Apple TV thoughts

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by cowm007, Jun 21, 2007.

  1. cowm007 macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2005
    Just got me an Apple TV last week with some saved up credit card points and I couldn't be happier. Overall it's an awesome product but it's definitely not for everyone. Just wanted to share a few thoughts on it. Yes it's kinda long, but I have no personal blog, and apparently I have too much free time as well. These were some questions I asked myself before purchasing and here are my thoughts afterwards.

     Is it worth the price?
    I always have friends over at my place so I used to have my MacBook hooked up to the TV via mini-dvi and to the audio via the headphones port. It was an annoying setup, but it was the best I had. I would also worry about damage to my laptop or people messing with it. The Apple TV seemed like a good replacement but the price really put me off. Now that I have it, my MacBook is safely stored in my room and the  takes care of the entertainment job now.

    It's so nice to have ambient music going on with my photo albums as a slideshow for eye candy. It's also very easy now to get together and watch The Office (favorite show) for example without having to rig up some crazy set up. And it's just so damn simple, that's what makes it worth it. It's actually fun to use. I also just updated the software and the YouTube addition is great. How many times have you huddled around a computer to watch a funny video on that tiny screen? We just did that with a clip of the Bugatti Veyron hitting 407KmH on the big screen and for some reason it was just so much more exciting.

    And this might sound cheesy, but had a dinner party last weekend with some friends. Had some lounge music going on with pictures from a recent vacation I took with them. Throughout the night, a few pictures came up that made us laugh like crazy and sparked some good memories and stories. Didn't plan for that, it just happened. Pictures are always trapped inside of the computer since there's never an easy way to share them and this was just perfect. That, to me, was priceless.

     Which model should I get?
    I have A LOT of iTunes store content. Somewhere around 200GB of TV shows, movies, and music. Because of that, I debated for a while if I should pony up for the 160GB model or not. I can't hold all of my media on my MacBook, so I only keep my music, photos, and newest TV shows and movies on it. The rest is safely stored on a Windows desktop. I just download all new content to the MacBook, and once I'm done watching I save it to the desktop to leave space open. I was worried about this at first, but after understanding the streaming function from various sources, I realized this wouldn't be a problem at all.

    The key thing is to use either the ethernet connection or have an 802.11n network. I tried it out with an 802.11g network and it works fine, just that the bandwidth gets saturated and you can't multi-task on the net. With 100mbit available from wired/wireless network though, the drive isn't even needed. The point of syncing is just to have the newest media readily available so that regardless of the network conditions, you can watch it. Once watched though, it is removed from the drive and if you want to see it again you have to stream it (or mark it as new in iTunes). Trust me, if you get the 160GB model, your TV will spend most of its time empty. So in the end I stuck with the 40GB model and I have no complaints.

     How good/bad is the quality?
    Look, let me put it this way. Only my geek guy friends (I'm a comp-sci geek too, nothing against them) ever say: "Dude, you can see the pixelation of the h.264 codec in that one frame</geek>". This is said while Jack Bauer is about to be sacrificed for his country and a nuclear explosion just went off 5 ft behind him.

    The ladies on the other hand say "How did you get all those TV shows/music/photos on the TV? That little thing does it? OMG it's so pretty. Will you help me do that in my house‽". Enough said.

    Before buying the ATV, I thought it was kinda useless. My old method of using the MacBook was working out fine, although stressful at times. However now that I've given it a good test run, I found it to be another impressive Apple product. It makes the chore of putting digital content on your TV an enjoyable experience. There are a couple of shortcomings that are worthy of pointing out though.

    First off, the syncing is a bit confusing at first. It syncs in order of movies, then TV shows, then music, then photos. At first I thought it was messed up cause I kept changing things around and it kept getting emptied out, but I finally understood that it just makes sure that the higher priority content gets enough space.

    Second, it really only "just works" with iTunes content. This is OK for me since I'm a big iTunes store user, but if you have a lot of your own content, it won't be that easy. I've tried out the hacks to get the other content on there and they work, but it loses the automatic/simple feeling the TV gives you. If you're going through the trouble of opening up the TV to install other codecs/software, might as well just stick with your computer and hook it up to the TV directly. Or get a used Mac Mini and you can probably do some sweet stuff with that too. You just lose the simplicity/elegance.

    Finally, I wish it had some more features, maybe some cool screen-savers or visualizers. It has so much power underneath and it just feels like it is being wasted sometimes. My TV is just begging for some eye candy and TV doesn't deliver that sometimes. YouTube was a great first step, but surely they can take a cue from the Nintendo Wii and add some extras like news/weather/RSS.
  2. Mac In School macrumors 65816

    Jun 21, 2007
    Interesting take. Thanks for posting.

    How does the streaming work, if I set up another computer to stream from? That is, is it seamless in the eyes of the AppleTV viewer? Is everything on the menu at all times, as if it was stored on the hard drive?
  3. cowm007 thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2005
    There is a "Sources" menu. In there you chose if you want to use content from the TV, or any of your other linked computers. Once you chose a source, you have access to all the iTunes media on that computer. Takes a bit to load at first while it reads all the data, and you don't have access to photos, but after that it behaves as if the content was on the TV.
  4. JellyFish macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2007
    Good comments! I just got mine tonight and it's synching right now. It is very confusing when you first set it up and try to stream. I grew impatient and went to synching. lol

    I will figure it out mostly by tomorrow I think.
  5. Aniej macrumors 68000


    Oct 17, 2006
    is this Apple:apple: TV a new product ? double as good as just the :apple: TV.. haha just kidding with you.
  6. JellyFish macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2007
    I turned off synching and am now trying to stream again. I really have no interest in synching it. I just want to play the stuff on my mac.

    However, I only have a G network so I will probably get an N soon to improve the throughput.
  7. cowm007 thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2005
    Lol, I just wanted to make sure that searches for "Apple TV" and "TV" would work. I didn't think about the double appleness hehe.
  8. pjac macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2007
    Nice write up - sounds like the sort of thing Apple might want to quote from "happy customers" in their press material. Real enthusiasm!
    Is there any control over the syncing? For example, can you tell it to sync all the photos first, then music, and only do video files last if there is still space?

    I'm asking because the idea of having all my photos (and music!) on the TV is really nice, but I'd like not to depend on the main computer being turned on.

    On the other hand, how fast does it stream photos? My recent pictures are several MB each (6 million pixel camera) and this will only increase. Does running a slide show work smoothly when streaming over ethernet and/or wireless? How about browsing thumbnails of albums?

    If that is easily fast enough to cope then I can see why apple prioritised caching video first.

    UpdateAccording to another thread, it won't stream photos - only sync them..
  9. imlucid macrumors 6502

    May 3, 2007
    With iTunes 7.2 you can choose to prioritize photos above all else. However, the rest of the prioritization is the same Movies -> TV Shows -> Music

    But with Movies and TV Shows, you can set Apple TV to just sync over unwatched media (or some subset of that).

  10. Jasoco macrumors 6502

    May 28, 2006
    The :apple:TV is like the one thing I've always wanted. And I'm glad I got it. It's amazing IMHO.

    It was worth it just for my TV on DVD. It's like a TV Jukebox. With TV shows I usually watch them once then shelve them because it's too much trouble to watch an episode of a show because I have to figure out what season and disc holds the episode I want. With the AppleTV, it's all there at the click of my remote. I've wanted this forever. (And I didn't want to use WMCE or Linux. Apple all the way!)

    So far I have 120GB of movies and 98GB of TV shows ripped from my DVD's. 74 individual movies and 371 episodes of 12 TV shows in my library. And I'm still ripping. I have about 2-3 times that much in actuality. The only thing hindering my progress is my sllloooooowwww G4 mini. As soon as I get my Intel MacBook, I should be done a bit faster. For now it's rip, watch, rip, watch, etc.. I've been actually using my AppleTV as an excuse to rip and watch movies I still haven't even opened yet.

    I can't wait for the day someone figures out how to rip HD-DVD's and Blu-Ray's. :D

    If I could ask for one feature it would be USB HD expansion for syncing my entire library. So I wouldn't have to have my computer on all the time. 40GB and even 120GB won't cut it. I need to plug in a Terrabyte HD and use that. I want space!!! Plus, reversing and forwarding over the network is a pain. Local video would load much faster. (Especially when I am done encoding those HD recordings of Back to the Future to 720p at 5000KBPs.)

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