MP4 and USB and Apple TV 4

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by smacrumon, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. smacrumon macrumors 68030


    Jan 15, 2016
    I have a bunch of videos and movies stored on USB from a variety of original sources.

    Is Apple TV 4 capable of playing MP4 files? What's the process of getting them to play on the device? Would a different set top box better?

    Is Apple TV likely to be updated to Apple TV 5 soon?

    Thanks in advance for any advice and guidance. Cheers.
  2. benjitek macrumors 6502a


    Sep 23, 2012
    Plex or Infuse would both work well. Apple has not announced anything about an ATV5, at this point any comments about hardware or potential launch dates would be speculative.
  3. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth

    "H.264 Baseline Profile level 3.0 or lower with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats"
  4. smacrumon thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jan 15, 2016
    Thanks! But do you happen to know how I get it onto the device?
    Does Apple TV come with a web browser as well?
  5. waw74 macrumors 68040

    May 27, 2008

    Plex is a great option, as long as your files are decently organized. and if not you can still browse by folder.
    You'll need to leave your computer on, running the plex server, and the drive attached anytime you want to watch anything.
    If your file isn't compatible with the aTV, plex will convert on the fly if your server is powerful enough.
    also plex can run on some models of routers and NAS devices, if your files are already in a compatible format, then this is a decent option.

    I think VLC will let you download the files to local storage. You will need to share the folder using SMB (windows file sharing) on your computer, then you can then browse the remote folder from the aTV.
    I might be getting confused with infuse, i'm not home right now, normally use plex, and played with both VLC and infuse a while ago.
  6. nostresshere macrumors 68030

    Dec 30, 2010
    I just looked at that link and did not see anything about how I can watch movies I have on my portable hard drive. Nothing.
  7. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    Put it in your Mac and share the drive or get a proper NAS and share movies/music to the Apple TV without having your Mac on!
  8. benjitek, Dec 3, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016

    benjitek macrumors 6502a


    Sep 23, 2012
    I use both Plex and Infuse. I like Infuse because it will access my Plex Media Server via DLNA, or my MacBook via a network share. It also plays a variety of formats natively without re-encoding, though to be honest I can't see any difference when playing the same MKV file with Plex or Infuse. Plex gives me flexibility to also watch vids with my 2016 Roku Streaming Stick, I actually prefer the Roku Plex app over tvOS. The newest version of Infuse 5 Pro now syncs all your settings between iOS and tvOS via iCloud, even network and Plex shares.

    Whether it's Plex or Infuse, it doesn't really matter if your files are decently organized. You could dump all your files into a single directory and both apps grab or download the metadata and make it look like you've meticulously organized the files. It's a good idea to have a directory for TV and Movies, mainly so you can configure metadata sources for each.

    Infuse 5 Pro is currently on sale for 30% off thru December 11th.

  9. smacrumon thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jan 15, 2016
    Thanks everyone! So short answer it's not straightforward as plugging in a usb into Apple TV and watching the mp4 contents, long answer its possible to watch mp4 but with a number of steps in between.
  10. Maxwill macrumors member


    May 25, 2015
    Well, that depends on the video compression codec that MP4 files uses, Apple TV only read MP4 files compressed with MPEG-4 or H.264 compression codec.
  11. idunn, May 5, 2017
    Last edited: May 5, 2017

    idunn macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008

    As Mp4 and m4v are both MPEG-4, there is a good chance an Mp4 will play on Apple TV. Not entirely sure, thus suggest you first try a single Mp4 movie or TV program file. m4v is Apple's proprietary, DRM version of MPEG-4.

    If result negative, then a fairly simple process to use software to encode such media to m4v prior to adding to the iTunes library. If a caveat in this (see below concerning Plex).

    I cannot say concerning Apple TV 4, but believe it is similar to Apple TV 3 in that it has the ability to access one's own media. In ATV 3, for example, one would choose Computer and then use sharing to access these files on a computer running iTunes. In ATV 3 the interface for media streamed from Apple is different and uses graphics, versus basically just a list for one's own media.

    Whether you opt for such a system will likely depend upon usage and preference. Overall I believe it is simpler to remain within Apple's ecosystem. Particularly if what you are adding on your own will be the occasional movie or TV program you wish the same relatively easy access to as all purchased through Apple.

    However a system like Plex offers the advantage of an attractive graphical interface for all media, as well my understanding being able to translate many different file formats, potentially saving you the bother. But first you'll have to take the time to understand and set it up, AND be willing to shift over to it from Apple TV when wishing to view something only found on Plex.

    Consider this last carefully. Or how much switching around you wish to do versus remaining within Apple's or someone else's system. You may wish to consider the pros and cons of each system and then choose basically one.

    My limited experience with Plex suggests it wishes a precise file naming structure on individual media. Simple, but precise. Or even if Plex is able to easily translate media, you possibly still cannot just chuck it into a folder and have same work. As well, note, Plex will not play DRM media, unless that first stripped out.

    The short answer to this long explanation is that, yes, you can watch your own videos on Apple TV. Yet the ease of the digital presentation first comes in setting it up to work properly.

    As for Apple TV 5, I am hopeful but counting on nothing. They should already have released a new version, yet may think leaving everyone hanging for another year or so acceptable.

    I would hope that an ATV 5 would at minimum offer a better remote and 4k. As well nice if it offered a truly usable USB3 connection for external drives (so one doesn't have to have iTunes running to view their own local media). Then too a better graphical interface, and basically reverting to all that was best with Apple TV 3, and then envisioning how a new Apple TV 5 could best Amazon, Roku and all the rest at their game by setting the best in class standards for well into the future.

    What I more expect is the somewhat late introduction of an Apple TV 5 which is not much more than an Apple TV 4 with a few minor attractions and a less than stellar 4k capability.

    At the moment no one is offering a truly compelling alternative to just decent cable television.
  12. smacrumon thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jan 15, 2016
    Many thanks for your explanation!

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