Thinking about Apple TV - How do you use it?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by powerbook911, Jul 3, 2007.

  1. powerbook911 macrumors 68040


    Mar 15, 2005
    Well, I've always wanted Apple TV, but had decided to wait a while, to save the money. Now I think I may be ready, but was curious:

    How do you guys use your Apple TV? Do you pretty much just use it for iTunes sold material, or do you encode lots of videos yourself?

    What about the hard drive options? Is 40GB ok since streaming can be good, or would you only choose 160 GB? I find $400 a bit high for the device, but $300 right, so would do you recommend?

    Finally, how often have you seen refurbs listed at Apple's site? Do they come in the original packaging, or something plain?
    Thank you!
  2. pilotError macrumors 68020


    Apr 12, 2006
    Long Island
    I use it for displaying photos on a big screen and movies for the kids.

    Personally I've been ripping the kids DVD's and converting them to Apple TV format. Your not going to get a truly HD cinematic experience with the ATV, but its great for the kids movies or any movies you might want to put on there. They just pick a movie and watch.

    I'm not big on the streaming, so this allows the kids to watch it when I'm using the computer for something else. They used to watch some of the movies on my iMac, but that started getting old.

    I wish they had the 160GB disk when I first bought it, but I'll upgrade the thing once the warranty runs out. I have about 3500 Photos, 250+ songs and about 12 movies on it, and I have about 2.5GB available on the disk.

    I'm not sure about the iTunes content, mainly because the movies are not 720p yet from what I understand, although the kids are bugging me to get some TV shows on there for them.

    Things like youtube work as advertised. My kids love it!

    Overall I'm pretty happy with mine. A little expensive for what it is, but try the shop function here on Macrumors (uses pricegrabber). I got a good deal ($275 shipped) on a brand new ATV 40GB.
  3. sandman42 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2003
    I use mine mostly for video that I encode myself, either from ripped DVDs or broadcast TV that I encode with EyeTV. I do buy video from ITMS once in a while, but not very often. I also use the :apple:TV to access my music, which is mostly (~90%) ripped from CDs, and some (>10%) from ITMS.

    If you have a 'g' or 'n' network I wouldn't bother with the bigger HD. Streaming for me works flawlessly. There's hardly any lag when streaming starts (maybe 2 seconds), and I've never had a problem with the stream hanging up in the middle of the video. I sync as much stuff as will fit on the HD (I have the 40Gb version), and then I stream the rest. Honestly the streaming is so good it wouldn't matter to me if the :apple:TV didn't even have a HD. The only downside, and it's a small one, is that when I initially set the :apple:TV's source as streaming from main library, it takes several seconds for the :apple:TV to scan the entire library first, but it only has to do that once.
  4. ClassicBean macrumors 6502a

    Jun 20, 2004
    I initially bought the 40 GB, but 10 days after purchasing it they came out with the 160 GB so I returned it for a refund and exchanged it a few day later when the 160 GB hit the stores.

    Best move I ever made. While streaming works, I'm not a fan of leaving my computer on all the time. I prefer to copy the content to my Apple TV and keep it independent from the MacBook Pro.

    I have nearly 7 GB of photos, and over 13 GB of music. If I stayed with the 40 GB model, I'd have less than 20 GB available for more content (unless I streamed).

    Right now I've got about 56 GB of video on there which includes some iTunes TV shows and a lot of movies from my collection that i ripped using handbrake. They look great on my 42" HDTV. Sure, they're not HD, but for some reason, they look better after conversion than they do when played on an up-converting DVD player.

    I still have about 65 GB of space available. 160 GB is plenty. 40 GB, for me at least, is not.

    I also tend to keep the movies on an external hard drive to keep my computer free of space. Basically, you can't copy something to the apple tv and then delete from your iTunes library and computer. If it's off iTunes, it'll be off Apple TV. So, once the movie is in Apple TV format, I move it to an external and copy it to iTunes holding down the option key. This basically keeps the file in its original location. Then, I sync to Apple TV. I tend to never touch the file again in iTunes and all is good.

    Of course, if you've got lots of room, you can keep it on the computer.

    Either way, Apple TV changed by entertainment experience for the better. You don't realize how great it is until it's in your home.
  5. Scarpad macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    I stream mostly stuff I encode myself, with the odd purchased video here and there. I watch alot of Podcasts. I picked up elgato's Turbo264 and can pretty much encode in real time on my G4 mac mini. I love my ATV it's probably used 4-5 hours a night.
  6. topher5 macrumors newbie

    May 30, 2007
    It really depents upon what you have available. I had a spare G4 Mac Mini so I set it up as my itunes server and just leave all my content on their (via firewire drives) and stream everything. Never had a problem and wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm with the previous poster, I don't even use the internal drive, especially now that we can stream pictures.

    I'd say 95% of my content is ripped DVDs or EyeTV recordings. The only iTMS content is when I missed an episode of some TV show and didn't record it.
  7. imacdaddy macrumors 6502a

    Feb 2, 2006
    I leave my iMac on the whole time and EVERYTHING of mine is streamed to the :apple:tv over wifi N. Not a single file is sync'd on the :apple:tv so I've got 32.84GB free for nothing. All my content is stored on my 500GB external FW HD attached to my iMac.

    The streaming works flawlessly without any buffering or interruption during video, music and photo streaming. At the start there is about a 2 second buffering to load the content. Everything displays beautifully on my 42" plasma using 1080i.

    I've ripped a lot of my own DVDs for the :apple:tv and then sold the DVDs to people to free cabinet space. Most of them I've watched only once anyway. The quality is superb! Warning though, converting a DVD is very time consuming. I do it at night while I sleep. Also, I've ripped all my wife's Karaoke DVD/VCDs and she loves how she can access it all through an organised menu. Unlike before, she had all the disks out on the floor and manually popping each disk for different songs. Our music sounds a whole lot better coming out from our audio system in the living room than through the computer. Our parents love watching our photos and slideshows on the TV. With the recent :apple:tv update, its now possible to stream photos and slideshows created in iPhoto. If I need to bring my :apple:tv to our parents, I just sync some photos or whatever content for some show and tell.

    It all depends on what you want to do with it. Tell us what you want to do with it...maybe we can help. :)
  8. Jovian9 macrumors 68000


    Feb 19, 2003
    Planet Zebes
    I mainly use it for streaming DVD's that I have ripped myself. Though I do occassionally use it for purchased content from iTunes, Photos, and Podcasts. I have the 40GB version and see no need for the 160GB version as streaming movies works very well. I use VisualHub to take all my DVD's into H.264 format and they are usually b/t 750MB and 2.5GB. I rarely notice a hiccup while streaming these movies. I also am able to stream these movies to my Xbox 360 without any issues. Though if you have a slow wireless network it could be a problem.

    I've had my :apple: TV for around a month now and LOVE it!!!!!
  9. powerbook911 thread starter macrumors 68040


    Mar 15, 2005
    Do you guys expect to see fancier Apple TVs in the future? I'm not so sure with the current offerings I would do a *lot* with it. I still want one, but I'm not positive.

    I sure wish iTunes sold the 720p format that the Apple TV can play.

    I really want to see some refurbs come back up on Apple's site too.

    Thanks. You were all *very* helpful.
  10. pilotError macrumors 68020


    Apr 12, 2006
    Long Island
    Apple is too caught up in everything else to concentrate on ATV. When things slow down, you'll probably see some new cool stuff come our way.

    The movie companies more or less want you to purchase your movies yet again on Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, so I doubt you'll see 720p content any time soon.
  11. powerbook911 thread starter macrumors 68040


    Mar 15, 2005
    What about TV shows in 720p though?
  12. badtzmaru macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2007
    im a PC user and i love my ATV.

    i use it to stream my itunes music and shows downloaded from the itunes store. its fast and smooth on my wireless G network.

    i also use it to watch TV shows downloaded from usenet. most of them are divx but it's not hard to convert to mp4. there are some tv shows posted in mp4/x264 so that's always a plus!

    i also encode my own movies. it takes a while longer but everything works out OK.

    i also want to hack the ATV but havent gotten around to it. its easier to hack with a mac but it can be done with a PC.
  13. neven macrumors 6502a

    Oct 10, 2006
    Portland, OR
    I encoded all my DVDs while waiting for AppleTV. I also regularly buy a few shows on iTunes. I'm subscribed to about 15 video podcasts.

    If I'm just sitting down to turn my brain off for half an hour, I always have a new podcast or TV show episode to watch. We usually watch one in bed before we go to sleep. A few times a week we watch a full movie - I sync the last 10 movies; sometimes what I want to watch is on AppleTV, sometimes I have to stream, but it's really just two more clicks either way so I don't care.

    I watch YouTube when there's absolutely nothing else to watch (that's rare) or when I want to show someone a funny. Regrettably, 99% of the content there is total ass-crap.

    I listen to music on my AppleTV when I work. I use it as my main photo showcase now - forget gathering people around a little computer screen!

    The only thing I don't use it much for is audio podcasts. Those are definitely iPod material.
  14. Gentile macrumors regular


    Apr 29, 2007
    Does anyone stream to the AppleTv from an external drive that is hooked up to the Airport Extreme basestation?

    How does it perform? Any lags/delays?
  15. mac2thefuture macrumors 65816

    May 15, 2007
    Lancashire, North West, UK
    :apple: TV does rock, again so pleasing to the eye. I got the 40g one and its full. I'm going to stream instead now.
    1. It does get hot quick
    2. I wish we could buy film / tv content from itunes here in the UK. Not fair.
  16. dwishbone macrumors regular

    Jul 24, 2002
    On the Moon
    ive been thinking about getting an AppleTV but ive had trouble justifying the cost for what it does. i mean for just a little more i could get a Mac Mini and with Front Row i'd basically have the same thing as an AppleTV plus i could have a fully functional mac in the home entertainment center for checking email, web browsing, playing WoW, etc. it would also free up my iMac by allowing all of the files to be hosted directly on the mini and letting that act as a media server, instead of the way i currently have my setup. i could rip my DVDs directly into my media server that way and would free up the iMac to either be off or be able to work/play on it at full power.
  17. APPLENEWBIE macrumors 6502a

    May 8, 2006
    The high desert, USA
    I debated that too, but came to the conclusion that AppleTV, being a dedicated device, provided such a simple interface that family members could easily understand it (and they do!) I am very happy with this gadget, even with it's limitations.
  18. Mac In School macrumors 65816

    Jun 21, 2007
    I have the 160 GB model. I use mine almost exclusively for music (68.10 GB) and photos (2.31 GB). I'm not going to start ripping movies until the 5.1 thing is all worked out. The only videos I have are music and concert videos (16.82 GB). I prefer to listen to those in stereo than surround anyway.

    Once the 5.1 thing is ironed out, I'll start ripping movies. I'll buy a dedicated PC to stream just movies from. Probably 2 internal 1 TB hard drives, with 2 external 1 TB hard drives to back-up to. I have a lot of movies. :)

    Despite receiving $75 in iTunes credits when I bought my Mac (got the credit card), I don't have a lot of content from the iTunes music store. I won't buy music that's ripped to 128k or can't be run through MP3Gain. And the movies aren't 5.1. So all I've really purchased from iTunes are a couple TV seasons I wanted to check out. I'm saving the rest for their upcoming rental service.

    What excites me about AppleTV is not having my media available on one TV, but having it available in the living room, the (soon to be finished) basement man room, and the workout room... And having it all controlled from one central location: My computer. I could have gone with a Mac Mini, or a cheap PC, and bought one for every room for the same price as as many AppleTV units, but I'd have to add content to each manually. Not interested.
  19. vandlism macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2007
    I've got the 40gb model, and I actually stream most everything. Now that photo streaming is supported, even more so. I was on a g network, and could stream from a hard drive on my Extreme through my MacBook to the AppleTV with time needed only for a bit of buffering. It was slick.
  20. petteri macrumors member

    Aug 4, 2006
    This is pretty much how I have mine set-up, minus the photos. I'm also waiting for 5.1 audio before I rip any movies. I'd love to see some HD content from the ITMS! I just won't get anything that isn't HD. Although I do have a show or two on there that isn't broadcast in HD. I'm hoping that they get the 5.1 working also for HD content.
  21. hotinplaya macrumors member

    Jul 6, 2007
    Thats how I 1st set mine up, but I was always having problems with it, I now have my lacie 500gb HD hooked up directly to my iMac, and not having any problems
  22. APPLENEWBIE macrumors 6502a

    May 8, 2006
    The high desert, USA
    One feature that I am really liking is the screensaver....(Never thought I'd get excited about a screensaver) In particular, I have created an album of about 100 Hubble telescope photos. It is just amazing to have those photos streaming by with good music. I also have a album of cubist art that is cool to watch on the screensaver.

    Maybe I'm just weird.....
  23. Shoesy macrumors 6502a


    Jun 21, 2007
    Colchester, UK.
    Try using Guba's podcast function.
    sw-eee-t :cool:
  24. ajhill macrumors 6502

    May 2, 2007
    I would humbly disagree. Just ask the Record companies that are seeing CD sales plummet by 20% per year, while online sales are growing by 50% per year. It's pretty clear where things are going.

    Online downloads have the potential for even more profit for the studios. Less overhead, no packaging or physical disk to manufacturer. More friendly to planet earth :) The true killer app that is coming (soon I hope) will be HD movie rentals via AppleTV. When that happens Apple will have a product that gets more attention and mass acceptance.

    You still have to be a little geeky to get the most out of the current model AppleTVs. But if any company can come up with a easy, elegant interface Apple will. Oh, and there is that minor technicality that Ripping DVDs, even ones you own is still a crime via the DMCA. Not that I think anyone is ever going to be prosecuted for ripping dvd movies that they have purchased.

    Once Apple finds a way to get rental HD movies onto the Apple TV, they will have a hit. Me, I can't wait for the day that I can tell Blockbuster and Netflix to take a hike. I ran out of good movies to rent a long time ago. Their pricing plans make you think you have to rent as many disks as possible. Whether or not you really want, or should spend the time to watch bad movies.

    Look for HD movie rentals soon. Better yet call up Apple and ask them when you will be able to do this! If enough of us keep pestering them...maybe......;)
  25. spmosher macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2007
    I use my AppleTV for all kindsa things

    some random opinions on how I use my Apple TV (which rocks)

    While some codec inprovements could be made to play more downloaded media... I use this program for more than watching TV programs and movies.

    Its basically an Airtunes too, and now i can wireless run all my music through my Sony receiver (along with all my movies and TV shows).

    I ripped all of my DVD's so i could easily sync or stream them to the AppleTV.

    I also installed a 400 Gig wireless smartdisk to my wireless hub port, and now I have 400G of network space to store all my movies. $99 refurbished at Unity that was cheap.

    And now I have a place to show all my family photos and movies as well. Before I was stuck with printing them out (I dont even have a printer) or on my Ipod, but now I have a Digital Library of all my photos that have been just sitting in my iphoto.

    I have friends that comeover and we stream all kinds of stuff from their laptops.. much easier to colaborate together on projects.

    Oh, and the screensaver and photos are just stunning looking. Not as good as most of my videos of course.. but HDTV content is not as important as on demand entertainment.

    Oh, and by the way Dolby 5.1 is supported by AppleTV. But it does not decode it.. it passes the signal along for your 5.1 TV or receiver (thats me) to play. sounds great.

    I am using a G series network, and will go up to N eventually. But for now I am very happy for getting a NIB AppleTV for $230 (ebay).
    I also bought the Elgato .264 USB video converter for $100. Make converting videos much faster and takes the work off the Mac processor.

    All you naysayers out there want the world for $300 bucks? I was't even planning on buying any Itunes shows or movies.. but I may get rid of my Satelite dish and use that money to purchase movies and episodes for Apple.

    Thats it.. and thanks

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