ATV-like interface on OS X?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Lord Hamsa, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. Lord Hamsa macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2013
    Probably a dumb question, but I'm seriously planning a "cut the cord" setup when I'm out of contract with DirecTV this winter. With three TV locations (family room, rec room, master bedroom), my original plans were for three ATVs, one for each location.

    However, of late I've been considering adding a Mac Mini to the setup as a dedicated media server (and home to an Elgato EyeTV for recording/transcribing OTA), and I could probably just use that instead of the ATV at one of the locations (family room, most likely, as that's where the router is, and I can go wired instead of wireless there).

    My wife and I are both tech-savvy enough to deal with that, but for seamless and consistent experience issues, I was wondering if there was some kind of skin for iTunes on OS X that would make the look and feel match the ATV's UI. I'd be primarily using this setup for video, and expect to be purchasing content from iTunes as well as what I record and transcode from OTA signals.
  2. eecyclone macrumors regular


    Jul 10, 2013
    I have a mac mini that I use as a dedicated server. I used to have it connected to my main TV but it was a hassle because Apple does not have a good interface for navigating itunes with a remote. I even downloaded remote buddy to use with my harmony 890 remote and that gave me a ton of options, but it was never easy enough to use so I kept getting out my keyboard and mouse when I wanted to watch something.

    The easiest way that I have found to have a remote-navigable interface is to use Plex. The interface is slightly different but it is as easy, if not easier, to learn than using an ATV. But for live TV you will still have to use EyeTV (I think).

    Currently, I have an ATV hooked up to my main TV that I use to access my itunes content. It is just simpler to use and I don't ever have to resort to using a keyboard and mouse to watch a simple TV show. My mini is just a dedicated media and time machine server now.
  3. Lord Hamsa, Jul 17, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2013

    Lord Hamsa thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2013
    I considered Plex, but doesn't that have a problem playing protected iTunes store content? Or is there some plug-in for Plex that launches iTunes to play protected media?

    As for mouse & Keyboard, I fully intend to use Mobile Mouse on my iPhone when one is needed.

    For watching live TV, I expect to have the antenna signal also going directly into the TV. The EyeTV would be used only for DVR-like capability of recording for later viewing (scripted so that recording are automatically transcoded, tagged, and loaded into iTunes).
  4. institute macrumors regular

    Oct 10, 2012
    Plexconnect on your ATV, in concert with Plex Media Server, will play iTunes DRM content.
  5. Fuchal macrumors 68020

    Sep 30, 2003
  6. Lord Hamsa, Jul 18, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2013

    Lord Hamsa thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2013
    Be that as it may, I'm talking about playing content on a Mac Mini as well.

    Thanks! I'll check that out! I have a Snow Leopard disk around somewhere... (ETA: actually, I have my actual hard drive from my poor expired iMac that was running Snow Leopard at the time of its passing in an external enclosure - I should be able to get it right from there.)
  7. Tanax macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2011
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Why not check out XBMC? You can use whatever skin you want with it, it supports browsing your video-library as well as having a bunch of addons/plugins that allows you to extend the basic XBMC functionality.

    Also you can launch applications from within XBMC as easy as clicking an icon. Those applications can be games, utilities, anything you want.

    XBMC is also widely supported and developed (+ free, did I mention that?!).
  8. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Yes, use XBMC. It may not look as refined, but it is rock solid, super fast and it offers the best viewing. DVD's, high bitrate 1080p stuff, all responds very well, looks great, syncs good with audio, great customizable subs, fast previews.
    VLC for example feels like pre-alpha software compared to XBMC.

    And Plex I don't get it. Since it was split in server/player components it does not make sense any more. But maybe I want to keep things simple. Not interested in making libraries with tags, nice images and stuff. XBMC plays network folders great, don't need a server for that.
  9. YanniDepp macrumors 6502


    Dec 10, 2008
    There's a skin for XBMC called Quartz. It looks like the old Apple TV 3.0 menu.

  10. Lord Hamsa thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2013
    Update: I extracted the FrontRow files as directed in the link upthread, and... nothing. When I try to launch the app (I'm using Lion), nothing happens, no change to the menu bar, no icon in the dock, nada.

    So, we'll assume that's a dead-end for now.

    I downloaded XMBC but haven't gotten a chance to play around with it much yet. I have the same basic concern there that I do for Plex, which is will handle the iTunes store DRM-protected movies? Because that's going to be a large portion of the video library.

    In the end, I may just wind up going with iTunes on the Mac Mini and accept the different UI on that one location. But we'll see.

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