Apple TV or HTPC???

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by MacFanUK, Dec 20, 2009.

  1. MacFanUK macrumors 6502a

    MacFanUK

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #1
    I have recently got a new TV and am now thinking of buying an AppleTV to go with it. The things I like about the AppleTV are as follows:

    1. Syncing with iTunes
    2. Streaming media from other computers on the network
    3. Ability to buy/rent media from iTunes Store
    4. Ability to watch YouTube videos

    However, I'm not overly keen on spending £200+ on the AppleTV, especially considering (apart from software), it hasn't really changed since it was first released, and the 160GB hard drive isn't as much space as I'd have liked for storing videos, etc.

    I will be replacing my current hackintosh with a real Mac shortly, so I was thinking, I could save some money by using my current PC hardware as a HTPC, but is there any software that I could use that will give me the above 4 benefits of the AppleTV?

    I would be willing to use either Windows or OSX...whichever would give me a better HTPC interface really.

    Thanks in advance :)
     
  2. jamerican macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2009
    Location:
    Florida
    #2
    Since you already have the Hackintosh, may I suggest that you save some money and use that box along with OSX and the free and available software (Boxee, XBMC, Plex) as an HTPC. All can be had from Macupdate.com. If you have a Netflix account you can also stream free movies from Netflix, Youtube and a host of other sites and from attached HD's through Plex which is about the best program out there.
    I use a Mac Mini to do this (while waiting to see if there is going to be a new ATV in the near future) and believe me, it works great. The mini is a 1.66GHZ CoreDuo with 2GB of memory and it works flawlessly.
    Your Hackintosh should be able to handle it all depending on your processor and ram.
    Hope this helps.;)
     
  3. MacFanUK thread starter macrumors 6502a

    MacFanUK

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #3
    Thanks. Yeah, that's the kinda thing I was thinking of. Is there a remote control (and receiver) that I could get that'd work with plex and osx/hackintosh?

    What about the syncing with iTunes, etc?

    Thanks
     
  4. jamerican macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2009
    Location:
    Florida
    #4
    I don't play iTunes through the Mini as I have an Airport Express connected to my receiver in the living room. I use the Mini strictly for movies and use the Apple remote that came with it. Maybe someone else could help out with this?:eek:
     
  5. jamerican macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2009
    Location:
    Florida
    #5
    I forgot to mention that I also own a WD TV HD Live which is connected on my network and sees my iTunes library on my iMac (2008 2.4GHZ) along with any disks that I have connected to it. The iMac in turn sees the WD TV Live and the Mini and I can read/write to any drives that are connected to those units from the iMac. With this setup I don't have to plug/unplug any HDD's from any of the machines.
    The WD TV Live works great with Macs and, as far as I have read, do not have any of the problems when used with Windows machines.:rolleyes:
     
  6. MacFanUK thread starter macrumors 6502a

    MacFanUK

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    Thanks. What I would be looking for primarily is a system where I can Sync media from my computers to the HTPC (or AppleTV), much like the AppleTV does (i.e. copy the media to the system rather than always streaming from another computer), but also have the advantage of being able to stream if required.

    I don't want to have to have a computer on (other than the htpc) in order to use the media.

    Can anyone else offer any advice?
     
  7. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #7
    If your hackintosh has two or more audio outs (one of which is optical or coaxial that works), then that's what I'd do. You should also buy a MacBook Pro IR board and mount it on the inside of your hackintosh for using Apple-compatible remotes. This board is about $30 and requires a mini-USB to USB mobo header to install (another $5 or so). The problem with the Macs is they only have one audio-out port. Not a problem if you only have one audio device (e.g., TV or receiver) but a major problem if you need both.
     
  8. MacFanUK thread starter macrumors 6502a

    MacFanUK

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    Thanks Cave Man. Can't remember what my hackintosh has re audio output. One of the advantages of the AppleTV that it wouldn't be possible to replicate in a Mac or my hackintosh would be the audio via HDMi. I currently have a cheap home theatre speaker system which I will eventually be upgrading to an AV receiver, so audio output to that would be good.

    One thing I have just found is aTV Flash which gives the AppleTV more functionality and opens up the USB port to accept an external hard drive. Is that an option worth persuing?
     
  9. MacFanUK thread starter macrumors 6502a

    MacFanUK

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    I've just had a play with Plex, Boxee and XBMC and although I like Plex, I don't find any of them particularly easy to use. With plex, it seems confusing (at least to begin with) having a seperate 'videos' and 'movies' category. It also failed to pick up the videos in my Downloads folder after I added that folder.

    I must say, at the moment, the AppleTV seems like a good idea.
     
  10. MacFanUK thread starter macrumors 6502a

    MacFanUK

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
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    UK
    #10
    Sorry to revive this but I still can't decide what the best option would be.

    I have looked at plex in some detail and it looks good. I'm just not 100% sure if it's better than the AppleTV route.

    Has anyone here tried Plex/HTPC and converted to AppleTV? Any the other way round?

    Thanks
     
  11. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #11
    I much prefer the Apple TV experience, but Plex is far more powerful and plays many more codecs. If only we could get the ATV Front Row merged with Plex, that'd be just about perfect.
     
  12. dernhelm macrumors 68000

    dernhelm

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Location:
    middle earth
    #12
    Agreed. It would be nice to not have to shell out for a mini in order to run Plex as well. But if money is no object, a low-end mini running Plex gets my vote.
     
  13. tmofee macrumors regular

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    Sep 27, 2009
    Location:
    Mildura
    #13
    kinda wishing i saved a little more cash and got a mini.. no matter .. the ATV is pretty cool, mainly use it now for the daily show downloads which i get off of itunes. the rest is ps3/playtv which is really really handy.. boxee i need to reinstall since the upgrade...
     
  14. AkronElliott macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2009
    #14
    3. Ability to buy/rent media from iTunes Store

    Can someone address the issue with "cost" of content once you purchase the AppleTv. That can provide data from experience of more than 1 year?

    Cutting cable may be a empowering idea. But the cost of replacing the content could be something easily overlooked. I have not seen anything to my satisfaction that steers to "cost effective" content.

    I tend to be concerned about, that many free content are trial offers with the expectation of being fee based. New subscription based services will arrive.

    If I take the leap of having an appleTv to stream my content to, will I end up paying more in a year with this rather than staying where I am?

    Reality is telling me that the consumers will drive the price of the content once it is online.

    Another question: Data Storage for content. With the advent of more web based storage and services. I wonder if the size of the hard drive on the AppleTv or networked data storage will matter if we will attach the appleTV to the web and download via Front Row web service to the AppleTv buffer that will stream that content to the tv.

    I can see the Cable companys changing the monthly cost of the internet throughput of the cable modems. To make up from loss of tv subscribers the burden will be moved to the cable connection and throughput.

    Would be nice to have additional choices in the future for internet connection besides telephone companies and cable companies. I wonder if the local electric companies would be up for that challenge?
     
  15. mstrze macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    #15
    Elliott,

    I've been with AppleTV for more than a year and without sat or cable for 4 months now. Even with subcribing to multiple series and spending $150 or so we are still well ahead of the game by $110 so far...and that figure goes up 90 bucks each month (our previous monthly bill)! We view HD over-the-air and buy HD and SD shows from iTunes that we really love (Glee, The Office, 30 Rock and Flash Forward..etc). Also buy some additional content and rentals from time to time. Works great for us, but I would jump on the subscription model that seems to be on the horizon.

    And hard drive space is not an issue for us. I don't store any content on AppleTV, it's all on my Mac which is set up for wake-on-wireless and streams on demand. I host my iTunes content from a brand new 1TB external drive...which currently has 120GB of content. I am in the process of simplifying my life by transferring ALL my DVD and CD content into iTunes. :D
     
  16. MacFanUK thread starter macrumors 6502a

    MacFanUK

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #16
    Can Plex play iTunes purchased movies? Is there any Windows based Media Centre applications that can play iTunes purchased movies?

    Ideally, because of the remote control issue, I would like to use Windows 7 for the HTPC (if I go down that route), but I need to be able to play iTunes purchased movies so that may restrict me to OSX.
     
  17. michael.lauden macrumors 68020

    michael.lauden

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2008
    #17
    does this thread even have a point? HTPC all the way. do a little research about the software and DRM.
     
  18. MacFanUK thread starter macrumors 6502a

    MacFanUK

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #18
    Forums are here to help people...otherwise forums would be pointless. Does your post have a point??

    I am asking for advice as this is an area I have never gone into before. Simply saying HTPC all the way, without anything to back it up is not helpful in the slightest.
     
  19. TuckBodi macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    #19
    What's wrong with XBMC, of which Plex is a fork?
     
  20. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #20
    Nothing's wrong with XBMC. I don't use it so I have no opinion about it.
     
  21. MacFanUK thread starter macrumors 6502a

    MacFanUK

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #21
    Ok, I've looked at the options and I think it's down to a HTPC running Front Row or an Apple TV.

    Not sure if it's just me, but plex won't play iTunes purchased videos.
     
  22. Mr.Gadget macrumors 6502

    Mr.Gadget

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Location:
    Post Falls, ID
    #22
    How about the TV overscan issues?

    I also have a Hackintosh (and 2 real ones). The Hackintosh is connected to my 58" Plasma via HDMI. In Windows 7 mode, my nVidia 8800GT has a mode to adjust the screen for overscan but the Mac does not have this. That has been a problem for some time now and I was wondering if there has been any app developed besides SwitchRes (which costs money and is hard to use)?

    My four corners are outside viewable area. It would be nice to see the whole screen. Any apps out there? Just another thought when debating between HTPC and AppleTV.
     
  23. robotartfashion macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2009
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #23
    Have you tried PLEX as your media frontend? It corrects for overscan so there are no issues with media when using it, also it's fantastic at media playback and has a hell of a lot of eye candy. That's why I use it
     
  24. seepel macrumors 6502

    seepel

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2009
    #24
    Don't forget that with Apple TV firmware 2.x you can still install Boxee and XBMC on top of it. http://code.google.com/p/atvusb-creator/

    I have been using Plex/XBMC for the last year and half or so, and I've tried some other HTPC software, most notably Boxee and MythTV. In my opinion Plex/XBMC are the nicest of the bunch. I also think Plex is alot more stable/usable than XBMC, although I'm in the process of getting this Broadcom Crystal HD card going on my Apple TV that will let me play 1080p. The thing I like most about the Apple TV is the hardware in it (once this hardware decoder is working anyway). HDMI, Optical Audio and built in IR receiver.

    If you're looking for something other than an Apple TV, the Acer Aspire Revo is a popular choice for Boxee/Apple TV. It uses an Nvidia Ion GPU so it can do 1080p, and has an HDMI port that I believe supports 7.1 audio. Unfortunately no built in IR receiver though. And I decided against it because I really need Toslink as I have a 5.1 set up.
     
  25. Mr.Gadget macrumors 6502

    Mr.Gadget

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Location:
    Post Falls, ID
    #25
    Thanks for the suggestions! Will try.
    About the TOSlink... I have one on my PC-Mac that I thought worked under Leopard but doesn't yet under Snow Leopard. Is there anything special on making that TOSlink work?
    Thanks again!
     

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