Initial Impressions by [Apple TV] Owners Thread

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by traderx1, Mar 22, 2007.

  1. traderx1 macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2007
    So I stopped by the local Apple Store, and they had AppleTV on the shelf, but no display. Apparently the display will be set up this weekend. So I decided to pick one up.

    I have a Mac Pro, Old Belkin Router 802.11 G. I DO NOT have a wireless card inside my Mac Pro. The sales lady at the store tried to tell me that I need to have a wireless card in my Mac Pro for it to work. This is NOT true. As long as your computer is plugged into the router, you are good to go.

    The box/packaging/wrapping of this apple product, like every other Apple product, is a marvelous design in itself. It is always exciting opening up a new apple product. As you all know, there is only 1 cable, just the powercord about 3ft. There are NO cables to connect to your TV.

    I connected my AppleTV to a Pioneer Elite Pro-FHD1 50 inch 1080p via HDMI.
    This is the BEST TV you can buy, and if anyone disagrees, well then we can start another thread on that.

    The appletv found all the wireless networks within seconds, and i picked my router. It asks for the router password. This part is annoying, since there is no keyboard, and my password is extremely long. Then it shows a code on the screen which you have to type into Itunes and viola you are connected. It really was extremely simple with no hiccups. it took maybe 3 minutes, and 2 of those minutes was putting in my password.

    The system initially started syncing music/movies and anything else. You can immediately start playing movies/music. I experienced ZERO problems with music. Maybe it is my imagination, but it does sound better with AppleTV than with the Airport Express. Plus the visual eye candy with coverflow makes the music sound better. Also while a song is playing, the album/song cover is shown, also with the song time line. The ablum cover flips from one side to the other every 30 sec or so, probably to protect against burn in.

    As for movies, the unit will not play xvid/divx, even if you incorporated them into iTunes using the .mov method. So if you can play them on itunes does not necessarily mean you can play them on AppleTV. AppleTV will ONLY play h.264 itunes friendly format. Also there are discussions about audio is only 2 channel, if the movies has been encoded with 5.1. This part is a bummer. As for the streaming, it is flawless. I was even able to fast forward with any issues. Remember I am running the older 802.11 g network, but there ZERO issues. I did have one itunes friendly movie, pirates, and it was subpar at best. The movie was encoded for Ipod so that is probably why. It was pixalated, blocky, not really watchable. I did look at the movie trailers. Again this streamed off the internet with no issue at all. Now these clips did look tremendously better than the ones encoded for ipod

    So after playing with it for a bit i would have to say:
    I am glad I bought it. I do listen to a lot of music, and it nice to able to control it from my living room instead of running back to computer every time I want to change a album/song. So for the music it is great.

    As for movies, right now, if that is your primary thing, I would probably wait a bit. The quality is not good yet, it does not play xvid/divx, and as of now there is no 5.1. Funny, the thing is called appleTV, but yet the tv part needs some fixing.
    Hope this helps some
  2. Avatar74 macrumors 65816


    Feb 5, 2007
    The short solution for the lack of Dolby Digital support (which my experience tells me will be addressable by software/firmware updates without replacing the AppleTV)... Dolby Surround analog is present in the stereo left and right channels and decodable via a Dolby ProLogic decoder or Dolby Digital decoder with Dolby ProLogic capabilty. Granted, the result isn't as nice as Dolby Digital but it's a good workaround for the time being.

    I've been fiddling with this thing for a few hours and I must say I love it. My initial use is going to be a hell of a lot of music... I was using Airport Express for the past year or two and this is a much better solution for the same reasons you stated. Also, the wireless component performs much better even on the same G network that I've used with Airport Express.

    With video so far I've noticed no issues except one short hiccup with trailers but that may be attributable to a DSL bandwidth hiccup rather than a LAN hiccup.

    I'm watching an H.264 file I encoded with Handbrake and aside from some macroblocking at the beginning of the file, the color and clarity are pretty damned close to that of my upscaling DVD player.

    The set up was less than ten minutes, and only nearly that long because I had some issues trying to ensure I had the right WEP password entered. Once I had that set correctly, everything else was a snap.

    The UI is more or less idiot-proof, and speaking as a very technically adept individual I prefer it that way. I don't like unnecessary complexity... Complexity should be appropriate to the task. Navigation with the simple remote is easy and for less savvy users the simpler remote is a blessing because some users can get lost in the idiotic range of buttons on some remotes. Apple takes the myriad functions and nests them in well organized menus instead of creating a button for everything under the sun... This is ergonomically sensible.

    This device, despite its short-term shortcomings, almost all of which are addressable in software/firmware updates that are likely to come in the near future, is a fantastic solution for bridging the computer network with the home entertainment system for those of us who do not want a makeshift computer laboratory in our living room.

    I also appreciate the the organized operations menus in iTunes for synching and viewing the synched contents in a list form. It's really as simple as plugging it in, connecting to the network, choosing resolution and language settings, and then finding the device from iTunes and there's no other device configuration needed to actually make it work. There could be myriad driver installs and other procedural nonsense to get it up and running but this is so simple it's amusing to think of the nonsense you'd be subject to if Microsoft had designed it... nevermind the hardware/software integration problems that would arise purely as a result of their disjointed business model -- they aren't also the PC manufacturer.

    I think that once the floor models go up in the coming days at the Apple Stores, people will be impressed by the simplicity of this solution. Some think that the user interface is a trivial aspect of a device... but form leads to function. A properly designed UI is the difference between a device that sells itself, and a device that requires a lot of tap dancing to sell.

    The other thing is that Apple really believes in this device. I feel as though solutions such as Windows Media Center were thrown together to say "yeah, we do multimedia too... here you go". But you don't see a tremendous push from these solution providers. They don't behave as though it is a revolutionary product in their own minds, and that is telling.

    Apple touts this as a revolutionary product and while the individual features may not be, it's the specific way in which they have organized and implemented these existing technologies and features into one seamlessly integrated system (coupled seamlessly with iTunes) which make it a revolutionary product.

    I can see some advantage to adding features like onscreen iTunes Store shopping which would make it even more appealing to the average user and I wouldn't be surprised if Apple were testing such features as we speak to be introduced in a later software update. I also find it very interesting they claimed the USB port was for software/firmware updates but the device updates via wi-fi directly through the internet. It seems as though they have some other plans for the USB port that they're keeping under wraps... gaming controllers, external storage, to name a couple.

    Apple's taken one more step towards technological convergence, making the LAN the backbone of home entertainment and digital lifestyle peripherals, and the next phase of Apple's evolution as an industrial design leader will be the Mobile Mac line of products, extending this technological convergence to the WAN/Internet.
  3. macd00d macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2006
    Sounds good, except how do we rip DVD's and encode for Dolby Surround / Dolby Pro Logic (4 channel audio)?
  4. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    I'm very happy with mine, too.

    I'm extremely new to the world of HDTV (having just picked up a 50" Panasonic plasma on Tuesday), but I was happy (and surprised) to see that an iTS-purchased episode of Heros that my roommate streamed from his laptop to the Apple TV looked better than the same episode as played back from my SD DirecTiVo.

    My roommates both have a lot of purchased iTS music and TV shows, ... it's cool to be able to crash out on the couch and be able to view that content via the Apple TV without having to run back to their computers each time you want to start something streaming.

    I understand that this device doesn't meet many requirements that a lot of folks here have, but after an evening with it, I'm extremely happy with it.
  5. innhitman macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2002
    Not happy at all....

    I have to say that right now this seems like a waste of money...

    I was already able to control my music from my laptop.... I even had an add-on MY BOOK 500gb drive which holds my itunes library....

    I could control my entire music collection from my laptop... going through a USB DAC which brought audiophile quality music...

    So, I wanted something to bring videophile quality to my movies, which I could have all stored on a hard drive and played whenever I want.. through my 7.1 Home Theater system...

    I am very picky, I know.... when it comes to electronics.....

    I am a true mac fan... but this is not a great product yet... to say the least......

    Some compared this to the breakthrough that the ipod was/is... it is not close.... and in its present form it will not be significant at all.... it's easier to pop a dvd in than to use this system... and bluray is far superior.... so unless it moves in that direction.... and allows an external drive to add to the 40gb storage it will remain a bummer for me...

    For those that are happy with it.. I am glad for them... but for me, unless I am missing something this is NOT a winner!!!
  6. Scarpad macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    Is there a way to turn off the Syncing. I would want to sync the content myself. The Majority of which I'd rather stream, and may sync the off file or two for when the PC is off.
  7. Avatar74 macrumors 65816


    Feb 5, 2007
    Yes, both from within iTunes and on AppleTV.

    In iTunes select the AppleTV icon in the device menu on the left sidebar, and then in each tab deselect what you don't want to sync. Photos don't stream so you'd have to sync them but other than disabling sync by each category of content, you can also select which folders you want to sync in a given medium.

    In AppleTV, you can turn off sync from the menu... Sources > Syncing.
  8. Avatar74 macrumors 65816


    Feb 5, 2007
    Someone mentioned that Handbrake would have an update in the near future that supports transcoding AC-3 3/2.1 to 5.1 AAC.

    Until that happens, you've got the option of listening to the embedded Dolby Surround mix.
  9. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    And there you go. While I certainly appreciate the desire for higher-end capabilities, this is exactly like the iPod in that it is perfect for the typical consumer who wants an easy-to-use system that shows things on the TV without logging into a computer.

    I'm still waiting for today's delivery of an HDMI->DVI cable so I can connect this properly (I've booted it on a different system), but I've messed around with iTunes to get ready (organized things into kid-safe and not-kid-safe, for example) and explained it all to the family. While there's a mini connected to the same TV, and while I prefer to use that, the Apple TV allows people to easily view content that will satisfy most of the market. Is it great for watching a DVD or high-res collection? No. I'm irked that I can't watch the high-def recordings I make on the mini from the Apple TV, for example. The lack of surround doesn't bother me only because I don't have that set up (small house, so home theater setup is mothballed for now). However, as a means to provide easy music and video access to my wife and kids, none of whom would care about quality, it's perfect.

    I also loved, as mentioned, the packaging and size of this thing. I've connected it via component cables to another (tiny) LCD just to set it up, and I thought the process was very simple - aside from the password entry, but that's to be expected without a keyboard.
  10. alywa macrumors 6502

    May 6, 2004
    A question for Apple-TV owners

    This may have already been covered, but I haven't seen an answer yet...

    I have an iMac G5, set up in my kitchen. It uses wifi, supplied by an airport express.

    If I purchase an :apple:-TV to set up in my living room, I understand it will let me access the content on my iMac, wirelessly.

    My question: Does my iMac need to be "awake". In otherwords, will :apple:-TV wake up my iMac from sleep, or do I need to do that manually prior to using the :apple:-TV?
  11. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    needs to be awake for streaming, can be shut down for sync'd, once syncing completes. btw, you can set you energy setting on your iMac to never put the hard drive to sleep but to put the display to sleep and that should still give you 24-7 access via streaming.
  12. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    Just to add a little to Roland's post, ...

    One computer in your house can have its iTunes library synced to the Apple TV. Once it's synced, this computer does not have to be turned on to watch its library on the Apple TV.

    You can have five other computers in the house use the Apple TV, but they can only stream content to it. Those computers must be on, and iTunes must be loaded, in order to watch their libraries on the Apple TV.
  13. alywa macrumors 6502

    May 6, 2004
    Aristobrat, Roland.g...

    Thanks for the info. I wish the :apple: -TV had a bigger HD... I have like 60GB in my iTunes, and this is sure to grow as I add additional video content.

    I supose I could make video playlists, like I do with audio, and just sync my favorites to use while the iMac is powered down, or I could just do the "sleeping screen" option.

    Either way, I'm sitting on the fence on getting one or not. It sounds cool, but I already have my iPod hooked up to my stereo, controllabe via remote, so the audio portion is basically already covered.

    I wonder why apple made it so you can't just add an external HD via the USB port, or why the HD is limited to 40GB.
  14. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    I've read that it doesn't support streaming radio through iTunes. Is that true?
  15. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    look at this thread
  16. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    I'm sure Apple will come out with the 120GB model next year, which will make most everyone who fell in love with the 40GB model want to upgrade. :eek:

    I forgot to mention that you can also stream from the computer that you have setup to sync. iTunes has some handy options that can limit how many movies and TV shows are synced to the Apple TV.

    For example, if you're out of space on the Apple TV, you could set iTunes to only sync unwatched episodes of TV shows, and the last 10 movies added to your library.

    If you wanted to watch a TV show or video that didn't fall into that sync criteria, you could stream it from the syncing computer (as long as it was on and iTunes was running).

    I'm digging it. But yet, an option now for a larger HD would have been nice. The Apple TV looks easy enough to open, and there's already a thread where people are playing with upgrading the drive themselves, so .... who knows. :)
  17. mduser63 macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2004
    Salt Lake City, UT
    FedEx just came about 40 minutes ago. As usual, the packaging was excellent, very nice looking. Set up was dead simple, although like others, I had trouble entering my (insanely long) WPA password. I entered it incorrectly twice, and frustratingly, AppleTV makes you backspace and start over instead of scrolling through to the point you want to change and just fixing the problem. Anyway, once I got the password entered, everything works great. Turned on "Look for AppleTVs" on my iMac, and it started syncing. Not wanting to wait for the sync to finish, I started streaming some stuff. Music streaming is flawless on my G network, there is no delay at all between hitting play and the music starting. Video is really just as good. No hiccups or anything.

    I think I'm in that group that is really the target of the AppleTV. I only own a few DVDs, but I have quite a bit of video content in iTunes. I don't care about recording TV or non-iTunes content (don't have any DiVX or xVid content at all). The only thing I'd really like to see is movie rentals on iTunes. The ability to buy iTunes content right from the AppleTV would be nice too, but that's not really a big deal. HD content on iTunes is probably coming, at least I hope it is.

    I think by the time new AppleTVs with bigger hard drives come out, my warranty will be up and there will probably be lots of information about changing out the AppleTV hard drive. LIke you said, it looks pretty easy to open.
  18. Tennesotans macrumors newbie

    Mar 23, 2007
    I previously had a Mac Mini as my HTPC -- and wasn't thrilled with the
    arrangement. I had a bluetooth mouse and keyboard (to add/remove
    content) and it was fairly flacky (I was 9 feet from device to mini).
    Reading the screen from that distance was tough, the keyboard would
    mistype things...

    So last night I ripped the mini out of the entertainment unit... moved it to the
    office (replacing an old powermac), and installed the Apple TV.
    Managing my content at a desk, with a responsive mouse/keyboard,
    and only 3 feet from a screen was a great start. It will take a while
    to determine my best sync/stream strategy for my content.

    Almost every feature in Frontrow has been improved in ATV. I love the
    progress bar while playing a movie (3 fast forward speeds, chapters,
    progress bar loading streaming content). It MUCH more responsive
    (thats hard to believe, the mini is a dual core intel).

    I like setting the prefs for the photo slide show (no music, no ken burns...,
    random transition).

    They even improved the trailers section (it will give a plot summary along
    with actors, director, rating...).

    I think the highest complement would be that my wife NEVER used the mac
    mini in a year of service... and was impressed enough with ATV to actually
    touched the remote and browse around. She likes that the ATV is
    quieter than the mini... and that I don't have a keyboard and mouse
    laying around the living room.

    Yes: I'm gonna have to re-encode my dvds (to get 5.1 sound and hopefully
    chapter markers), and YES I waiting for the video quality from itms
    to improve before buying much content (we've only gotten a tv episode
    or two) -- but we DO have zillion photos, and songs.

    I've tried the MythTV thing (multiple times), MediaCenter, VLC... I like this
    better. Breaking the management of the content into a separate task
    from the playing of the content simplifies things...

    Its been a good purchase so far (24 hrs hehe).
  19. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

    Dec 17, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Exactly. It's not that any individual's complaints are not valid, but comments about various technical specifications are akin to complaints that the iPod doesn't play OGG or do gapless (even though now it does.)

    If anything, a portable device like the iPod will have greater universal appeal and sell more units than something like ATV. But it seems already clear that ATV is a well-designed, friendly, easy-to-use, attractive unit just like the original iPod.

    Hint- you can already have a 120GB model now- the drive is swappable, you just have to clone the existing HD onto a new one.
  20. stillwater macrumors regular

    Sep 1, 2004
    Rowley, MA
    Unfortunately, that is true. Add that to the list of stuff they need to include in future upgrades.
  21. joshfoth macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2007
    streaming from the sync-ed machine

    Unfortunately I was not able to stream from the machine that is synced with my AppleTV. Because Photos do not stream, I unchecked the sync option for the rest of my media and filled my AppleTV with photos. But, unless I have the media boxes checked, I cannot see/stream them. If I load the photos first, and then check the sync boxes for movies, podcasts, music, etc., Apple TV erases my photos (because the other media takes priority) and then I'm stuck without photos (which, again, do not stream).

    Any solutions? Anyone else having this problem?
  22. stealthman1 macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2006
    I'd be curious for some insight to this as well. I'm currently exporting photos from iPhoto to an AppleTV folder with 'scale images no larger than 1280 X 874' checked and all photos converted to jpg. I have about 10,000 photos I'd like to have synced, 4000 of them raw. I'm thinking if I manage this properly and create jpgs just for :apple: tv, I'll get ten k in the smallest file size possible...but I don't want it being bumped off the :apple: tv hard drive as photos don't seem to sync quickly...?

    Oh, and so far I luv it!!! Streaming is flawless, which is unlike my MBP which used to stutter occasionally.
  23. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    I just set mine up like yours. In iTunes, the only thing I have sync'ing to my AppleTV is photos.

    So when the source is set to :apple:tv, if I go into TV Shows, there's nothing there. (as expected)
    If I change the source to my computer (which is also the computer the :apple:tv syncs with), it takes a few seconds to load my library and then brings me out to the main menu, except it says the name of my computer at the top of the screen (instead of :apple:tv).
    If I go into TV Shows, I can see (and stream) everything that's on my computer.
  24. joshfoth macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2007
    iphoto sync

    Yeah, you are right. That does work. The only problem with that is that you don't have any music for your slideshows (photos on ATV and music on a stream). I guess a simple ATV sync-ed playlist with songs that go well with the slideshow is a simple answer (which won't take up much space).
  25. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    While I like mine and plan to keep it, I have the following issues:

    1) The remote is really kinda lame since it can't control volume. Sure this can be fixed with any decent leaning remote, but still...

    2) I can't find any parental controls. I'd like to let my boys loose on it, and limit them to ~TV Y7 video material, but it doesn't seem to be an option. Strange since it is an option on iTunes itself.

    3) The lack of subtitles/closed captions is another seemingly un-Apple limitation of the device, which I hope will be fixed by QT8/Leopard which was suggested to have closed caption support.

    4) I also find the Source selection a bit clunky. It takes forever to load the library from my Dell, where most of my content is currently stored. I'd prefer it if it would present a consolidated view of the libraries on my networks and cache the library.

    5) I'm disappointed about the iPhoto integration, one reason I wanted the :apple: TV, was to be able to have the kids launch their own slideshows from pictures stored on the iMac, but this doesn't work if I have the :apple: TV synced to the Dell since most of the content is there. I've actually got more movies on the iMac than on the Dell, but if I have to pick one....

    All in all, it's very promising, particularly with the hackability that has already been demonstrated.


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