AppleTV alternatives

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by zen, Oct 9, 2007.

  1. zen macrumors 68000

    zen

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    Jun 26, 2003
    #1
    I've now got a size awesome hard drive in my new iMac, so was thinking about Mac-to-TV solutions. Obviously I know about the AppleTV, but 99.999% of the stuff I watch is in avi (DivX, XviD, etc) format. I know the AppleTV used to be able to be hacked to install Perian, but is that route closed off now?

    So, what can I use? I don't have or want an Xbox. Currently I just transfer the videos to my PowerBook and connect that to the TV via an S-video monster cable. Works fine, but if I can leave a box connected to the TV and just stream or copy from the iMac that would be cool.

    Suggestions? Don't mind spending a bit of money to get something decent. This is a widescreen SD TV, not high-def.
     
  2. MacBlackBook22 macrumors 6502

    MacBlackBook22

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    #2
    I am very lucky in that one of my "blackbooks" is permanently situated near my HDTV so that I have it connected using the DVI connection that the Bravia TV has. My movies are on an attached MyBook HD so that I can watch them. I think that something like this or the Mac Mini is the best solution for you.
     
  3. Mac In School macrumors 65816

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    Jun 21, 2007
    #3
    I prefer :apple:TV because I have a multi-room situation, where I want every TV to have the same content, without having to update them all manually.

    If that was not the case, I'd go with a Mac Mini.
     
  4. peeaanuut macrumors 65816

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    #4
    I 2nd the mini however if you want an alternative, MVIX makes a couple decent items. Their newest has wireless for adding files and streaming and plays just about every codec you can find. The trade off is that it is not very easy to use but you do get to put whatever size IDE hdd you want in it.
     
  5. zen thread starter macrumors 68000

    zen

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    #5
    Hmm, the Mac Mini is getting too expensive (£399 for the base model in the UK). I've read some reviews of the Mvix box which looks pretty good, but it seems like it crops video sometimes.

    The AppleTV certainly is the most elegant solution, but as I said all the stuff I have is DivX or similar, and if I have to convert it all to an :apple:TV friendly format each time I may as well just continue to transfer the video to my PowerBook and plug it in with the cable.

    The AppleTV also has a disadvantage in that it only offers composite, component or HDMI - here in Europe we use RGB, not component (and they are not compatible), my TV isn't HD, and composite is horrible. I current connect from the PowerBook with S-video.

    Plus I've looked up hacking it to install Perian, and it looks like a nightmare to do.

    I can't believe there isn't a simple solution for people who can't use the AppleTV?
     
  6. asnozz macrumors member

    asnozz

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    #6

    component is different to RGB. Component is a HD analogue and is available on 99% of HD sets in the UK ;). RGB is basically scart and comparable to S-video in the states. Your only option is composite if you're staying at standard def.... I thought the apple TV was only HDMI and component though?
     
  7. TheChillPill macrumors regular

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    #7
    I have a D-Link DSM520 media player, which can connect to my MBP in my office (and my windows home server). Can't fault it at all - plenty of connections (wireless lan, ethernet, scart, HDMI, optical out) and a pretty decent price - I paid £179, although that was maybe around 6 months ago.
     
  8. zen thread starter macrumors 68000

    zen

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    #8
    Looks good - easy to set up with a Mac? And any trouble with file formats? I've checked out the D-Link website and it seems to list everything. It says avi (mpeg-4 layer only), which is what DivX is, isn't it? XviD is listed separately.

    Interface and remote look pretty good.
     
  9. TheChillPill macrumors regular

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    #9
    Very easy to set up for the Mac - I installed twonkymedia and it basically just takes care of itself now. Never had a problem with any file formats (most of the stuff I get is Xvid, but everything else I've thrown at it has played perfectly too).

    I believe there is a new one out now/due shortly that can also read mkv files (HD), but obviously that won't be any use with a SD TV.
     
  10. zen thread starter macrumors 68000

    zen

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    #10
    This is looking better :cool:

    So does it have it's own hard drive, or is everything streamed from the Mac?
     
  11. TheChillPill macrumors regular

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    #11
    Everything is streamed - I personally use Homeplugs and Ethernet rather than wireless though (personal preference). It does however have a USB port that allows you to connect an external hard drive or pen drive.
     
  12. zen thread starter macrumors 68000

    zen

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    #12
    Right, so if I had a USB hard drive plugged in I could wirelessly copy files across to it, and then the box will play it off that. Because if I had to plug the hard drive into the Mac to transfer the files across, then take the drive over to the box and plug it in, that makes it a bit pointless as I'm pretty much doing that with my PowerBook at the moment!
     
  13. netdog macrumors 603

    netdog

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    #13
  14. TheChillPill macrumors regular

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    #14
    To be honest, I'm actually not sure - I've never tried that. If your preference is using a USB hard drive rather than just streaming 'live' from the Mac, I will try it out for you tonight.
     
  15. zen thread starter macrumors 68000

    zen

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    #15
    That would be cool, thanks. My concern with streaming is that it might be a bit stuttery or something (not that I am going to be playing large files or anything). So copying to a HDD first would be good - but then again if the wireless streaming is fine then that's great.

    In terms of the HDD, I'm guessing you can plug it in to the box, then the box knows it has storage and you can stream the content to the HDD via the boxes interface and OS X. Um, if you know what I mean!
     
  16. TheChillPill macrumors regular

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    #16
    I would be inclined to try wireless streaming first - if you normally get a good signal between one room and another, it should be fine. Otherwise, perhaps look in to homeplugs (they use the electrical circuit to transmit data) - unless you already have an external drive you'll use.

    I'll test it tonight and let you know.
     
  17. pilotError macrumors 68020

    pilotError

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    #17
    There been a bunch of announcements for products that pretty much mimic what the Apple TV does.

    D-Link has the DSM-320R
    Actiontec (don't know if it has a model number)
    Momitsu DVD-V880N

    Just to name a few. Essentially the market is moving toward DVD players that can stream media from your PC. There's a flurry of products going to be available before the holiday season. What's nice, is these products didn't limit the codecs or the sound. Many can do 5.1 dolby and some do 7.1, but the catch here is that your media has to support it. Since they are also DVD players, it isn't an issue.
     
  18. zen thread starter macrumors 68000

    zen

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    #18
    Hmm, all very interesting.

    Going back to the Mac mini option for a moment, I assume that's actually one of the most straight-forward setups:

    Mac mini connected to the TV > Mac mini on your wireless network > Copy what you like from the main machine to the mini's HDD > play what you like on the TV simply using FrontRow and the mini's remote control.

    Is that right? So long as Perian is installed on the mini and you make .mov containers for your DivXs, etc, so iTunes/FrontRow recognises them, you're home and dry?

    Seems very very easy, and the FrontRow interface is pretty good!
     
  19. AVR2 macrumors 6502

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    Jan 16, 2006
    #19
    Actually, no. RGB is the highest-quality signal you can get with standard-definition TV - in descending order of quality, it goes RGB>component>S-video>composite.

    Component is a bandwidth-limited version of RGB, developed because it's cheaper and easier to process component video than it is RGB video. Even professional TV broadcast production equipment only works in component, not RGB. The quality advantage of RGB over component, though measurable, is so small in actual see-it-with-your-eyes terms that it's not worth the significant extra cost involved in producing RGB-compatible production equipment.

    Not sure what you mean by "RGB is basically scart" - SCART is simply a standard for AV interconnects that can handle RGB, component, S-video or composite, depending on how you choose to wire it.
     
  20. zen thread starter macrumors 68000

    zen

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    #20
    Do all the AppleTV hacks to play DivX/whatever format require the case to be cracked and the hard drive removed, or are software-based installers now?
     
  21. TheChillPill macrumors regular

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    #21
    I tested the external hard drive thing for you last night on my D-Link, plugged the drive in to it and tried to find it through the Mac - no dice unfortunately.
     
  22. zen thread starter macrumors 68000

    zen

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    #22
    Cheers for trying!
     

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