Best format of video for Apple TV (need to convert lots of videos)

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Spanky Deluxe, Sep 19, 2007.

  1. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    Ok, so this isn't really Apple TV specific as much as it is Frontrow / Apple TV / iPhone.

    I've got literally thousands of ripped and downloaded episodes of TV series and films. Before anyone asks, yes they are 'legal' because I own shedloads of DVDs and boxsets, I just like them on my computer for easier access. I'd estimate it at around 500-550GB worth. Now I've always kept it to either xvid or divx avi files because back in my Windows days they were the most compatible - same reason my music collection is still mostly in the mp3 format even though it takes up more space.

    Now I'm planning on getting a new tv and am thinking of getting an AppleTV or a Mac Mini for it (although I'll probably just hook up my Mac Pro with a lengthy DVI->HDMI cable at first). I'm also planning on getting an iPhone when they get released in November over here. If I understand correctly, neither the AppleTV nor the iPhone support the avi file format. I've had a Mini before and with the right codecs FrontRow could play most of them fine.
    What can I do to re-encode everything into a format supported by the AppleTV and the iPhone without the loss of compatability with most other video players? Do I have to encode different versions for the AppleTV and the iPhone? What software should I use?

    Its largely because of this that I'm thinking I should save up for a Mac Mini for the lounge rather than an AppleTV - especially if I have to re-encode everything into two flavours for the iPhone anyway.
  2. Jetman macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2007
    It's a bit of a minefield

    Here's a good couple of articles:

    Main problem is optimal resolution for Apple TV won't work on iPhone/Pod so you have to either transcode files twice or compromise the resolution for your Apple TV. So Mac Mini is your best bet, only have to transcode once for iPhone (.
  3. MikieMikie macrumors 6502a

    Aug 7, 2007
    Newton, MA
    You should also be aware that the "format" or "codec" of choice is H.264.

    -- Mikie
  4. SthrnCmfrtr macrumors 6502

    Aug 20, 2007
    Las Vegas, NV
    My advice, personally, is to buy an Xbox, hack it into a media center (takes an hour), and spend the extra money on a nicer TV. You can get the Xbox, the stuff for a softmod, and the HD kit for outputting to an HDTV For about $150, half the cost of an Apple TV and a quarter that of a Mac mini.

    In addition, you won't have to @#$%ing reencode everything, which would suck because it takes a massive amount of time (even with an Elgato Turbo encoder, which does it roughly in real-time), takes up a lot of hard drive space, is complicated to handle in iTunes because Apple can't figure out how to make their damn aliases work properly, and likely screws up whatever organizational scheme you currently have. If you're re-encoding from disc, then that takes up even more space on your hard drive and is going to require scripting unless Mac utilities have advanced greatly since earlier this year and is even slower since it has to read from disc and can wear out your DVD drive, according to complaints I've heard. If you're re-encoding the files, then you're losing some picture quality or increasing file size to retain the same quality.

    Get an Xbox, use the saved time and money and years of your life to buy your iPhone, and encode each movie individually for your iPhone the night before you want to watch it.

  5. E-Tech macrumors member

    Mar 14, 2007
    Not to be rude or anything but those answers dont really answer his main question whats the best format for apple tv?
  6. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    Random thought, but VisualHub has a setting that will rip a video into the best possible format so that the one file can be played on the iPod, AppleTV or iPhone. Wonder if there's a way to figure out what that is?
  7. Kinetic macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2007
    You probably already know, but ATv doesn't support 5.1 audio yet. I don't pretend to understand half of it but I don't think there is a format you can save to to allow 5.1 audio so if that's important to you you might need to do more research on that part.
  8. Spanky Deluxe thread starter macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    I think I'm just going to forget the AppleTV for now. An AppleTV would put me back £200 while a Mac Mini would put me back £343.14. I think I'm just going to get an extra long DVI to HDMI cable off eBay for a while until I get enough money for a Mac Mini. The AppleTV just doesn't seem like a good enough deal for me right now - especially when you factor in the sheer number of hours I'd have to waste re-encoding stuff. £143.14 for no recoding + a fully functional computer... that's a no brainer really.

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