Understanding how ATV leverages external drives

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Inver, Aug 3, 2012.

  1. Inver macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2012
    Forgive me for asking a question that has probably been answered before, but I wasn't 100% clear when I read through the various threads on this board. Here's my situation and question.

    I have an rMBP, iPad (v1) and iPhone 4S. I have a Time Capsule. All of my media (MP3s, videos, photos) resides on an aging Windows PC connected to my HDTV. I would like to replace it with Apple TV (and say goodbye to Windows altogether), but only if I can do the following. Can I do the following?

    Can I hook up an external USB drive to the USB port on Time Capsule, store all my media (MP3s, videos, photos) on the drive, then somehow get it to play on the Apple TV, seemingly through either my rMBP, iPad or iPhone? It sounds like that's possible based on my reading, but like I said I'm not sure.

    If I can, how does that work in a practical sense? Does it go through my apple device (iPhone, for example) and then go to the ATV? Is there a drain on the phone/rMBP/iPad when I do this? Is there excessive lag doing this? I don't mind keeping one of these devices open if that's the requirement, I just want to know how it goes about doing its thing.

    I'm interested in the Airplay Mirroring feature with my rMBP and iPhone, but want to be able to play my media without having to mirror...and without having to store all that media on my MBP's internal hard drive.

    Thanks for any clarity you can provide.
  2. Blue Sun macrumors 6502a

    Feb 11, 2009
    Using a jailbroken 2nd generation Apple TV would be the most elegant solution to your wants/needs. With a jailbroken ATV you could stream all of your media from the hard drive attached to the Time Capsule, negating the need for a middle device (iPad, iPhone, MBP etc).

    The other option would be to use AirPlay to stream from your Mac to the Apple TV (2nd or 3rd gen) using the network attached storage device as the source containing all of you media.
    However, AirPlay mirroring in my opinion, is a little inelegant in terms of a long term HDTV media player solution. There would be significant battery drain on your iDevice or MBP.

    Because the 3rd generation Apple TV is not jailbreakable, and the 2nd generation Apple TVs go for around $200 on eBay, I would suggest holding onto your Windows media box or going for something like a Roku media player instead. Another (albeit more expensive) option would be investing in a Mac Mini to run Plex and thus replace the ageing Windows box.

    I hope this helps.
  3. Inver thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2012
    That does help. Quite a bit.

    You raise a good point that I now have to consider: Do I want to require the use of a "middle man" device (iPhone, rMBP, iPad) to have my media on the ATV? You're right that it does sound a bit inelegant as a long term solution.

    I wonder if the Mac Mini is the way to go. I can't do Airplay to a Mac mini, can I?
  4. Blue Sun macrumors 6502a

    Feb 11, 2009
    As far as I know, there is no way to AirPlay from an iDevice to a Mac - someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

    If it helps at all, I recently went through this dilemma and ended up purchasing a 2nd generation Apple TV from eBay. It is working beautifully, it accesses all of my media located on an external hard drive connected to an AirPort Extreme. I use a free Apple TV application called "XBMC" to playback the media.
  5. technowar macrumors 6502

    Apr 1, 2011
    Cebu, Philippines
    Mt. Lion can AirPlay iDevices though you need your Mac to be 2011 model and up.

    You can try any of ATV2 on eBay or ATV3 on Apple Store.
  6. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    I have my HDD (and you can use multiple ones with a hub) connected through the TC usb port. You do need to have iTunes running on something. I just keep the MBP lid open until I go to bed and then close it. Works great and has not impact on regular use of MBP or iPad.

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