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Using AppleTV as primary audio/video source?
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ShortcutToMoncton
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Mar 10, 2011, 01:32 PM
 
Alright. Well, just moved into my new house and got a new TV, which I've avoided for a lifetime (it's the first TV I've ever owned in three decades on this earth). This complicates things somewhat, as I've always used a computer (now 27" iMac i5) as my primary video source (movies/streaming), as well as audio source (currently optical out to an external digital-to-audio converter, to a Bryston preamp, to my amplifier, via unbalanced cables). Now I have a TV on the main floor, but there really isn't room to put the iMac down there as well; thus it goes upstairs, which means I can no longer physically connect to my audio system, unless I run an optical cable down through the floor - which would mean my audio would be controlled upstairs, which obviously is inconvenient and hardly ideal (not to mention the TV now isn't connected to the audio system).

So. I just got cable TV/internet. I don't like it, and we're already having problems with the provider (not to mention HD isn't cheap of course). I don't even like it anyway - I just wanted some sports and whatnot.

So - I've been reading about the AppleTV, and in theory, it seems to be what I'm looking for. It will allow me to watch downloaded movies wirelessly - Netflix and iTunes - and now some sports leagues like MLB and NBA are making on-demand apps for it, I understand? It would also allow me to physically connect to my audio system via optical out and then stream my iMac's library wirelessly, correct?

My only concern is handling the audio. I assume if I go optical out from the AppleTV to my audio system, and then HDMI from the ATV to my TV, then when I play video via the AppleTV I will get sound from my audio system. But then I won't get sound when I use my Blu-ray player, correct? I could go optical-out from the TV itself, but then I'd need to have it turned on even when I only want to play music, is that right?

I'm getting excited about possibly disconnecting from ever having the opportunity to watch a Friends rerun again.

Thoughts on how this would work?

Greg
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olePigeon
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Mar 10, 2011, 02:33 PM
 
Sounds like you need to get a receiver. Get one with 4 or 5 HDMI inputs and an HDMI output. Then you just plug in your AppleTV to one input and your Blu-Ray into another, then your receiver plugs into the TV. Now you just use the receiver to control which device you want to watch.

HDMI will do both video and audio, so you shouldn't need to bother with optical audio. Should you get a game console or karaoke machine, each of those can plug into the receiver as well.

If you decide you want cool sound, you can then plug in 5.1 or 7.1 speakers into your receiver for the ultimate movie experience instead of using the stereo speakers on your TV.
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ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 10, 2011, 03:11 PM
 
Yes, that would definitely be the easiest solution...I'm having a hard time figuring out in my head how this would integrate with my existing audio system though. I think I'd have to spend a fortune to get a receiver with the same audio quality as my separates.

I don't have enough space for a good surround setup, and my stereo setup is damn great - I'm okay with using it for movies, at least until I get a dedicated room.
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Mar 10, 2011, 05:41 PM
 
Check out Plex. I'm considering getting an ATV 2 and putting Plex on it, then using it as a primary video source on my TV (currently using a Mini).
     
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Mar 10, 2011, 07:42 PM
 
I am using XBMC on my ATV2, works like a charm.
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 11, 2011, 08:34 AM
 
Wow, nice. So both of those basically expand the ATV2's ability to play any sort of file - not just the basic Apple-centric ones that it rents off iTunes etc?

Seems like that solves most of the immediate limitations as to what you can play/do with the ATV2, no? Assuming the processor has enough balls to handle more difficult movie formats?

The more I read about this thing, the more it makes sense as a replacement for traditional cable. If the next iteration has support for 1080 and further refinements, it would be awesome...but for $99, the current version seems to good to pass up - I'll probably just have to figure out the audio problems later, although it sounds like I just might not have much of an option as to what to do as my setup currently stands.
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ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 11, 2011, 11:49 AM
 
So if I had an iPad or iPod or iPhone (unfortunately we both have new BB and Android phones ) I could control everything from my living room without ever going upstairs to the computer or using the remote or anything like that?
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Mar 11, 2011, 12:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
So if I had an iPad or iPod or iPhone (unfortunately we both have new BB and Android phones ) I could control everything from my living room without ever going upstairs to the computer or using the remote or anything like that?
To control anything in your iTunes library, yes.
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 16, 2011, 07:12 AM
 
Okay - what if I just want to stream audio?

At this point it looks like I might just want something to separately stream audio to my sound system, which is in another room. I can't do that with the ATV right? It needs to be connected to a TV. Is something like the Airport the best option for me in that situation?
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ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 23, 2011, 11:05 AM
 
Well I got a refurbed ATV2. Not a bad little piece. Had a few problems with it so far - one half-watched iTunes movie disappeared the next day, and it kept freezing when we tried to log into Netflix last night - but the potential looks great, as long as it is hacked and everything doesn't have to go through iTunes. I'll probably be doing that shortly, but I wanted to check up on any potential negative ramifications of hacking it (like being locked out in future updates, etc).

Question: do I have any options for wireless audio out from the ATV, or am I forced to run a USB/optical/etc. cable?

greg
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ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 24, 2011, 12:01 PM
 
I know you assholes know the answers to all this shit and just don't want to tell me
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ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 24, 2011, 12:03 PM
 
Seems to me what I'm looking for is some sort of mac mini that can be controlled headlessly. Can that be done via an iPad or iTouch or anything like that? That way I could play movies via the TV but wirelessly stream the audio across the room to my stereo system via an Airport Express. Doesn't seem as though I can do that if the ATV is hooked up to the TV?
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olePigeon
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Mar 24, 2011, 12:33 PM
 
I think there are several VNC clients for iPhone and iPad, so that would let you control the Mac mini from your portable device.
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Mar 24, 2011, 04:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Seems to me what I'm looking for is some sort of mac mini that can be controlled headlessly.
Why wouldn't you just ditch the ATV and hook up the Mini to your TV?
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 24, 2011, 05:43 PM
 
Well I'd still want some sort of media-based Plex-type system or something, no? Otherwise it would just be a computer awkwardly attached to a TV where you have to fumble around with a mouse and keyboard and such?

Damn ATV impulse buy!
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ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 24, 2011, 05:44 PM
 
Hmmmm.
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Mar 24, 2011, 06:31 PM
 
If you have an iPhone or an iPad, you can cover a lot remote control situations with that. This is what I do. The Apple Remote App covers iTunes, and a keyboard macro program with a built-in server/iPhone app combo (Keyboard Maestro) covers other functions. Also, the Mini has an IR receiver which works with the stock Apple remote. I admit, I haven't played with that much, since I'm happy with my iPhone setup.

It's true you can't get away from a keyboard and mouse, though I'd recommend a trackpad. In practice, even without the IR remote, I only diddle with the keyboard to whack the space bar to stop something, or use the trackpad to get something new going (I'm talking home media uses, if I'm actually comupting this isn't the case, and I can't say leaning over a coffee table and squinting at a monitor 10 feet away is an ideal computing setup).
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 25, 2011, 08:02 AM
 
Yeah...the downside is that I don't have an iPhone/iPad etc. So this method seems to entail me spending at least a grand. I'm already hurting badly from new-house-eritis, and I haven't even started on the spring reno yet!
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Mar 26, 2011, 08:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Yeah...the downside is that I don't have an iPhone/iPad etc. So this method seems to entail me spending at least a grand. I'm already hurting badly from new-house-eritis, and I haven't even started on the spring reno yet!
an iPod touch would work just as well

Incidentally you can use Airplay to push video and audio that isn't on your Mac from the iDevice to your Apple TV (I often have reason to share with my family a video I watched already on my iPhone so I just launch Youtube, find the video in my history and push it to the TV using Airplay)
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 28, 2011, 08:33 AM
 
Another question: is there a way for the ATV2 to make my iMac "wake up" when it wants to access the computer's iTunes files?

For example I'll try to play some music, but if my computer upstairs has gone to sleep, I can't do that. I have to run upstairs, press the space bar, and then run back downstairs. This is obviously incredible annoying and seems to me like an obvious design oversight that might have an easy answer I'm just missing.

Is there?
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subego
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Mar 28, 2011, 05:03 PM
 
AFAIK, you need to keep it awake 24/7. I don't have one though, so take that with a grain of salt.

The way the original ATV "dealt" with this was to keep a selection of music in local storage.

There is a "wake for network access" checkbox in the Energy Saver pane in the Mac OS System Preferences, but I don't think that does anything WRT this (and I think it's on by default). Probably worth taking a peek.
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 28, 2011, 08:25 PM
 
That is a dealbreaker for me. What's the ****ing point of using the ATV as a content provider if I have to run to my computer to make sure it's on all the time?

Souring quickly on the ATV experience....blech.
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subego
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Mar 29, 2011, 03:45 AM
 
I checked into this a little further, and it looks like you may be able to get it to work if you have a new model Time Capsule or an Airport Extreme.

Do you have one perchance?
     
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Mar 29, 2011, 08:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Another question: is there a way for the ATV2 to make my iMac "wake up" when it wants to access the computer's iTunes files?

For example I'll try to play some music, but if my computer upstairs has gone to sleep, I can't do that. I have to run upstairs, press the space bar, and then run back downstairs. This is obviously incredible annoying and seems to me like an obvious design oversight that might have an easy answer I'm just missing.

Is there?
This has always been my problem with Apple's insistence that the AppleTV go through iTunes for streaming content. I've also wanted to use my aTV as a primary media server but I didn't want to leave my computer on 24/7 and don't want to run across the house to turn it on and off everytime I want to listen to music. I can live with my NAS being on 24/7, but Apple won't let me stream from that.
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 29, 2011, 09:25 AM
 
No Time Capsule or Airport Extreme - I guess I'll look them up....
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subego
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Mar 29, 2011, 03:28 PM
 
The short form is:

1) You get one
2) Turn on "Home Sharing" in iTunes
3) Use the TC or APX as your router
4) It might work

Even being inured to the issue by running one of my Minis 24/7, I can see that the way Apple has set this up is a giant shit sandwich. Sorry it's sucking so bad.
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 29, 2011, 03:42 PM
 
Yeah, I guess I didn't do enough research beforehand, but it's little niggling issues like this that would be tough to predict beforehand. Makes no logical sense that the ATV wouldn't wake the home computer. I guess I could set the iMac screen to shut down, but having the rest running all the time really sucks - especially because there's no way I'll remember to manually put it to sleep every day/night, so it'll be using a lot of energy. Since the two are on entirely different floors it gets very annoying to run back and forth (since if the iMac is awake and I watch Netflix for a while, it's asleep again by the time I go back to playing music).

The Mini/iPad combo is the real option I'm looking for - with audio wirelessly out to an Airport Express station by my stereo. Bah.
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Mar 29, 2011, 04:45 PM
 
FWIW, you can schedule an automatic sleep in the Energy Saver preference pane.
     
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Mar 29, 2011, 08:50 PM
 
my guess is that Apple has some sort of deal with electricity companies.
     
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Mar 31, 2011, 07:14 AM
 
On the music front, I'm not sure you're giving the ATV2 enough credit - yes it has no local storage, but as you can stream from your iPhone, iPad, or iWhatever that means that your computer doesn't have to be on all the time, in fact this is by far the easiest way to use it.

Also if you jailbreak it there is a Last FM plugin, and XBMC will happily stream media from a NAS, Time Capsule etc...

I think it works fantastically, but your mileage may vary - certainly better than the TViX and Popcorn Hours which I've had before.
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ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Mar 31, 2011, 03:21 PM
 
All my music is in ALE - probably won't be much space to throw any on an iWhatever (like I said, only Blackberry/Android here). That leaves the Time Capsule/whatever, but those don't seem to be a cheap fix at all.
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ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Apr 5, 2011, 06:57 PM
 
Goddammit. As of yesterday the ATV is refusing to see my iTunes sharing with my home computer. Home sharing is turned on everywhere, but it just says that it hasn't been turned on. Resetting has done jack shit so far.

Now I have no music. What a serious pain in the ass this thing is becoming.
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ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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May 5, 2011, 04:04 PM
 
Well I must say, I've been moderately unimpressed with the online content. iTunes moves are definitely not cheap - $6 for most movie rentals, that might be more than new-release at Blockbuster prices, yikes! - and at least in Canada, Netflix is absolutely terrible with zero content. (I keep hearing it's different in the States...but up here at least, the latest "New Releases" consist of Airbender, Bride Wars, Without a Padde: Nature's Calling, and Collision. Beyond bad. Almost no great movie releases from the last 10 years. Four seasons of Mad Men was worth the first two months' admission, but Restrepo was the only show I've watched in the past month. EDIT: nvm, Restrepo was rented on iTunes, for $6. Make that nothing I've watched on Netflix in a month.)

As well, iTunes TV shows aren't available on ATV. Is it like that in the States too? Seemed weird to me. TV shows are an option only on Netflix as far as I can see. Also, I do have MLB TV available on it, but not the NBA TV I've heard lots about - is it not available in Canada, or did I need to add it manually or something?

Finally, simply not terribly impressed with the audio layout. If you have a large library I think an iTunes-style screen is better than the iPod-style GUI it uses. Maybe I'm not using it properly, but I find I don't play the same selection using ATV as I do when scrolling iTunes.

Definitely not ready for prime time as a cable alternative. Too bad. A waste of $115 for me - probably should've put it into a Mac Mini, oh well.

greg
( Last edited by ShortcutToMoncton; May 5, 2011 at 04:15 PM. )
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May 5, 2011, 04:39 PM
 
Netflix is definitely better here. At least we have Salt.
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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May 6, 2011, 09:12 AM
 
For all I know, we might too...but I don't want to have to check and pretend like it would make everything better.

What about NBA TV? Is that available in the main menu along with Netflix/MLB/Youtube etc? Or do I have to do something else to get it? I'd love to watch some of these games.
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May 6, 2011, 10:03 AM
 
I think there's a Canada lockout on that one.
     
   
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