Convince an XBOX Media Center User to Jump to Apple TV

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by scootss, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. scootss macrumors newbie

    May 13, 2008
    Hi guys...very excited about the prospect of getting an apple tv and would like your expertise.

    First...some background:

    My original setup was a Windows PC + Windows Server (1TB RAID) + XBOX Media Center. I loved this configuration...until the itunes audio (daap) streaming stopped working. Lots of streaming of videos from server to XBOX.

    Then...I bought an iPhone 1st gen. Fell in love.

    So...I bought an iMac. love it.

    Bought a time capsule...hated it. connectivity between mac and windows was terrible so it went back to the store (sad day...)

    My goal is to get rid of the windows server and the XBOX and replace with a time capsule and Apple TV.

    So a few questions...
    - If i store the video content *only* on the time capsule, can I then stream it to the apple tv? I would want my music to be on the PC and then backed up to the capsule, but movies are fine to be only on the capsule

    - With a time capsule & apple tv in a small NYC apartment, will 802.11n give enough throughput (reduction of wires is another driver here)

    - Not planning on syncing much, relying only on streaming. So I'm leaning toward a 40gb. any reason to go 160? other than the bigger hd?

    - The million dollar question...the xbox does a great job of handling the many various codecs my media is encoded in. Is perian on apple tv the right route to still be able to use my collection as-is?

    Thanks! Please help me make the case to switch :)

  2. kfordham281 macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2007
    I think this is possible. You'll have to have those video in your iTunes library though.

    Shouldn't be a problem. My MBP syncs to our AppleTV with no problems and they are on opposite sides of the house and on different levels.

    Not really. Same Apple TV, just different internal storage. One thing to note, you can't stream pictures (only sync).

    Not totally sure on this one. I use Visual Hub or Handbrake to do my encoding and they have Apple TV specific settings (H.264 I think). Perhaps someone else will chime in with a more specific answer.

    Hope that helps!
  3. Fuchal macrumors 68020

    Sep 30, 2003
    I use Connect360 to stream all my DIVX, etc videos, photos, and music straight from my external HD on my Mac to my 360 and it works perfectly, with support for folders and everything.
  4. macworkerbee macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2008
    I've used both Connect360 and the new Rivet programs for connecting the 360 for streaming to the mac. I find Rivet much better because it maintains the folder structure you set on your computer and you can reference multiple movie folders at a time so your movies don't have to be in itunes.

    To the OP, If you already like your xbmc, and if you have a 360 (not sure if you do) then I would say this would be a very nice option rather than buying an apple tv.
  5. bacaramac macrumors 65816


    Dec 29, 2007
    I used to have 360 connected to my Media Center PC. I always had connectivity issues with HD TV Streaming (from TV Tuner Card). That was the main goal for me at the time and hated it. I bought the ATV beacause I just wanted everything to work.

    I started out much like you, iPhone to iMac to ATV to TC (yep, Apple sucked me in). I am using ATV and iTunes for all movies with a custom setting in Handbrake (see my post in the Sticky at top of page).

    I guess if you already have xbox, why ditch it if everything works for your needs? You will probably have format issues with your current movies for ATV. You can always buy one and return it if you are not happy.
  6. Kittychan macrumors regular

    Feb 13, 2008
    Wellington, New Zealand
    With AppleTv you mac or pc cpu is working less than using the xbox !!!

    And if you hack you appletv you can play different media files as well as plug in your harddisk at the back of you ATV.

    On top of that, ATV is much quieter and use less power :)

    I have both ATV and xbox360 but I use ATV as my main media
  7. gonyr macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2006
    Niagara County, NY
    Have you considered a mini and the osx port of xbox media center? It used to be called osxbmc, but they recently changed the name to plex.

    It looks pretty cool. I'm holding out for an upgraded mini (hopefully) sometime soon, then I'm going to try it out.
  8. kalex macrumors 65816

    Oct 1, 2007
    Here is my story. I have original Xbox with XBMC on it and have used it for past 4 years to stream movies to my TV. Actually its the only thing i use it for, never played a games on it.

    Week ago i got apple tv and Ipod touch. Bought ATV flash and started hacking away to get same thing that my xbox used to provide. Long story short, I just gave apple tv to my sister and that was the end of the expirement. XBMC is MUCH better in handling any kind of files i threw at it. Apple tv looks great and has a great interface but doesn't come close to abilities of XBMC.

    SABnzbd + XBMC is priceless to me :)

  9. nick.hobbie macrumors newbie

    Oct 4, 2007
    If you have all your media in other formats besides .mp4, then honestly there is no need to change to an :apple:TV. Yes you can do the hack and get other formats to play or convert all your media over to .mp4. But honestly, that is just more work. Save time and money just keep your system they way it is. I had a "mixed" system between Windows, xbox, and :apple:TV and it was shaky at best. I finally gave up the windows and xbox and bought a mac mini with Drobo Data Storage. It took me forever to get all the video files converted to the right format. The fanboys will tell you to go out and buy another apple product, but it depends on how much time and energy you want to spend on your collection.

    No problem at all.
    I have the 40gb and stream everything, except my photos. The only thing I run into is when I buy movies from iTunes and want to watch it at someone elses place, i can only fit a few on there. Sometimes we would have The Office parties and I could fit about a season on there with some change.

    If you go the route of re encoding everything I suggest the Elgato Turbo.264. It makes it go by so much faster. It is not the best quality of encoding. I do not use it on action movies and movies that have really intense detail, but older television shows and older movies or video that I want to watch but detail is not that important I use it on.

    Good luck with your journey. I hope it goes easier than mine did.
  10. scootss thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 13, 2008
    That's what I was afraid of....

    Are you streaming music from MAC/PC to XBMC? Are you able to use your iTunes playlists, or is it SMB shares?

    I really was a happy camper until apple decided to not let DAAP place nice in iTunes 7... =(
  11. jzuena macrumors 6502a


    Feb 21, 2007
    Lexington, MA, USA
    The solution I came up with was to put my iTunes library on my NAS (a Promise SmartStor NS4300) with its own DAAP server built in (which I assume is OpenDAAP). XBMC sees this and streams music fine. I haven't tried using playlists, though. I only wish the XBox was as quiet as an Apple TV.
  12. Aegelward macrumors 6502a

    Jul 31, 2005
    if the appleTV's OS is insufficient for you you can try putting XBMC on it, there is a linux based project to do it.

    There isn't much news on how well it handles 720p h264 though... link here.

    Right now i'm agonizing between a MacMini + Plex or a appleTV with the bejesus hacked out of it and XBMC
  13. JBaughb macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2008
    I use both my 360 and apple tv. (hacked) Apple tv is used daily for episodes/music streaming/youtube/podcasts (diggnation!) ect. Interface is beautiful and with perian installed it handles downloaded xvix/divx content.

    I only have to use my xbox occationally. I downloaded a 1080p version of the star wars saga (to hold me over till the blu-rays come out) that was wrapped in an mkV file that apple tv wasnt able to handle. Also there wasnt a good HD version of the Olympic opening ceremonies in divx format so I downloaded the mkV file I found and used the xbox to watch it.
  14. kalex macrumors 65816

    Oct 1, 2007
    Sorry for late reply. I haven't used itunes playlists with my XBMC, don't listen to music on my xbox. I only use it to watch movies. I have a share on my windows virtual machine that i use to download stuff and it shares out to my xbox. I was able to get xbox to see my mac shares and i'm in the process of completely getting rid of my windows vm and switching to mac only once i get sabnzbd working properly.
  15. porkozone macrumors newbie

    Jul 1, 2004
    After the AppleTV is hacked, are you able to access the contents of it's drive across the network? I'm hoping I can get an AppleTV to store most of my videos on, and have my XBox with XBMC be able to access the files on it's internal drive as well (in another part of the house). Is this possible?
  16. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    Not to get off topic, but I'd have to disagree about the Turbo.264. It does speed encoding up significantly for G4 and G5 machines. But on a Core 2 Duo the speed boost is minimal and is not worth the noticeable degradation in picture quality. I bought and used mine a bit on my iMac G5. Then I got a MacBook Pro and tossed the Turbo.264 in a drawer and haven't looked back.

    Just stick with Handbrake.
  17. Wardotron macrumors member

    Oct 30, 2008
    My twopence worth: stick with the Xbox. An :apple:TV won't meet your needs out of the box, and duplicates functionality that you already have.

    I have considered :apple:TV very carefully. The advantages are many: play DRM protected iTunes music and HD film purchases, YouTube on the TV, access to synced files when your computer is off, and the general swankiness of the interface.

    Trouble is, :apple:TV doesn't play nice with every format out there. If you have already built a library of miscellaneous formats, converting them will be a lengthy process. (Incidentally, I used to use iSquint for conversions but I gather this has been discontinued.) Sometimes the interface is not quite as responsive as you would hope either.

    This is not to say that an :apple:TV wouldn't be a worthwhile purchase; if you have a couple of hundred quid (or bucks) burning a hole in your pocket, I am sure it will do much to ingratiate itself into your home. If not, you already have much of the :apple:TV feature set with your Xbox; I also recommend purchasing an Xbox remote, as it eases media handling immensely. Also note that the November Xbox update will bring a new GUI, which appears to be much less of an offense to the eye.
  18. lokipower macrumors member

    Oct 30, 2008
    Very interesting post, as this is almost exactly like my situation. I woudl ike to know Spice weasel, what program do you use to encode :apple:TV videos? I have gone back and forth with using the Turbo.264 vs software solution. I have a great deal of videos to encode, but want to max the resolution and sound quality of the :apple:TV, and can not narrow a good program down. I realize Handbrake is great for the DVD's, but what about the wide variety of videos (various Codecs)?
  19. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    The vast majority of video encoding I've done has been from my DVD collection to mp4 using Handbrake. But for the occasional avi or what have you I usually use MPEG Streamclip or Quicktime Pro. Most folks use Visual Hub, but you'll have to search around for a copy now. Does anyone know if iSquint is still available? Sorry, I just don't have very many non-DVD movie files.
  20. rogersmj macrumors 68020


    Sep 10, 2006
    Indianapolis, IN
    I use Plex on a Mini, and I love it.

    I started out with a hacked original Xbox with XBMC, then went to a hacked Apple TV, but felt too constrained by it (not to mention it was really annoying to have to re-hack it every time an update came out). All of my media resides on network-mountable drives, and the SMB mount hacks I applied to the ATV didn't totally work all the time. It would drop the connection frequently, and I'd have to reboot the dang thing. It was not as nice and flexible as my old Xbox.

    So I bought an Intel Mini and am running Plex on it, and it's like nirvana. The interface is ultra-slick, it will play any video format, and it downloads all the metadata/art for your shows and movies from the internet. I wrote a little bit about my impressions of Plex when I first got it set up.

    Don't hold out for an upgraded Mini, just find any Intel one you can used for as cheap as possible. Even the first-gen Intel minis can play 1080p mkv files.
  21. porkozone macrumors newbie

    Jul 1, 2004
    I saw on your review you control everything with a Harmony you basically just always leave Plex as the active app (for normal media viewing situations), and the remote works like the Apple remote? or do you have some other fancy remote macros, etc?

    I've been a little leery of the mac mini route, because I want to just use my remote to control it easily for 90% of the situations I would use it for (as a media center). I realize the ability to ALSO use a keyboard/mouse to do special things is a huge plus over the aTV, but need this to pass the "wife" test - dead simple...not because she can't do more advanced things, she just won't fool with advanced things in order to "just watch a show".
  22. Wardotron macrumors member

    Oct 30, 2008
    "The Wife Test" is surely the yardstick by which the usefulness and maturity of all technologies should be judged. I have considered umpteen iTunes/media server/network options, and when it comes down to it they have all be rejected because they fail "The Wife Test".
  23. Wardotron macrumors member

    Oct 30, 2008
  24. rogersmj macrumors 68020


    Sep 10, 2006
    Indianapolis, IN
    There's three ways to control Plex with a remote. When I first set it up, it was just emulating the Apple remote, but that really limits the functionality. There's a tutorial over on the Plex forums for programming your Harmony with "sequences" of Apple remote commands that map to different things in Plex Menu+Left+Play, hit very quickly, will stop a video. However, that was unreliable and sluggish, so I shelled out for the third option -- Remote Buddy. Remote Buddy interprets the signals from your universal remote (which itself is actually programmed with several Apple remote IDs -- tutorial here) and sends them as keystrokes to Plex, which is pretty reliable.

    It was a bit involved to get everything working, but it's great now and passes the "wife test". She has no trouble watching shows while I'm away. I also programmed the "u" key in Remote Buddy to send an Update Library command to Plex, and then I set the Harmony software to issue that command whenever I enter the activity, so it does a quick library scan before you start watching anything to see if there are new shows.

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