How does the Apple TV compare to the Xbox 360?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by jjmancini, Mar 26, 2008.

  1. jjmancini macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2008
    Hey everyone!

    I was curious if anyone has any experience with BOTH Apple TV and the Xbox 360, and I am curious which one you think is better for simply watching movies from my mac. Thanks!

  2. psychofreak Retired


    May 16, 2006
    The Apple UI is MUCH nicer, but without hacking (unless you buy movies from the iTS) the 360 allows more codecs.

    I know you asked about movies, but the 360 is pretty awful for music organisation.
  3. applemax macrumors 65816


    Feb 22, 2005
    From personal Experience - 'ready to play' times for rental movies are as follows:

    :apple:tv = Instantly
    Xbox 360 = 35 mins
  4. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    Someone I know has a PS3, 360 and Apple TV, and he uses the :apple:TV for just about everything, and the PS3 for some other things (Blu Ray, and some media), and the 360 for only games.
  5. yadmonkey macrumors 65816


    Aug 13, 2002
    Western Spiral
    If you're not looking for games, I'd say skip the 360. The hardware is way too unreliable and I say this as a rabid 360 fan. The games are unbelievable and very worthwhile, but I've had three new consoles go bad on me.
  6. BoulderBum macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    XBox is noisy and has far fewer rentals from the Live store. I think you can use more comprehensive services like CinemaNow, though. The XBox also acts as a "Media Extender" which is great if you record TV with a Media Center PC (so you can watch it on your TV), and it's possible for third parties to extend the Media Extender interface with plug-ins (that let you control the lighting of your automated home).

    The XBox's primary advantage, though, is games! Apple TV just can't play any.

    I tried using a colleague's the other day, and something else I found is that the firewall configuration was much more complex that with Apple TV (which I just had to plug in and forget). In fact, trying to get the Media Extender going with the XBox hung my system multiple times, requiring a reboot to restablish network access.

    The Apple TV, on the other hand, offers a broad selection of movies from probably the best rental service on the internet right now, it is the only device which can synch with or stream your iTunes library, and you also get (underrated) perks like Flickr photo streaming, YouTube videos and video Podcasts, none of which are available through the XBox 360.

    I think the Apple TV is much better for video entertainment.
  7. supercooled macrumors 6502a

    Sep 6, 2007
    I would offer the same advice as this person. The Xbox360 is a horrible machine for anything other than playing games. It's unreliable and to a much greater detriment to your experience, it's too damn loud. The AppleTV is dead silent but is crippled as it is right now. Let's face it, without hacking it is pretty limiting. I am subsequently looking forward to buying a Mac Mini and possibly selling the ATV off or use the Mini to manage the content which is something the ATV should be doing in the first place.
  8. abmet macrumors newbie

    Apr 29, 2007
    As others have said the 360 is great for games, but is fairly loud. The 360 can play different formats, but the fast forward, pause, etc. is iffy at best (at least for me) and tends to have much more lag than the ATV.
  9. cmcbridejr macrumors 6502a


    Sep 28, 2007
    Alpharetta, GA
    I bought an AppleTV when it came out.

    It is a great device for viewing photos, listening to your iTunes music, and integrating the movies from iTunes with your TV.

    The UI can be a little slow and unresponsive at times (from the moment of pushing a button on the remote control to the time it takes to respond on the AppleTV).

    The remote control is very basic. You will either like it or really hate it.

    As far as comparing the XBox to the AppleTV, I just don't think they should be compared with each other as they are not meant for the same purpose.

    The XBox is a high-end gaming machine with multimedia capabilities.

    The AppleTV is just a headless iPod that connects to your TV and syncs your iTunes library wirelessly.

    Also, the progression of the AppleTV has been quite slow. I see so much potential for the AppleTV, but Apple is treating it like the iPhone and not allowing anyone to expand the functionality.

    Hopefully, Apple will eventually come around to supporting its development like they did with the iPhone.
  10. Jeff Hall macrumors regular

    Jeff Hall

    Apr 10, 2006
    I have both. I use the 360 to watch XVid and other file formats that aren't readily available to play on the Apple TV (avi files encoded with DivX, etc). I stream my media to the 360 using a program called Connect360 from Null River.

    The 360 console interface sucks for navigating but it does a decent job of playing video and music.

    I prefer to use the Apple TV over the 360.
  11. slapppy macrumors 65816

    Mar 20, 2008
    ATV of course. Fan noise is one thing you won't even hear on it. Thats one thing I cannot stand in my home theater setup.
  12. err404 macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    A far as I know, Connect 360 does not yet support organization of videos. This is why the 360 Navigation sucks for you.
    There are better UPNP servers for the MAC. I use Twonky Media Server right now and the navigation is great if you have an organized file structure for your library.
    I find the interface very close to the AppleTV. For example on my 360 I just select
    --TV Shows
    ---desired show
    ----desired episode

    The only things missing are cover art, show details and the previously viewed indicator.

    That said the Apple TV UI is better, but not by much. I use both regularly, but I am trying to use the Apple TV more as my video library in iTunes is growing. I am using the 360 less, but there is a lot to be said for better codec support.

    In a perfect world Apple would just support DivX and the problem would be solved. h.264 while efficient is not much of 'standard'. Due to differences in supported profiles, you just can't encode a high quality video with h.264 that will play on a 360, PS3 and AppleTV. DivX is a much more reliable standard for play back compatibility.
  13. jjmancini thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2008
    What about video quality?
    Does anyone use the Apple TV on a 1080p set? And also, aren't all of the movies that are downloadable for the Apple TV 720p?

    It seems as though the overall presentation of the Xbox 360 is better as far as video and audio, even though the user interface is slow and clunky. But I would rather have better content...
  14. Alx9876 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 26, 2008
    Way too much Xbox360 bashing going on here.

    Alot of these folks know alot about Apple tv but when you compare the 360's HD movie rentals to Apple TV's ?

    Xbox 360 is the clear winner in HD Quality through the Tv set. The Xbox movies are usually at 4 gigs to 7.5 gigs in file size depending on what you rent.

    The Apple tv files are much smaller but video quality lacks in a major way. I actually did a thread about this very topic a long time ago.

    Since then I picked up a 40 gig Apple tv and I love the fact that I can encode my personal dvd's to this machine.

    But right now the question is about video quality?

    To the other poster who mentioned the Xbox fan noise, I will admit it's loud, you can't hear it when the home theater system is turned up. Not even during quiet moments in the movie can you hear it. So that is not a problem at all. So stop nick picking. Too many wives do that already. Don't be like them.

    Most of you need to stick to the OP's original question and stop answering questions were never asked in the first place.

    No one cares about the fan noise, the reliability, the Microsoft vs Apple b.s. etc.. etc..

    It's strictly about video quality. For me I am happy using hand brake and doing my thing with my dvd collection. It works. That's all I want. But that is a different topic for another day.

    Most of you probably never had experience renting movies in HD from Xbox live anyway.
  15. ebony macrumors regular

    Mar 22, 2007
    The OPs original question was which " one is simply better for watching videos" . Now for me this includes sound and vision.

    My experience of the 4 xbox 360s I have had, and the dozen or so I have seen in other peoples homes, is that they are too noisy to comfortably watch a movie, without the noise of the 360 interfering with the viewing experience.

    This is just in my opinion and a lot is based on position of the 360, type of film being watched, audio setup etc.

    I think you should take all the valid points, Alx9876 makes, but don't disregard the extent of the noise that comes from the 360.
  16. err404 macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    Ultimately it was the noise level of the 360 that lead me to buy an AppleTV. Here is summary of the two as objective as possible:

    Pros-Supports higher bitrates and resolution, DVD player included, better codec support
    Cons-DivX does not work when not connected to Live

    .Pros-High quality playback
    .Cons-Flaky h.264 codec support. Poor codec support

    .Pros-5.1 via WMA and AC3
    .Cons-AC3 implementation is a bit of a hack
    .Pros-5.1 via AC3
    .Cons-AC3 implementation is a bit of a hack

    .Pros-Fast. Very good depending on UPNP streamer used. Allows custom categories like home movies.
    .Cons-Slow and clunky depending on UPNP streamer used. only displays the title
    .Pros-Very good with well tagged content. Cover Art and show descriptions
    .Cons-Poor with badly tagged files. Only TV Shows and Movies categories

    Online Store:
    Pros-HD TV shows, Better HD Movie selection, Good TV selection, Good to Very Good quality
    Cons-Does not sync content from 360 back to your MAC. Longer wait before ready to play.

    .Pros-Syncs purchased content back to iTunes. SD shows are typically ready to play immediately. HD movies are ready sooner
    .Cons-No HD TV shows. Typically lower quality, HD Movie selection is poor currently.
  17. jjmancini thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2008
    I have liked the past 3 responses...informative.

    So I guess it comes down to this...

    Should I buy the Apple TV?
    - the 360 fan noise does not bother me (My system is turned up loud enough to make my neighbors think a low flying jet is near)
    - So does the Apple TV justify the price tag?
  18. J-mizzle macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2007
    If you have the 360 already and can stand the noise, theres no reason to buy the :apple:tv. just get connect360 or something.
  19. Xeem macrumors 6502a


    Feb 2, 2005
    I wouldn't but an AppleTV if you already have a 360. AppleTVs have a great interface, but I doubt that you'll ever be able to justify its purchase when you already have a good media extender. I agree with j-mizzle: buy connect360 if you haven't already, and I think you'll be happy.
  20. sgibson macrumors regular


    Mar 24, 2008
    I'm going to be picking up an Apple TV to take over duties from the 360 for the following reasons.

    Noise - 360 is way too loud.
    Wife friendly interface - just finding where to get the media on the 360 is a step too far when all you want to do is watch or listen (not hard, but unnecessary)
    Sync music - I can have my 70gig music collection sync onto the Apple TV and can actually turn off the PC once in a while.

    PODCASTS - this is the big one, most of the "TV" I want to watch these days is downloads from Revision3 etc and being able to sync these to watch on the TV seamlessly and with no effort would be a big win.
  21. cmcbridejr macrumors 6502a


    Sep 28, 2007
    Alpharetta, GA
    Sorry to quote myself, but the 2.0.1 update definitely fixes the speed and responsiveness issue with the UI and remote control.

    Much better now.
  22. robanga macrumors 68000


    Aug 25, 2007
    Here is my take but on these, but keep in mind its based on only a short time with the Apple TV (note we also have a PS3) ;

    Xbox 360:


    Very nice UI (Blades etc)
    Decent selection of movies according to my tastes
    Big HD library of movies
    It plays excellent games (of course)
    With connect 360 it can pull off a lot of content from the macs
    Ability to interface with a Windows Media PC, this is my main method of recording TV these days. The integration of the the 360 with these is top notch.
    Some fairly interesting internet services available like NPR news etc, apparently Netflix is soon to be on the 360 as well.

    Long time between download and watch on SD
    Super long time between download and watch on HD
    Noisy! (it sounds like my media room is going to take off for a trip around the neighborhood)

    Apple TV:


    Nice UI aesthetically (although the 360, I find easier to navigate from a movie store perspective)
    Short times between download and watch (much shorter overall than the 360)
    Larger overall Library ( i do not know the exact numbers but this is the "feeling" i get from both)
    Integration with the Macs and iTunes.
    Quiet operation


    Strange DRM rules about moving content back and fourth between Macs, iPhone and Apple TV. To be fair the same thing exists for 360 rented content and actually your choices are far less.

    The Apple TV wins hands down for me on the noise issue alone.

    Note: I have not really used the PS3 for anything other than Blue Ray so can not really compare it as media center.
  23. jaw04005 macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    It doesn't compare. The PS3's media interface (or lack there of) is archaic. It's basically a directory structure similar to the 360's media blade.

    The PS3 also doesn't support MPEG-4 ASP (Advanced Simple Profile) and requires specific header information otherwise files are unplayable.

    In fact, the majority of my MPEG-4 files are unplayable on the PS3 as they aren't MPEG-4 SP (Simple Profile) nor created by QuickTime.

    The 360's implementation of MPEG-4 is rock solid compared to the PS3's.


    It should be noted that the XBOX 360 can be used as a Media Center Extender device. If you have a MCE 2005 or Vista Home Premium/Ultimate, you can use the Media Center interface on your XBOX 360. Unfortunately, the XBOX 360 doesn't support playback of MPEG-4 files within the Media Center Extender application. However, there have been rumors that Microsoft is working on that issue.

    Media Center's interface is on par with Apple TV's and adds the ability to schedule and record television shows directly from the XBOX 360. Movie rentals are also available through third-party providers like CinemaNow, Vongo, etc. And Microsoft has an "Internet" module that can access online video from certain providers like MSNBC.

    Basically, MCX does everything the Apple TV can do except native Podcast support and YouTube. However, unlike Apple TV the XBOX isn't accessing this content directly. It's all downloading on your PC.
  24. robanga macrumors 68000


    Aug 25, 2007
    Agreed with all of what you said on the 360 and it's capabilities as a media center. Its the darned noise that bugs me. I have know people that have put the 360 behind a wall to mitigate it :)
  25. jaw04005 macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Haha. The noise is a bit ridiculous, especially if you have one of the older versions. I've tried catty-cornering my entertainment cabinet and putting the 360 on an upside down plastic storage crate. It works pretty well, but you can still here a slight hum.

    I think Molly Wood (of CNET fame) put her XBOX 360 in a "media closet" to keep the noise down.

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