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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Consumer Hardware & Components > Apple TV vs Mac Mini as a set-top-solution

Apple TV vs Mac Mini as a set-top-solution
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Feb 12, 2007, 05:37 AM
 
Lets leave price out of this discussion for now......

For some reason i seem to prefer the original intel Mac Mini (core solo) for a set-top solution....

DVI-out (720p resolution easily)
networking
bigger HD (60GB)
DVD drive (combo drive)

And seeing as how you can use Front row to network content from another mac, i dont see why i would want to get an Apple TV over an old Mac mini.

Just wondering what you guys think ?
     
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Feb 12, 2007, 09:54 AM
 
I'm using a Mac mini to drive my HD projector (it has a DVI-I input) and I'm not going to replace it with an Apple TV.

I find a Mac that can run VLC and mount remote partitions to be a more versatile player than an Apple TV. That said, some people will be perfectly happy with what the Apple TV offers and in such a case it's certainly the less expensive deal.

There are some pics of my setup (BT mouse and keyboard, AP Extreme network, audio out hooked up to the stereo system) here and here in case you're interested.
     
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Feb 12, 2007, 10:38 AM
 
I've thought several times about getting a Mac Mini as a HTPC solution. Add on that USB external TV tuner I've seen at Fry's (the one made specifically for OS X), and I think it's a much, much better solution. I'm not a big fan of the Front Row remote - it's too simplistic for me compared to my ATI Remote Wonder I - but the mini as a whole seems a ton more "bang for the buck". Plus, you can get rid of your DVD player, which is one less thing in your home theatre system - one less thing generating heat and sucking power.

The AppleTV seems to be a dummied-down mini more than anything. The high-def inputs are pretty much moot since the mini has DVI, both have a nearly identical form factor... And being able to hook up a bluetooth mouse/keyboard combo when you need to is really nice.

Just my $0.02.
     
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Feb 12, 2007, 04:36 PM
 
Mini for me as well. The AppleTV seems to only work with videos purchased through iTunes, which is a killer for me. However I haven't done much reading on it, so I'm not entirely sure on that point.
( Last edited by superfula; Feb 12, 2007 at 05:55 PM. )
     
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Feb 17, 2007, 01:29 AM
 
Wow, no spam deletion yet.

Anyway, the more I look at it, the more I don't really get the point of the Apple TV. Granted I've never really felt compelled to start downloading TV shows from the iTunes store so I guess I'm not the main target audience. Here's my thoughts on it:

1. I think it's a little on the expensive side.
2. I've played around somewhat with viewing video through iTunes, and really don't know why you'd bother when there are programs like VLC or even Quicktime available as alternatives.
3. Why would you play music through your TV? Chances are if you've got money to blow on Apple TV, you've got money to blow in a proper (even if small) stereo. Plus there are already other options for streaming your music.
4. If you have a TV that would make it worth your while chances are there are numerous options for viewing your photos on it, some of which are free, such as plugging the camera in direct.

Am I missing something? Coming in at just over half the cost of the Mac Mini (this being a brand new Mini of course. Finding a used older model would narrow that gap) I can't really see the point considering you'd get well over double the features out of a Mini. I'd rather just save up a little longer and have something a little more functional.

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Feb 17, 2007, 06:50 PM
 
I with you on this, and it seems a lot of others are, too. My only guess is they're selling it as a no hassle way of getting iTunes content on to your TV. Getting a Mini to work as a HTPC takes some tweaking that MacHeads may not mind doing, but the general public would find daunting.

Just a thought.
     
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Feb 17, 2007, 07:02 PM
 
I'm wondering if they are holding anything back from us as to what the AppleTV is capable of. Unless I can stream non-iTunes store content to it, there is no interest what-so-ever. As it is, it would make more sense to just spend a couple hundered dollars more and get a mini. Unfortunately the Mini isn't a perfect solution for me though - my DVD player does an amazing job of upconverting and is region free (OPPO). I'd want a Mini to be able to replicate that before replacing my DVD player.

As for AppleTV, the one thing that could sway me is if the iTunes store started offering movie "rentals' in High Definition...
     
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Feb 18, 2007, 05:25 AM
 
The  tv is too limited for too high a cost. And if you take out pricing, the Mac mini wins hands down. That's the only thing that the  tv seems to have going for it, if only marginally. I got a Mac mini set up in just this manner, and I'm rather happy with it.

The only thing I wish is that the price were lower. It's difficult to justify a $700+ device (mine cost me only slightly more) just for a home theater system, but at least I get a fully capable PC, where as the $300  tv is a joke-- a glorified AV router/terminal incapable of playing games, browsing the web, doing 2-way video chat, running astronomy apps (like Celestia) or any other kind of app. If I get tired of it or it is no longer wanted for its current purpose, I can always use it as a general PC for years to come. I doubt the  tv will be so versatile or useful.
     
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Feb 18, 2007, 09:40 PM
 
I've read lots of threads with people criticizing AppleTV and its limitations and I've argued in its defense. This thread has convinced me to cancel my order. If you take cost out of the discussion, a Mac mini really does win by a long shot. I've decided to wait for the reviews of AppleTV and look for a deal on a mini. There really are a lot of things AppleTV won't be able to do that a mini could. While the price may be twice as much, a mini might be the better way for me to go. Thanks, folks.
     
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Feb 18, 2007, 11:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by chrisdisregard View Post
1. I think it's a little on the expensive side.
True.

Originally Posted by chrisdisregard
2. I've played around somewhat with viewing video through iTunes, and really don't know why you'd bother when there are programs like VLC or even Quicktime available as alternatives.
Apple TV makes this a moot point because you don't see the iTunes interface, just the list of TV shows or movies.

Originally Posted by chrisdisregard
3. Why would you play music through your TV? Chances are if you've got money to blow on Apple TV, you've got money to blow in a proper (even if small) stereo. Plus there are already other options for streaming your music.
Artwork. Visuals. Slideshows + music.

Originally Posted by chrisdisregard
4. If you have a TV that would make it worth your while chances are there are numerous options for viewing your photos on it, some of which are free, such as plugging the camera in direct.
Again, why would you want to have some crappy interface from your camera directly (no Ken Burns effect) that requires you to use the camera to navigate from picture to picture connected to a cable that's probably only 2 feet long?!?

The whole point of Apple TV is to remove such restrictions: put your media on your Mac and then with the wonders of Apple TV, iPod, iPhone: you can watch it, listen to it, or see it wherever, whenever you want.

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Feb 19, 2007, 12:14 AM
 
I have an Apple TV on order and was >< this close to canceling it after reading a few other threads here. But after some reflection on the true purpose of the Apple TV, I saw no need to find a Mac mini.
  1. I don't want to manage media at the TV. I just want to experience it there. (I don't want to rips CDs at the TV, I don't want to rip DVDs there, I don't want to wait an excruciating amount of time for any sort of other media-related CPU usage to take forever on a Intel Core Solo or {shudder} a PowerPC mini.)
  2. The Apple TV doesn't need PVR functions because it is not meant to interface with antenna, satellite, cable or other broadcast media: it is a media extender for the media on your Mac. Period. If you need PVR either get a TiVo, talk to your cable/satellite provider, or see #3.
  3. If you do want PVR functions via your mac, Elgato makes great software that lets you record on any Mac, auto-input into iTunes, which would transfer to Apple TV automatically. Elgato's integration with TitanTV.com is great in that you can remote schedule from any browser on the Internet.
  4. I use HandBrake to rip DVDs into my iTunes library: all will be available on Apple TV.
  5. Yes, per #4, Apple TV plays non-iTunes Store content.
  6. For God's sake, I don't want a keyboard or mouse anywhere near my TV. I don't chat at the TV, I don't want to browse the Internet on the TV. Talk about couch potato syndrome.
  7. While the price seems high, Apple TV is just a glorified iPod on steroids with a beautiful high-def UI. You paid nearly as much for your iPod, didn't you?!?

At this point, the convenience of not having to deal with another computer far outweighs having yet another mac with it's own iTunes DB, etc. So for $299 + $99 I paid for the Elgato EyeTV, I'm going to have all the functionality I need between ripped DVDs, recorded TV, ripped music and what little iTunes Store content I own.

I'm particularly excited for the photo slide shows. Having my MBP hooked up to the HDTV is nice when I need to show off the cool pics, but being able to do it without rewiring: priceless.

If these points aren't enough for you, then you're not the market Apple is selling the Apple TV towards. Pure and simple. Get a mac mini if it suits you to pay double (or slightly less if you go back a generation or two) to get those "extra" features. Frankly, most people will realize that the computer they already own has those features you guys keep lamenting as missing from Apple TV.

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Feb 19, 2007, 12:17 AM
 
A few more thoughts on why I've cancelled my AppleTV order:

For slideshows of my photos, AppleTV would force me to use iPhoto. I've never liked that program and prefer to keep my photos organized my own way.

For viewing video, AppleTV would force me to use iTunes. I use EyeTV for recording programs on my desktop Mac. AppleTV wouldn't allow me to watch those programs on my TV without painstaking re-encoding/importing into iTunes. A Mac mini would allow me to share those programs over the network and watch them on the TV (by running EyeTV software on the mini). Or, I could use the mini as a PVR like I'm currently using the desktop.

I've argued again and again about how I like the concept of AppleTV. Having had a month to consider how I'll actually want to use it, I've decided against it. If I intended to buy lots of content from iTS, then AppleTV would be great. Until iTunes ups their video resolution I won't be doing that. I'm just as well off watching regular TV and using EyeTV for time shifting.
     
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Feb 19, 2007, 12:22 AM
 
With most shows I record on my EyeTV, I do not watch it for a few days, so having the re-encoding for iTunes happen in the background doesn't bother me one bit. Once it shows up in iTunes, I'm set, and with Apple TV, it'll show up at the TV without any more interaction from me so much as going to TitanTV.com and clicking the "Remote Recording" button on a show. Nice.

EyeTV + iTunes + Apple TV is automated.

EyeTV + getting some video file transferred over the network using file sharing is not.

To each his own.

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Feb 19, 2007, 12:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by krove View Post

EyeTV + iTunes + Apple TV is automated.

EyeTV + getting some video file transferred over the network using file sharing is not.
Does that require EyeTV 2.0 software? I have 1.8 and I don't think it's so automatic. I read something the other day about Elgato having plans to integrate EyeTV better with AppleTV. I'll be curious to see what they can do.

I experimented today (which in fact convinced me to cancel my AppleTV order). I connected my MacBook to my TV. I then connected to my desktop through file sharing and launched EyeTV software on the MacBook. By setting EyeTV storage preferences for the networked hard drive, and relaunching EyeTV, I was able to see all of the recorded programs I have on my desktop on my television. Obviously, this configuring isn't something I'd want to do every time I want to watch a program and it would be minimal if I did it again tomorrow. If a Mac mini was already set up that way, and I have a wireless mouse on the arm of my chair instead of the AppleTV remote, it would be pretty much exactly the same as AppleTV. It will cost more but will be much more flexible.

I've been the Comcast route and paid them a boat load of money for their DVR which requires a subscription to their digital service. (I finally gave it back to them.) Tivo doesn't appeal to me either, due to the subscription cost. When I discovered how well the Mac to Mac setup worked today, I decided to cancel my AppleTV plans, at least for now.
     
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Feb 19, 2007, 12:54 AM
 
Yeah, EyeTV 2. Sorry about that.

A mac mini would work if you're savvy enough. But if you're busy or if you have family that doesn't know what the hell they're doing. Forget the mac mini.

It's like buying a car: do you want something that works or something that you can tinker with. It depends what you want. I just want something that works with the least amount of interaction and the Apple remote provides that solution.

Ok, I'll shut up now.

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Feb 19, 2007, 01:07 AM
 
Originally Posted by krove View Post
It's like buying a car: do you want something that works or something that you can tinker with. It depends what you want. I just want something that works with the least amount of interaction and the Apple remote provides that solution.
You make some very good points. The fact is, you still have to do a fair amount of tinkering with your Mac to prepare what you're going to watch effortlessly later. (You mentioned ripping DVDs. That's pretty involved.)

You sound like you haven't purchased much video content yet from iTunes. If you plan to, I think AppleTV is a great product. I just don't think it's so great if you don't.

Photo slide shows will be neat but only if you've already been using iPhoto for organizing your photos (something I haven't).

Playing music with AppleTV will be great too (like Airport Express AirTunes with a remote) especially if you have good speakers connected to your TV.

I'm not really arguing against AppleTV so much as pointing out why I've decided against it for now. Will I decide to buy a mini instead? I still don't know but am considering it.

Cheers.
     
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Feb 19, 2007, 03:20 AM
 
Originally Posted by krove View Post
1. I don't want to manage media at the TV. I just want to experience it there. (I don't want to rips CDs at the TV, I don't want to rip DVDs there, I don't want to wait an excruciating amount of time for any sort of other media-related CPU usage to take forever on a Intel Core Solo or {shudder} a PowerPC mini.)
Using a Mac mini instead allows you to do this things, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to.

I was asked to play a CD last night on the mini, and I did so, but in the process ripped the CD so I wouldn't have to keep it in the mini the whole time and it wouldn't be forgotten there (it was forgotten anyway, but that's not the point. ) It was nice to be able to do this in one step. I didn't have to put it in my host Mac and then sync it to the Apple TV. I just put in the CD, ripped it on the spot and gave it back, with no need to "sync" anything.

On that note, it's important to realize that even with a fast "n" connection (assuming you've bought the compatible Apple router and have the proper conditions for "n" speeds) locally stored content is always going to be faster and more reliable than streamed content.

Also, I haven't heard anything on this, but I'm not sure if the HDD is easily upgradable or if it's possible to add a faster USB/Firewire HDD to it, which of course, is all possible with a Mac (mini or otherwise).

Originally Posted by krove View Post
2. The Apple TV doesn't need PVR functions because it is not meant to interface with antenna, satellite, cable or other broadcast media: it is a media extender for the media on your Mac. Period. If you need PVR either get a TiVo, talk to your cable/satellite provider, or see #3.
Yes, but wouldn't it be great if it could be a PVR as well? I think this would be a killer feature, and would add much more value to the current version of the Apple TV. It seems like a lot of Mac users are hoping for a more integrated Mac PVR solution.

Originally Posted by krove View Post
6. For God's sake, I don't want a keyboard or mouse anywhere near my TV. I don't chat at the TV, I don't want to browse the Internet on the TV. Talk about couch potato syndrome.
Actually, I was using my mini as jukebox last night and the keyboard was useful to search for songs and other tasks. Of course, I could have just stuck to the Front Row remote and not even touched the keyboard.

Originally Posted by krove View Post
7. While the price seems high, Apple TV is just a glorified iPod on steroids with a beautiful high-def UI. You paid nearly as much for your iPod, didn't you?!?
Yes, but you're paying for portability and miniaturization in an iPod. Not so with the Apple TV. In fact, it need not even use a 2.5" HDD. It could utilize a cheaper, faster, larger, more reliable 3.5" HDD if not for Apple's obsession with making things unnecessarily small. The Apple TV doesn't even have as spacious a hard drive as the most expensive iPod.

Originally Posted by krove View Post
If these points aren't enough for you, then you're not the market Apple is selling the Apple TV towards. Pure and simple. Get a mac mini if it suits you to pay double (or slightly less if you go back a generation or two) to get those "extra" features. Frankly, most people will realize that the computer they already own has those features you guys keep lamenting as missing from Apple TV.
I don't think anybody's knocking your choice here. If movies and music were enough for me, the Apple TV would be fine for me. And even though I think the price is a little steep for the features and the Mac mini is a "better buy", a new Mac mini is still more than twice as expensive, so it's definitely a money saver to go with the Apple TV instead, and that's quite a good reason to do so.

If the Apple TV had a web browser, a PVR function and either the ability to run normal Mac apps or act as a visual terminal to the serving Mac (allowing one to see its screen and control it remotely, launch apps and see them on screen), I wouldn't hesitate in the least to get one instead of a mini, even if it were $100 or so more expensive.
     
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Feb 19, 2007, 03:57 AM
 
Here's my take on the Apple TV vs. Mini issue, keeping in mind that at the moment I have no intention of buying either of these devices.

To me, the big draw of the Apple TV is that it would allow me to keep all of my media on my main computer (an Intel iMac). I want to be able to manage all of my videos, music, and photos on that computer. True, I could use a Mini to stream from the iMac, but that would seem to nullify many of the advantages that people are talking about for the Mini (making it basically a more expensive Apple TV that's harder to use and has slower wireless).

As for the other functions of the mini, obviously if you want to run programs on your TV, the mini is the way to go, but I have absolutely zero interest in doing that. If I want to browse the web away from my desktop, I'm going to use my PowerBook, not a computer hooked up to my TV. I've tried it and it's not an optimal experience. So I guess what I'm saying is that while the Mini is certainly capable of much more, it's almost all stuff that I have no desire to do in my TV room. Or if I do want to do it, I can do it much more conveniently from my PowerBook.
     
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Feb 19, 2007, 03:57 AM
 
I think the summary of this thread thus far should read: If you want a simple way to get iTunes and iPhoto content on to your TV, get an Apple TV; if you want a more feature rich and necessarily more complicated solution, get a mini instead.

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Feb 19, 2007, 04:12 AM
 
I think people should also see the AppleTV as a hardware extension to Apple's software rather than as hardware which enables a lot of software solutions.

If you already use iTunes and the iTS and you use iPhoto for your pics, the AppleTV will likely be the most elegant and simple way to get that content into your living room and onto your TV. If OTOH you're looking for some kind of set top box that will allow you to get all kinds of media in all kinds of file formats into your living room, you need dedicated hardware (like a Mac mini or one of the more expensive third-party streaming solutions).

The AppleTV is an accessory for iT/iPhoto/iTS users. It's not a generic or open hardware solution.
     
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Feb 19, 2007, 10:41 AM
 
Until people have AppleTV in their hands and are able to tinker around with what it can and can't do, I can't really draw a conclusion about how useful it will be (for me anyway). Also the support for 720p HD, even though that content is not available on the iTS yet, leads me to believe that AppleTV will be capable of more than Apple has let on as of yet.

I'm going to sit and wait for now. My next purchase will be the black MacBook which will enable me to play around with media a lot more (I only have about 1 GB of space left on my iBook making that difficult). If the AppleTV can display all of that content - perhaps with a few tweaks to support non-iTunes formats, then it may be the solution for me. If not, I'll probably invest in a Mini at some point, but ultimately only time will tell.
     
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Feb 19, 2007, 07:04 PM
 
You don't need the iTunes Music Store as far as I'm concerned. If your content is in a proper format (and I agree that it sucks that not many formats are supported), then what exactly is preventing you from not using the iTMS? Nothing.

I'll reiterate a point icruise made above, that I do not want to have two different computers with two different iTunes libraries, iPhoto libraries, etc. I want it all centrally-located on MY computer (aka, MBP).

Having all that media distributed and not centralized in one place or even duplicated (and no, manual network connections/transfers hardly count because that is a true royal pain, and not a 1 for 1 sync solution) just isn't worth the effort or extra money.

iTunes is the glue for your centralized media on your computer, pushing it as you see fit to iPods, iPhones, Apple TVs and other computers over bonjour.
( Last edited by krove; Feb 19, 2007 at 07:34 PM. )

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Feb 19, 2007, 07:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by Gamoe View Post
I was asked to play a CD last night on the mini, and I did so, but in the process ripped the CD so I wouldn't have to keep it in the mini the whole time and it wouldn't be forgotten there (it was forgotten anyway, but that's not the point. ) It was nice to be able to do this in one step. I didn't have to put it in my host Mac and then sync it to the Apple TV. I just put in the CD, ripped it on the spot and gave it back, with no need to "sync" anything.
I would respond by saying that "syncing" is hardly an arduous process. Open iTunes...it syncs automatically. What's the problem here?

Originally Posted by Gamoe
On that note, it's important to realize that even with a fast "n" connection (assuming you've bought the compatible Apple router and have the proper conditions for "n" speeds) locally stored content is always going to be faster and more reliable than streamed content.
None of the Mac mini's support 802.11n yet.

Originally Posted by Gamoe
Yes, but wouldn't it be great if it could be a PVR as well? I think this would be a killer feature, and would add much more value to the current version of the Apple TV. It seems like a lot of Mac users are hoping for a more integrated Mac PVR solution.
If you need PVR functions, there are two scenarios here:

1. Apple TV + existing mac + Elgato EyeTV = $428 ($299 + $129 and you already had the computer)
2. Mac mini + Elgato EyeTV = $700+ (depends on Mac mini model)

You still have to add this feature to the Mac mini, so I don't see the difference with using an existing mac to pump any recordings to the Apple TV automatically. Not having PVR functions equally applies to Apple TV and Mac minis: you have to pay to add it to both.

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Feb 19, 2007, 09:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by krove View Post
You don't need the iTunes Music Store as far as I'm concerned. If your content is in a proper format (and I agree that it sucks that not many formats are supported), then what exactly is preventing you from not using the iTMS? Nothing.
That's true, but most people won't want to have to bother with converting files, they will just want to play it when it's downloaded.
     
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Feb 19, 2007, 11:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by krove View Post
If your content is in a proper format (and I agree that it sucks that not many formats are supported)...
This is my main problem with video in iTunes, not the interface (though VLC still takes less clicks to get full screen or even a decent sized window) The problem is (for me anyway) that I get a lot of video in a lot of different formats and almost none of them work in iTunes. A lot of friends in bands send me video clips of sets or tours and having to go through all of them and convert them to .mov or whatever (assuming I could even find a converter that would work) would be a huge pain. Not to mention the initial task of converting all the stuff that's already on my hdd. I love iTunes for music and it's great sorting capabilities, but for video it's useless to me.

Originally Posted by krove
Having all that media distributed and not centralized in one place or even duplicated (and no, manual network connections/transfers hardly count because that is a true royal pain, and not a 1 for 1 sync solution) just isn't worth the effort or extra money.
It would seem to me that if you had a mini set up with your TV you'd likely have all your media stored on that. At least I would, so this wouldn't really be an issue. New media would go directly to the mini and/or external hard drive.

Looking at it from my dad's point of view, who's likely to be closer to the main target group as he loves looking at pictures on the TV and he doesn't know a thing about computers so ease of use and as little setup as possible is key. The problems I see from that angle are

1. He's basically restricted to iTMS content for video, which is quite limited (and that's being generous)
2. iPhoto sucks. Sure it's easy/straight forward/etc. But it's also slow as hell. He'd much prefer to just browse though his own folders. (I'm not running the newest version of iLife though so this might have improved a bit)
3. The one plus is probably iTunes music with coverflow, which I think he'd really get a kick out of on a big screen.

I guess my big problem is in forcing people to use iTunes and iPhoto. I'd love to be able to watch things on a big screen instead of my 17" it's just a problem of getting them there without wanting to hit my head against the wall. Apple TV seems like it could be a good piece of hardware, and I love the idea, but the software you're forced to use needs a lot of work before it's really an all in one media solution.

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Feb 19, 2007, 11:39 PM
 
Incidentally while it's all great and everything that Apple TV uses the latest and greatest in wireless connectivity, how well is it going to work for (what I'm assuming is) the majority of mac users out there who don't have shiny brand new macs with 802.11n capabilities?

Admittedly I know nothing about wireless so maybe there's a way that older macs could take advantage of faster connections...

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Feb 19, 2007, 11:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by chrisdisregard View Post
Incidentally while it's all great and everything that Apple TV uses the latest and greatest in wireless connectivity, how well is it going to work for (what I'm assuming is) the majority of mac users out there who don't have shiny brand new macs with 802.11n capabilities?
From my limited experience, 802.11g will handle standard definition TV pretty well, with only an occasional blip when the streaming has to catch up. No way will "g" handle 720p and I doubt it would handle 480p very well. Those with "pre-n" Macs will have to use Ethernet.
     
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Feb 20, 2007, 12:34 AM
 
Originally Posted by chrisdisregard View Post
It would seem to me that if you had a mini set up with your TV you'd likely have all your media stored on that. At least I would, so this wouldn't really be an issue. New media would go directly to the mini and/or external hard drive.
Obviously this depends on how your house/apartment is set up, but there is no way I would want to have to go to where my TV is every time I wanted to add music to iTunes, edit my iTunes library, add photos to iPhoto, etc. I want all that on my main computer.

1. He's basically restricted to iTMS content for video, which is quite limited (and that's being generous)
Why do you say this? Thanks to the iPod, there's quite a bit of video content out there that will be usable. Anything in MPEG-4/h.264 should be fine. Where would he be getting all this video that iTunes can't play? (Since presumably he's not going to be download DIVX files from bittorrent or the like.)

2. iPhoto sucks. Sure it's easy/straight forward/etc. But it's also slow as hell. He'd much prefer to just browse though his own folders. (I'm not running the newest version of iLife though so this might have improved a bit)
No, actually it doesn't suck. The newer versions of iPhoto, anyway, are fairly speedy -- at least on a newer machine. I have around 5,000 photos and it runs quite well. I know many have several times that. There's no way in hell I'd go back to browsing folders.

I guess my big problem is in forcing people to use iTunes and iPhoto.
Actually, I think your problem is that you don't like iTunes and iPhoto, so you think nobody else should like it either. But for most people they work very well.
     
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Feb 20, 2007, 12:40 AM
 
Originally Posted by iDaver View Post
From my limited experience, 802.11g will handle standard definition TV pretty well, with only an occasional blip when the streaming has to catch up. No way will "g" handle 720p and I doubt it would handle 480p very well. Those with "pre-n" Macs will have to use Ethernet.
This isn't entirely true thanks to the Apple TV's hard drive. Even if you had only 802.11b (yikes!), iTunes will sync the high-def stuff to the hard drive and then play it locally. This means that for the big stuff or high-def stuff, have it set to sync and you don't have to worry about the speed of your network (unless it hasn't synced and you need it right now). But that's the point of the hard drive.

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Feb 20, 2007, 12:44 AM
 
Originally Posted by icruise View Post
Actually, I think your problem is that you don't like iTunes and iPhoto, so you think nobody else should like it either. But for most people they work very well.
I'll jump in here and say I've never liked iPhoto but I haven't really given it much of a chance. First impressions were bad.

iTunes is great as a music manager. It's one of the best software programs ever, IMO.

I don't understand why QuickTime Player hasn't been modified for playing movies in conjunction with FrontRow and AppleTV. I like it better than iTunes for video since it has lightness, color adjustments and the like.
     
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Feb 20, 2007, 12:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by krove View Post
This isn't entirely true thanks to the Apple TV's hard drive. Even if you had only 802.11b (yikes!), iTunes will sync the high-def stuff to the hard drive and then play it locally. This means that for the big stuff or high-def stuff, have it set to sync and you don't have to worry about the speed of your network (unless it hasn't synced and you need it right now). But that's the point of the hard drive.
Good point. My mistake. I forgot about the AppleTV hard drive.
     
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Feb 20, 2007, 01:01 AM
 
Originally Posted by icruise View Post
Obviously this depends on how your house/apartment is set up, but there is no way I would want to have to go to where my TV is every time I wanted to add music to iTunes, edit my iTunes library, add photos to iPhoto, etc. I want all that on my main computer.
Ditto.

Unless you completely separate your main computer activities from media (pictures, music, video) or make the TV + mac mini your main computer, this setup gets out of control. The first idea (complete separation) is impractical for most users because their main computer activities are intimately involved with their media (emailing photos, listening to music while working, etc). The second setup (using the mac mini + TV as your main computer), while plausible doesn't apply to most users. And if you don't fit into either of these scenarios, then you've got a mess because you're either trying to move files from computer to computer all the time or you're not sure what's where, etc. KISS. Keep it simple, stupid.

On your dad, chrisdisregard, unless he is a power user and unless he needs all the added functionality and complications of having another computer hooked up to an HDTV, what would be the point?

iPhoto is so much better that previous versions. A lot of video content is increasingly made specifically for iPods on P2P networks (but you didn't hear that from me). Cover Flow truly is awesome (after spending a great deal of time to get all my artwork up to speed). When your normal users see this on the computer, their jaws drop. Add on the ability to do it all from the couch in front of their new HDTV...mmmm. That's the goodness.

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Feb 20, 2007, 02:05 AM
 
Originally Posted by krove View Post
I would respond by saying that "syncing" is hardly an arduous process. Open iTunes...it syncs automatically. What's the problem here?
Hopefully it is just so, but I was only pointing out that copying a CD was more direct and simple a process than having to go to another Mac to do so and then Sync to get it up and running on an Apple TV.

Originally Posted by krove View Post
None of the Mac mini's support 802.11n yet.
We all know this will change soon, though, perhaps even around the time the Apple TV ships. Besides this is a problem with both configurations because most Mac users won't have a new Apple Airport Extreme or an n capable Mac to stream content to the Apple TV.

Originally Posted by krove View Post
If you need PVR functions, there are two scenarios here:

1. Apple TV + existing mac + Elgato EyeTV = $428 ($299 + $129 and you already had the computer)
2. Mac mini + Elgato EyeTV = $700+ (depends on Mac mini model)

You still have to add this feature to the Mac mini, so I don't see the difference with using an existing mac to pump any recordings to the Apple TV automatically. Not having PVR functions equally applies to Apple TV and Mac minis: you have to pay to add it to both.
Point taken. I do insist that if the Apple TV had built-in PVR functions, though, it'd be a whole lot more attractive to me.

Originally Posted by krove View Post
Unless you completely separate your main computer activities from media (pictures, music, video) or make the TV + mac mini your main computer, this setup gets out of control.
Not really. I admit that the Apple TV should be simpler, as no additional management of media is necessary. However, it's not so difficult to simply copy one's media from one's primary Mac to a Mac mini.

You just make your playlists, photo albums and such in the way you want on your main Mac and then just copy it over to your Mac mini. When you've updated your Mac's collection, you merely add or overwrite your previous collection on the Mac mini. In case you enter some new media on the Mac mini, you transfer it over to your main Mac as soon as you can and then you forget about it. It's not that difficult.

It just the same tradeoff as usual, as has already been mentioned. You get simplicity at the cost of versatility. You get versatility at the cost of simplicity. It all depends on the degrees of such and how much you're willing to sacrifice for one or the other.

I still think Apple could improve upon (the so far demonstrated features of) the Apple TV so that the tradeoff would be smaller, and then I would be happy with the Apple TV. Maybe Apple will introduce another model in the near future.

Originally Posted by ShawnDC
Until people have AppleTV in their hands and are able to tinker around with what it can and can't do
That's a good reminder.
     
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Feb 20, 2007, 02:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by icruise View Post
Obviously this depends on how your house/apartment is set up, but there is no way I would want to have to go to where my TV is every time I wanted to add music to iTunes, edit my iTunes library, add photos to iPhoto, etc. I want all that on my main computer.
I've been thinking about this a lot in the past couple of days since I just cancelled my AppleTV order. I've also been doing a bunch of experimenting since I have the luxury of owning a MacBook to try all this out with.

I'm thinking it's not unreasonable at all, if I get a Mac mini connected to my TV, to keep all of my video on that computer and all of my music on my desktop computer. I could keep copies of photos on both since I'd probably view them on both. Then, very much like AppleTV, I'd simply use FrontRow to display my movies, TV shows and photos. FrontRow doesn't have the video file-type limitations of AppleTV. My desktop screensaver would display my recent favorite photos on the TV too. With the Ken Burns effect, that's pretty cool; a feature that will also be nice on AppleTV.

Since AppleTV would require a wired or wireless network connection, there's not much difference between it and a mini, set up the same way. It's likely that AppleTV's syncing feature will be slick; nicer than the mini setup, but it won't be a huge factor.

Thanks for the discussion folks. While there is some disagreement here, it's good to hear other ideas in determining what might be best for each of us. Fortunately, I'm not on a real tight budget so the price difference between a Mac mini and AppleTV is not a big obstacle for me. If I decide to buy a mini, I'll likely wait until it comes with Leopard and perhaps a Core 2 processor. Those of you who ordered AppleTV early, like I did before cancelling, should be seeing yours arrive very soon. I can't wait to hear about it.
     
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Feb 20, 2007, 05:32 PM
 
The TV vs. Mac Mini debate IMO boils down to just how "geeky" you want to be in the living room. Personally, I have no desire to have to deal with a keyboard and mouse in the living room. Even if it is Bluetooth. I want to be able to use the device with a remote only ... like any other piece of home theater equipment. This just wouldn't be the case with the Mac Mini. Now OTOH, the Mac Mini does have it's advantages. It supports SDTV (though the Front Row menus don't look very nice), it will support more formats than the TV, etc. But overall, I would most likely go with the TV.

As for DVR functionalities ... you guys who keep clamoring for that need to just let it go. The experience would simply suck IMO. The fundamental problem with implementing a DVR is the ability to tune to a channel. And unfortunately, with digital cable and even more so with satellite, this is controlled by the set-top box provided by Charter, Comcast, DirecTV, etc. I know I wouldn't want to have to remember to change the channel to 501 HBO on DirecTV so that the signal can come through when I tell my TV to record The Wire or Rome. I've used an UltimateTV DVR with DirecTV for years. Dual tuner. Seamless channel tuning because it's integrated with ... no scratch that ... it is the DirecTV box. I just don't see how an TV could top that user experience with a stand-alone box.

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Feb 21, 2007, 12:35 AM
 
I say we bombard Cupertino with phone calls demanding support for the Perian quicktime component. It has made frontrow work with everything. I love it. I love it. I love it. From Perian - The swiss-army knife of QuickTime components :

Perian enables QuickTime® application support for additional media types including:

* AVI and FLV
* 3ivX, DivX, Flash Screen Video, MS-MPEG4, Sorenson H.263, Truemotion VP6, and Xvid
* AVI support for: AAC, AC3 Audio using A52Codec, H.264, MPEG4, and VBR MP3
     
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Feb 21, 2007, 12:36 AM
 
I would be salivating over this box if they had a $200 version that didn't have a hard drive or 802.11n.

I'm the target audience and am waiting until they are more prominent. I'm one of those people that would prefer the simplicity of the system and would use it primarily for music, photos and sometimes movies. I'm technically capable of converting my DVDs to iTunes movies so I'm not freaking out about that.

I guess what makes me go "this could be cool" is the fact that my friends might be able to use it when they visit. Most of my other video systems are NOT like that.
     
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Feb 21, 2007, 12:39 AM
 
Originally Posted by jpdalamar View Post
I say we bombard Cupertino with phone calls demanding support for the Perian quicktime component. It has made frontrow work with everything. I love it. I love it. I love it. From Perian - The swiss-army knife of QuickTime� components :

Perian enables QuickTime® application support for additional media types including:

* AVI and FLV
* 3ivX, DivX, Flash Screen Video, MS-MPEG4, Sorenson H.263, Truemotion VP6, and Xvid
* AVI support for: AAC, AC3 Audio using A52Codec, H.264, MPEG4, and VBR MP3
I didn't know about this... I'm wondering how long it takes until the tv is hacked.
     
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Feb 21, 2007, 05:06 AM
 
The question might be Mini vs. Apple TV, but the answer is Mini + Apple TV!

The mini is too limited in resources to make a perfet media machine. It chokes and hangs (I've got the fastest current mini with 2GB RAM) for brief pauses as I switch from one application to the next. There's simply no way it could deal with HD in a reliable fashion. I like the DVD drive for DVD's, but I do not like the drive noise or even (quiet but irritating) cooling fan noise.

The answer... My Mini sits in the basement (wired 1Gbit ether) with EyeTV+iTunes and a digital cable connection. This way I can record any programs I want (even remotely via internet) and they will be coverted and loaded into iTunes automatically. The mini has an external drive with 2TB storage for archived movies, TV shows, music and photos.

Apple TV becomes an elegant and compact companion next to my set that reliably delivers all my latest material in flawless HD to my big screen.

Having the mini always on makes it great for running background P2P, encoding, ftp/file sharing etc... the $299 Apple TV ultimately frees up one whole computer for a fraction of the price.

I like it.
     
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Feb 21, 2007, 08:41 AM
 
What it boilds down to me is....

It does not have a DVD drive (they can wait until HD-DVD/ BR_DVD wins to include one of them in a 1080p AppleTV). For what the AppleTV is, i like it. but it's going to be another 'box' with it's own function next to my TV. if it had a DVD drive, id be able to chuck away my DVD player....and have the AppleTV be my primary content playback device in the living room. i'm not asking for recording functionality (although with a HDD, Superdrive, and video inputs a-la-video-adaptors, they can easily built that into a high-end model if they like)
( Last edited by Hawkeye_a; Feb 21, 2007 at 08:52 AM. )
     
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Feb 21, 2007, 09:59 AM
 
It's not meant to be a friggin' DVD player! It's not meant to be a throw-in-everything-and-the-kitchen-sink-pvr-dvd-cable-tv-wireless-video-music-browser-keyboard-full-fledged-computer solution!

Most people already have DVD players hooked up to their TV. Most people have cable, so PVR functionality would most likely either be incompatible or be a complete nightmare to support (tuning functionality discussed above). Most people already have a main computer. While it would be nice if Apple could create a single box to do ALL of this, IT IS A PIPE DREAM!

There is too much competition for DVD players, and marginalized 3rd party TiVO-like devices, not to mention competing with cable companies over their own cable boxes. Apple chooses their markets wisely and very carefully, and they have been wise not to enter these very fickle "anybody and everybody makes that" markets.

Apple wanted to extend your computer's media to the TV. That is what they have done, pure and simple with Apple TV.


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Feb 21, 2007, 10:10 AM
 
TVs have a limited number of inputs. If people have a DVD player, VCR, Game console, Cable box, and AppleTV, the availability of inputs starts to become a problem. I don't see anything wrong with the idea that AppleTV include a DVD player/recorder to eliminate one of those boxes. Maybe someday.
     
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Feb 21, 2007, 10:41 AM
 
IMHO, blu-ray/hd dvd has no place with the tv. I would have gone WOW if it did 1080p... but it doesn't.

Beyond that, I think the box is cool. I actually don't like that it has a HD. I'm guessing it's so there isn't any lag when the network is really busy, but IMHO, it's one more thing to fail with the system.
     
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Feb 21, 2007, 11:04 AM
 
krove, i know its not meant to be a do-it-all device, im not asking it to be the kitchen sink. sometimes products try to integrate functionality that just isnt right (cell phones with camera, gameconsoles with HD-DVD drives, etc).... but when the "purpose" of a product is split up into different devices, its like the other extreme.

AppleTV to me should have been.... a movie/music/photo playback device. that means, in addition to what it has right now:
1. a DVD drive to play dvd movies and Music CDs
2. a SD+XD+CF card slot for picture viewing
3. a USB 2.0 port to hook my iPod into it and play music on it

if that meant taking out 720p for now to keep prices down, im fine with 480p.
     
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Feb 21, 2007, 11:20 AM
 
Before last Sept. announcement, I had thought it would be a re-jiggered mini, at half the price of the mini. It got announced and I THOUGHT this was a better option. BUT I was thinking about essentially a remote control + stream to my main computer. Essentially, a device that I could run and imagery (still and motion) that existed on my main computer.

Hope and reality collided. At this point, this $300 brick seems 95% to be a vehicle to support their own sale of content. AND did I miss something, can one use this device to go to the iTunes store and purchase? And yes, I know I can spend the next few years converting all the video I currently have into further compressed "compatible" files, but I am NOT about to do that when it was such a no-brainer for them to NOT force me into this step.

Going the mini route just seem too expensive to me... a $200 box that supported streaming of ANY media from my main computer with even their limited remote control is exactly what I'd go for. Make it $100 and only supporting wires, I'd probably go through the headache of running Ethernet cabling to where my home theater is.

Then again, I'm sure they'll make a fortune selling this box, the 50,000 people that PAID for some Timberlake video is their target market, and I'm sure as hell someone who isn't about to PAY for music videos which are 100% promotions for the record companies sales and the artists promotion of $200 live concert tickets!
     
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Feb 21, 2007, 11:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by Hawkeye_a View Post
krove, i know its not meant to be a do-it-all device, im not asking it to be the kitchen sink. sometimes products try to integrate functionality that just isnt right (cell phones with camera, gameconsoles with HD-DVD drives, etc).... but when the "purpose" of a product is split up into different devices, its like the other extreme.

AppleTV to me should have been.... a movie/music/photo playback device. that means, in addition to what it has right now:
1. a DVD drive to play dvd movies and Music CDs
2. a SD+XD+CF card slot for picture viewing
3. a USB 2.0 port to hook my iPod into it and play music on it

if that meant taking out 720p for now to keep prices down, im fine with 480p.
That's fine, but you'll never get your dream product from Apple. (Well you can, it's called a mac mini.) The beauty of Apple's consumer devices (iPod, iPhone, Apple TV) isn't what they do (feature set) but rather what Apple leaves out.

Take the iPod for example. People left and right said that not having wireless or not having a radio made the iPod a no-deal for them. Apple kept the iPod simple and made sure users knew EXACTLY what it was for: take music from your computer with you on the go. iPod succeeded where no others did.

The same principles apply in the design of Apple TV. If Apple were to include many of the features you list, the device begins to appear watered down and users won't know what it's for. Apple is trying to appeal to a broad spectrum of users and one can only do that if the product is focused feature-wise.

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Feb 21, 2007, 02:00 PM
 
It depends of your need and wether you already have a Macbook or not. I've shared my thoughts in my blog a few weeks ago:

http://lucafiligheddu.blogspot.com/2...-mac-mini.html

bye

Luca
     
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Feb 21, 2007, 02:43 PM
 
If Apple produced a nice DVD ripper for iTunes [why not... Roxio did it]... I think the apple TV would be amazing. But without Divx and Xvid... it's a harder sell. I'm considering picking one up, but will hold out until some reviews start coming in.
     
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Feb 21, 2007, 02:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by krove View Post
  1. [
  2. I use HandBrake to rip DVDs into my iTunes library: all will be available on Apple TV.
I'm afraid this assumption may not be correct: The AppleTV seems to have very specific requirements for the format of its movies. Handbrake's default settings do not seem to produce a file that is compatible with AppleTV. For example, if I rip a movie using Handbrakes default settings it will be a size that is not (officially) supported by the AppleTV. I would wait and see if the AppleTV will actually play any formats beyond those explicitly stated as supported. It doesn't even support 720 x 480 which is a standard DVD resolution.

In fact the strict format requirements caused me to cancel my AppleTV order. I could not face the effort of reencoding my DVD rips. I will wait to see exactly which formats the AppleTV can support.
     
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Feb 21, 2007, 03:48 PM
 
Apple TV vs. Snazio (or D-link, or Buffalo, or Tvisto)

Why is everybody comparing AppleTV to a Mac Mini? They are two different things, not direct competitors. The Mini is a computer. Apple TV is fine if all you want to do is play iTunes on your TV. Now, if you have a lot of other content on your computer, then Apple TV loses big time to the other players that can play VCD, DVD, MPEG1, MPEG2, .ifo, DivX, Xvid, etc. for less $$$.

Personally, I have hundreds of home movies that I transferred to my Mac with EyeTV that Apple TV wont play. I also have lots of TV shows recorded by EyeTV that Apple TV wont play. I also have a digital camera that I used to record a lot of videos that Apple TV wont play. I must have over a hundred DVD's that I ripped to my hard drive as video_ts folders that Apple TV wont play. I've also downloaded hundreds of movies (yep, mostly porn) in DivX that Apple TV wont play.

If you already have a large amount of iTunes content and you don't already have a large amount of non-iTunes content, then I guess you could go with Apple TV over the competition for the slick user interface that Apple is famous for. But, if you don't have iTunes content, why would you start now? Why pay $300 for Apple TV and then another $15 per movie when you could just go with PPV at $0 plus $4 per movie? If El Gato comes out with a TV tuner that has built-in hardware h.264 codec at a reasonable price, that could make the Apple TV worth considering for somebody starting from scratch. Otherwise, h.264 requires too many CPU cycles on your desktop Mac to be useful as a DVR.

By the way, I already have three TV tuners with DivX hardware encoders built-in for SD from cable. My dual G5 couldn't even handle a two tuner solution in 720p and it would slow to a crawl if I tried to record even one channel using h.264.
( Last edited by Salsa; Feb 21, 2007 at 04:05 PM. )
     
 
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