Unsure of whether iTunes can become my new first-choice content provider

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by RhythmAndBlues, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. RhythmAndBlues macrumors regular

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    #1
    Hello all,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    I am a previous devotee of the Popcorn Hour devices. I still think they're great machines but, since graduating from university and engaging with a demanding career, I no longer have hundreds of hours to spunk up the wall on compiling lossless Blu-ray rips. It's for this reason that iTunes HD has been creeping evermore into my life...

    ... for the longest time I was ecstatic with it. Whenever I watched anything on my iPad and MBP it looked great, and I couldn't wait to take the experience 'Prime Time' on my 42-inch television. I have a Windows PC in my living room currently, and last week I decided to use Windows iTunes to shunt some content (from the hard drive, not streamed) to my television via HDMI as an interim measure before buying an Apple TV and... well, I am not at all happy with the results, I'm afraid.

    The playback drops a frame every few seconds, even after setting the output of the PC's graphics card to 24Hz and turning-off the post-processing on my TV. It's the tiniest of tiny stuttering but - when you're a wanker like I am - it totally ruins the experience. Totally, and completely.

    What worries me more is that I sent iTunes Customer Support an e-mail the following day, asking whether this was a problem with my setup (i.e. the PC) or with iTunes content in general (i.e. whether the problem would persist even if I were using an Apple TV). Not only did they not reply, but also they gave me a free movie rental credit that I didn't even ask for - as in, "oh God, this dude's asking a scary question... give him something for free to make him go away!!!".

    Please answer me honestly - does this frame-dropping occur even when viewing iTunes content through an Apple TV? If it does, I need to know - otherwise I'll be dropping £79 on something that I'm never going to be able to use. You may think I'm extremely lame for being troubled by such a 'trivial' thing, but I can't help what bothers me - so please, help me out.

    Thanks in advance for any frank replies. Cheers,




    Dan.
     
  2. markyr17 macrumors 65816

    markyr17

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    #2
    No, movies and videos are all buttery smooth for me on any device
     
  3. stridemat Moderator

    stridemat

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    #3
    Video playback is generally faultless on the three atv's I have in the house. Buy one and see how you get on. Apple will accept a return if for whatever reason the playback wasn't as you required.
     
  4. oohgeez macrumors newbie

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    #4
    I've never had a problem playing back iTunes purchased stuff on any of the 3 Apple TVs that I have. I've also noticed that Netflix and Hulu tend to play back better as well.
     
  5. RhythmAndBlues, Jan 4, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015

    RhythmAndBlues thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5
    I'm very grateful for the replies. Thank you.

    Okay, let's then operate on the premise that I am going to buy an Apple TV. Can I please have some advice on whether my networking plans are going to work...?

    ... I initially intended to attach a small NAS (a WD 'My Cloud') to an Apple TV, but I've since learned that I'll need a computer with iTunes running at all times [sigh] to make this work. Here's the plan.


    1). An 'always on' MacBook Pro upstairs, connected wirelessly to my home network's router in the living room downstairs.

    2). The NAS connected, wired, to my router in the living room.

    3). The Apple TV connected, wired, to my router in the living room.

    4). The Apple TV connected via HDMI to my TV (this is the bit I'm not worried about...!!!).


    I want to avoid wireless-ness wherever possible - drives me nuts when the signal drops off. Does my plan sound feasible? And, before we go on, I'm assuming there's no way to avoid having to have my MBP always on, is there...?

    Thanks again,




    Dan.
     
  6. stridemat Moderator

    stridemat

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    #6
    The wireless MBP is going to be the weak link here, as from what I can see all the media has to go through iTunes before it reaches the Apple TV's....you may be better looking at Plex Connect which can read directly from a NAS to the Apple TV without the need for iTunes or an associated computer being left on all the time.
     
  7. RhythmAndBlues thread starter macrumors regular

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    #7
    Thanks again.

    If I were to wire the MBP through a powerline adapter, would that resolve the problem, do you think?

    I'm intrigued to hear about a potential solution that doesn't include my computer being on all the time. Is it pretty straight-forward to set-up third party software like Plex? I don't need to jailbreak, do I...?
     
  8. stridemat Moderator

    stridemat

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    #8
    That would help, but speeds for media streaming are totally dependant on the wiring in your house...new or old house?

    For Plex, no Jail break is required, just a little bit of hacking on the atv. However, it doesn't look like your WD NAS is supported so you would have to leave your Mac on anyways....so this doesn't really help you.
     
  9. RhythmAndBlues thread starter macrumors regular

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    #9
    Oh well! That takes at least some of the potential complexity out of it...!!!

    It's an old house. Built in the 1920s, I'm told. I guess all I can do is take a shot at it...

    ... just out of interest, do certain 'Super-Users' prefer a Mac mini to an Apple TV for this purpose? Given that it is a computer, it presumably removes the need for the work-around that we're discussing.

    ----------

    Jesus. This really is fussy, isn't it? Or is it me...?!

    You'd think that all the Apple TV would need is a quick yes/no verification with iTunes somewhere else on the network, then happily stream the data from the NAS directly. Damnit, Apple...
     
  10. stridemat Moderator

    stridemat

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    #10
    Yes it would. You could leave on under your TV and let the Mac Mini be your iTunes server. It would be hard wired in.

    Native NAS streaming would be a massive step forward!
     
  11. RhythmAndBlues thread starter macrumors regular

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    Hmm. I wasn't planning on spending quite that much, but I suppose it wouldn't be completely out of the question...

    ... still, I'd need to confirm whether or not my iTunes playback problems are surmountable before shelling-out that kinda money. Which makes an experiment with the Apple TV a pretty-much-inevitable first step.

    ----------

    Thinking about it... does my iTunes content even need to be on a NAS? Could it not be on USB 2.0 external hard drive, connected to the Apple TV...?

    (Apple TV noob-questions ahoy...!!!)
     
  12. stridemat Moderator

    stridemat

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    #12
    Unfortunately you can't plug a USB drive directly into an Apple TV.
     
  13. 2010mini macrumors 68040

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    #13
  14. chabig macrumors 68040

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    AppleTV doesn't have a wired network port. It connects wirelessly to your network and via HDMI to your TV. By the way, if you're suffering interrupted playback, then your network is slow. Is your wifi router old? Consider upgrading to newer wireless tech, like 802.11n or better. Current Airport devices are 802.11ac with 5GHz channels available.
     
  15. stridemat Moderator

    stridemat

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    #15
    The Apple TV does have a wired network port....

    http://store.apple.com/uk/buy-appletv/appletv
     
  16. chabig, Jan 4, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015

    chabig macrumors 68040

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    Yes it does. I don't know what I was thinking. BUT, the Ethernet port is there for wired networks. If the cable is plugged in your MacBook needs to be wired too. The AppleTV can't just get content from the NAS on its own. It connects with your shared iTunes library. It would be smarter to wire the NAS to your MacBook so the media only needs to travel wirelessly to the AppleTV instead of two ways (NAS to MacBook and MacBook to AppleTV).
     
  17. ozaz macrumors 65816

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    #17
    OP - are you only considering Apple devices?

    A Roku 3 might be a better fit for your needs. It can play direct from NAS and direct from an attached USB drive (although you will need to check you have supported file formats) without any hacking, and has a wired ethernet port.

    Obviously, if you already have a lot of purchased iTunes content or want Airplay functionality, an Apple TV is likely to be the best fit.
     
  18. RhythmAndBlues thread starter macrumors regular

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    #18
    The router's new, mate. It has 5GHz channels.
     
  19. chabig macrumors 68040

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    Cool. I wouldn't expect any wifi connection problems then.
     
  20. RhythmAndBlues, Jan 4, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2015

    RhythmAndBlues thread starter macrumors regular

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    I see. Hmm... okay, I'll think on that. Cheers.

    ----------

    It's essentially all for iTunes, mate. I have a Popcorn Hour and an Xbox One for other matters.

    It's paranoia on my part, to be honest. I have a pathological fear of imperfect playback - loss of audio-sync, stuttering, artefacting... I figure that's less likely with a wired network.
     
  21. chabig macrumors 68040

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    #21
    FWIW, I upgraded my wifi network to 5 GHz 802.11ac and I never wait for content, nor does it skip.
     
  22. RhythmAndBlues thread starter macrumors regular

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    #22
    That's good to know, mate. I might just be getting worried about nothing.

    Can I ask you multi-Apple TV owners how you get around the five-device limit for your iTunes account? I have a PC, an MBP, an iPad and an iPhone tied to mine - one more, and I'll be done.
     
  23. stridemat Moderator

    stridemat

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  24. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #24
    What about getting an Xbox one or roku device? The apple tv is very limited in what it can do compared to more modern devices. When it came out years ago, it was okay... Now, its just poor for using any local (to the LAN) media.
     
  25. RhythmAndBlues thread starter macrumors regular

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    #25
    Is there anything else I can use to play iTunes content?
     

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