Why should I buy AppleTV?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by idunn, Nov 13, 2009.

  1. idunn macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    I got all excited on news of an update, enticed all the more by Apple's new and improved site for ATV, until realizing this merely a software rather than hardware change. Given the many problems I've read concerning ATV 3.0, it hardly seems a pleasant transformation, and promise yet realized.

    With all the apparent frustration out there, why exactly should I buy an ATV? To download HD movies only offered via ATV, is there any other reason?

    I've been told it is possible and relatively easy to connect this MacBook directly to a widescreen television. Wouldn't that work as well or perhaps even better, particularly since most any file I have would play (which seemingly is not always the case with ATV)?

    Perhaps I am missing something here, being entirely possible, but would appreciate the pros and cons of such a dilemma. And if someone has happily bypassed ATV, I'd like to know exactly how accomplished and how well this works for you.

    Meanwhile, much of what I've read concerning ATV sounds reminiscent of Snow Leopard, which I DO have some experience with (to my great regret at times). So left wondering if Apple is intentionally trying to sabotage its customer relations, or just taking us for granted?
  2. swingerofbirch macrumors 68040

    Oct 24, 2003
    The Amalgamated States of Central North America
    What do you want the Apple TV to do? What are you trying to accomplish?

    I use my MBP with my TV if I ever want to watch a show online on the big screen. I wouldn't buy an Apple TV. It's rather limited. But some people love it.
  3. naftalim macrumors 6502

    Sep 18, 2007
    Vancouver, BC
    Ive had Apple TV for a while now. I like that I can stream movies to my home theater whenever I want. I use an indoor trainer with my bike in the winter, so I can ride in front of the TV watching the workout videos. I also like to be able to listen to music in my living room through the Home Theater. I like to have the ability to rent a movie off my TV. Once in a while, I will watch YouTube through it as well. Will it replace my cable TV? Not yet, but then again, here in Canada we don't have Hulu or Netflix.
  4. henders98 macrumors member

    Jun 15, 2009
    I just ordered mine and haven't received it yet, but I had 2 main reasons for wanting one:

    - I have a lot of DVDs (movies & TV shows) that I have been ripping, encoding, and adding to my iTunes library. With AppleTV, I can stream these movies to my TV without bothering with the discs. . . sort of like my own "on demand" system. Pretty cool.

    - I've bought some (not a lot) content from iTunes that is DRM'ed. As far as I know, the AppleTV is the only way to watch this content on my living room TV rather than on my computer.
  5. idunn thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    Yes, but

    Thank you for the comments.

    This is rather my point. ATV seems to have a nice interface that would allow watching movies on a widescreen television from this MacBook a pleasant experience. Supposedly. But in having read numerous accounts of ATV losing sync of content, taking hours to being back online, and otherwise malfunctioning, one wonders how seamless or pleasant their viewing experience would be.

    Not to mention it is a simple matter to play music throughout the house from one's computer, entirely sans ATV.

    So my question stands. If I could (I suppose) make a direct connection from this MacBook to a television, why would I want to bother with an intermediary in ATV which might have a nice interface but a good many problems to go along with it?
  6. GilesM macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
    I have had my :apple:TV for two days, and I love it, but, I can see that it does not offer much advantage over a laptop or indeed a mac mini used as a media server, except perhaps these convinced me.

    First, and most important, it does not cost as much to buy!

    In my case my imac computers are all upstairs in my office and I wanted the iTunes content downstairs connected to my TV and Hi Fi. If I chose a Mac Mini or laptop solution not only would I have had to pay at least twice as much, but then I also would have had to duplicate my entire iTunes from my iMac to the Mac mini. At least with :apple:TV you do not have to do this, you can just stream or sync what you want and do not have to maintain two iTunes.

    Access to the iTunes store for movie rentals is a bonus, and as I understand it, HD content is only available to those with :apple:TV (it can tell if you have one connected).

    Also, the :apple:TV can stay connected permanently, if you use your laptop you will have to keep connecting it.

    Finally, and this will sound silly, but iTunes recently added a movie that I really wanted that is not available on DVD! The first ever digital release of this movie and it was on iTunes but I wanted to see it on my TV.
  7. bucksaddle macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    You can rent HD movies both on your Mac/PC (via iTunes) and the Apple TV, and if you are in the US you can also buy (and watch) via both routes as well.
  8. idunn thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    Certain considerations

    I really like iTunes, with its ease of use one of my favorite features. There were also movies there which were less expensive than new DVD options, or in some cases about the only option. Sometimes, however, more expensive (particularly versus used DVDs), so it depends.

    My hope was that ATV would prove a seamless companion and perfect complement to iTunes. In some respects that seems the case, but I could do without all the many glitches that have been reported. Moreover HD content is not restricted to ATV, only certain titles that are. But increasingly it is possible to buy and download HD content directly from iTunes. This catalog is expanding rather quickly, aggressively marketed on iTunes, and in this alone it appears there may soon be no need of ATV.

    The storage of ATV, at 160GB, is the same as the MacBook, either being insufficient for a media collection of any size, particularly if one is dealing with much HD media. Thus my use of a Time Capsule not only for backup but also for media storage. Even if using wi-fi, I guess this MacBook would still have to be in the loop, or at least some other computer (with media streaming from TC to MacBook to ATV to TV). Or perhaps directly from MacBook to TV. My understanding that ATV, despite its relatively small hard drive, will not accept an external hard drive, or at least not in a seamless fashion.

    So I'm left wondering exactly what I need an ATV for? The interface appears simple and pleasant to use, the problems reported in operation do not. All I want is to in effect push a button and immediately access desired media. Without knowing otherwise I assumed ATV would provide this. Now I'm not so sure, wondering if better options exist?
  9. fpnc macrumors 68000

    Oct 30, 2002
    San Diego, CA
    That's true, however, there is a LOT more HD content on the Apple TV than there is on the PC/Mac. Right now there might be about 200 HD movies that you can either rent or purchase on the PC/Mac through the iTunes Store. However, there may be nearly 2,000 HD movies on the Apple TV. The content providers aren't making as much available on the PC/Mac because they are still worried about duplication of those movies once they are on the PC/Mac.
  10. scotthayes macrumors 68000


    Jun 6, 2007
    Birmingham, England
    That is the exact reason I bought an Apple TV. Plus if I see anything I want to buy (movie, TV show or music) from iTunes then I just buy it through my Mini and I can then watch it through the Apple TV.

    When connected to a mini and a huge amount of storage for all your DVDs it makes a fantastic addition to a media centre
  11. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    I use, and absolutely love, my ATV for what I do, which is mostly listening to my iTunes collection through the home theater receiver and viewing my photos. I have it hooked up with a single simple HDMI cable and it is all clean and neat, and easy to operate.

    iTunes plays in the backround as you view the photos and photos float around on the screen while you listen to music. It is all quite nice and people actually will sit through an entire slide show without complaint! It is very professional and compelling.

    Some people compare it to a big iPod that uses the TV as its screen and which is always connected. Maybe that is a better description than as some sort of "TV".

    Yes, you can hook up a laptop to the TV if you want to run cables and fool around with settings. The ATV, in its cheapest form, isn't that much more than a decent set of cables. You can watch movies on a Macbook. It just isn't nearly as nice, especially if you want it to be easy and if others will watch with you.

    It is one of my very most favorite appliances and I highly recommend it.
  12. mhdena macrumors 6502

    Sep 16, 2009
    This was my reason for getting ATV, to play my music through my home stereo. In fact I had 2 of these before I got an ipod:D

    Watching whatever other features they do to it is a bonus.

    I do not need it to be a 'Swiss Army Knife' product that will do any/everything

    There are some good deals to be found for those that want one, as a lot of people are selling them when they realize it won't dvr, play hulu, and all the other grumblings read about :eek:
  13. tbayrgs macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2009
    As others have stated, the :apple:TV is not as capable as a MacBook or mini so your needs are really going to dictate whether it's worthwhile. I have 2 :apple:TVs, one for use in our bedroom and another for my kids to use in their playroom. The :apple:TV is very user friendly (very important for my wife and kids) and puts our full media library at they're fingertips, and makes or very easy to rent a movie at a moments notice. My multimedia needs are a bit more robust so I went with a mac mini in the family room and while it can be made to be nearly as easy to use as an :apple:TV, it takes some work and my family still isn't that comfortable using it. By the way, other than have the :apple:TV drop off iTunes on the rare occasion (simply restart iTunes to correct and haven't has an incidents since latest iTunes/OS X updates), I've had no

    If you feel you need the added functionality available though a computer and don't mind hooking it up whenever you want to watch, stick with using your MacBook. Otherwise, the convenience and simplicity of the :apple:TV is great.
  14. bocat macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2004
    New Hope, Pa
    I recently updated my ATV to the latest software and experienced a few problems. I think I got them squared away now. I mostly use the ATV to stream Itunes through my stereo throughout the house and also for pictures.
    I love it for those two reasons. One thing I noticed that the ATV has which the Mac mini does not have is an HDMI input. I am about to upgrade my AV receiver so the HDMI input will be terrific.
  15. idunn thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    HD media transfer

    I have a question which may be applicable to a good many people: It seems that ATV works best when sourcing media from its internal hard drive, being simple and easy to use, but what happens when its hard drive is full?

    One will not be able to store much media on a 160GB hard drive, particularly if much of it HD. What then? Apparently anyone at that point would either seriously restrict their viewing habits, or face the same problems others already have in sourcing through computers or other external hard drives. My understanding is that ATV cannot be connected directly to an external hard drive to increase its capacity, or at least the end result not as seamless or easy as before.

    There is also the question of HD movies purchased through ATV. I wouldn't know, but it would be a severe limitation if they were different from other media, such as HD movies purchased directly from iTunes. Surely not, but if they could reside only on ATV that internal hard drive would eventually fill up and, if one wanted any new media, in the position of having to throw away something already bought. If this not the case, and I can't imagine why it would, then there would be no question of copyrights of HD media, at least insofar as where downloaded, directly to ATV or from iTunes to some other local.

    So I'm pleased for everyone content with their ATVs, but what is your end game? And do I want to play it?
  16. FamiliaPhoto macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    You are correct on the HD filling up quickly. I got the 40 gig version, hacked it to allow an external USB HD as primary and sync all my data to the ATV with the attached 500 gig drive. Works like a charm and does not require my MacBook Pro to be on for my family to watch media. It is a great solution for me and my family.

    The ATV is not perfect but does everything I need at the moment and for $150 refurbed it was a great buy.
  17. dmm219 macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2008
    First of all, where are you getting your accounts of problems with ATVs? Probably these and other forums, where most people with problems go to complain and get help. I have 2 ATVs and have never had one single problem with either for over 2 years. I both stream and sync from a PC running Itunes. Overall, the ATV is far less of a hassle than just about any other box I have ever used. (I have far more issues with my 360, that I also use often).

    The reason not to use your macbook? It depends. Do you really like the hassle of hooking up a computer to a TV every single time you want to watch something? ATV is always there ready to go, with all your content at your figure tips, with virtually no hassle.

    Also, if you have a wife and kids, the ATV is just about the only tv box that I could ever get any of them to use. Most wives will NOT bother with hooking up your macbook to watch tv or a movie. And for kids, its virtually an indestructible way for them to watch tv.

    If you have no kids and wife, and really don't care about the hassle of dealing with your macbook on your tv, and don't mind having to get up and type stuff and use a mouse to do anything instead of sitting back in your couch, I would then save the money and just your your macbook.

    I do think however, that the ATV continues to be way overpriced. No way this thing should cost more than $100 for what it does.
  18. fpnc macrumors 68000

    Oct 30, 2002
    San Diego, CA
    Show me one other product that costs $100 or less and that also includes a 160GB hard drive and 802.11n wireless networking. Those two features alone will add at least $100 to the cost of any product so if you start with a typical standalone media player it's going to have to be very, very cheap (free?) before it could match an Apple TV at only $100.

    Persons who complain about the price of the Apple TV usually do so because they can find media players for about $100 that offer 1080p playback (which the Apple TV doesn't offer). However, those products don't have the full range of features that are offered in the Apple TV and they don't include hard drives or wireless networking.
  19. idunn thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    Just how?

    Agreed. I want it all nice and easy, and if the ATV will do that, then sign me up. Obviously, with but a 160GB internal hard drive, it won't satisfy this right out of the box.

    So, okay. What is the simplest and most effective way to 'hack' an ATV so I can add far more hard drive storage to it? Clear, step by step instructions would be most appreciated.
  20. cdavis11 macrumors 6502

    Aug 31, 2009
    In my setup, I have nothing on the hard drive.

    I've got a 40GB and stream everything over wireless N. It's fantastic, very snappy when streaming HD and SD video from my 24" core duo Imac in my downstairs office. It helps to break your network up - bridge off G and N so N can run full speed.

    I keep all of my media on the Imac and couldn't be happier.
  21. sassenach74 macrumors 65816


    May 3, 2008
    Hampshire, England
    I would say by far the simplest and effective way to hack the atv is by using atvflash:


    Very user friendly, fairly cheap, all the instructions you need.
    There are ways of doing all that it does for free, but depending on your skills/patience, it might not be that practical. For me, atvflash was the way to go.
    Hope this helps.

  22. Byrnes3969 macrumors member

    Jan 23, 2009
    Don't buy Apple TV

    Unless you want a simple way to port your own movies from from your iMac to your HDTV.

    Other than that, Apple has treated the Apple TV as a bastardized step child since its inception. For Example, I turn on the ATV and the #1 pick is the Bruno movie. ????
    Genius selections don't mean anything. Having the Apple TV is like having a static Pay per view movie device. You get what Apple wants you to watch. They decide what it popular, just like network TV.

    The Apple TV is a waste. I was an early adopter and bought the 160 GB which is max out. I put most of my own content on it since they haven't "authorized use for the USB port" and I cant expand on it.

    It will continue to suck until Apple decides to expand the SDK on it or allow 3rd parties to build off it.

    Don't waste your money.
  23. kage207 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2008
    I have an ATV and I have no problems with the user interface. I did build my media center, but that'll be connected to my main TV because it will have all music, movies and more. ATV moves to my room so I can watch movies streamed from my media center while I fall asleep or listen to music and I don't need my computer to be a distraction then.
  24. NeroAZ macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2009
    Phoenx, AZ
    I have a 160GB AppleTV and I love it! yes it has issues, but easily fixed.

    I basically use it to play content I purchase from itunes, videos, movies, tv shows. and occasionally play music. Mine is connected to my surround system receiver via hdmi and works beautifully. I only have 1 HD movie and it looks great on my 47" HDTV.
  25. idunn thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    ATVFlash & other workarounds

    Thank you for all replies.

    However, my most recent question remains: What is the best method of 'hacking' an external hard drive directly to an ATV? Preferably from someone who has done it, with clear, step by step directions.

    It still seems evident that the only people satisfied with ATV are those who have confined themselves to the capacity of its 160GB internal hard drive, and basically only media available from iTunes. While many of us may be content with iTunes, I foresee few not bumping up against the limitations of 160GB.

    Thank you for the reference to ATVFlash. It appears intriguing, and perhaps what Apple should have offered at the outset. I would value the option of viewing media other than iTunes. But since this is software, I wonder in what manner it would address its promised additional storage? There are no specifics.

    My understanding remains that ATV only works flawlessly if accessing media directly from its internal hard drive. That media streamed from anywhere else will result in problems. And that the only way to add external storage to ATV that it recognizes as its own 'internal' is through a 'hack.' How, precisely?

    Actually, ideally, since I have one, I would prefer ATV to recognize media on a Time Capsule as its own, and use it via wi-fi as flawlessly as it does that on its internal hard drive.

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