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Suggest Local-media streamer

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I want to setup a local media streamer on one (or both) of my mom's tvs which are old enough to not support DLNA but do have HDMI inputs. She is in her 80's so I need to make the interface as simple as possible.

The main thing she wants to do is view the pictures on her computer on one or both of her tvs and she already has a home network I set up for her. I know I could get her a Blu-ray player like the Panasonic BDT-220 or a Roku box which I assume can stream local media but is there anything else that would work better/easier for her that wouldn't cost anymore than a BD player or Roku box?

It would be nice to have a device that defaults to a simple home screen where she could easily select Photo's and it needs to have built-in Wi-Fi.
post #2 of 15
WD Live is pretty simple UI and has a photos icon...
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply I will look into WD Live.

Let me ask a more specific question are there any of these devices that wouldn't require you to sift through the Windows tree every time to get to your Picture's folder... like maybe once you selected your Pictures folder it would remember them and then the next time you selected Photos it was front and center without requiring several steps to get there?
post #4 of 15
Another possible option is an Apple TV. There's a Photostream icon on the home screen which may work for what you want to do depending on how you want to display the photos. I'm not sure if you can select an individual photo to display or if it's only a slide show type of set up. You could probably even set up an iCloud account so she wouldn't have to have the computer on at the same time. I haven't done this myself, as I have no desire to, but it may be worth looking into.
post #5 of 15
Well, since you want built in wifi, you're pretty much stuck with WDTV2 or Apple TV. In my opinion I think Apple TV will be easier for her to navigate. I bought my parents a WDTV2, and they like it. My parents aren't technologically incline so they had a hard time using it at first. The reason why I bought the WDTV2 over the AppleTV was due to WDTV being able to play different media files such as M2TS, MKV and DVD ISO's. So, if my dad wants to watch any of my movies, I can let him take one of my external hard drives with whatever movie he wants to watch by plugging it via USB to the WDTV2.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Ok I will look into Apple TV also but like I said it depends on how much digging through the menu it takes to get to her pictures. She does use an iPhone and iPad but does struggle with navigating both unless doing simple functions.
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mccoady View Post

Ok I will look into Apple TV also but like I said it depends on how much digging through the menu it takes to get to her pictures. She does use an iPhone and iPad but does struggle with navigating both unless doing simple functions.

If she uses an iPhone and iPad, I would definitely suggest the AppleTV. She can use AirPlay and control the devices with her iPhone or iPad. She can use iCloud for her pictures as well so she can see them whenever and wherever she is.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mccoady View Post

Ok I will look into Apple TV also but like I said it depends on how much digging through the menu it takes to get to her pictures. She does use an iPhone and iPad but does struggle with navigating both unless doing simple functions.

My wife set up a shared folder from iTunes for photos to use as a screensaver on the ATV. It retains that info so I don't see why it would be different for Photostream. If I get a chance tonight I'll try playing around with it and see how it behaves. I know when you select the Photostream app it immediately tries accessing the iTunes account that the ATV was set up with.
post #9 of 15
Okay after jumping through a number of hoops I gave up. Photostream on the ATV appears to be an iCloud only feature and I couldn't get it to work. Apparently there are others out there with the same issue so there must be some kind of bug. Maybe you'll have better luck.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks it looks like her best option is either Apple TV or a BD player as long as both do a good job with wifi and are easy to navigate.

Just an observation and probably wouldn't matter to her but it does seem like Apple TV is stingy with their apps unless the things it does well far outweigh that negative.

I'm not that familiar with iCloud but from what I read you would have to drag pictures from her Pictures folder into iCloud's Upload folder but would that even be necessary wouldn't Apple TV automatically see them on her computer and stream them without using iCloud?

Is there anyway with Apple TV to watch free regular Hulu shows (not Hulu Plus)?

Do you need to use Twonky, Mezzmo, etc. with Apple TV or BD Players?
Edited by mccoady - 8/17/12 at 8:55am
post #11 of 15
One of the problems I'm having with it is there's no real way to confirm that it uploaded the pictures to begin with. I'll play around with it more but I reached my frustration point last night and gave up. I inadvertantly this morning figured out that if I right click on a jpg it gives an option to upload to iCloud...at least on my Mac. I had to do this on my PC as the requirements for Mac are OSX Lion...this is for the app that does the auto upload. I have Lion but if it's been upgraded to Lion, like what I've done, then they force you to buy an upgrade to iPhoto...didn't see that listed in their requirements to begin with. PC requires Vista or 7, interestingly there's a free app for PC.

When you set it up on the PC (assuming Mac as well) you can specify what folder you want to be your upload folder and it's supposed to automatically upload. I'm not convinced it was uploading and it may be a file size issue from some more reading I did this morning. Another thing I'm still a little uncertain about after doing some further reading on the subject is it sounds like the iCloud is a temporary swap space. They'll be there for like 30 days which gives your devices/computers time to download the photos and then they'll be removed as you upload newer photos. Doesn't really sound like what you want to happen and not sure how much the AppleTV will retain. I know it has like 8GB of memory but not sure how much of that is allocated for things like this.

Not many apps you are correct, that may be changing if you believe the rumor mill. Apple does typically do things more user friendly than others, but they also do things very closed source. Apple products play well, usually, amongst themselves.

I don't see any way you can just specify a folder for it to use....you can for a screensaver using iTunes but that doesn't correlate with the Photostream app.

No regular Hulu, maybe you can Airplay from an iPad/iPhone regular Hulu but I'm not sure. You could get a program like AirParrot to mirror your computer screen to the Apple TV but you may as well watch it on the computer screen then imo.

Not familiar with Twonky, Mezzmo but I'm guessing it's not for use with an ATV. Plex is what's usually used for ATV but it needs to be jailbroken which isn't possible yet for ATV3.
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by djc11369 View Post

One of the problems I'm having with it is there's no real way to confirm that it uploaded the pictures to begin with. I'll play around with it more but I reached my frustration point last night and gave up. I inadvertantly this morning figured out that if I right click on a jpg it gives an option to upload to iCloud...at least on my Mac. I had to do this on my PC as the requirements for Mac are OSX Lion...this is for the app that does the auto upload. I have Lion but if it's been upgraded to Lion, like what I've done, then they force you to buy an upgrade to iPhoto...didn't see that listed in their requirements to begin with. PC requires Vista or 7, interestingly there's a free app for PC.
When you set it up on the PC (assuming Mac as well) you can specify what folder you want to be your upload folder and it's supposed to automatically upload. I'm not convinced it was uploading and it may be a file size issue from some more reading I did this morning. Another thing I'm still a little uncertain about after doing some further reading on the subject is it sounds like the iCloud is a temporary swap space. They'll be there for like 30 days which gives your devices/computers time to download the photos and then they'll be removed as you upload newer photos. Doesn't really sound like what you want to happen and not sure how much the AppleTV will retain. I know it has like 8GB of memory but not sure how much of that is allocated for things like this.
Not many apps you are correct, that may be changing if you believe the rumor mill. Apple does typically do things more user friendly than others, but they also do things very closed source. Apple products play well, usually, amongst themselves.
I don't see any way you can just specify a folder for it to use....you can for a screensaver using iTunes but that doesn't correlate with the Photostream app.
No regular Hulu, maybe you can Airplay from an iPad/iPhone regular Hulu but I'm not sure. You could get a program like AirParrot to mirror your computer screen to the Apple TV but you may as well watch it on the computer screen then imo.
Not familiar with Twonky, Mezzmo but I'm guessing it's not for use with an ATV. Plex is what's usually used for ATV but it needs to be jailbroken which isn't possible yet for ATV3.

djc11369 it sounds like iCloud is not a storage app say like Dropbox but more of a sharing app.

What's not clear to me though is do you even need iCloud for what I want Apple TV to do which is to click on the Photo's icon in Apple TV and stream pictures from her pc to her tv? Or to do the same thing with WD Live if I went with that device?

Twonky and Mezzmo are media servers but apparently that's what Apple TV and WD Live are so I guess you wouldn't need both.
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mccoady View Post

djc11369 it sounds like iCloud is not a storage app say like Dropbox but more of a sharing app.
What's not clear to me though is do you even need iCloud for what I want Apple TV to do which is to click on the Photo's icon in Apple TV and stream pictures from her pc to her tv? Or to do the same thing with WD Live if I went with that device?
Twonky and Mezzmo are media servers but apparently that's what Apple TV and WD Live are so I guess you wouldn't need both.

You don't need iCloud to stream pictures from your computer. I use my ATV to stream from my Mac all the time, not using iCloud which I still find confusing.

If you have a fairly new Mac then mirroring from it to the ATV is really neat. For example, you can run XBMC on the ATV. It's really running on the Mac but the remote sends its signals to the ATV which then, I assume, sends them back to the Mac and it just works. It's really uncanny. A tiny bit sluggish (the remote) but nothing major.

Philip
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmcd View Post

You don't need iCloud to stream pictures from your computer. I use my ATV to stream from my Mac all the time, not using iCloud which I still find confusing.
If you have a fairly new Mac then mirroring from it to the ATV is really neat. For example, you can run XBMC on the ATV. It's really running on the Mac but the remote sends its signals to the ATV which then, I assume, sends them back to the Mac and it just works. It's really uncanny. A tiny bit sluggish (the remote) but nothing major.
Philip

But if you don't have a late model Mac, 2011 or newer I believe, then you're SOL. I tried AirParrot to see if it would work on my "ancient" 2007 Mac and it's yes and no. Kind of odd but if you continuously move your cursor when playing a slideshow from iPhoto it mirrors it fine, stop moving the cursor and it freezes on whatever image you stopped moving the cursor. Start moving the cursor again and it refreshes and catches up. Must be an AirParrot issue.

I finally got iCloud with Photo Stream to work somewhat, let's just say it's not ready for primetime. I reduced the photos to 640x480 and it actually uploaded the photos, only 6 of the 49 however. Why only 6 is anyones guess, they were only about 50KB each. Went to my iCloud account and reset (aka delete) the photos and tried to upload the files again and it wouldn't upload any again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mccoady View Post

djc11369 it sounds like iCloud is not a storage app say like Dropbox but more of a sharing app.
What's not clear to me though is do you even need iCloud for what I want Apple TV to do which is to click on the Photo's icon in Apple TV and stream pictures from her pc to her tv? Or to do the same thing with WD Live if I went with that device?
Twonky and Mezzmo are media servers but apparently that's what Apple TV and WD Live are so I guess you wouldn't need both.

It won't work the way you want it to, the Photo Stream app is tied to iCloud only. The only way you can do anything like you want is set up iTunes on her computer if it isn't already, turn on Home Sharing as well as set up the shared folder from within iTunes, and then set the screensaver on the ATV to use that folder. The smallest time increment you set the screen saver to start is 2 minutes. Once it loads the photos it retains them so that you don't need the computer on but I think as you add more photo's you'll need to launch iTunes to get it to update...hopefully it updates better than iCloud. Again she won't be able to select individual photos to view, it will be a slideshow presentation. The only way to get the screen saver to launch immediately that I can see is go into Settings-Screen Saver-Preview.
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmcd View Post

You don't need iCloud to stream pictures from your computer. I use my ATV to stream from my Mac all the time, not using iCloud which I still find confusing.
If you have a fairly new Mac then mirroring from it to the ATV is really neat. For example, you can run XBMC on the ATV. It's really running on the Mac but the remote sends its signals to the ATV which then, I assume, sends them back to the Mac and it just works. It's really uncanny. A tiny bit sluggish (the remote) but nothing major.
Philip

Great that you don't have to use iCloud for streaming didn't think you should have to I think this would work for my mom.

I'm intrigued enough now that I may have to try one out first despite the fact I don't have a Mac, iPhone or iPad although been wanting to buy the latter. This mirroring thing really interests me and if I understand correctly AirParrot would let me do this with my PC.

The only negative I see with Apple TV (besides being locked down) is they just need to add more third party apps and maybe they eventually will.
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