Multi-room strategies?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Undecided, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. Undecided macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #1
    OK, folks, I'm trying to figure out the best solution.

    Say you have two or more TVs (I'd have one in the living room, and one in the bedroom). I can't see myself spending an extra $600 (or more) for a mini per TV. I can see myself getting one for the main TV, but for every TV?

    So then I figured AppleTVs for the secondary TV(s). But they won't play AVIs, MKVs, DVDs, etc. OK, so then I'll rip DVDs, and convert AVIs, MKVs, etc.

    But quicktime/frontrow won't play 5.1 audio from anything except DVDs.

    So do I have to have both VIDEO_TS folders and AVIs, MKVs, etc. on the mini, and also .m4v flies for the AppleTV? What a hassle! Even using Plex instead of quicktime/frontrow wouldn't get around the AppleTV problem.

    What I really need for the secondary TVs is a small and cheap device that will simply play content of any kind pulled down from a networked mini, using 802.11n and properly outputting 5.1 audio.
     
  2. robotartfashion macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2009
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #2
    i think at this point that's a tall order, i'm not aware of anything on the market that will accomplish this for you

    you could buy a WD TV (they go on sale for < $100 all the time) and then get an external hd or enclosure and make a backup of all your media files to it, then plug that into the wd tv

    either that or you could get the WD TV and then a decent sized flash thumb drive and copy things to it that you want to see, watch them, and then switch it out frequently

    i'd get the external enclosure though, that way it serves the purpose of a secondary backup of your media as well as fulfilling your intended purpose

    good luck!
     
  3. tom1971 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    #3
    Just hack your aTV - you can then either stream your media or just attach an external USB hd to it.
     
  4. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #4
    How about this for a "out of the box" suggestion?

    If you have a spare computer (Windows or Mac) that can connect to your secondary TV, you can use VNC to log into your Mac mini that's connected to the primary TV.

    You'll need a pretty fast network to minimize choppyness, but it could work.

    The problem with using a 3rd party media extender is that none of them will play iTunes purchased files (except the non-DRM stuff). That may or may not be an issue for you. Using VNC solves this problem since you're actually playing it on the mini and essentially streaming to the secondary TV.

    Now that I've thought of it, how about Slingbox? Not sure if the SlingboxHD is up to the task of controlling a computer, but it might work. You may need to see if SlingboxHD can accept auxilliary audio on an HDMI input.

    ft
     
  5. Undecided thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Location:
    California
    #5
    Yeah, that would probably choke the network, and I'm not sure the 5.1 audio would make it through.

    Slingbox is an interesting idea. I'll have to look at them more closely.

    In the end, I suppose I could just have both the raw content (VIDEO_TS, MKV, AVI, etc.) on the mini and, in iTunes on the mini, have the AppleTV content as well. That way, on the main TV, use the mini, and on the secondary TV, use the AppleTV. It's a hassle, takes more storage space, and the AppleTV has a lower resolution (720p/24 only), but it works.

    Will Plex or Media Central play .m4v files and pass through the 5.1 audio?

    So here's what I was thinking:

    Main setup:
    55" LED LCD like the Vizio 551XVT (June 09) (currently using 800x600 projector)
    Mac mini (currently using Macbook for everything), and use Plex, assuming Plex will pass through the 5.1 from Apple TV formats (m4v)
    Wii (got it)
    Yamaha 1000 sound projector & subwoofer (got 'em)

    Secondary setup:
    37" LED LCD (?, maybe smaller, maybe larger)
    Apple TV 160GB (got it), connected to mini via 802.11n
    Maybe the smaller Yamaha sound projector like the 3000

    I would rip/convert everything to m4v format using the Handbrake Apple TV preset, and dump the original source material unless it was 1080p. (Again, assuming Plex will pass through the 5.1 from m4v files.)
     
  6. TheCheapGeek macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    #6
    Multiple tvs are the major reason I went with apple TV's opposed to minis. One $600 device for one tv is worth more than the time required to transcode all my media into apple tv specific formats. When considering $1200 for 2 minis I felt that the $800 savings gained by using 2 Apple TVs instead was worth the time to get all my media in the correct format. Mind you that this is all much simpler for me since my main HD tv is not 1080p and has no surround sound so some of the most desirable features of the mini are irrelevant. I think a slingbox would be a great alternative to a second mini. Plus with the possible launch of sling player mobile you could watch content on an iPod touch or iPhone.
     
  7. hitekalex macrumors 68000

    hitekalex

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    #7
    Forget the Mini. Just get AppleTVs for every one of your rooms. Patch them, install Perian. And viola - your AppleTVs can now play AVI/MKVs, and of course M4V DVD rips with proper 5.1 passthru.
     
  8. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #8
    How easy is it to patch/install Perian? I've been thinking of an aTV set-up as well, but the thought of "hacking/cracking" it turns me off. If it's as easy as plugging in a thumbdrive, I might consider it.

    Also, can the aTV play DVDs ripped as VIDEO_TS folders? I hate to have to convert my collection of VIDEO_TS folders.

    ft
     
  9. johnnj macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 11, 2008
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    #9
    Get a Popcorn Hour. It'll play whatever you throw at it and now internal hard drive needed. You just need to either wire it up with ethernet or use an Airport Express in bridge mode with an 802.11n network to feed it data.

    The PCH wlan dongle is useless.
     
  10. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #10
    PCH sounds great, but does it do iTunes protected files?
     
  11. hitekalex macrumors 68000

    hitekalex

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    #11
    Very easy, the whole process takes about 15 minutes and makes your aTV a whole lot more useful.

    No VIDEO_TS support out of the box.. mainly because iTunes doesn't support it. But if you're determined enough, Boxee or NitoTV can play VIDEO_TS on patched aTV. I personally don't bother with VIDEO_TS, I converted everything to H.264/M4V, which saved much a bundle of disk space in the process.
     
  12. dlegend macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Location:
    Northern VA (outside DC)
    #12
    I've never used this before, but it might solve your issue or at least be cheaper.

    ScreenPlay TV Link
     
  13. Chris Rogers macrumors 6502a

    Chris Rogers

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    Jul 8, 2008
    Location:
    my house
    #13
    Actually yes, that's pretty much all you have to do.
     
  14. Undecided thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #14
    Still toying with this. This should work:

    Rip/convert everything (DVD, AVI, MKV, etc.) to 720p/24 or less, with stereo and 5.1 audio tracks, using the Handbrake "universal" preset (and, if necessary, tweaking to prevent anomorphic, which it seems to do in some cases, making the video stretched too wide).

    • Apple TV would be able to play it, and use the 5.1 track.
    • Mac would be able to play it, using the stereo track by default but within iTunes you can select the 5.1 track instead, and it is passed through.
    • iPhone would be able to play it (I assume, since it's the "universal" preset). Edit: OK, so apparently not, if it exceeds the 640x480 limit. Bah.

    And only one file to manage.

    I lose the ability to use Front Row, since it doesn't let you select alternative tracks, and Plex, since it doesn't seem to pass through 5.1 to my receiver (maybe a receiver issue). I'd use my iPhone with the Air Mouse application to play videos and select the 5.1 track (or real keyboard/mouse).

    Get a mini as the HTPC, store content there, and hook it up to the large screen. Connect the ATV to the little screen, and have it sync content from the mini. Limit my macbook to "getting things done" and only have a subset of content synced to it. Use the min for the ripping/converting.
     
  15. johnnj macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 11, 2008
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    #15
    No, obviously not, since it's not an Apple product. If you want to play Apple DRM/proprietary file format stuff, then I think the ATV is the only option, but then that's limiting for other stuff.

    That's why I have 2 PCH units (for movie/recorded program watching) and an ATV for playback of the music in my iTunes library.

    I tried Boxee on the ATV and found mkv playback to be not smooth and the interface to be cluttered and slow to navigate.

    Another alternative would be the Mediagate MG800, but that's quite reached maturity yet. Mediagate wins over PCH in terms of interface, though.

    John
     

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