someone please do plex w/ apple tv 2 review?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by jvmxtra, Nov 13, 2011.

  1. jvmxtra macrumors 65816


    Sep 21, 2010
    My decision is based on this review.

    What happens when you try to play 1080 mkv file?
    I imagine, if you have decent computer(mine is i5 which has no problem doing air video for 720 and above files), plex on apple tv 2 should stream it fine.. am i wrong?
  2. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    I just streamed a full-quality rip (20GB) of the new Harry Potter movie (couldn't wait for encoding :D ) via Plex on a 2009 Mini to ATV2. Worked perfectly fine. The menus are slightly finicky..I've had a decent number of crashes. But TBH the occasional 10-second reboot of the ATV2 is well worth the benefits. The ATV2 will automatically downconvert to 720p regardless of how high the source content is. That's an OS restriction.
  3. jvmxtra thread starter macrumors 65816


    Sep 21, 2010
    Hey, appreciate it.
    That's awesome that it can play 1080(down convert to 720).
    Was just reading below link as well.

    Despite all the flaws, I think i am gonna just get it.
  4. khollister macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    BTW, When I ripped the main feature from my purchased BD of DH2, I recall getting a 23-24GB file or so. There have been cases where rental versions of films are compressed down to fit on 25GB BD instead of 50GB.

    Not sure what you have is technically "full-quality" if it is only 20GB. I'll check again this evening to make sure of the file size.
  5. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    Oh-it's the retail version ripped with makemkv, but I removed some of the extra language audio tracks. :)
  6. reebzor macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2008
    Philadelphia, PA
    PMS will transcode the file to an ATV2 much like what it does for other iOS playback...
  7. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Related Question: MetaX tag compatibility

    I'm on the verge of giving up on :apple:TV- tired of waiting for 1080p support, etc. I don't own much- if any- iTunes purchased content, but I have done the work of using MetaX to tag everything (movie posters & descriptions, etc) I do have.

    I'm thinking of the Mac Mini replacement option.

    • Anything out there that can use the MetaX tagged content for art, etc? Plex? Boxee? XBMC?
    • Anything out there that handles TV shows (organization by year/season, posters, etc) about as well?
    • Can someone comment on the UI ease of use of Plex, Boxee, XBMC, etc relative to :apple:TV (anything close to as "for dummies" simple)?

    If someone has made the transition from :apple:TV to one of the Mac Mini alternatives, I'd love to see comments about pros & cons.

    If someone believes there is any competitor better than Mac Mini, I'd love to see that feedback. Anything from Roku, WD, others? I'm not overly hung up on cost but I want something to be about as easy to use as :apple:TV without many/any(?) compromises if possible.
  8. hafr macrumors 68030

    Sep 21, 2011
    It seems like XBMC is what you're looking for. I'm not sure if it uses the metadata from MetaX though, but if not - it grabs the information online.

    A better solution is to get a Hackintosh Mini, you'll get the same hardware, easier to upgrade and a lot cheaper.
  9. milbournosphere macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2009
    San Diego, CA
    Overall, Plex is fine for what you wanna do. I wouldn't recommend running over a wifi connection (too many bits flying around will saturate and bring your connection to its knees), but over a wired connection it's very smooth, even with 1080p mkvs. I have the occasional crash, but it's nothing write home about. The new version of PMS brought much better subtitle support. I would recommend plex, it's worth the trouble of jailbreaking.
  10. hafr macrumors 68030

    Sep 21, 2011
    With Plex, you need a computer running, right? That was the reason why I jailbroke my ATV2 - because I didn't want to have my computer running every time I wanted to watch a movie. So why choose Plex over XBMC? What am I not getting?
  11. jvmxtra thread starter macrumors 65816


    Sep 21, 2010
    Hi, so for me, I need my main pc in the living room which does downloading/acting as htpc for living room/streaming contents to other devices in the house and from outside) so I want my main pc to be up all the time. I already invested about $290 this year to upgrade to i5 cpu w/ others so I rather not spend more money on more hardware.

    I do hear lot of people doing readyNAS w/ XBMC streaming. How does avi and mkv file looking using that to say ipad or mbp?
  12. marc11 macrumors 68000

    Mar 30, 2011
    NY USA
    Yes with Plex you need a computer running, it is a bummer but it is what it is. However you DO NOT need to have the computer anywhere near the ATV2 and for me that was the key. I can keep my computer in another room and watch anything I want, the server doesn't seem to use a ton of resources, so using my compyuter for other things why Plex is serving up a movie is great.

    I hear XBMC doesn't need a computer just a running NAS but not sure how it works haven't tried it.
  13. jvmxtra thread starter macrumors 65816


    Sep 21, 2010
    My interest of owning atv 2 has piequed recently after I found out that there is a way to stream directly to atv 2 from
    the media source.
    I owned a 32 lcd tv in my upstairs bedroom and currently have no connectivity to anything(no cable box, no pc hooked up to it).
    The way I watch anything on it would be to connect macbook over VGA and use beta air video client(although it works extremely well) to stream
    the media from my downstairs main pc(i5 win 7 work horse which is running air video server mostly consist of AVI and MKV files 720 and above format).
    I have looked at 2 possibilties(xbmc and plex) and took a simple notes based on my findings.

    -- xbmc --
    -Although original, setup is more cumbersome.
    -Uses hardware decoding(?) which means possibly more burden on atv 2 to decode avi and mkv files
    This however means you can stream from NAS.(no running pc all time required).
    -Review of playing HD contents are not at best(stuttering problem)

    -- plex --
    -Simple setup
    -Requires PC and transcoding happens on pc(?, this I am not 100% sure as of yet) but since it requires running pc, I assume so(in my
    case I do not mind and I rather have my pc do the heavy lifting.
    -Review says HD contents play ok but whole OS is bit buggy(?)
    -One major concern is that some people in review says that atv2 using plex OR xbmc should be connected by ethernet and not by wireless.
    This is a major bummer and I hope someone w/ this particular experience can share the results.
    Hooking up atv 2 by ethernet kinda defeats the purpose.

    I have been independently testing plex client on ipad 2. Although menu auto populating movie info is rather impressive(also most likely preferable method of accessing media from tv), I say streaming is better on air video. Air video seems to utlize my computer hardware better. Movie starts faster and also stop and start is much quicker.
    At this point however I am just more interested in testing out the plex client to make sure it can play majority of the files that I have.(it seems to be doing a great job).

    What I eventually want to do is to install plex on atv 2(whenever I decide to buy it).

    I wish someone reads my post and either add or correct me on the parts that I am wrong.


    Just curious, is this based on your personal experience(running plex over wifi vs ethernet)?

    This concerns me since I refuse to run cable to my upstairs to atv 2. It really defeats the purpose of having atv 2. My 2009 mb plays 720 or 1080 fine using air video client(where transcode happens all on server). Why can't atv 2 do this(assuming plex transcode happens on server side as well)??
  14. marc11 macrumors 68000

    Mar 30, 2011
    NY USA
    Transcoding does take place on the PC side. The interface can be a bit buggy but it is mostly the PC side interface, I have not had issues on the ATV2 yet, and since you are only using the PC for transcoding in this case it seems to work fine. I use only wireless and have had zero issues with playback of internet nor local media.
  15. WoodNUFC macrumors 6502a


    Apr 30, 2009
    A Library
    I've never had a problem with using WIFI either. I've tested with both ethernet and wifi, but haven't seen any drastic changes. The whole point for me was to get away from having a mini attached to the tv. ATV2 + Plex has been perfect for me
  16. Evgenyy macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2010
    I have been using Plex since day one and can say that it is not any slower than the built in Netflix or Youtube interface.

    It runs fine over Wi-Fi and I never had an issue apart from occasional restart but that is expected from an unofficial client.

    You can now bypass the whole jailbreaking thing and just use Plex app on iPad/iPhone and Airplay the content to ATV. I use this method in addition to Plex client on ATV and it works wonders.
  17. hafr macrumors 68030

    Sep 21, 2011
    In no way will a wireless N network pose any problems for an ATV2. Unless you have poor signal strength by the ATV2, are using the hell out of the wireless, have enormous interference or any other general wifi problem.
  18. milbournosphere macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2009
    San Diego, CA
    Yes, but it only had a problem with 1080p files. 720p was okay over a wireless n connection.

    Well, yes and no. You need to have SOMETHING running PMS, whether it be a computer or NAS of some kind. An atv2 doesn't really provide a good headless solution, as it has so little storage. You might look into an original apple tv or another solution that has considerable local storage.
  19. dhy8386 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 13, 2008
    I have been using Plex in an Apple environment since the first betas were available for the ATV2. I also have the app on my phone and iPad. In summary, it is simply the best all in one solution out there, full stop. With that said, your environment will certainly impact this but frankly i don't think you need anything crazy.

    My setup, FWIW.
    1) I have an UNRAID server that houses my 6TB of content. In my apartment closet. Connected via ethernet.
    2) I have my core transcoding machine. i5 mackintosh running Lion. This device does all my media downloading and converting. And obviously my Plex transcoding. Connected via ethernet.
    3) ATV2 with Plex 0.8.3. Wireless (n network)

    I am a little crazy in that I keep bit for bit Blu Ray copies of my movies as ISOs. DVDs as well. Holding out hope someday these are playable by the likes of Plex or something similar.

    I convert all movies and TV shows with handbrake into high bit rate M4V files. I do this because I want them easily playable on an iDevice when offline as well as for storage reasons on my iDevices. I did some extensive testing comparing these M4V files to uncompressed 1080P MKV files and could not tell the difference at all on the iDevices and very very very slight difference on my 65" LCD (only i could tell; not friends or family). All that said, Plex EASILY handles these MKV files from a transcoding perspective. Whether or not the ATV chokes on it is simply a matter of how high your quality setting is and when set to 5MBPS (1080P) over wireless has never once been an issue. I have actually streamed two simultaneous 1080P MKVs to two apple TVs both wireless with no problem.

    Plex on ATV is still a little buggy, crashes every now and then. But more importantly the development has slowed and as Apple updates and adds features to the AppleTV, the unsupported Plex client may suffer. The result will likely mean you can still use Plex but will have to do it via airplay as suggested (or mirroring). This is fine but not ideal as its just not as easy for everyone else. That is why i continue to rip my stuff into M4V so that when I have to, all my content is still accessible via iTunes which is also running on my transcoding machine.

    Maximum flexibility.

    PS. With Plex's direct play capabilities, content is not even transcoded so there is almost no CPU hit. Another benefit of converting to M4V is you do not have a powerful machine to handle transcoding.
  20. osohardy macrumors member

    Jul 7, 2009

    Welcome to the quest for a one stop do all media center...I have both an ATV (stock) and Mini running Plex. Both have strengths but ATV just isnt quite there yet.

    --Plex will honor metadata from .m4v/mp4 files (ie those initially created for ATV) when importing to its library. Boxee and XBMC will not. This is important to me.
    --Plex has a pretty powerful media management server that will let you edit the metadata as well in its database, but will not write it to the file.
    --Plex will be great for movies and shows as long as you have been following a certain file naming scheme/organization, which is a good idea anyway. It will auto-grab metadata and posters for you or read in your tagged mp4s.
    --harder to setup and use but once done easy to navigate (some skins are better than others and a few mimic the ATV skin)
    --you will not have playlists, smart playlists etc.
    --you do have the flexibility of creating your own sections on the main menu for your own stuff (eg for home video). Also important to me as you can also tag them and add metadata (cannot in XBMC/Boxee).
    --ATV is better overall for music and pix and definitely for Netflix. You can though access your iLife stuff via Plex, it's just not as good as native through ATV in a few ways.
    --You can also launch other apps (eg Hulu desktop) from Plex as well.
    --Mini overall is harder to maintain as a set it and forget it device.
    --Depending on what else you want to use the Mini for in an HTPC way--the Apple remote may be insufficient with poor WAF. I highly recommend Remote Buddy and a Harmony Remote.

    XBMC and Plex clients are very very similar in the guts, but there are some different approaches to things you would have to see which you prefer. XBMC really has no dedicated media management piece, and no mobile integration to speak of (yes you can install it on ATV/ipad but good luck). With Plex you have a central library that can play back native on the mini if you wish, or transcode on the fly to your mobiles.
  21. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Thank you OSOHardy for such a rich answer. Very helpful!
  22. mikepro macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    I've just started experimenting with Plex myself, and have a couple of questions that I'll piggyback onto this thread.

    I currently have Plex server running on my Macbook Pro, with the library on my Time capsule. I have a stock (un jailbroken) Apple TV2. I love how Plex organizes and handles meta data, and presents your media (although I don't like that it takes several menu levels to get to all your TV shows, but oh well).

    So, now that I have Plex server running, trying to figure the best way to watch this on the big screen. Seems like the options are:

    - Air play from iphone to the Apple TV. PROS: Very easy interface, media selection. CONS: No surround sound. This is a big con for me! Wish it supported surround sound, as this would be an awesomely easy solution.

    - Connect Macbook to receiver with HDMI. I have not yet tried this, so not quite sure of the PROS/CONS. Seems like PROS would be get full surround sound, Apple TV2 stays stock. CONS: harder to remote control macbook pro (possible remote issues, remote problems between ATV2 and Macbook. I currently use my Harmony for ATV2. Also the biggest CON is the hassle of plugging the macbook into an HDMI input of my receiver.

    - Jailbreak Apple TV2 and install Plex. Total newbie here. Not sure if my Apple TV2 is even jail-breakable at this point? (Have not installed very latest update that came out yesterday, but do have last update.) Is jailbreak available? I don't know what Jailbreaking means as far as the existing ATV2 interface. Will all the existing features still work? (Rent itunes movies, home sharing, airplay, etc? Wouldn't want to give that up.

    It seems like the jailbreak might be the best, just not sure. Connecting the Macbook via HDMI is definitely easier though, and may try that first to see what WAF is like. Just wish Plex Airplay supported surround sound!! :-(

    Can anyone comment on the above scenarios PROS/CONS, and are there corrections/other options I'm missing?

    The other thing I don't 100% like about this setup is that most of the stuff I acquire using sick beard, nzb's etc are in mkv format. Plex has no problem with this. But, I like to have stuff in m4v/mp4 format so I can put it on iDevices for travel. I know for a lot of stuff I can use Subler and remux it, or use Handbrake to re-encode it using ATV2 format. This is time intensive, and requires leaving my laptop on for long periods. Then, I have to use Identify or MetaX and re-do the meta data, as Plex's doesn't transfer. Or, just use VLC on the iphone to play the MKV, which has worked ok in the few tests I have done. Having a dedicated mini to do handle all this work might be best, but that's not cheap.

    I may need to look into automating Handbrake re-encoding the downloaded mkv's into ATV2. Need to study the batch rip thread to see what options there are. Ideally, I'd like to have some way to setup a monitored folder so that when sick beard gets a new mkv file in my archive, handbrake automatically converts it it ATV2 format. Anyone done this? Would there be any reason to keep the source MKV after this, or should I replace it with the m4v? Seems like the m4v just "fits" so much better in the i world, as it can be in itunes, work on iPhone, and could still use Plex on them if you desired.

  23. dhy8386, Nov 18, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2011

    dhy8386 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 13, 2008
    Wow. That was a lot.

    I think your best bet is ATV2 but if its fully updated to 4.4, Plex and XBMC will not work well on it even though it can be jailbroken. I suspect this will change soon but is what it is for now.

    Before I address your hardware and set up, let me say that automating the process for torrent/NZBs take time to set up but works incredibly well and easily. The batch rip scripts are amazing and combined with Hazel (a folder monitoring and process app), you can set and forget.

    I wrote a very detailed description of my process here:

    On the hardware side, ill be honest, i think your best bet is to explore a hackintosh. I have been examining this problem for years and was a Windows media center user since early 2000 time frame. But now, with how easy it is to create an incredibly cheap and powerful hackintosh, along with software advancements on OSX, i switched over 2 years ago to Plex and haven't looked back. If you buy the reference components that are known to work, you can build a powerful hackintosh for $400 to serve as both your content serving and transcoding machine. The other advantage is that it can also serve as your main plex machine until the ATV Plex app is updates and as a future fallback.
    Check out for the reference components:

    Look through that site and the forums and you will see great easy guides to building one but they def require some time and may require you to be patient if troubleshooting is necessary.

    On your MKV question, if they are just NZB downloads, no reason to keep them. They can always be redownloaded. The ability to compress yet maintain high quality with Handbrake is amazing and if you see my post above, you will see why i convert everything to MV4=flexibility.

    If you want some more info on my setup, feel free to PM me and I can walk you through it in more detail.
  24. hafr macrumors 68030

    Sep 21, 2011
    Could you please elaborate? There's no problem installing and running XBMC on iOS 4.4.
  25. dhy8386 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 13, 2008
    The nighties. and those are buggy. had to uninstall it.

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