Looking for an HTPC option - Apple TV may not do what I want

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by claimed4all, Nov 30, 2009.

  1. claimed4all macrumors 6502

    Sep 26, 2008
    I am looking at HTPC options.

    Currently I have a 1080P TV, a Macbook and a wireless router.

    I would like the unit to have a Copy of my itunes library, that way my Macbook does not have to be on to play it. I would like to rip DVDs and move them directly to the unit, with no copies of them on my laptop. Viewing my iPhoto pictures would be nive but not required. Also 1080P playback and wireless connectivity is required.

    I would like an Apple TV but all of the media on there has to be on my laptop also, right?

    My second option is the Acer Revo Nettop with XBMC on it following the lifehacker post on it. All I would have to do is add a wireless card and a large external.

    Mac Mini would be nice but they are still to much money.

    Any other options or one of the above be the best bet?

  2. Monetthecat macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2008
    The media doesn't have to be on the MB Pro. It can be on an external HD that is connected to your router or MBP. However, without hacking your ATV you will need to have iTunes running on your MBP in order for AppleTV to play the movie/music/etc.. Of course you can sync the ATV and load up its HD with media, but with movies included its doesn't take much to fill the 160gig drive.

    XBMC is nice, but personally like the ATV interface and the ease of use (personal opinion).

    I agree with you on the MacMini. I've debated it for sometime myself and cannot justify the expense after you factor in wireless keyboards, mouse, cables, etc... Plus I really want HDMI output which the MacMini doesn't have. However, with an MacMini the world is more open with Plex, XBMC, Front Row, etc.. in terms of serving up your media

    If all you want is to rip DVDs (that you own :) and play them the ATV is a simple solution for that. Plus the cost is low.

    I have a 5TB drive connected to my router and an ATV also connected to the router. All the Movies, TV Shows, Music, Videos, etc.. are stored on the drive and the operations is flawless.

    So while its not the most powerful device, the ATV is simple, inexpensive and effecient in playing media if your committed to iTunes.
  3. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    You will try a lot of things and ultimately settle on a Mac Mini as the best solution. It's a question of how much money you are going to waste coming to that conclusion. :p ;)

    The entry level Mac Mini with a firewire attached large drive is ideal. Add a Harmony 880 remote for controlling Plex and you are good to go. You can administer it remotely from another Mac using screen sharing... no need for a wireless keyboard or mouse.
  4. claimed4all thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 26, 2008
    The kicker is I do not want to have my Macbook on in order for everything to work. So if I convert all of my movies and let them reside on a network attached drive it would go

    Drive -> Router -> My Macbook -> Router -> Apple TV

    I would have to upgrade my router 100$ plus a nice external drive, 100$ and the apple TV 200$. At that rate I might as well spend 400$ on a nice used mini.

    Thats why I am debating on the Acer Revo. I am not going to do anything until the Boxee Box announcement in a week, but it could be another 6 months till you can get the device, which I do not want to wait that long.
  5. Monetthecat macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2008
    Virtualrain might be right on the MacMini. My issue with the MacMini is that FrontRow is weak and Plex/XBMC require a commitment to make it slick as ATV. For me simple and easy was a factor as friends and family use the ATV all the time. Also the ability to purchase HD movies was a consideration.

    I understand about leaving the MBP. The way I get around it is that I determine what I want to watch on ATV over the next week and sync the ATV with those files. Then i don't need my MBP on to watch them.

    The Acer Revo Nettop might be a great solution. For the price its hard to beat
  6. jzuena macrumors 6502a


    Feb 21, 2007
    Lexington, MA, USA
    I have heard that the Apple TV doesn't have the horsepower to decode 1080p content, but I don't have any 1080p content to test with. You can sync as much of your iTunes library as will fit into the Apple TV hard drive for playback while your laptop is off. If you are willing to hack the Acer to put XBMC on it, you can also hack the Apple TV to put XBMC on it. I have and it works fine. Once hacked you can install a plugin to allow a large external on Apple TV as well (and it already has 802.11n wireless).

    I had a mini as my HTPC option in a second bedroom, but gave it to my mom to replace an ancient PC (VirtualRain's description is basically what I had running). So I got an Apple TV to replace it. So far it is doing everything I want it to do, but I haven't tried any 1080p content. I use XBMC as a front-end to MythTV, Sapphire to play DVD rips that I haven't bothered to transcode into an iTunes format, and the built-in functionality to play iTunes media (although all of my movie transcodes were into iPhone resolution, hence the Sapphire solution). I may eventually try the Mythfrontend.app on the Apple TV, but I am used to XBMC since I also use it on an Xbox in another room.
  7. jimx1169 macrumors newbie

    Dec 18, 2009

    I'm about to pull the trigger on replacing my ATV with a Mini. I've hacked into the ATV to enable the USB port, which is great. However, what I really want is to be able to use my DVD rips (my own collection, thank you very much) in the Video TS format in order to keep the DVD file structure intact. Mainly so that it's easier to watch the DVD versions of TV shows. If I was only watching movies, I'd just watch the .mp4 of the movie. I use Handbrake for this.

    You can watch Video TS in a hacked ATV, but the UI is a bit lacking (in my setup, you have to use NitoTV to access the Video TS folders). This works OK, but there isn't a nice view of the DVD covers, disc information, etc..

    What I'm going to use, because I know it works on my iMac, is Front Row with the DVDpedia plugin. This allows you to see the movie description, actors, director, etc...

    Anyone else using this setup?

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