How do you use YOUR Apple TV? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 08-02-2012, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
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I just picked up my first Apple TV3 (2012) and have heard it has lots of capabilities but don't know much about everything it can do. What are the known, not-so-well-known and creative ways people are using Apple TV's in their home theaters and throughout the home?

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post #2 of 17 Old 08-11-2012, 06:02 AM
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I don't have the AppleTV in my home theater but here is how we use it in other rooms:

1) Stream movies and TV shows from Netflix.
2) Stream content from iTunes that resides on another computer.
3) Mirror content from IOS devices (Airplay).

What I would like an AppleTV to do:
a) Plug in a hard drive and play content directly from that external drive.
b) Play video_ts and .mkv files without first needing to convert/import into iTunes.
c) Access online content from Hulu (not Hulu +).
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post #3 of 17 Old 08-11-2012, 09:54 AM
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I'm like you HTPC_Dude, in the sense that I don't put much video at all into iTunes yet have always had at least two aTVs in the house...at the moment an aTV 1 running XBMC and a stock aTV 3.
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What I would like an AppleTV to do:

b) Play video_ts and .mkv files without first needing to convert/import into iTunes

You've been able to "AirPlay" .mkvs to stock Apple TVs for quite a while now, with live conversion by the Air Video app on an iPad. It's worth noting that one of the advantages of converting ahead of time and/or importing into an iTunes format is to retain AC-3 audio when AirPlaying this way to an aTV...I'm not aware of an adequate VIDEO_TS solution except AirPlay mirroring in Mountain Lion.

XBMC running on an aTV can of course play VIDEO_TS and .mkvs directly.
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c) Access online content from Hulu (not Hulu +)

The XMBC add-on for regular Hulu works quite well for me on a hacked aTV, and plain old non-plus free Hulu can be Airplay mirrored to a stock aTV if you have Mountain Lion on a 2011 Sandy Bridge or better Mac somewhere in the house. (A nice value-add to the base model 2011 Mini often available as a $519 refurb: regardless of what else you have, it might be worth getting one as a media server solely to AirPlay mirror content to a house full of stock Apple TVs, all remote controlled by an iOS device.)
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post #4 of 17 Old 08-11-2012, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses thus far. Chefklc, I was particularly glad to see you chime in because I know you know everything Apple.
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HTPC_Dude: What I would like an AppleTV to do: b) Play video_ts and .mkv files without first needing to convert/import into iTunes.
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chefklc: I'm like you HTPC_Dude, in the sense that I don't put much video at all into iTunes yet have always had at least two aTVs in the house...

Is there a particular reason why you don't want (or like) to put the video into iTunes?

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chefklc:... one of the advantages of converting ahead of time and/or importing into an iTunes format is to retain AC-3 audio when AirPlaying this way to an aTV.

Sorry if I really should know this, but what is AC-3 audio and why do I want to retain it?

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chefklc:XBMC running on an aTV can of course play VIDEO_TS and .mkvs directly.

You have to jailbreak the aTV first to do XBMC (or Plex?), correct? ... and the aTV-3 has not been jailbroken yet, right?

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post #5 of 17 Old 08-11-2012, 04:55 PM
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Is there a particular reason why you don't want (or like) to put the video into iTunes?

two main reasons: I have, conservatively, 40 TB of video at any given time that's accessible on our home network, and I'd rather use my Macs for ripping, recording, playback and backing up rather than churn for hours upon hours transcoding some things I may only watch once and then delete. I do transcode maybe 25% of our content to the .m4v Apple TV or iPad presets, but even then I don't really care about those being "in" iTunes. iTunes for me is music, about 700GB worth of Apple lossless, that's a manageable amount I can backup and keep multiple copies of because that represents a lot of time and effort and tagging that I'd never want to do again. If I lost some video on a hard drive, it could be replaced very easily, either re-ripped or downloaded, and the very small percentage of video that I have that can't easily be replaced, well, that's backed up.
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Sorry if I really should know this, but what is AC-3 audio and why do I want to retain it?

AC-3 is shorthand for an encoded digital multi-channel surround track, DD 5.1 that can be passed through untouched over optical or HDMI into an AVR, and usually sounds better in a home theater room than analog or stereo that's then processed by an AVR to give you simulated surround, a la Dolby ProLogic. The challenge when creating files for Apple TVs and iOS devices as well as Macs is making sure there's an AAC audio track that can be played PLUS a second or third track retaining the higher quality digital surround audio that was present on the original disc. Then you have something that's compatible on everything, and when you're in the home theater and listening through an AVR you can hear the best audio possible.
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You have to jailbreak the aTV first to do XBMC (or Plex?), correct? ... and the aTV-3 has not been jailbroken yet, right?

Yes and yes. That's why even an unhacked aTV2 currently commands a nice premium on your favorite auction site.
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post #6 of 17 Old 08-11-2012, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by sillywilly View Post

What are the known, not-so-well-known and creative ways people are using Apple TV's in their home theaters and throughout the home?

Nothing particularly creative about this, but I most use it watch shows that I've transcoded into iTunes, either from my DVR, my EyeTV, from DVDs I own, or BluRay discs I own. I'm down to my last terrabyte of content in my summer of transcoding and mostly stuff like old musical performances from the Grammies or other music. Over the years, I've recorded a bunch of concerts and specials from various shows that keep around to listen to/watch while working in my kitchen. I also have about a dozen podcasts that I watch using it, including the evening news and others mostly because they are commercial free. I watch all kinds of stuff on Netflix, Vimeo and even YouTube. I sometimes also watch the Wall Street Journal and I use it to play audio from my iPhone and Mac in iTunes through my stereo.

I can also watch shows and movies from Crackle and most web movies using my iPhone 4S or first generation iPad along with anything I can get on my satellite using EyeTV's built-in streaming. I've also used Air Video to send videos to it on those devices from my two main Macs and have played a few games from my iPad. In addition to the two I have at home, I've bought three more at a couple of places where I attend meetings that have flat screen TVs. There, I put photos and Keynote Presentations from my iOS devices on the HDTV using the Apple TV and also send web video to it using AirPlay. I sometimes use Airplay Mirroring to show people how to use their iPhones or iPads. I don't yet have a Mac that supports mirroring, other than audio, but I expect that to change soon.

All in all, I love it and watch probably half of my TV viewing on it. I don't have much interest in jailbreaking because it does way more than I have time for.

Dennis

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post #7 of 17 Old 08-12-2012, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by chefklc View Post

two main reasons: I have, conservatively, 40 TB of video at any given time that's accessible on our home network, and I'd rather use my Macs for ripping, recording, playback and backing up rather than churn for hours upon hours transcoding some things I may only watch once and then delete. I do transcode maybe 25% of our content to the .m4v Apple TV or iPad presets, but even then I don't really care about those being "in" iTunes. iTunes for me is music, about 700GB worth of Apple lossless, that's a manageable amount I can backup and keep multiple copies of because that represents a lot of time and effort and tagging that I'd never want to do again. If I lost some video on a hard drive, it could be replaced very easily, either re-ripped or downloaded, and the very small percentage of video that I have that can't easily be replaced, well, that's backed up.
AC-3 is shorthand for an encoded digital multi-channel surround track, DD 5.1 that can be passed through untouched over optical or HDMI into an AVR, and usually sounds better in a home theater room than analog or stereo that's then processed by an AVR to give you simulated surround, a la Dolby ProLogic. The challenge when creating files for Apple TVs and iOS devices as well as Macs is making sure there's an AAC audio track that can be played PLUS a second or third track retaining the higher quality digital surround audio that was present on the original disc. Then you have something that's compatible on everything, and when you're in the home theater and listening through an AVR you can hear the best audio possible.
Yes and yes. That's why even an unhacked aTV2 currently commands a nice premium on your favorite auction site.

Thank you for the very concise but understandable reply on each of those questions, particularly the AC-3 explanation!

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post #8 of 17 Old 08-12-2012, 03:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ultimate View Post

Nothing particularly creative about this, but I most use it watch shows that I've transcoded into iTunes, either from my DVR, my EyeTV, from DVDs I own, or BluRay discs I own. I'm down to my last terrabyte of content in my summer of transcoding and mostly stuff like old musical performances from the Grammies or other music. Over the years, I've recorded a bunch of concerts and specials from various shows that keep around to listen to/watch while working in my kitchen. I also have about a dozen podcasts that I watch using it, including the evening news and others mostly because they are commercial free. I watch all kinds of stuff on Netflix, Vimeo and even YouTube. I sometimes also watch the Wall Street Journal and I use it to play audio from my iPhone and Mac in iTunes through my stereo.
I can also watch shows and movies from Crackle and most web movies using my iPhone 4S or first generation iPad along with anything I can get on my satellite using EyeTV's built-in streaming. I've also used Air Video to send videos to it on those devices from my two main Macs and have played a few games from my iPad. In addition to the two I have at home, I've bought three more at a couple of places where I attend meetings that have flat screen TVs. There, I put photos and Keynote Presentations from my iOS devices on the HDTV using the Apple TV and also send web video to it using AirPlay. I sometimes use Airplay Mirroring to show people how to use their iPhones or iPads. I don't yet have a Mac that supports mirroring, other than audio, but I expect that to change soon.
All in all, I love it and watch probably half of my TV viewing on it. I don't have much interest in jailbreaking because it does way more than I have time for.
Dennis

Dennis - Your response is definitely what I am wanting to hear about. Looks like you have found lots of uses. I really like the idea of sending podcasts and keynote presentations through it, so from my perspective....CREATIVE! biggrin.gif

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post #9 of 17 Old 08-25-2012, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sillywilly View Post

I just picked up my first Apple TV3 (2012) and have heard it has lots of capabilities but don't know much about everything it can do. What are the known, not-so-well-known and creative ways people are using Apple TV's in their home theaters and throughout the home?

Netflix, Hulu+, iTunes. AirPlay from iDevices. If you have a newer Mac (mid 2011+ or so) and Mountain Lion here is something I do. Install Romote Helper on your Mac (mine is an iMac running at 1080p and hardwired ethernet). Now use Romote on an iPod Touch or iPhone/iPad. It will see the Mac. You can from your iPhone start AirPlay mirroring to the ATV (one button on the screen of Romote) and now select what you want to use. XBMC, Safari, Plex, VLC, etc... from a list which you can edit on Romote. Everything now appears on the ATV at 1080p with sound. Romote can operate as an Apple remote, or you can use the Apple remote even if paired to the Mac! The remote sends the ir signals to the ATV3 which relays them back to the Mac. It appears as though you are running XBMC on the ATV3 and it works great. Not perfect yet, but very close. It's uncanny in fact. Makes jail breaking a non-issue for many of us.

Philip
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post #10 of 17 Old 08-26-2012, 11:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by pmcd View Post

Netflix, Hulu+, iTunes. AirPlay from iDevices. If you have a newer Mac (mid 2011+ or so) and Mountain Lion here is something I do. Install Romote Helper on your Mac (mine is an iMac running at 1080p and hardwired ethernet). Now use Romote on an iPod Touch or iPhone/iPad. It will see the Mac. You can from your iPhone start AirPlay mirroring to the ATV (one button on the screen of Romote) and now select what you want to use. XBMC, Safari, Plex, VLC, etc... from a list which you can edit on Romote. Everything now appears on the ATV at 1080p with sound. Romote can operate as an Apple remote, or you can use the Apple remote even if paired to the Mac! The remote sends the ir signals to the ATV3 which relays them back to the Mac. It appears as though you are running XBMC on the ATV3 and it works great. Not perfect yet, but very close. It's uncanny in fact. Makes jail breaking a non-issue for many of us.
Philip

I like that there seems to be a possible work-around to jailbreaking (Makes me nervous that I might forget the "Jail" part and just "Break" something). I will have to look into Romote when I update to a newer Mac. Is Romote a viable option and used if a Mini is acting as HTPC?

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post #11 of 17 Old 09-16-2012, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sillywilly View Post


I like that there seems to be a possible work-around to jailbreaking (Makes me nervous that I might forget the "Jail" part and just "Break" something). I will have to look into Romote when I update to a newer Mac. Is Romote a viable option and used if a Mini is acting as HTPC?

Rowmote or Rowmote Pro is a great, if not better, alternative than jailbreaking. You need a mid 2011 Mini at least.

Philip
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post #12 of 17 Old 10-04-2012, 10:15 AM
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These are the main things we do -

1. Stream content from iTunes - external HDD Movie Library and EyeTV TV Show recordings (auto-exported)
2. Stream movies and TV shows from Netflix
3. Mirror content from IOS devices and Mountain Lion Macs (Airplay).

I hacked an AppleTV1 long ago and ran XBMC etc. up until a couple years ago but got tired of maintaining it and the REALLY awful interface.
This setup is way faster, simpler and does the job nicely for us. Everyone in the house can work it - no questions asked.
Mirroring was a very pleasant bonus.

Most fun thing I've done -

I've taken my AppleTV3 on the road to hotels and plugged it into the room TV HDMI port and streamed movies/shows from my iPad with mirroring. Awesome.
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post #13 of 17 Old 11-07-2012, 03:15 PM
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For me
1.) Mirroring all my iDevices ( soon a newer MBP added to list hopefully)
2.) They seem to offer more movies in 1080p (not BR but not bad either definitely better than DVD up convert)
3.) I watch a lot of Podcast a lot are in HD
4.) It acts as a music server when I am doing things around the house and I don't want to bother with selection (shuffle).
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post #14 of 17 Old 11-07-2012, 04:37 PM
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http://airparrot.com/

You can mirror any PC or Mac through Airplay to your Apple TV.

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post #15 of 17 Old 11-07-2012, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Dropkick Murphy View Post

http://airparrot.com/
You can mirror any PC or Mac through Airplay to your Apple TV.
So long as the video card is supported take a look closely before you purchase or try the trial version.
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post #16 of 17 Old 11-09-2012, 07:33 AM
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I have ripped all of my DVD's and store them in iTunes. I also use a Mac Mini + EyeTV setup to DVR my favorite tv shows and export them to iTunes as well.

With that said, I use the Apple TV as my main hub for consuming iTunes video content.

I also use it to listen to my iTunes music.

I also use it for displaying Airplay content from my iPhone.
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post #17 of 17 Old 11-15-2012, 06:04 PM
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I love my ATVs. I have two ATV2's, neither are jailbroken. (which I'm sure some people will find to be a waste, but I just don't need it) One connected to the bedroom TV, the other to the main living room TV. The bedroom is connected via wireless (Apple Airport Extreme, about a year old, 802.11n, decent reception but not full strength), and the living room ATV is hard wired on a gigabit network.

I stream Netflix and mirror iOS devices frequently. It's great to pull up photos, music, and youtube videos on my iPhone/Ipad, and then shoot them over to the big screen so everyone can see without crowding around.

I also have a large library of videos I've collected. I have converted a large part of my 700+ title DVD and Bluray library into ATV's M4V format via Handbrake. I don't purchase ANYTHING from iTunes directly. (Music I buy from Amazon so it's normal MP3 format for best compatibility with EVERYTHING, and no DRM whatsoever) Start small (new movies only, as you get them?) and keep adding to it! Eventually you'll have a large collection to tap into at any time! It's daunting, but you have to start someehere. Start by ripping and converting your new purchases, and when you reach for an older title, toss that onto the computer and convert it, too. Over time, things really add up.

For quick and dirty videos that are gathered from various sources, that I don't intend to keep, I use Air Video Server running on both my Mac and my PC to stream the temporary vids over to the ATV. Works great. Anything that I'm going to want to keep long term then gets converted via Handbrake and added to the rest of the collection.

I serve everything up from a 2008 iMac that lives in my office, which has two 2 TB USB hard drives hanging off it. (Cheap Western Digital Elements drive, normal PC ones just reformatted for macs) I have a full copy of the entire collection on each drive, which I update manually, here and there, as a backup from a dying hard drive. Not offsite, and won't protect me from a fire or anything, but at least I have some protection. USB2 on a plain external hard drive is plenty fast enough. The 720p videos look fantastic, even blown up big on my 65" Plasma main TV. Not as crisp as Blu-ray, of course, but eminently watchable nonetheless. Besides for SERIOUS critical viewing, I'll be going to the Blu-ray source anyway, not watching via ATV. The ATV is for casual viewing, music, photos, etc.

I rip on my PC (faster than my Mac) using DVD Fab (free), Handbrake (free), and MetaX (I paid $10, used to be free, I just like it better than Subler) and then shoot the finished files over to my Mac's external drive, and then drop onto iTunes (set to reference the location of the file, not copy to internal HDD of course) and it's live.

Sounds a lot more complicated than it is. Adding new titles is several steps, but they're all quick and easy, and you walk away between steps. I'm not in a hurry, else I'll just watch the actual Disc, or stream via Air Video instead. Long term additions have no rush. And I have a LARGE collection of movies and TV shows to choose from within seconds, at any time, on either or both screens.

I understand the complaints about not being able to natively support some alternate file formats, but frankly, given my setup, which is not overly expensive or overly complicated, and which is braindead simple from a viewing standpoint, this has caused me genuine annoyance maybe 2-3 times in the ~5 years I've been enjoying ATVs. (I was an early adopter starting with the ATV1)
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