Streaming to Apple TV w/o iTunes

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by fivedots, Jan 26, 2015.

  1. fivedots, Jan 26, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2015

    fivedots macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2011
    I am looking for a rock solid and non-tech friendly solution to flip downloaded movies and TV shows to my Apple TV without the use of iTunes. I am currently using Air Video HD with the server on both a Mac and Windows machine.

    In theory, I love it: App is great, no pre-conversion required, no adding movies like VLC Streamer, and it's dead simple. Just point it at your folders and go. I don't need a library, I just want to watch files I have recently downloaded.

    In practice, I hate it: It's not reliable. Videos are always failing to play from either server, cutting out midway, and when you do manage to get them going again, they often resume without sound. Kill the app, reboot the server, etc. It's a constant battle. Doesn't matter which combination of iOS device (out of 4), Apple TV (one wifi and one ethernet), or desktop (Windows 7 or Mac OS) we try. Brand new router too.

    I keep hearing great things about Air Video HD so I am not sure what's going so terribly wrong for me.

    Alternatives I've looked into:

    • Beamer. Love it. 100% reliable but need something that works on Windows too and doesn't need to be started from the desktop.
    • Infuse. Looks good but is expensive and I can't really test it without dropping the $12. If it works, I have no problem with the cost.
    • VLC Streamer. Requires adding movies and pre-converting them. Not user friendly.
    • Plex. I have heard great things but last time I tested it, it seems very focused on building a library and not quite as simple as just pointing at a folder to browse and play. Seems like overkill.
    What is everyone else using?
  2. rhett7660 macrumors G5


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    I am assuming you want to be able to stream anything you download no matter what the format correct?

    I would almost suggest in stead of an apple tv, you invest in say a media box (mac mini, wmc, or the like). Have the media center connected to your tv, that way any item you have downloaded will have the right type of player.


    Get yourself a nas box that is built for streaming the various codecs you download.


    Download only those video files that you will know that will work.....


    Create a script on your main computer that will scan your library, if it sees a file that is not ".XXX" it fires up an recoder program, recodes it in the correct format, and then you will be able to play it on your box of choice.


    Get a rasberry pi and make yourself an extender with the various flavors of media codecs and run that.


    Use Plex. Plex is pretty cool and it is a media manager and streamer. You can set it up to scan manually or set it to scan on "x".

    Just some ideas. Brainstorming.
  3. fivedots thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2011
    Those are certainly all valid solutions but I can't help but feel they are over-complicating things. Codecs aren't my issue, I'm not downloading anything fancy. I am just having serious reliability issues with Airplay.
  4. CTay macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2013
    Plex for me. The setup is the most complicated part but once you are up and running, it is pretty seemless. I understand you simply want to point to a folder and it play but taking a few minutes to set up plex would give you a lot of options that you never knew you would use. I was perfectly happy with itunes but I was bored and set up plex to see what all the fuss was about. Its my go to server now. It has a very nice app for mobile devices and has a good organization structure.

    For what its worth, I quit on Air Video as well. Trust me... Plex will surprise you.
  5. fivedots thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2011
    Hmm. My adversity to Plex is twofold:

    1. Girlfriend is the primary user so it needs to be simple. She loves how Air Video works but will soon kill me if it keeps cutting out.
    2. Everything we watch is essentially download, watch, delete within the hour.

    That said, I'll take a look. I am also realizing the Windows machine is quite old and I'm unsure if it's on Wireless G or N. If it's G, I can see that being a problem.

    What troubles did you have with Air Video?
  6. CTay macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2013
    Pretty much the same as you... Just not a very reliable tool. I would get a movie freeze hear and there.

    As for the girlfriend issue... I hear ya. When I added Plex, the first thing my wife said was "why do change things!!" When she opened Plex, she was pleased. It is a visual based setup. Seeing the movie artwork helps in choosing what to watch. In addition, Plex has filters that have become pretty useful to me. Being able to pull up media by Recently added is nice but I lke the option Plex has which allows you to see a list by Date released. I often want to look for a new movie and don't want to scroll through everything I have just added. I am constantly going in and adding old movies so recently added often doesnt work for me.
  7. fivedots thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2011
    Yeah, I can totally see the benefits if you hold onto any sort of library but our use case is essentially downloading a show 5 minutes after it airs, watching it, and deleting it.

    That said, if it streams reliably I might be able to sell it.
  8. From A Buick 8 macrumors 68040

    From A Buick 8

    Sep 16, 2010
    Ky Close to CinCinnati
    I use Air Video HD for streaming my MST3K collection and never have any of the issues that you do.

    The movies are on my DROBO (kind of like a NAS), the Air Video HD server is on my iMac and I use the Air Video HD App on my phone or iPad to stream to the AppleTV.

    Works great.
  9. fivedots thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2011
    Hmm, good to know.

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8 January 26, 2015