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Apple TV Discussion of Apple TV, the new revolution in watching television.

Want to stream to ATV2 without JailBreaking it... Then this might be for you !!!


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Nethfel

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach View Post
I'd prefer muxed-in subs too, but I only have a couple anime shows and I just use subs for English signs (Ghost in the Shell, e.g.) so burning them in was no biggie. I think if I was more into anime, then AirFlick would be more appealing to me so I wouldn't have to commit to burned-in high-quality SSA fansubs vs settling on SRT subs. In a perfect world, Apple would support mkv files, but that will never happen. I've settled fully in to Apple's way because, quite frankly, their streaming tech is light years better than anything else. I used to use Plex on a Mac mini, and after months of frustration with how poorly it'd handle some HD videos that Front Row wouldn't break a sweat on, I decided I had enough and sought out the best tools to migrate my library with minimal hassle.
Although I agree, Apples streaming technology is awesome - the lack of support for high bitrate files and limiting to 720p only is what holds me back from being fully settled into Apple's way (yes, I do have and use my ATV2 all the time, and I love it, but I don't necessarily agree with the limitations)

I've used Plex on a Mac mini since 2009, and after they started supporting hardware decoding in 2010, I never had a problem with my HD footage (which I always had in a MKV container x.264 codec - prior to which I had to really watch my max bitrate to get a file to play reliably) - and I frequently watched video @ 30mbps w/ DTS audio without problems - something that just can't be done on an ATV2.

Now, that said, I decided to retire my Plex box for an ATV2. Not necessarily because the ATV2 was better at doing what it does, but rather the ATV2 did enough of what I wanted that I'd rather get the money back out of the Mac Mini I just wish it could do just a tad bit more.

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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Lifeisabeach

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethfel View Post
Although I agree, Apples streaming technology is awesome - the lack of support for high bitrate files and limiting to 720p only is what holds me back from being fully settled into Apple's way (yes, I do have and use my ATV2 all the time, and I love it, but I don't necessarily agree with the limitations)
*ahem* Actually… the ATV2 will play 1080p videos, though it will only output to 720p. And only if the bitrate isn't too extreme. And it supports higher bitrates than you'd think. I have one… lesse… a 7GB movie that actually plays flawlessly at a bitrate of 8883 Kbps at 720p. Well to be honest I've only watched about 15 minutes into it, but watching the streaming progress bar and the ATV just manages to cache ahead of the stream.

But anywho… the point I'm leading up to is that these are largely limitations to the hardware, not simply being "Apple's way". And most people are overly hung up on 1080p vs 720p. At a viewing distance of 8 feet, the human eye cannot resolve the additional detail of 1080p over 720p unless they have at least a 50" set. Of course bitrates have an effect too, as does the quality of the source material. Apple's videos actually do look better than a 720p video ripped off a Blu-Ray because they are getting their media from a source well in excess of 1080p. The higher the quality is of the source material… the better a downsized version of it will be. We decided to stop buying Blu-Ray movies and stick to iTunes rentals. For what Blu-Rays cost, and as unlikely we'd watch anything in particular more than once or twice, it just isn't practical to buy and the iTunes rentals look much better than people who judge solely by the specs give them credit for.

Quote:
I've used Plex on a Mac mini since 2009, and after they started supporting hardware decoding in 2010, I never had a problem with my HD footage (which I always had in a MKV container x.264 codec - prior to which I had to really watch my max bitrate to get a file to play reliably) - and I frequently watched video @ 30mbps w/ DTS audio without problems - something that just can't be done on an ATV2.
It doesn't sound like you are wirelessly streaming your videos. Certainly not with 30 Mbps media. I had constant problems streaming, even with the hardware decoding-supported Plex. Battlestar Galactica, for ex., transcoded to h.264 in an MKV container with the original DTS track and each episode coming in a bit over a gig or so in size… some episodes were constantly pausing so the stream could catch up. Same videos… remuxed to m4v with the DTS track downmixed to AC3… no issues in Front Row. At all. Defragging my media drive helped a lot for the more problematic ones, but it persisted to a lesser extent and I finally had enough. I had no issues if I played directly off the Mac mini, but I didn't have the drive space to store all my stuff on it and didn't want to put an external drive out there. If cost were no object, I'd go back to using Plex on a Mac mini with an attached 4-drive RAID box and just have Blu-Rays ripped and left as-is in all their glory on that.


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Nethfel

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach View Post
*ahem* Actually… the ATV2 will play 1080p videos, though it will only output to 720p. And only if the bitrate isn't too extreme. And it supports higher bitrates than you'd think. I have one… lesse… a 7GB movie that actually plays flawlessly at a bitrate of 8883 Kbps at 720p. Well to be honest I've only watched about 15 minutes into it, but watching the streaming progress bar and the ATV just manages to cache ahead of the stream.
But, cache isn't playability, just means how much it's been able to cache and/or scale to attempt to play - also unless you did a fixed bitrate, it may have not gotten to content that was the max bit rate, or max for any length of time.

And, yes, I'll agree I made a mistake in words there - it will play 1080p content at a low enough bitrate at 720p, but it won't play it at 1080p which is what I was intending to reference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach
But anywho… the point I'm leading up to is that these are largely limitations to the hardware, not simply being "Apple's way". And most people are overly hung up on 1080p vs 720p. At a viewing distance of 8 feet, the human eye cannot resolve the additional detail of 1080p over 720p unless they have at least a 50" set.
Which, since I have a samsung 67", I do fall into that range - if I had a 40" or lower I wouldn't even be making a fuss or worrying about it at all.


Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach
Of course bitrates have an effect too, as does the quality of the source material. Apple's videos actually do look better than a 720p video ripped off a Blu-Ray because they are getting their media from a source well in excess of 1080p. The higher the quality is of the source material… the better a downsized version of it will be.
Although this is normally true, I have seen some that haven't been nearly as well encoded as others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach
We decided to stop buying Blu-Ray movies and stick to iTunes rentals. For what Blu-Rays cost, and as unlikely we'd watch anything in particular more than once or twice, it just isn't practical to buy and the iTunes rentals look much better than people who judge solely by the specs give them credit for.
I want to do that for some things (actually I want to do that for my satellite first - get rid of our sat and get season passes), but w/ only a 3 meg link, it takes forever to download a video and I've had it download, go watch something else while it was downloading (from my iTunes) then go back to watch the downloading movie and it had to start over again which makes it hard to just rent movies on the ATV itself for us.

I suppose it would be possible to rent on the computer then feed it to the ATV2, I know that you have to "transfer" the license from the iTunes computer to the ATV2, but I don't know if it would then have to start the entire download procedure over again, and I haven't wanted to try...

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach
It doesn't sound like you are wirelessly streaming your videos. Certainly not with 30 Mbps media.
Depends on how you define streaming. But, what I was doing over WiFi was when I had mostly 2-15 Mbps content from a network share. Anything higher then that I stored locally on my mini. Eventually I ran cat5e over to that portion of the house and with a gigabit network, I was able to place my high bitrate movies on the network share (I found it easier to deal with a wired network in the living room that way since I have several devices that needed network access in once single place - and it left more bandwidth on the wifi for things like my iPhone, laptop, iPad, etc.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach
I had constant problems streaming, even with the hardware decoding-supported Plex. Battlestar Galactica, for ex., transcoded to h.264 in an MKV container with the original DTS track and each episode coming in a bit over a gig or so in size… some episodes were constantly pausing so the stream could catch up. Same videos… remuxed to m4v with the DTS track downmixed to AC3… no issues in Front Row. At all. Defragging my media drive helped a lot for the more problematic ones, but it persisted to a lesser extent and I finally had enough. I had no issues if I played directly off the Mac mini, but I didn't have the drive space to store all my stuff on it and didn't want to put an external drive out there. If cost were no object, I'd go back to using Plex on a Mac mini with an attached 4-drive RAID box and just have Blu-Rays ripped and left as-is in all their glory on that.
Hmm, that's interesting - I wonder why BSG was giving such grief - unless it was your WiFi (what is it anyway? G? N?) since as you mentioned you had no problems with the mini with direct storage...

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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Lifeisabeach

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethfel View Post
But, cache isn't playability, just means how much it's been able to cache and/or scale to attempt to play - also unless you did a fixed bitrate, it may have not gotten to content that was the max bit rate, or max for any length of time.
Agreed… thus my qualifier that I hadn't watched it all the way through. I'll probably have to redo it. 7 GB may be more than it can cache anyway, with the 8GB drive it has. Might not even be enough free space.

Quote:
Which, since I have a samsung 67", I do fall into that range - if I had a 40" or lower I wouldn't even be making a fuss or worrying about it at all.
Color me green with envy. I wouldn't mind something a bit larger than my 50 incher, but I just wouldn't have adequate room to the sides for my speakers. At that 67" size, I can say I certainly wouldn't be satisfied with 720p. Well unless I was sitting 20 feet away. lol!

Quote:
I want to do that for some things (actually I want to do that for my satellite first - get rid of our sat and get season passes), but w/ only a 3 meg link, it takes forever to download a video and I've had it download, go watch something else while it was downloading (from my iTunes) then go back to watch the downloading movie and it had to start over again which makes it hard to just rent movies on the ATV itself for us.
Yeah, I'm not real crazy about how long it takes to download. It's definitely not a good way to go for impulse rentals.

Quote:
I suppose it would be possible to rent on the computer then feed it to the ATV2, I know that you have to "transfer" the license from the iTunes computer to the ATV2, but I don't know if it would then have to start the entire download procedure over again, and I haven't wanted to try…
I haven't tried, but I'm under the impression that you can't stream rentals like that.

Quote:
Hmm, that's interesting - I wonder why BSG was giving such grief - unless it was your WiFi (what is it anyway? G? N?) since as you mentioned you had no problems with the mini with direct storage...
I tried every trick in the book, and then some. It just wasn't the wi-fi. I have a Time Capsule and everything is 802.11n compliant. I saw some improvements by defragging the media drive (it was 60% fragmented… I kid ye not!); sticking to mounting with AFP (SMB and FTP both proved slower); and by utilizing an interesting tip I read to use WPA2 in the security settings. It was actually quite amazing the difference that made. All these helped out quite a bit, but I still had occasional laggards and eventually had enough.

One other thing that irritated the living **** out of me was the bizarre way Plex handles anamorphic rips that don't have square pixels (DVDs most typically). Most people don't notice it, but it's actually off by 20% in width, and you have to make an adjustment in the "Pixel Ratio" setting to correct it. XBMC does the same thing, and with Plex being a fork of XBMC, that's where it started. Now the iOS version of Plex actually does handle these correctly.


Please verify and include the exact model/year of your Mac and OS X version number (available from "About This Mac", then "More Info" on the Apple menu).
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Nethfel

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2009
Posts: 2,093
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach View Post
Agreed… thus my qualifier that I hadn't watched it all the way through. I'll probably have to redo it. 7 GB may be more than it can cache anyway, with the 8GB drive it has. Might not even be enough free space.
I'd be curious though - would it be smart enough that, if a file were larger then 7 GB, would it cache as much as it could and then do like a shifting window on the stream? I wonder if the protocol supports something like that where the ATV2 can communicate with iTunes to pause, or if it can play fast enough where it just won't cache the entire thing - makes me wonder though if that were possible, how would they handle rewinding, I'd assume they'd have to have some way to tell iTunes to send data previous to XX:XX time...

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach
Color me green with envy. I wouldn't mind something a bit larger than my 50 incher, but I just wouldn't have adequate room to the sides for my speakers. At that 67" size, I can say I certainly wouldn't be satisfied with 720p. Well unless I was sitting 20 feet away. lol!
It is a nice TV - we got really lucky at the time when we got it (ie: it was really cheap as new models were coming out and stores were liquidating the previous models - around Dec 2008) - it's an HL67A750 LED lit DLP projection that's just over a foot deep (a lot smaller then our previous antique uber heavy SD projection TV) - of course it's 3D functionality is rather limited, but that's ok since neither I nor my wife really get into 3D movies that much. IQ is fantastic


Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach
Yeah, I'm not real crazy about how long it takes to download. It's definitely not a good way to go for impulse rentals.
Which is a bummer as that seems like what one of its strong suits would be considering the video library Apple has. Granted the video quality is leaps and bounds above netflix, but for immediate gratification, Netflix really wins there. Granted, one day when we can all have huge net pipes to our homes it'll be irrelevant (already is in some cities, but since I live in the middle of nowheresville...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach
I haven't tried, but I'm under the impression that you can't stream rentals like that.
That's the one thing I'm just not sure about - according to Apples FAQ that I had read a while back when I first got an ATV2 it states...

Quote:
If you download a rented movie on your computer: You can transfer it to a device such as your Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, or iPod if it’s a standard-definition film (movies in HD can only be watched on your computer, iPad, iPhone 4, iPod touch (4th generation), or Apple TV). Once you move the movie from your computer to a device, the movie will disappear from your computer's iTunes library. You can move the movie between devices as many times as you wish during the rental period, but the movie can only exist on one device at a time.
BUT that doesn't clarify if it just transfers the play license from the computer to the ATV2 and you have to redownload it OR if it will transfer the movie from your iTunes library to the ATV2...


Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach
I tried every trick in the book, and then some. It just wasn't the wi-fi. I have a Time Capsule and everything is 802.11n compliant. I saw some improvements by defragging the media drive (it was 60% fragmented… I kid ye not!); sticking to mounting with AFP (SMB and FTP both proved slower); and by utilizing an interesting tip I read to use WPA2 in the security settings. It was actually quite amazing the difference that made. All these helped out quite a bit, but I still had occasional laggards and eventually had enough.
That is strange. With n compliance, there really should have been enough bandwidth (unless the ATV2 was really far/through walls and/or there were several things using the wifi simultaneously)... But since I was usually using a wired network or local drive (USB or firewire) for high bitrate videos, I never really encountered those problems.

I'll have to read that other link you provided about the speed difference using WPA2, you've got me really curious about that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach
One other thing that irritated the living **** out of me was the bizarre way Plex handles anamorphic rips that don't have square pixels (DVDs most typically). Most people don't notice it, but it's actually off by 20% in width, and you have to make an adjustment in the "Pixel Ratio" setting to correct it. XBMC does the same thing, and with Plex being a fork of XBMC, that's where it started. Now the iOS version of Plex actually does handle these correctly.
I had heard about the anamorphic rip issue with DVD's, but since I hadn't really ripped my DVDs to play on plex, I had never really experienced it - the few that I wanted in my Plex library were older movies that were not anamorphic but rather pre-rendered letterbox. Plus were you watching raw ISO rips or MKV or some other container of the video from the DVDs?

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethfel View Post
I'd be curious though - would it be smart enough that, if a file were larger then 7 GB, would it cache as much as it could and then do like a shifting window on the stream? I wonder if the protocol supports something like that where the ATV2 can communicate with iTunes to pause, or if it can play fast enough where it just won't cache the entire thing - makes me wonder though if that were possible, how would they handle rewinding, I'd assume they'd have to have some way to tell iTunes to send data previous to XX:XX time…
I started to watch that movie again yesterday, and saw where it reached a point where it stopped caching. I jumped ahead to where it stopped, and it continued to play without problem, even though I never saw the bar move ahead. Didn't get a chance to watch it fully through, but it played without a hitch.

Quote:
That is strange. With n compliance, there really should have been enough bandwidth (unless the ATV2 was really far/through walls and/or there were several things using the wifi simultaneously)... But since I was usually using a wired network or local drive (USB or firewire) for high bitrate videos, I never really encountered those problems.
Well that was on a Mac mini I had (2009 model) before I had enough and traded "up" to the ATV2. No significant barriers.

Quote:
I had heard about the anamorphic rip issue with DVD's, but since I hadn't really ripped my DVDs to play on plex, I had never really experienced it - the few that I wanted in my Plex library were older movies that were not anamorphic but rather pre-rendered letterbox. Plus were you watching raw ISO rips or MKV or some other container of the video from the DVDs?
Not raw rips… transcoded using Handbrake with anamorphic settings. I can make a comparison screenshot if it interests you.


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Nethfel

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2009
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[QUOTE=lifeisabeach
Not raw rips… transcoded using Handbrake with anamorphic settings. I can make a comparison screenshot if it interests you.[/QUOTE]

I would be curious if you wouldn't mind - not that I don't believe you, I do - I'm just curious as to what/how it looks different (I had read about other people on the Plex forums with a similar issue, but I had never seen it that I'm aware of).

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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Lifeisabeach

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethfel View Post
I would be curious if you wouldn't mind - not that I don't believe you, I do - I'm just curious as to what/how it looks different (I had read about other people on the Plex forums with a similar issue, but I had never seen it that I'm aware of).
Here ya go. I played this in Plex using 720p in a window, and resized Quicktime to play back at 960x720. I did the screen shot of Plex using the "Normal" View Mode option. To get it adjusted properly, you have to use the "Stretch 4:3" option, which uses the Pixel Ratio of .98. I mistakenly said it was .80 earlier, so it's off by "just" 2%. The difference is not terribly obvious on a casual glance, but something always seemed off to me and once I figured it out, it started to stand out to me more.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Quicktime.jpg (119.2 KB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg Plex.jpg (134.3 KB, 12 views)


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