New AppleTV this weekend -- impressions

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by MikieMikie, Aug 13, 2007.

  1. MikieMikie macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 7, 2007
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    Newton, MA
    #1
    Well, I took the plunge and I am glad I did, but am a (very) little disappointed.

    In Massachusetts, where I live, there was a tax-free weekend -- you can buy anything without paying sales tax. I used this as a good selling point for my wife's agreement. I bought the 160.

    I don't think this device is quite as consumer friendly as an iPod, and when The Steve characterized it as a "hobby," I think he was dead on. I enjoy the process of preparing the media for aTV -- finding great poster art, using MetaX (could it be any slower?) to add info, finding great cover art for the albums that iTunes can't find, etc. So for me, it's a bit of a hobby.

    Setting up was easy, but created some problems. For some reason, Apple decided to synch all media from iTunes to the aTV as soon as iTunes found it. Not what I wanted to do, so this took a little massaging, rebooting, and reconfiguring. Not quite like the iPhone setup, which assumed I did not want to sync anything.

    When I did get it set up, it took 3 hours trying to sync the first song in the library. I thankfully had read a thread on this board re: looooong times to synch. As a reult, I knew I had to take down the entire system -- shut down all computers on the network, and reboot the airport express. On restart, media started to move.

    I moved a movie onto the aTV (I, Robot) and viewed it locally and streaming and could not detect a difference. This with an Airport Express, Handbrake set to aTv presets! I was impressed, and now I am not sure I need 160 GB. But I'll deal with it. ;-)

    With my Samsung 57" DLP HDTV, when I switch to HDMI input to see the aTV, it sometimes looks like it's in 1080i and dropping half the scan lines, though it is set for 720p. In addition, the sound is messed up. The only way to fix this is to set the aTV to 1080i, then back to 720p.

    My only real complaint is the result of my decision to stream most movies from iTunes. Not being able to see them in the menu system without changing sources seems a pain. It would seem that getting a list of the available media from iTunes and supplying it, synched or streamed, shouldn't be that hard. I really would like a "combined" menu, but, hey, if that's the worst of it, I'll suffer.

    Rippin' and having a great time,
    -- Mikie
     
  2. P-Worm macrumors 68020

    P-Worm

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    #2
    Thanks for you review. I'm actually off to go buy one today and I'll be sure to tell how my experience went.

    P-Worm
     
  3. KD7IWP macrumors 6502a

    KD7IWP

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    Mar 8, 2004
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    American living in Canada
    #3
    I'm curious about this device, even though I'm not a TV watcher. Thanks for the insights.
     
  4. maokh macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #4
    By combined, do you mean, sourcing from multiple computers? Yeah, thats annoying. Whats even more annoying is the fact i am running out of space on my laptop.....file server time :rolleyes: now, instead of saving money on satellite, i might just break even this year.

    I have been running my aTV in 1080i on my Hitachi 51G500 without any issues, but what do you mean by dropping half the scan lines?

    Do you mean you only the even or odd 540 lines with gaps, or do you mean when there is motion? Either way, it sounds like your TV has a (de)interlace issue with the HDMI source.
     
  5. MikieMikie thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Newton, MA
    #5
    I have a MBPro running iTunes. It is the iTunes with which I sync. I have a 500GB external drive which houses my ripped DVDs. I have added these to iTunes without copying them into the MBPro's internal library (which lives on my internal HD). So, I have my music living on the internal HD, and my movies living on the external HD. I have synced the music with THIS computer and THIS version of iTunes. But to see the movies, I have to change the source on the aTV to Mikie's iTunes. Why in Steve's name should I have to do this??? It is THE iTunes with which I am syncing. Show me, in the movies menu, those movies I have synced (all 1 of them!) as well as all of the movies iTunes knows about. It's not arbitrary -- it is the iTunes sync source.

    It's kind of tough to describe -- it's black lines, like missing scan lines. This shows up as soon as I switch to HDMI input on my HDTV. Typically, there are screensaver pix rising up, missing lines. And when I click the remote, the sound is distorted. When I play music, it is distorted. Changing to 1080i must reset something on the TV as all is well.

    Yeah, I agree. For now, if I keep it on 1080i, all is well.

    -- Mikie
     
  6. Lancetx macrumors 68000

    Lancetx

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2003
    Location:
    Texas
    #6
    Several models of Samsung HDTVs are notorious for having HDMI compatibility issues with other sources as well like HD satellite receivers for example, so it's not necessarily just an Apple TV issue. You might try connecting via component video to see if that makes a difference for you.
     
  7. MikieMikie thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Will try this evening. Thanks. (BTW, it does not do this -- the Samsung -- when aTV is in 1080i, so that confirms your statement for me.)
     
  8. Lancetx macrumors 68000

    Lancetx

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    Aug 11, 2003
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    Texas
    #8
    I hope it works out. The reason I knew about this is I have a friend that had the same issue with a DirecTV HD receiver when connected to a Samsung DLP via HDMI. After researching it online and we found that it was an HDMI compatibility issue with the TV. After switching the connection to component video, the problems completely went away.
     
  9. MikieMikie thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    As did mine. Many many thanks. :)

    Very much enjoying the aTV, and the wife is coming around, too.

    -- Mikie
     
  10. ajhill macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    #10
    The future of Apple TV

    Here's what I do to make the DVD to Atv a little less painful. I rip the DVD (that I own, of course) to a HD. Then launch Handbrake and enable the queue adding a bunch of tasks to the queue and then letting it run overnight and into the next day. I've do Alias, 24 and Lost so far. It's really cool.

    I agree that the ripping process (which most of us want to do) is a pain. Apple COULD write this process into iTunes if not for the DMCA which technically makes it illegal. How ever I don't see any court in the land bothering if I am repurposing DVDs which I own. If the music and movie companies in the world would get their heads out of you know where they might actually make some money in the coming online, digital world.

    Apple TV really takes off when they offer HD content for purchase and/or RENTAL. Say goodnight Blockbuster & Netflix. It's not watching downloaded content that most people don't accept. It's the insane idea that I want to sit in front of my computer to watch it for 2 hours. The couch is much more comfy and more people can partake.

    If Apple TV had a queue system it could download the HUGE HD movies files onto your larger 160GB ATV while you were at work during the day. When you go home the top three movies from you queue would be there and you could watch either one of them. When you finish and delete it, ATV just goes out over the internet when it gets a chance and downloads the next one.

    All for a montly fee, or say $3/movie.

    I won't buy any more movies on a disc format that will be out dated some day. I did it with VHS and DVD and now I'm done. Download makes the most sense, and it's Eco friendly too. No more discarded plastic discs and cases clogging our landfills.

    Now if we could only get the Studios to see the light. Look for Disney to be the first to offer it. Seeing as how Steve Jobs is on the board of directors.

    Al
     
  11. MikieMikie thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Newton, MA
    #11
    Sign me up, Al. I'm just waiting. I've been ripping my collection, day and night. I refuse to purchase more content on optical discs. I owned a laser disc player, VHS, Beta, and now DVD. I am through -- Blu-ray and HDDVD can melt in hell for all I care.

    I will continue to rent, though I would much prefer renting downloadables.

    The wife and I are really enjoying the :apple:TV and are finding new uses for it. We have found, for example, a large number of downloadable fine art, Monet, Picasso, etc., and are using these for screen savers instead of seeing the same family pix over and over.

    -- Mikie
     
  12. Duffinator macrumors 6502

    Duffinator

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    Sep 3, 2007
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    130 miles NE of Cupertino
    #12
    I'm there with you except the quality has to be there. No DD and DTS discrete 5.1 is a deal killer for me. And all video needs to be at least 1080i. Maybe Jobs will announce the audio support this week? In the meantime I'm still renting through Netflix including HD DVD's.
     
  13. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #13
    How do you have a Tv device in 2007 with no cable in? Come on.
     
  14. bootamac macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    #14
    New Apple Tv

    Well I purchased a new Apple TV and I can't get video from my Itunes to stream without stopping every few seconds. I even brought the router into the same room. I can stream movie trailers without a problem and I can stream Itunes with a wired connection. I have spent hours on this to no avail.
    Randy
     
  15. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #15
    Apple's going to have to license those technologies before you'll see them on the ATV. It's not that the ATV cannot do 6 channel (it has the chip and already does 5 channel through Dolby Pro Logic II), it's just that all the receivers out there are restricted to DD or DTS. Wouldn't it be fabulous if some manufacturer announced a receiver that could "decode QuickTime discrete 6-channel"? Then all of our problems would go away. I'd buy such a receiver, that's for sure.

    Ain't gonna happen, my friend. ATV can only do 720; hardware limitation.

    Apple needs to start selling Blue-Ray drives with their Macs. This should be a feature of 10.5. I suspect it won't be long after that that we'll see MTR or Handbrake capable of transcoding HD video to 720 for the ATV. One can only hope (and pray).
     
  16. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #16
    802.11n. I'm glad I cut the DirecTV. Nothing like having 100 channels and only watching 10 of them. Saves me $600 per year.
     
  17. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #17
    What's the protocol of your wireless router (g or n?)? Are others using the network while you're streaming? What's the bitrate of your encoded files? Usually this problem is because of trying to push through too much data through wireless.
     
  18. bootamac macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    #18
    N protocol Netgear WNR834M - I can't get shows purchased from Itunes to stream wireless. total bit rate 1471

    Randy
     
  19. SunRiser macrumors member

    SunRiser

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2002
    Location:
    Tel-Aviv - Israel
    #19
    Dolby Pro Logic II is a 2 discreet channels codec in which 5 channels are encoded into.

    Apple doesn't need to licence the DD or DTS format to let you hear the stream from your stereo equipment (the decoding is done in it) but will need to licence if you want to get the sound from regular speakers. (headphone or none-DD/DTS stereo systems)

    I'm not sure if the aTV can output the multi-channel streams out of the optical connection but the mini defenetly can. I'm getting Dolby Digital with Front Row (from divx and msk files) and DTS out of VLC with no problems. Even iTunes can play DTS music files.
     
  20. Superman07 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    #20
    Can you expand on this? I'm familiar with different codecs, but some of what you are saying is lost on me.
     
  21. SunRiser macrumors member

    SunRiser

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    Dec 9, 2002
    Location:
    Tel-Aviv - Israel
    #21
    First, you have to connect the optical out of your mac to the optical in of your receiver.

    For getting Dolby Digtal (AC3) of quicktime, you need to install a special codec. It is installed by default with Perian 1.0. You must then change the pref file to force the codec not to decode the AC3 stream but to pass it as it (path through) to your stereo receiver which will decode it in full 5.1 sound.

    For DTS into video files, you'll need to play them with VLC and to select "optical output".

    For DTS music cds, you just have to play them through iTunes.

    I'll update this post with urls when i'll get back home.

    Feel free to ask for more informations if it's not clear enough :)
     
  22. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #22
    Yes, I know.

    But surely they'd need to license these technologies to encode movies and TV shows purchased from the iTMS?

    My Home Theater is based on a Mini and it does a very nice job with 5.1. The ATV's audio chip is 7.1 plus 2-channel stereo (RealTech) and if you have a DTS source it'll send it to your receiver. Here's a link with such files:

    http://www.diatonis.com/downloads_dts_ac3.html
     
  23. Duffinator macrumors 6502

    Duffinator

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    Sep 3, 2007
    Location:
    130 miles NE of Cupertino
    #23
    Since we're talking audio what does the ATV pass through? I have mine connected to my Denon 3805 and I wasn't sure if the digital output would work with my reciever with MP3's and AAC files but it does. So is ATV decoding them to PCM?

    The ATV only does 720P? I haven't looked lately but Apple's website isn't real clear what the ATV outputs. I went to an Apple store when the ATV first came out and the sales guy assured me it output 1080i, which it does. So it's converting (upconverting) to 1080i? So if it has a 1080i source does it convert to 720P then back to 1080i?

    Same with the photos? My photos, while a lot better than the 480i output from my Media MVP, are not as sharp as I hoped.
     
  24. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #24
    It should pass through whatever is encoded by the file. This is the biggest limitation for 5.1 audio - how do you get such files encoded into a MPEG4 in a format that receivers can decode? Handbrake will do discrete channels in Quicktime format, but I'm pretty sure you'd need a receiver that can decode QT's LFE signal. I am unaware of such a receiver. Before the 1.1 update, some had installed Perian and claimed to have the LFE signal.

    The word is that it's limited to 720p, even though the 7300 chip probably can do 1080. Until we get such content, it's tough to know just what the ATV can do.

    Max is 1280x720, I believe - I'm still using a 480 SDTV. :(
     
  25. Duffinator macrumors 6502

    Duffinator

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    #25
    That's my question...so my receiver is decoding MP3 and AAC files? I don't think so. So the ATV is decoding the MP3 and AAC files to PCM?
     

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