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Thread: Apple TV

  1. #1
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Apple TV

    I've been looking into getting Apple TV. It looks pretty amazing! Does anyone have any real experience with it? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Um. Okay. So I'll assume "no" then.


  3. #3
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    Yep. I have two. In an all Mac home. I have one hooked up via HDMI to my AV Receiver then to TV and the other straight to the TV. Both are wirelessly connected to my network.

    They work well, they're small and nearly invisible. I prefer to stream Netflix through the AppleTV rather than through the Samsung TV or BR player purchased recently. It's just a bit faster and the interface is simpler. It's interesting that the Samsung interface will give more information about what you've watched. For instance, watching a series Samsung will show minutes watched for the episodes similar to what you see on the Netflix webpage. Apple minimizes the displayed content and imposes the Apple aesthetic throughout. In general I like the elegance but bristle a bit at the lack of fine control. A few deep breaths and I get over it.

    The ATV supports a maximum of 720p resolution, so not full 1080. I haven't yet watched/listened to 5.1DD stream from Netflix yet. It passes 5.1DD from other content just fine.

    I like that it integrates well with all the rest of my Apple/iTunes system. I long ago just decided to live simple and give in to Apple. I've been ripping my DVDs (Handbrake + VLC) and loading them into my iTunes library (The recent release of Handbrake has an AppleTV default). I have all my CDs digitized into AppleLossless. And, finally, I've ported nearly 9 years of digital photos into iPhoto. AppleTV will can share and browse iPhoto and I can do impromptu slide shows and use my photos as a screen saver on the 50" plasma. It looks great.

    My biggest complaint is the remote and the browsing of ATV menus. For the basic functions and for navigating Netflix it is a simple and elegant remote. Very intuitive. For finding the one CD by artist or album in my rather large library IT SUCKS...really, truly sucks in it's limitations. However, this is where the iPod Touch/iPhone come in. Apple's free Remote app manages everything well. I can browse my library and direct music or movies or photos to either or all of two ATV (to AV/TV) and two AirPortExpresses (stereo).

    It was an easy $99 to spend (x2).

    Happy to follow up if you want more info.
    TCA ATT GGA

  4. #4
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Wonderful information. Thanks! I would use it to stream video. But the more I think about it the more I like the idea that I can stream iTunes directly from my laptop. I was thinking about buying a music server, but I think that ATV will do the same thing using my Mac as a server. I also have an iPod touch that I don't use very often that we can designate as the remote. I actually didn't like the whole touch thing. It was too hard to use while driving so I went back to my old iPod classic (plus I can carry 3x more tunes). I have an iPhone for internet stuff on the go.

    Have you used it with a Windows computer at all? I have a Macbook, but Hubby has a Windows laptop. We can both work off my Macbook if we need to.

    How's the speed? Have you ever had any problems with things not loading or streaming fast enough?

  5. #5
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    No, I don't have any Windows machines and haven't used one for many years. I would hope that Apple keeps things seemless, but... All our our wireless routers/hubs are Apple. I've collected about 4 generations of these things. The more current, the more bandwidth as you might imagine.

    The way the current iTunes network 'system' is set up is through 'Home Sharing'. You enable 'Home Sharing' on the mothership. Your mothership and all devices that link to it register through the same Apple account. A bit intrusive if you're way far into the 'Live free or die" ethos. But, once done, then everything can access the library and stream everywhere else. I would think the Windows machine should be able to access the Home library and stream to itself or redirect to an AppleTV or Airport Express hub.

    For audio all the streaming is good. I don't get dropouts. But occasionally everything will just stop. I'll have to go back to the iPod and restart the music. Software updates have been noticeably improving the stability and connectivity of the whole system.

    For Netflix any streaming problems seem to be provider side. We have internet via Comcast cable. We're too far out to hope for fiber optic anytime in the decade. Most video stalls happen around primetime, so I think the neighborhood must all go online and choke the pipeline. I haven't done a lot of streaming of my ripped DVD content yet.Streaming to the ATV has been solid. I had problems the other day with stalls trying to stream a movie to my laptop. It could be that the ATV buffers better. That's my leading theory anyway.

    Control from iTunes on the mother computer is where all options are best handled. iPod Remote app is a close second. The ATV remote a distant third. Most ATV video tasks are simple though and I tend to use the ATV remote. Audio, where my library is huge. I use the iPod. Come Valentines day, I better have some iPhones or I'll sleep in the yard. That will free up a touch to be a remote. When you want to stream your mothership library to other devices, you select your Home library from the iPod. When you want to use the iPod as a remote for the ATV, you select the ATV as the 'library' and you get control similar the the ATV remote with better navigation--this is how you'd use Netflix from the iPod.

    With the iPod, I can stream music (and maybe video, haven't tried) that is on my iPod to ATV or AEx through the iTunes app. Oddly, you can't stream from the Home library to the iPod. But, each revision of the iTunes software seems to add a bit more integration. A few months ago I couldn't stream iPod content out to ATV. It was a nice surprise when I found I could.

    So... In conclusion. It works well. I'm not going to say its flawless but it is a great device and IMO totally worth the price. Typical easy Apple set up. Software updates across the Mac system are making everything better.
    TCA ATT GGA

  6. #6
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    You've just given me a headache! All this techy talk just confuses me.

    But you've convinced me. I'll probably pick up ATV before the end of the month. Once I do, you may get a few SOS calls from me.

    Thanks again for all the info! You've been a huge help.

  7. #7
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ForeverAutumn
    You've just given me a headache!
    Yeah. I do run on... and on :-)
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    Just throwing my 2-cents here,but have you tried just plugging your PC/laptop in your TV?
    If you have a desktop,it might or might not be possible for you to run a HDMI cable (look at monoprice.com for those kinds of long cables) and just play the movie or music on your PC to get it on the TV.
    Sounds like the easiest way to me.I use it for audio,and although my PC is wired to the TV upstairs thru the floor wand wall I also use an LG Web TV with twonky mediaserver wich is DLNA compatible,so movies can be streamed using WiFi without any box.
    I do not own an Apple TV,and it would be my last choice for a set top box.The "closed" apple attitude might not be too bad on a iphone/ipod but on this kind of box,updates and refresh are needed as regularly as possible.What's more,the 720p is a joke imo and just represents this "attitude".Apple usually prefer not to open too much compatibility with other formats,and this is no good for this kind of appliance.

    Whatever way you go,good luck with your setup !

  9. #9
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi32
    Just throwing my 2-cents here,but have you tried just plugging your PC/laptop in your TV?
    Not yet. We just bought a laptop with an HDMI port on Boxing Day. Although that would work for streaming movies, I have all my music stored on my Macbook, which doesn't have an HDMI port. So I would have to transfer all of my music files to the laptop and, since my husband mostly uses the laptop, I'm not sure he'd want that. Apple TV would give us the option to be able to stream from either computer...it's that flexibility that I'm looking for.

    I'm still open to suggestions if you know of another option for me.

  10. #10
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    Am I to understand that music is the only thing you want to listen on your tv ?
    If so,you don't need an HDMI cable at all.Just buy a 3.5mm to RCA cable,and then you will be able to plug your MacBook (or any computer/laptop) on your tv and listen to audio only(no video).The audio quality might not be the best but I don't think you can expect a better audio quality with the apple TV.


    You would just plug the stereo connector in your lapotp's headphones jack,and the 2 rca connectors in one of your analog TV input.Then select that input on your tv and the audio will play.You can controll it from your laptop.

    If your priority is audio and you don't have a networked TV,then the apple TV might not be a bad choice.I was assuming you wanted to use it for movies.

  11. #11
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    I missed this post. Sorry kiwi...I wasn't ignoring you. The RCA cable isn't a bad idea, I may try it while I look at other options. I really like the idea of going wireless as much as I can. There are already so many cables to try and manage. And to make things worse, we have a cat that loves to chew on cables, so minimizing the electronic chew toys seems like a wise idea.

    NoddinOff, I have a question for you. Have you tried streaming shows from network websites with ATV? I just read some stuff about how the US Networks are trying to block Google TV because people are using this technology to stream shows from their web sites and then cancel their cable channels. It seems a bit of a silly argument to me since the networks are the ones putting the content on their website for free. What do they care whether I watch it on my computer or TV?

  12. #12
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi32
    Just throwing my 2-cents here,but have you tried just plugging your PC/laptop in your TV?
    If you have a desktop,it might or might not be possible for you to run a HDMI cable (look at monoprice.com for those kinds of long cables) and just play the movie or music on your PC to get it on the TV.
    Sounds like the easiest way to me.I use it for audio,and although my PC is wired to the TV upstairs thru the floor wand wall I also use an LG Web TV with twonky mediaserver wich is DLNA compatible,so movies can be streamed using WiFi without any box.
    I do not own an Apple TV,and it would be my last choice for a set top box.The "closed" apple attitude might not be too bad on a iphone/ipod but on this kind of box,updates and refresh are needed as regularly as possible.What's more,the 720p is a joke imo and just represents this "attitude".Apple usually prefer not to open too much compatibility with other formats,and this is no good for this kind of appliance.

    Whatever way you go,good luck with your setup !
    This isn't necessarily directed at you personally, kiwi. But I'm getting a little tired of every PC person that reads a positive statement about an Apple product feeling a need to chest pound and go on about how they'd never touch it with a 10 foot pole. While there is some truth behind your comments, for the most part, however, I think you're being a little over-reactive. Apple sells to a niche. They do have style, but they also have strong substance in that niche. Apple doesn't try to make devices that do everything. They make devices that do what they say they will do and do it well. With laughingly little effort (and requiring nearly zero technical skill) I have a wireless AV network that works effortlessly and does everything it said it would do. Its rock solid and meets all my expectations.

    On to the specifics, whether or not it's convenient to run a cable depends on the floor plan and the amount of effort one wants to put in. It's fine if ATV is your last choice but your comment about updates are just plain wrong. Updates are available just like any other device. The 720 limit, however, is a hardware constraint I believe. Having one, I can say the 720 is not a joke. Not on my 50" 1080p plasma, anyway. At present, its actually a very good compromise of quality and the bandwidth most homes can accommodate. It delivers and effortless and satisfying experience. I'm not going to argue that 720 is as good as 1080, but I would argue that 720 is satisfying and that the vast majority of users won't be concerned with the difference on their system. I'm certainly happy with it. What you refer to as 'control' I would argue is a sensible approach to provide a device that works. It's well designed, simple, easy, intuitive, it doesn't flake out.
    Last edited by noddin0ff; 01-29-2011 at 10:45 AM.
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  13. #13
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ForeverAutumn
    NoddinOff, I have a question for you. Have you tried streaming shows from network websites with ATV? I just read some stuff about how the US Networks are trying to block Google TV because people are using this technology to stream shows from their web sites and then cancel their cable channels. It seems a bit of a silly argument to me since the networks are the ones putting the content on their website for free. What do they care whether I watch it on my computer or TV?
    I admit that I basically have no interest in network TV and can't really comment on it. There's no obvious neetwork streaming that I can see. If you can access it on iTunes, (ie. rent the content via the iTunes store) then you can stream to ATV but it's not something I've looked into. ATV links up to the iTunes store and I believe you can 'rent' all sorts of stuff there for $0.99 or whatever. Personally, I prefer not to buy content this way. My media world is basically ripped CDs, DVDs and Netflix.

    Following up on my above post and also on your content question, CNETs review pretty much nails it on both fronts.

    http://reviews.cnet.com/apple-tv-review#reviewPage1

    It's possible for this content to be added but based on Apple's previous track record they are shrewd content negotiators and I wouldn't expect them to be out in front on this. They'd likely offer it when it was well developed and solid. When? dunno.
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  14. #14
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    So just to prove my point about how little I pay attention to Networks...

    On the ATV main menu is TV Shows and under that 'TV Networks'

    there's content for

    20th Century Fox
    ABC
    ABC Family
    ABC News
    BBC America
    BBC Earth
    Disney Channel
    Disney XD
    Forum (don't know what this is...)
    Fox
    FUNimation
    Marvel
    NBA
    PBS
    Sesame Workshop
    Smithsonian Channel
    Transworld Studios

    Looks like it's all $0.99 type content.
    TCA ATT GGA

  15. #15
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Hmmm. Thanks. I was trying to avoid paying for stuff that's readily available for free. But I suppose that for the few times I would want to watch something off a web site I can either watch it on my laptop or plug the laptop into the TV via HDMI. I don't do it often now, so realistically, I doubt that having ATV will change that. But the music streaming...that is just so darn attractive.

    I think a trip to the Apple store may be in order. It would also be interesting to see how the content available in Canada differs from what's available in the US.

    Thanks again!

  16. #16
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    Consumer Reports (March 2011 issue) just reviewed set top boxes for streaming.

    AppleTV $100
    Roku XDS $100
    Boxee Box by D-Link $200
    Logitech Revue $300


    The bullet point summary...

    Apple = simplest
    Roku = most choice
    Logitech = most potential
    Boxee = not a contender


    I'll try to quickly summarize the full reviews...

    AppleTV
    What it can do:
    YouTube, iTunes content, rent from iTunes, Netflix
    Pro: cheap, simple, very good Netflix, full iTunes integration, quiet.
    Con: No web browser, video rental only (no purchase), HDMI only, 720p max, limited content
    Best for: "Apple-centric fans who like a slick, easy-to-use interface and easy access to their iTunes libraries, plus ability to control the box via their iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch."

    Roku XDS
    What it can do: Free videos from Vimeo, rent or buy from Hulu & Netflix, buy video from Amazon, Pandora.
    Pro: cheap, good assortment of content including free, most complete selection of paid video services, 1080p, composite video support
    Con: No web browser, interface "more confusing than most", requires computer setup, no YouTube, no built-in support for streaming media from a PC
    Best for: people who want cheap and variety of content and "who have the technical knowledge, gumption, and time to find and organize it"

    Boxee Box, by D-Link
    What it can do:
    YouTube and Blip.TV, Pandora. Rent from Netflix, Hulu Plus and Vudu "if promised support of those materializes"
    Pro: Full web browser with Flash support. Play content on stored network, 1080p, supports older Aud and Vid formats, two-sided remote with QWERTY keyboard, USB and SD card, supports many formats
    Con: "Unfinished feel, User can only rent videos. ABC NBC and Hulu are blocking access" controller hard to use. "There are still a few software bugs to be addressed via firmware updates"
    Best for: "No one yet. Wait for the bugs to be ironed out and content to be available"

    Logitech Revue:
    What it can do
    : Browse web, free video from YouTube and others, buy from Amazon, rent or buy form Netflix and cable VOD/PPV, Pandora and other music sites.
    Pro: full web browser (Chrome) w/ Flash support, 1080p, QWERTY keyboard, searches cable/satellite TV and web-based content, can schedule recordings with Dish DVR, universal remote, USB
    Con: Google TV has "lukewarm reception" software updates coming. Expensive, more involved setup. larger than average, no OTA support, spotty integration with cable/sattelite set top boxes, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, & Hulu blocking access. Limited apps for now.
    Best for: "Home theater enthusiasts whore are looking for a "Google TV" experience that marries web-based and TV content, and are willing to pay for it. Could be a killer device if Android apps are delivered as promised"
    TCA ATT GGA

  17. #17
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Thanks! I subscribe to CR on-line so I'll check out the full reviews. Based on what you've printed here I think that ATV is the route for me. We can't access Hulu in Canada so that's useless for me. The only other one that seems to have some promise is the Logitech Review, but I don't want to spend $300 on new technology that's bound to be out of date in a year or two.

    Buying digital media still doesn't sit right with me. I like to have the physical product. And I don't buy a lot of movies anyhow, so the fact that I can't buy movies with ATV doesn't bother me. If I want a movie that badly I'm likely to want the blu-ray for quality.

    Thanks for thinking of me, to post this here.

  18. #18
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    I've had this for all of five minutes and I'm already wondering how I ever lived without it.

    There were a few small glitches in setting it up. First off we didn't have a free HDMI port (our TV is old and only has two) so we'll have to switch out the cables between ATV and the Blu-ray player. Then I couldn't get the TV to recognize the ATV unit, but turning the HDMI cable around seemed to fix that problem (???). Then I couldn't get audio, but the ATV needed a software update, so I tried the update and that fixed the audio problem.

    Next step...downloading the remote control app to my iTouch and iPhone. In the meantime, I just watched my favourite YouTube clip on my TV. I am one happy, happy camper so far.


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