Some annoyances with my apple tv 3 and will keep my windows media center

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Eimoaotl, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. Eimoaotl macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2012
    Well, I took the hype and bought an apple tv 3. Overall I like some parts but the interface feels like a pig compared to windows media center. I have really liked my iPad and I thought Apple would have nailed the apple tv as well. Luckily it was cheap so I will hang onto it.

    Here's my thoughts from a long-time windows media center user:

    When playing a slideshow on the ATV3 it is very annoying to not be able to skip songs - this will likely be a deal breaker for me. Can only skip pictures. Would be great if I could use the up button to skip songs but alas apple decided to just have the button do nothing instead.

    Netflix interface looks good - I will keep the ATV around just for my kids for this one feature alone so I don't have to have my HTPC turned on.

    Really like the remote

    UI is fairly ugly and non functional compared to windows media center

    Love the parental controls and being able to lock everything down

    Hate how long it takes to buffer my slideshows even though my LAN and computer are both high powered.

    Had to reboot the ATV3 once when it suddenly thought iTunes sharing was no longer enabled. This reminded me of the instability of WMC so I felt right at home :)

    Like how it pulls in movies I bought on blu-ray that had digital copies

    Love how small and absolutely quiet it is

    Really miss the built in DVR from WMC - this is the main reason I will never get rid of my HTPC as I need my OTA and my guess is once apple gets the rights to stream that I will have to watch commercials again. I could get an eyetv and a Mac, but even then I couldn't delete shows and schedule programming from the applemtv and couldn't watch and pause live tv.

    Wil keep the ATV3 for my kids but for me I am sticking with my HTPC. I just wish the HTPC were more reliable.
  2. SurfMacJpMtb macrumors member


    Nov 19, 2008
    RE: Slideshow

    You should be able to play music and let the screensaver (slideshow) start. In this mode can skip songs. Adjust the screensaver to immediate start.

    As you learned, you can skip photos in a slideshow.

    Thank you for the write-up. Enjoy!
  3. Eimoaotl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2012
    Wonderful, thank you. I had only seen the option for the 2 minutes start. I really appreciate your reply.
  4. JoshBoy macrumors 6502


    Oct 12, 2008
    Sydney, Australia
    I am an apple fanboy but I must admit that you gave good honest feedback with comparing how you viewed each feature. Hopefully you learn more about it and the tweaks you can apply but good write up.
  5. Eimoaotl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2012
    Unfortunately I tried this morning to set it to an immediate start, but the options jump from never to 2 minutes with no "immediate" function. So looks like if I want to skip songs I'll have to wait 2 minutes for the pictures to show up.

    A couple of other observations after playing around with the ATV3 for a while longer:

    I really like being able to control the ATV with my iphone. And my kids really like controlling it with their ipod touches. This seems to have been quite well implemented and makes me more comfortable about being able to use the ATV when my kids end up losing the remote. Plus it is infinitely better for inputting text. This function is far better than most of the WMC implementations by various developers. It just works. Great job, Apple.

    Would love it if they implemented Siri in a future release.

    I am hoping they introduce apps with iOS 6 - would be such a huge improvement.

    Wish I could get rid of icons on the homepage that I will never use and that I could put shortcuts to movies, music, and TV on my local computer instead.

    Skipping chapters in movies was non-intuitive - had to "Press the Down button, then Right or Left to skip chapters." I'm used to not having to read the manual with apple stuff :)

    Miss being able to create a playlist on the fly like I can with WMC

    After using the included remote for a while I wish they had a version that was touch sensitive like the wheel on my old ipod nano. The buttons just feel a bit too stiff (I'm sure my kids will help loosen it up, heh).

    AirPlay is well done and a great feature to stream from my iPad.

    All in all I will definitely keep it, and hope it gets better over time. I don't know that I will use it much but my kids definitely will. They loved it. Will probably end up converting all of my DVDs and blu-rays that I have ripped onto my hard drive into a compatible format for the AppleTV for my kids. But I will still watch my movies on the HTPC so that I can get the full blu-ray picture quality and the DTS HD-MA sound on my 106" projector TV, receiver, and THX speakers. And I'll still use the HTPC for recorded TV.

    But my kids will be happy to have a system that "just works" and not have to wait till I come home to trouble-shoot the HTPC :)
  6. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009

    Honestly, after using the remote app, there is almost no reason to even use the included remote. I almost feel like Apple includes the remote so you can get so annoyed by it's limited functionality that you have to buy an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch just so you can have a "real" remote. Which is fine in our house with two iphones and two iPads. What my wife and have done, is we have a Mac Mini in our basement running iTunes. Our iDevices connect to that Mac Mini via the remote app and have the output directed to the AppleTV (or Airport Expresses). With the Remote App, I can pick songs or playlists as I want and have them play thru the AppleTV. The other killer feature is Airplay. If I find a youtube video or a song on my iphone and/or iPad that I want my wife to see/hear, I just send it to the AppleTV for us both to watch/listen to at the same time.

    The AppleTV as a "stand alone" device is lack luster. I feel like it is being sold to get you to buy more iDevices. But as an ecosystem device, where everything just works together, it is amazing. It can take an individual experience on an iDevice (i.e. iphone/iPad) and make it a social experience (something the whole family can experience).
  7. OptyCT macrumors 6502

    Nov 9, 2008
    I think it's actually the other way around. The :apple:TV is being sold as an accessory for iOS devices. Hence, the reason it was launched the same day as the new iPad.
  8. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Chicken / egg my friend
  9. jtara macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2009
    I'm apalled by the horrible UI and lack of functionality, but I bought it for one reason and one reason only: AirPlay, since I have an iPhone 4S and ordered the new iPad. Plus I had an Apple gift certificate from my neighbor left from Christmas.

    Friends come over and play music and videos on their tinny iPhone speakers and tiny screen. Now I don't have to bear the assault on my ears, and I can show them how to Airplay.

    I already have Netflix on my Samsung TV and Bluray. So, one more device with Netflix. From comments I've read online, I might be able to get some higher-res content than I can with the other devices. Unclear if 1080P Netflix content is exclusive to Apple.

    I have Airplay on my Denon receiver, but audio only. I really wish the Denon had Airplay video. The nice thing about Airplay to the Denon is not having to switch sources. I haven't checked, yet, though, if the Apple TV will switch the Denon source over HDMI-CEC. I've actually been meaning to turn CEC off, because my TV and receiver "fight" over control at start-up and you have to keep switching the receiver back to the cable input. So, I've been meaning to get a digital audio cable and turn off CEC (needed for ARC).

    I hadn't used the Apple Remote app before, so it took some getting used to. Again, pretty horrible UI. I'm really surprised at this from Apple. For example, if you are browsing a genre', and switch to some other app (for example, my Roomie Remote) then go back, you've lost your place and have to select the genre' again. At least it does provide a keyboard, since negotiating the onscreen keyboard with the remote is, again - horrible.

    For $99, it's worth it for Airplay, but that's it. I have more functionality on my TV and Bluray. I can't even access my media server on the Apple TV. The Roku is probably more useful overall.

    Disappointing, given the hype - but - no surprises - it's exactly what I expected so can't say I'm unhappy.
  10. tbayrgs macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2009
    I'll agree at the OP offered a fair and honest write up but don't think it's a fair comparison as, forgive the expression, It's comparing apples and oranges. The :apple: TV isn't an HTPC and to compare it to one is unfair. A more accurate comparison would be a Mac Mini with PLEX to a HTPC using WMC.


    Care to elaborate? Horrible compared to what exactly? And I'm not being a defensive fanboy, truly curious to hear what you feel has a better UI because while I'm certainly no expert, I've played around with or used quite a few media centers and think the :apple:TV is on par with most.

    And while entering text with the :apple:TV remote is definitely a PITA, it's pretty much the same scenario with any media hardware that doesn't include a keyboard with their remote which IIRC, is pretty much ALL of them.
  11. jtara macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2009
    First off, don't call it a Media Center. It can't even connect to a standard (DLNA) media server - just iTunes. Yes, I have iTunes on my Macbook. But I also have a Twonky server on my Linux box that I can't access with Apple TV. (I have to use my TV or Bluray.)

    ALL on-screen TV keyboards are horrible. I get that. But you'd think that Apple would come up with a decent remote app for iPhone/iPad. Yes, Apple Remote will work, but it's awful. If you exit and go back, it loses it's place if you were browsing songs. There is no device feedback. So, you are looking up at the TV while trying to tap buttons that you can't see because you are looking at the TV.

    Apple won't open-up their control protocol so that proper remote control apps can do what Apple is unwilling to do.

    I use Roomie Remote, which, granted has limited feedback capability, but at least it has some. So, when I am controlling my Denon receiver, I see the volume control slider on my iPad - I don't have to look up at the TV.

    Apple Remote should show the icons that show on the TV on your iPhone/iPad so you don't have to look up, for example.

    You'd think that an end-to-end proprietary solution would be better integrated than this. I had to put an IR emitter on the Apple TV to be able to control it with Roomie, because Apple refuses to share the control protocol.

    Even iPad mirroring is badly-implemented. For some reason, they don't use the full height of the screen. I realize the aspect rations are different (a mistake in the design of the iPad, I feel - it should have been 16:9) but they can at least use the full height! It should be scaled, so that you only get bars on the left/right.

    Again, I'm happy with my purchase - but only because it (kinda - disappointed with mirroring...) does exactly what I bought it for - to be able to Airplay video from my iPhone/iPad/Macbook.

    A Roku Box or just about any current high-end TV offers more services than Apple TV, and will connect to DLNA servers, as well. Something like XBMC, etc. will blow it out of the water. But, of course, without Airplay video and mirroring.

    However, I think we will see third-party airplay video and mirroring, since Apple has licensed Airplay audio (my Denon receiver has it) and so I assume they will/have licensed video as well.

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