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Movies and Video For people making movies and editing video with their Mac.

Is AppleTV the right option for me?


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mrobbie

 
Member Since: Jan 14, 2009
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Hi

I am looking to have some sort of media player hooked up to my TV (for info, I can have component or HDMI for picture to the TV and Optical for audio to the home theatre amplifier)

I have seen a number of options out there but the one that is my preference is the AppleTV, as I have been so impressed with the simplicity and performance of my MacBook and Airport Extreme.

But, is it right for me?

I understand that for it to be able to stream content the content needs to be available in my Itunes library? I have a number of downloaded .avi files on a USB hard drive shared via Airport Express. I have not been able to import these into Itunes on the MacBook - can Itunes handle avi? I currently play the files on the MacBook with Quicktime, but admit that an add on was required for this (downloaded from Apple site - divx?). How straight forward is it to convert avi files into a correct format? How long to convert a 700Mb file?

How do I rip a backup copy of my DVDs so that they are available via Apple TV?

Is there any other way to see shared files on the home network other than Itunes? Do I need to convert my files to another format? What tools are needed for this? I keep seeing things about hacked AppleTV units… worthwhile or more pain than gain? If you chose to hack the AppleTV, can it then be used without the need for Itunes to be open on the MacBook?

With the AppleTV having options of 40GB or 160GB, how do I get content onto the hard drive? Can it be seen as a networked hard drive, or can I plug it into the MacBook via USB?

Anything else I need to know about AppleTV, or alternate options that work well with the MacBook / Airport Extreme?

A lot of questions I know, but I am a Mac newbie and keen to use the Mac offerings to be best of their ability!

Many thanks
Mike
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Mama Luigi

 
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Doesn't sound like the Apple TV is versatile enough for you. It's basically an iTunes extender for your TV.

The best media center device you can get is probably a modded original Xbox. The problem is how time consuming it is to set up. It's not that hard if you get some good guides and put your mind to it, but it is tedious, and there are tons of steps. However, it will play just about anything you throw at it with Xbox Media Center.

A simpler option that is a little more limited than the Xbox in some ways but better in others would be a PS3 or even an Xbox 360. The PS3 has a Blu-Ray drive, which makes it a great option if you have Netflix. The 360 doesn't have Blu-Ray, but it's cheaper, and it has Netflix streaming capability. Both allow for some form of streaming video from your computer; however, it's not always a piece of cake to do so. At worst, you'll have to convert your videos to the proper format before they can be played, which is time-consuming in itself. One extra bonus, if you get a 360 or PS3, is PlayOn, a piece of software you install to your computer (requires Parallels if you're on a Mac) that allows you to stream content from various websites directly to your console. Currently, it allows streaming of YouTube, Hulu, ESPN, CBS, and Netflix.

Imagine how that compares to the AppleTV, which only really does iTunes and little else. With the AppleTV, you have to convert all your movies anyway.
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mrobbie

 
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Thanks for your honesty. For now, I will continue having my MacBook hooked up to the TV & Amp and will continue with my research to find what works best.

The PS3 is something I am keen on, however compatibility with my current external HD which is shared over the network via Airport Extreme is likely to cause problems as it is formatted HFS rather than FAT32

I want something that doesn't require me to move files between drives; I just want a way of locating shared files to then play without the need to get up off the sofa.

The more I read on it, the more I see that AppleTV is restrictive (out of the packaging anyway - the likes of XBMC can improve things a bit?)
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dakineyj

 
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I disagree. I have an ATV and it does all those things you want it to, after you install boxee.

I use iTunes mostly and have ripped my entire dvd collection to iTunes. My library is on an external hd connected via firewire to my MBP. I usually only have unwatched TV shows and movies synced to the ATV and all music.

I also have a windows desktop I use a drone for downloading videos to watch. When I run boxee I can watch whatever is stored on the desktop. Also on boxee is access you hulu, cbs, abc, netfix and a whole bunch of other stuff.

I did receive the ATV as a gift. I was really looking at getting a mac mini for the home theater system but now I'm not really interested in doing that anymore.

The down side is that you must hack the ATV to install boxee but it is so easy.
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mrobbie

 
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just had a look at the boxee site, and have to admit it does look pretty cool. PS3 would be nice, but in all honesty I would only ever play Tiger Woods or Grand Turismo... I have TW on Wii anyway, so no need for a new console at the moment... well, perhaps no need!

Looks like a PS3 with MediaLink does all I want, as does AppleTV with Boxee or similar. Tough call...
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mrobbie

 
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I installed BOXEE on my MB and have had a look about. For media on the MB it works well, and is nice and easy to use.

It can see my Airport Extreme by name, however it cannot detect the USB drive connected to it, which is where the majority of my media sits. Any information on how to fix this is appreciated!

Thanks
Mike
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slim35

 
Member Since: Jan 25, 2009
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I am thinking of getting ATV, but I have a few quesions...Will it hook up to my imac with out a router?? They both have airport. Do you need to have boxee installed for you to watch movies from my mac?? Will itunes accept downloaded movies??
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XJ-linux

 
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I have a used 1st Gen AppleTV and it works great. I have access to all my iTunes libraries and boxee handels getting online and Netflix media. NitoTV is a plugin what handles my USB drive's connection to the system which make accessing non-iTunes media a snap. It takes some tweaking sometimes but well worth it in my opinion. Just keep up with the various Apple and boxee patches and wait a day or two to apply updates. Boxee is pretty good about making fixes available within a day or two for AppleTV updates (they happen soooo often and are soooo useful - sarcasm).

"Those who don't understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly." – Henry Spencer
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mrobbie

 
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Downloaded XBMC for the Mac and it is fantastic. Found all media and drives no problem. Looks to be pretty useful, and so would be great to have on ATV
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