Best way to get non-iTunes videos to the HDTV?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by keaide, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. keaide macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2010
    I'm looking for a way to be able to watch videos on my TV that are in a format that iTunes cannot digest. I've thought about some alternatives, but not sure if any of them would work:

    • Buy a component cable for my iPhone 4 and connect it to the TV & get an iPhone app that can play the video file. In the Apple online store, the iPhone 4 is listed as a compatible device for the component cable, but then in the description further down it says
      So, no iPhone 4 there... . I found that a bit confusing... . has anyone tried if that does work?
    • Use my iPod nano 5th generation instead of the iPhone. But would I need to compromise on the video quality (i.e. does iTunes need a "smaller" or "lower quality" format for the iPod than for the iPhone)? Or is the output quality of iPhone 4 and iPod nano the same and would look good on a 46 inch HDTV?
    • Get Apple TV and stream the video from iTunes. In order to do so, I would then need to convert the video into a format that iTunes wanna make friend with... . But I wonder about the loss of quality. So I'm not sure about that.
    • Get Apple TV and help it a bit to not only play videos coming from iTunes. I'm not sure how easy it is to convince Apple TV to comply with that, but who knows... there are some rumors that iPhones can also be convinced to like some more things...
    • Forget about Apple completely and (a) plug a USB drive into my DVD player (that sounds quite convenient, but the video decoder of my DVD player is inferior to what I can get out of, let's say VLC) or (b) burn a DVD with the video and feed my DVD player with it...

    Any recommendations or alternatives? I'm not really experienced with this topic... so just in case I wrote something stupid... then please forgive me...
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
  3. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    I'm assuming here that your Mac isn't anywhere near your TV, so direct connection isn't an option at all. I ask because, although good cable capable of long runs (in the 50-100 foot range) can get pricy, running a direct HDMI connection from your Mac to your HDTV will of course bypass any format issues, and allow you to use whatever decoder/player you want. If you don't already have a wireless keyboard/mouse, add one and you've got a media center.

    This is the setup I use, although in my case I have a dedicated mini that I was using as a home server anyway, so hooking it up to the TV was a quick and easy way to get a full media center setup.

    Otherwise your best bet is either an AppleTV or one of the devices Hellhammer suggested.

    (If you do want to consider a direct connection, I'd recommend Bluejeans Cable--they'll tell you what you can get away with for a given distance; they freely admit that for <25 feet even the cheap stuff will do, but you'll need their expensive stuff if you want to go over 50. They'll also sell you an HDMI-DVI cable, if your Mac doesn't have HDMI out. For shorter distances you can of course also get cheap stuff from somewhere like Monoprice.)
  4. keaide thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2010
    Actually, I currently have a direct connection, as I'm using a Windows notebook. But I want to switch to an iMac soon and give the notebook to my parents. And the iMac and TV- indeed - will be located at opposite sides of my apartment. I really liked the idea of just connecting my iPhone via component cable, but due to the description on Apple's website, Im not sure if it would work? Does anyone here has experience with that?
  5. fishcake macrumors newbie

    Mar 23, 2009

    I've no idea about getting video output from an iPhone to the tv I'm afraid, but as for a player, take a look at the VLC media player app. It's a port of an open source player that's free and plays tons of stuff.

    If you want other suggestions, I use a mac mini hooked up to my tv, all my media is stored on a central NAS and the mini happily picks up files from there and plays them. Again, I use the mac version of VLC as the player of choice on the mini.
  6. keaide thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2010
    I love VLC on my PC right now (VLC beats Quicktime hands down - at least with Windows, sorry Apple), and I definitely want to use it whe I get my iMac (soon :) ). For the iPhone, I found that VLC has some problems to let me hear voices (background sounds are fine). I also thought about the mac mini... but that might be a bit oversized for the occasional video...

    ... so I'll probably have a try with the component cable via my iPod nano (or iPhone if it should work... or get my hands on a media box, such as Apple TV or something else (which then could also show picture slideshows from iPhoto...).
  7. Appleind macrumors regular


    Nov 12, 2010
    I have 2 TB collection of movies in various formats most of which iTunes cannot play. I bought a Western Digital TV LIVE and it works very well. It can stream you tube videos and netflix, also has HDMI and even an optical cable output. I also own an Apple TV but couldnt bother converting all videos to MP4. I mainly use Apple TV to rent movies. If you own a lot of vidoes WD TV is your best bet
  8. keaide thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2010
    I got the component cable these days and it is compatible with the iPhone 4. It gives me 576p on the TV and works great to watch picture slideshows and iTunes content on the TV. Maybe not as convenient as an Apple TV, but OK for my current needs.

    But it seems not to work so well with OPlayer, which I use on the iPhone for videos that iTunes can't handle. the TV output gives me something like 5-8 frames/sec.

    Does anyone a 3rd party player for the iPhone that does works well with the component cable for TV output?

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