Is it possible to use AppleTV Gen4 with a Hard Drive ?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Anto38x, Feb 12, 2017.

  1. Anto38x macrumors member

    Anto38x

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland
    #1
    Is it possible to use AppleTV Gen4 with Hard Drive to create a media style player... I'm currently using my MacPro 12 Core as a PLEX server but the streaming of very large files over my wifi can prove too much at times (12GB files).... is it possible to use the PLEX app on the new AppleTV and connect a hard drive directly into the back of it via USB... something like a Western Digital Media Player so that movie files play direct from the hard drive instead of struggling sometimes over wifi..?

    Could that be possible...? Any suggestions or comments most welcome.


    Regards,
    Anthony
     
  2. Longkeg macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2014
    Location:
    S. Florida
    #2
    The USB port on any AppleTV is strictly for connecting it to a computer to restore in iTunes. There are hacks that let you do what describe on the ATV1 and ATV2 but I know of no such hacks for ATV3 or 4. Seems to me the easiest thing would be to upgrade your wifi capabilities or go with a wired connection. You might also consider shrinking down those large files to something more manageable. I archive my very large original rips on a separate, very large external hard drive. The smaller, Handbrake converted files of these rips go on my Plex server. Theoretically there is some loss of quality but I challenge you to tell the difference in a side by side comparison.
     
  3. Anto38x, Feb 12, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2017

    Anto38x thread starter macrumors member

    Anto38x

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland
    #3
    Thanks LongKeg..... but I partly guessed as much... I was hoping for a miracle... I hear what you are saying... I used to use Handbrake and iTunes for all my movies streaming.... it wouldn't matter what size the files were... once I Handbraked them and put them in iTunes they would always play without flinching.... but then I discovered PLEX that read all file types and even gave you all the glorious movie artwork and movie info... I thought I had reached Nirvana... but from time to time it would struggle with large files 4-5GB...then I purchased a Samsung SUHD 4K TV... where every pixel matters... so file sizes jumped to 12GB... and that's where I'm having the problems. PLEX on my Samsung was having issues... so I bought another AppleTV Gen 4 hoping it would perform better.... it did... kind of... but really it can struggle also from time to time.

    I have an Airport Extreme (Latest Gen) as my main router and I then have another Airport Extreme Gen4 + QTY 2 x Airport Express... and still it struggles... recently I reset and built my wifi network up from scratch and I have found the best configuration for my home area is my main Airport Extreme with QTY 1 x Airport Extreme Extender + QTY 1 x Airport Express Extender.... I also have my AppleTV Gen 4 connected to my Samsung SUHD TV via ethernet....but it can be still a little hit or miss with very large files... especially if you try and rewind or fast forward a little... starting again can be a struggle.

    I will keep seeing if I can refine my setup as I do love the wifi setup.... but just wish the playback results were more stable.

    Anthony
     
  4. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #4
    I'm guessing the bulk of this issue is tied to allowing WIFI to be the conduit. Can you get your system to bypass the WIFI via wired connections from Mac to :apple:TV? I suspect much of your issues would go away if you could do that.

    Another option is to go with hardware that isn't rigid about using hard drives for local storage. In other words, :apple:TV is not the only game in town. Trying to get it to do something that Apple has decided it shall not do is fighting against a strong current.

    And yet another option that might tie the 2 together: Since you like Plex, consider picking up a Mac Mini (perhaps a used one) and connecting your hard drive storage directly to it. Let it be your Plex-based multimedia player. OR, there are lots of smallish PCs that have enough graphics horsepower to push 4K. Get Plex running on them, hook the stored media directly to them and that may be the way.

    Else, you are just asking a lot of :apple:TV. It's not made for 4K playback. It's favored file options are compressed 1080p or less. WIFI is notoriously variable in "real world" connections but you are trying to push large files between devices that way anyway. Etc. Simplify. Eliminate the variable elements outside of your control. Use the right hardware for the job you want to do here.
     
  5. Rigby macrumors 601

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    Aug 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #5
    Unless your Wifi has a very low bandwidth, your problems are very likely not related to the network. I often play Blu-ray rips using Infuse that are much larger than 12GB, and it works fine over both Wifi and Ethernet.

    What codec, resolution and container format are you using for your files? Perhaps the Plex server is struggling with the transcoding.
     
  6. mic j macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2012
    #6
    Are you aware that PLEX transcodes the large files you have to mp4's? You are not really gaining anything vs a Handbrake transcode other than being able to keep one set of uncompressed files. It may be PLEX's transcoding that is struggling not your network...just a thought. Also, file size is not as critical to smooth playback as bitrate is. I switched to Infuse from PLEX and it has been working wonderfully for me (vs PLEX), you don't need to have the PLEX server running and it supports DTS. If you need remote access, you'll need PLEX,though. Infuse is local playback only.

    Edit: after posting, I saw the new posts. Seems like there is a consensus here.
     
  7. Rigby macrumors 601

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    Aug 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #7
    The Plex server does not typically transcode high-bitrate files for the Apple TV Plex app as long as the codec is H.264. However, it may do so when adding certain types of subtitles.
    Yes, but big video files are usually caused by high bitrates. ;)
    It's possible to set up remote access by configuring a VPN server on your router or NAS/server.
     
  8. Longkeg macrumors regular

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    Location:
    S. Florida
    #8
    A was thinking the same thing. You beat me to it.
     
  9. mic j macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2012
    #9
    1) I concur with your statement, if the file used H.264 codec. Some BR's use other codecs and I have a lot of mp2 files. PLEX just always gave me more jittery playback vs Infuse (using the same wifi network). So if it's not the transcode, what might be the source of the lower quality?
    2) File size is also a function of movie length, so file size alone is not dictated by bitrate
    3) I defer to the master on that one...I know nothing about using VPN.
     
  10. Rigby macrumors 601

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    San Jose, CA
    #10
    I'm not saying it's not the transcoding in this particular case. I was just responding to your general statement that "PLEX transcodes the large files", which is not necessarily true if the large files use the right codec.
     
  11. mic j macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2012
    #11
    You're right...I was probably a little too broad in that statement.
     
  12. bushellj macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2012
    Location:
    Devon, UK
    #12

    If you are "extending" your network using WiFi between the Airports then you will be killing the bandwidth of your Wifi network as each Airport will be receiving the data and then transmitting it again packet by packet. If you want to extend the network with multiple Airports they should be cabled between the Airports or use a fast Homeplug network to connect them together.

    That said, also make sure that Plex is not transcoding the files in real time before transmitting them across the network as this will also affect the responsiveness at the Client end.
     
  13. Anto38x thread starter macrumors member

    Anto38x

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland
    #13
    If I did get a Powerline Extender Adapter.... is that easy to setup with my Airport Extreme, I'm only used to working with Apple based products... will it work with Airport Utility.... and if I bought one... how would I set it up?

    This is one that my broadband supplier is offering on their website... with a 40% discount... which is a great deal at present.

    https://www.imaginestore.ie/shop/av1200-3-port-gigabit-passthrough-powerline-starter-kit/

    Are they any good... would they suit my needs.... ?
     
  14. HobeSoundDarryl, Feb 13, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #14
    Again, I suggest testing the idea that it's the WIFI that is causing most of your problems. Some have posted that it should not be an issue but they can't know your setup, how many people are simultaneously using bandwidth, etc. Your suggestion that sometimes it's working and sometimes it's not sounds like sometimes you have access to more bandwidth and sometimes others may be accessing the bandwidth. Are you noticing a pattern of perhaps others getting home from work or school and getting online and then these problems showing themselves more readily?

    The easiest way to test my guess is to run ethernet cables through your home so that you have a wired connection from computer to router to :apple:TV. For a test, it doesn't matter where these wires run- even middle of the floor- as you are just trying to see if this is a cause or contributor to the problem. It should be relatively cheap to test- all you need is some ethernet cables long enough to make the direct connections.

    A pure connection like that thoroughly tests the idea. If it turns out that things are much better with a wired connection, then you start looking for ways to re-route the wires without them running across the floor: can you get them into the walls, up into the attic or down under the floor and then down or up to your :apple:TV? And/or that is the point where I would experiment with the powerline options if there is no good way to run some ethernet direct.

    What I wouldn't do is interrupt the "pure" connections with the powerline connections for the testing. That's introducing variables that you don't really need to mix in here to see if it is a bandwidth issue.

    If you try the pure connection and the problem persists, you'll have eliminated my main guess and can then focus on other possibilities. For example, the Mac Mini idea (with hard drives attached to it) replacing the :apple:TV as your Plex player.
     
  15. Anto38x thread starter macrumors member

    Anto38x

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland
    #15
    Thanks again for your informed contribution HobeSoundDarrly. The ethernet connected or fixed cable will just not work in my home (mein fuhrer wife will not allow!! :)... but I hear you about trying that to isolate the issue. I will stick with what I have for now and I think the my end game solution will be as you mentioned... a Mac Mini with an attached Hard Drive. What version Mac Mini would you recommend... for the best long term solution....?

    https://ie.webuy.com/search/index.php?stext=Mac+Mini&section=
     
  16. mawool01 macrumors member

    mawool01

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2010
    #16
    Have you looked into the Infuse app for Apple TV. I also have an AT4 and a airport extreme. The infuse app will play my videos from hard drive connected to the airport extreme. It also pulls in the meta data for the files.
     
  17. Longkeg macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2014
    Location:
    S. Florida
    #17
    Might be worth a try with Infuse. All transcoding happens on the ATV but those large files may be too much for the ATVs processor. Also Infuse isn't free and they recently went with a subscription model that upset many loyal users.

    With Plex... If wifi is the issue and all devices are connected by wifi then connecting the external drive to the router seems to be the last thing you would want to do. Data has to go from the HD to the server, then from the server back to the router to be sent to the ATV.... all on wifi.

    Listen to Mr. HSD. Work the problem starting with the low hanging fruit first. One note about a Mini as a Plex server: make sure it can run the latest Mac OS. Plex server won't run on anything less than OS10.9. Early Intel Minis can only run 10.6 or 10.7. If it is a transcoding issue going from a MacPro to a Mini (unless it's a very old MacPro) doesn't seem to me like much of an improvement.
     
  18. cynics macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #18
    Have you tried playing the mkv itself?

    I have a near identical setup as you.

    Have you tried playing the mkv file itself? I'll occasionally check quality by comparing the mkv quality to my handbrake encode quality all from my NAS (wifi) using the LocalCast app. And it can stream 30+gb mkvs without a hiccup.

    Also can you see the buffering bar that will tell you if it's a network issue.

    Edit: you can also get the wifi sweetspots app for a smartphone and set it next to the AppleTV to help determine throughput there.
     
  19. blahblahblahbla, Feb 13, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017

    blahblahblahbla macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2011
    #19
    We use a time capsule. I put giant mkv etc. files into a "movies" folder in with my time machine backups for all of our Mac stuff. I keep my iTunes music files on the time capsule as well. I use whatever the VLC app for atv4 is called and I have access instantly to every video file I throw at it. Bonus: all my tunes play on the atv4 right through the time capsule.
     

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