Apple TV questions from a newbie

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by MadDogMike, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. MadDogMike macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #1
    1.) Can I use the Apple TV hard drive effectively as a network hard drive to backup non-media files and for use with Time Machine?

    If not, I may end up buying a network HD, like the Apple Time Capsule.

    2.) If I loaded my media files on the network drive, can Apple TV access them?

    3.) If the answer to #2 is "yes", and I have a large network HD, is there any purpose in buying the 160MB Apple TV vs. the 40MB version?

    thanks,
    Mike
     
  2. SilentPanda Moderator emeritus

    SilentPanda

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    Oct 8, 2002
    Location:
    The Bamboo Forest
    #2
    1) No.
    2) If they are in iTunes I believe so.
    3) You don't have to stream as much and can access more content in the event your computer is off or asleep.
     
  3. MadDogMike thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 27, 2008
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #3
    OK, but I can at least load all of my media files (like MP3's) onto the Apple TV hard drive, right?

    Well, if I had the media files on a network hard drive, it wouldn't matter if my computer was off or asleep, right?
     
  4. SilentPanda Moderator emeritus

    SilentPanda

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    #4
    You can but I would not suggest removing them off your main machine. You cannot transfer the MP3's back from the Apple TV to your computer.

    It would matter. The Apple TV still streams from your computer which streams from your networked hard drive.
     
  5. rulerofthemoon macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    #5
    will stream everything

    If you're syncing music and photos, the Apple TV will play both content stored on the device and EVERYTHING IN THE ITUNES LIBRARY OF THE SYNC'D COMPUTER AS LONG AS ITUNES IS RUNNING ON THAT COMPUTER.

    This is a small but effective change from the previous version. Before, you had to specify whether you wanted to play local content or stream from your computer. Now, as long as iTunes is running, the Apple TV will automatically access content in iTunes that is not on the TV.

    Basically, you main iTunes library becomes a "network attached storage". If you want, buy an old used mac and it can in your basement acting as an itunes server.
     
  6. MadDogMike thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #6
    Well, here's the deal. My wife & I both have MacBooks. (No "main" computer.) I want to store all of our media files in one place so we don't have some stuff on her computer and some on mine. Sounds like I need a network drive, or maybe a Mac Mini or to act as a server.

    A hard drive is a lot cheaper, but you're saying that even if I have a network hard drive, :apple:TV can't stream from it unless one of our MacBooks is awake and running iTunes, correct?

    It seems like I'd be better of scrapping :apple:TV altogether and just getting a Mac Mini. I can store and play all of my media files directly from a Mac Mini, and use it as a DVD player too. If I have to buy a Mac Mini anyway, what good is :apple:TV anyway?

    Thanks,
    Mike
     
  7. supercooled macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    #7
    It's probably more cost effective to buy TWO AppleTVs and hack one to run Tiger or Leopard. Minis are twice or some times 2.5x more than an AppleTV. You can also run Hackintosh if you prefer :D


    Actually, I have contemplated about doing what I proposed. I am fed up with Apple not making the AppleTV more capable; this crap they have on sale is a joke.
     
  8. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

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    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #8
    You could always just hack your :apple:TV to enable the USB and connect a huge HDD to it.

    This can be done without opening the box. See here for example: http://www.appletvhacks.net/

    B
     
  9. alFR macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    #9
    I went through the same debate recently: it depends what you want to do with it, I suppose.... I decided in the end to get a mini to act as a server and an Apple TV to connect to the TV. The main reason was that from what I read the mini doesn't always play well with HDTVs - typically you either need to run it via VGA or hack about with the resolutions if you're using HDMI and even then you often get some overscan. The other decision-maker was that you can't do the HD rentals from iTunes on a mini, only from the Apple TV.

    Also, if I get a Mini it saves me buying Time Capsule (I can do Time Machine backups over the network from our other machines to shared drives on the mini), it'll be a printer server, it lets me keep all my big media files off my laptop's HD but still always available to my Apple TV, in the future I can use it for other things like telephony and home automation etc. etc. I wouldn't want our printer etc. under my TV though, hence why for me the mini is more appropriate in a server role.
     
  10. MadDogMike thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 27, 2008
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #10
    A Time Capsule can also be used as a print server, has much more storage and is a lot cheaper than a Mini. I could see buying a Mini instead of an :apple:TV, but not both...too much money! Really, no matter what you do here, you end up buying redundant equipment, unless you do hacks, which is starting to seem like the way to go for me.
     
  11. Avatar74 macrumors 65816

    Avatar74

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    #11
    AppleTV is more of an integrated solution to bridge content from your LAN with your home theater. Mac Mini is not really tailor-made for this solution... As stated by others, you're going to experience resolution issues, not to mention color gamut differences.

    The other problem I see is the logic behind your argument. You stated you did not want to have a computer on all the time for constant access to media. Mac Mini is a computer. In order to access its content (not to mention the whole menuing system) you'll have to have it turned on.

    Not that I prefer you get an AppleTV, necessarily, but how does this solve your problem?

    The advantage of the AppleTV is this:

    In addition to HD rentals and onscreen access to YouTube, Flickr, and tons of podcasts, you can sync your library, or any part of it, to your AppleTV so that when you DON'T have a computer running, AppleTV is still useful. Since you may at one time or another have a computer or two on, the AppleTV gives you the additional flexibility of not having to consolidate your media in the first place. e.g. if your wife wants to keep her iPod tracked to her computer, and you to yours...

    The AppleTV is also $229, whereas the Mac Mini is $600-800. That's between 3 and 4 times the price. You could buy an HD-DVD player and an AppleTV for the same price. But if your ultimate goal is to consolidate your video library on your network with immediate and indexed access... a DVD player is redundant anyway.

    So... For you, is the Mac Mini worth the extra money just to replace the problem of keeping a computer on with the new problem of keeping the Mac Mini always on?

    Every new technology you attempt to integrate into your lifestyle requires varying degrees of re-organizing... The AppleTV mitigates a lot of this by not requiring you to reorganize anything if you don't want to, and by giving you organized access to organized and often disjointed sets of content. There's no getting around the fact that you'll have to re-rig something... but AppleTV requires the least amount of re-rigging of any convergence device that I've seen in a long time.
     
  12. alFR macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    #12
    You can stick a chain of 500Gb firewire externals onto a Time Capsule? Who knew? :rolleyes:

    More seriously though, I can see your point: if storage/printing is all you want, a mini is overkill. I have a lot more in mind for mine though, including the aforementioned home automation, home security, telephony/fax etc. If you're not bothered about any of that then I agree with Avatar74 and think Apple TV plus/minus Time Capsule is probably better for you - you can just sync from one of your computers to the Apple TV when it suits you/you have them on and leave them off the rest of the time.
     
  13. MadDogMike thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 27, 2008
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #13
    I'm well aware that a Mac Mini is a computer, and if you want to get technical, so is AppleTV! It's just a dumbed-down computer that requires me to buy extra equipment or do hacks to enable it to do what I want to do.

    What I wanted was:

    1) A central place to store all of my MP3's, so my wife and I don't have to keep redundant collections on our MacBooks.
    2) User interface via my home theater, not my MacBook.
    3) Network storage for non-media files, back-ups and to use with Time Machine
    4.) A print server.

    The only reason I brought up Mac Mini was that somebody suggested I buy that as a server along with Apple TV, since Apple TV can't stream direct from a network hard drive. After reading about Apple TV hacks, I noted that many people are loading Leopard onto it, enabling it for mouse & keyboard, and loading browsers on it for surfing the web. Then I thought, that would be nice to surf the web on my large flat-screen!

    So I started thinking Mac Mini. I can get HD "On-Demand" through my cable, so I don't really care about that. Besides, one can download & watch movies from NetFlix or other services. Mac Mini has DVI which can convert to HDMI for video. If I have to fiddle with resolutions, so, I'd have to hack Apple TV to do what I want too. Then I could also surf the web or do anything else I wanted on my flat-screen via a full-featured computer, not a dumbed-down Apple TV.

    Wouldn't that still be possible with the MP3 files on a central network hard drive? Can't her iTunes pull the files from the hard drive and sync to her iPod, and mine do the same on mine? I don't see the point in having duplicate MP3 databases. Then we end up downloading duplicate copies of the same songs, not knowing the other had already downloaded it. Keeping everything in once central place keeps everything simplified and organized.

    Besides, I also need network storage for non-media files!

    I know, that's why I decided not to buy one! The poster had suggested I buy a Mac Mini AND an Apple TV. I was saying that if I had to buy a Mac Mini I would not ALSO buy an Apple TV. I would also not buy an HD-DVD, since that format is dead. Also, a video library was never part of my needs. I can't watch a movie more than once, but I can listen to a song hundreds of times.

    It's a nice peice of equipment, it just doesn't do what I need.
     
  14. alFR macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    #14
    Well, a Time Capsule will do 1, 3 and 4 but not 2. An Apple TV will do 2. A mini attached to your TV will do all of those, but with some compromises on the interface re: resolutions etc. and you'll need your printer within USB cable reach of the TV. I'd not get away with that in our house. :)
     
  15. MadDogMike thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #15
    I'd not get away with it in my house either! Had I went with the Mini option, I would have bought a $90 Airport Express for the print server. Instead, I'm holding off for now.

    My biggest complaints about :apple:TV were that I couldn't actually use its hard drive for any storage, which meant I had to buy a network drive anyway, and then it couldn't stream from that drive!

    For now I'm just buying a Time Capsule, because I really need central storage for business reasons, too. Then I'm buying an Airport Express, just to stream MP3's to the stereo, to hold me over.

    I'll wait for Apple to come up with a true convergence HTPC-type offering. I'm hoping for something like a Mac Mini with Blue-Ray, HDMI and all of :apple:TV's features as well. That would be nice!

    Thanks for everybody's help!
     

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