS, but what are 160GB needed for?). Isn't it supposed to get its content from a different machine?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. johnnj macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 11, 2008
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    #2
    www.popcornhour.com

    I've been using them since they came out. The A-110 is a safe bet. I just got the C-200 and it's nice but still a little buggy.

    John
     
  3. dernhelm macrumors 68000

    dernhelm

    Joined:
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    middle earth
    #3
    WD TV HD Live

    It's a pure DLNA streamer - no media stored on the device itself. But it can certainly handle just about any media type you throw at it.
     
  4. krapidler thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Dec 9, 2009
    #4
  5. dekinseattle macrumors newbie

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    Dec 24, 2009
    #5
    The :apple:TV I bought about 2 years ago now (tax refund - bought a flat panel TV and :apple:TV at the time - was still using the cable box DVR) - I got the low end model since the iMac where iTunes is was just on the other side of the room - I don't download any content to the :apple:TV I use Custom Sync and just stream content to the unit from the iMac - I would assume my start up time for each video is slower than if I had the content on the device - but so far this has worked for me ... I see no reason to buy the highest end model out there ...
     
  6. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    Nov 6, 2009
    #6
    Some people don't want to have their iTunes computer on or available whenever ATV wants to view a movie or hear a song, so many people sync as much media as they can to their ATV, which allows playback even if the main iTunes computer is off.

    I just stream...it's no big deal.
     
  7. JonathanU macrumors member

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    Jun 3, 2008
    Location:
    London, UK
    #7
    When you guys say you stream, is that wirelessly or over ethernet?
     
  8. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    Nov 6, 2009
    #8
    Wirelessly...but obviously in your set-up, it would be via ethernet.
     
  9. KevinC867 macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 8, 2007
    Location:
    Saratoga, CA
    #9
    I have that one. It works great. The interface is not as pretty as my Apple TV, but it covers most of the gaping holes in Apple's product. It will play 1080P video from lots of file types (mp4, mkv, m2ts, ...) It streams from shared disks on Macs or PCs. You can also attach a drive directly to the unit which it will make available for file sharing.

    If it just had Netflix streaming, it would be perfect. :)
     
  10. johnnj macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    My memory is fuzzy on this, but I seem to remember when I was first setting my ATV up that there was some other functionality that syncing had that streaming didn't. Did it have something to do with searching something? I remember that I first set it up for streaming and there was something I didn't like enough that it motivated me to go through the hard drive replacement procedure (which was somewhat of a pain in the ass) so I could fit my library on the unit.

    I could be wrong. I might have just upgraded the hard drive and did the syncing because I was bored that afternoon.

    John
     
  11. KevinC867 macrumors 6502a

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    Saratoga, CA
    #11
    Well, fast-forward and rewind certainly work much better when the movie is on the local disk rather than across the network.
     
  12. kadeschs macrumors regular

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    May 4, 2009
    #12
    Boxee Box or Xbox 360 are options as well. I like AppleTV because it's easily hackable and therefore opens up so many possibilities. I stream Hulu content through the Firebox browser on mine for example. I'm not sure that can be done on some of the other boxes. I stream all content but podcasts to mine.
     
  13. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    Nov 6, 2009
    #13
    But the file IS on the local disc after it transfers over. It's not streaming from the computer like an internet streaming broadcast, the file transfers over to the ATV and once it's fully transferred I have no issues FFW or REW...May take a few minutes for a 2+hour long HD movie, but again...the file is transferred and resides on the free space on ATV as far as I know...I suppose if you have very little free space, there will be more streaming of portions of the file...but I have 30-some GB free, so it's never an issue. :D

    johnnj: Yea, I don't know. Search certainly works for me. The only issue I have run into is sometimes (after software updates usually) I lose AppleTV in iTunes and in those cases, having content available on the ATV locally would behoove me. :cool:
     
  14. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    Nov 6, 2009
    #14
    Just noticed this. If WiFi is too slow to stream HD movies to my AppleTV then I don't know how I have been watching Star Trek and Up or any of my subscribed TV shows. :/

    Again it streams a file...it's not continually streaming content. It's plenty fast to share HD movies files over any home network wirelessly.
     
  15. johnnj macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Oh, ok. Maybe it was just that I didn't want to rely on having a host computer running iTunes all the time. I vaguely remember that something pissed me off about it and I decided to crack the thing open and put a 250 gig hd into it and run the sync. Sometimes the voices, they tell me things...

    John
     
  16. krapidler thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Dec 9, 2009
    #16
    OK. Well I tried WiFi-Streaming from my Macbook to my PS3, and it was stuttering like hell, but the problem could also be because my Macbook is too slow for HD sometimes.
     
  17. TuckBodi macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    #17
    I have an original 40GB AppleTV, hacked with the FREE ATVUSB-Creator (don't fall for those paid scams) and I replaced my wireless card with a $23 Broadcom CrystalHD card so I can play up to 1080p movies. This all done through the incredible XBMC program using some of the new, awesome skins (like Alaska) which are popping up.

    I stream movies from my Mac mini media server to the ATV, with only a few hundred MB of photos synced to the ATV for the screensaver. But, I also recently hacked/setup a friend with a newer ATV so he can hook up a USB drive directly to the ATV and he plays videos directly from there through XBMC, requiring no syncing or streaming. This also works great.

    I also have an old WDTV in another room, which I hacked to be able to network to my Mac mini. While most movies play great, the interface makes me cringe each time I have to use it. It reminds me of using old DOS versus the latest OS X. If you can get by with that then go for it.
     
  18. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    Nov 6, 2009
    #18
    I don't know how PS3 'streams' they may indeed just play the info as it comes in whereas the ATV essentially loads the file on the local HDD and then plays it back from the ATV.
     
  19. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    #19
    The atv pre-loads a pre determined video buffer then starts playing the movie. It does not load the whole file to hdd when streaming. If the data stream is interrupted beyond the buffer the movie will stall.
     
  20. mstrze macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    #20
    Yet I have NEVER had ATV stall when playing a locally hosted movie through WiFi...i.e. a movie found on my inhouse iTunes drive....regardless of size.

    I am commenting on the difference between what ATV does and 'true' streaming of video across the internet. With ATV, you are watching a file that is being played back from your ATV HDD rather than a stream of video content that is played on an external server and then that data is essentially dropped as additional data (video) comes in to replace it. This way is prone to hiccups and errors. If you are playing the file from your ATV (which you are essentially...after a buffer amount of the video loads) you will have fewer issues than if you are playing a 'stream' from another computer.

    The only issues you might encounter are when you bring the internet into the mix...for example...watching trailers or renting/buying content and watching immediately on ATV. There can indeed be issues as the playback rate may exceed the incoming datasource rate and you might have to wait for the buffer to catch up.

    In-house networks like WiFi are way more than enough to allow AppleTV to 'stream' files from your iTunes account. Depending on how Sony does it with the PS3, I could see there being some issues.

    I was just saying that ethernet is not necessary for AppleTV to pull and play content from your iTunes source.
     

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