Apple TV and other TV related issues

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Apple TV and other TV related issues

There has been a lot of discussion about the iPhone but much less about the AppleTV and I was wondering what people think about it. Personally, I don't see a use for it, partially because I don't watch TV that much. But even if I did, I think I'd go a very different route to accomplish watching digital content on the TV (and probably cheaper).
My question is, what are the equipment requirements (computer and peripherals) to do the following:

  • Computer with a DVD drive capable to playing DVDs.
  • DVI/VGA to XXX adapter to use the (HD)TV as a monitor (not sure about the options here).
  • TV-in card to be able to record TV on computer, and potentially write it to DVD (assuming of course that it is legal to do so). For satelite TV, one can have the receiver switch automatically to certain channels when certain program starts, and then have the computer start recording at a same time.

As a bonus one could hook the computer up to a stereo for improved audio as well as installing MAME for some retro arcade action.

My feeling is that one could do this easily with a 3-4 years old computer (PC or Mac) and the cost would only be as much (or less) than the AppleTV. Of course the case would not be as elegant, but one could throw out the standard DVD player (if one lets the computer just go to sleep).

Am I missing something here? Why would I want the AppleTV?

IC

Jon
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Apple TV should provide the o

Apple TV should provide the out-of-the-box functionality that your would otherwise have to be fairly technical and spend a week or more of tweaking to achieve. Myth TV should accomplish much of what Apple TV does, but you have to build the Myth machine on your own, hope all the components work, then tweak it all to a usable setup.

What is your free time for a week worth? If it's worth $299 to spend that week watching your media instead of _trying_ to watch your media, then it's not a big cost. You can easily spend almost the $299 on building a decent machine to do the same thing, but it won't be as small or well integrated as the Apple TV is.

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But AppleTV doesn't

But AppleTV doesn't provide all the functionality that a dedicated computer would do. Such as:

  • iTunes playback (or does it do that?).
  • Internet access
  • Games
  • iPhoto
  • FM radio (with the right tuner card)
  • DVR

Yes, it would take some time to get a computer up and running, but given that this is somewhat of a hobby for most people here, then the AppleTV isn't of much value (given limited capability compared to a computer). For non-technical people, sure, the AppleTV is probably great.

IC

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Ok, what do we know of apple

Ok, what do we know of appletv:

Can it access smb shares?
Can it browse a media library?
Can it play ANY media format that a dedicated machine can?
Can it access machines that AREN'T running Itunes?
Can it access non DRM'd stuff?

Or is it just an Itunes player?

If yes, to the first set then I want...otherwise, just get an old g4 mac mini and hook it up to the tv...You'll spend about the same, and get DVD playback.

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From what I know about the ap

From what I know about the appletv, it will play anything that iTunes will play, it will sync wirelessly with 1 computer, and it will stream music/video (DRM or not) from up to 5 computers. I'm sure that someone will make a linux installer for it, but the mod-savvy will want to pick up a G4 Mac Mini instead. The average consumer wouldn't want to deal with setting up third party wireless remotes, various video software, DVRs, media interfaces, or anything like that, so it's all a matter of how much your time is worth to you.

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Apple TV is a Front Row exten

Apple TV is a Front Row extender, with built-in caching (to the 40GB hard drive). Yes, it will play non-DRM media (anything iTunes/QT can play). No, it will not record TV to the hard disk (there's no tuner). No, it cannot access shares via SMB (it uses DAAP, or whatever variation Apple uses for video/photos). Yes, you need iTunes to run it. $299 for the unit is a pretty good price considering it supports 720p, 802.11n, and has a built-in hard drive.

Jon
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I think a mistake is being ma

I think a mistake is being made: Apple is not targeting the geeky technical users of the world. The iPod doesn't have the audiophile appeal whit many flaws of audio reproduction capabilities and features. Witness the now legendary pan of it by CmdrTaco of /.: . No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame. The Apple TV doesn't have all the cool techie features geeks want. It does, however, have all the features the people who have the $299 to drop on it want to play their iTunes capable content on a HD display, possibly hosted in an entirely different room than the display itself. What geeks/audiophiles truly want the iPod HiFi, especially at $349? There is the market of "pay money, and it'll work." That's the market Apple is going for. An integrated home entertainment/theater setup that has enough appeal for people to pay the money for, but be simple enough that you don't have to be an enthusiast to just turn it on.

Also, this is v1 of Apple TV. How limited was the original iPod? How many more features does a new iPod video have that you might have so desired for the original?

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Will it support 3rd party cod

Will it support 3rd party codecs for itunes? Are there any, and the BIG QUESTION!
Anybody figure out how I can hook this up to my tv through Svideo?

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Give it time

Right now, I'm just as apprehensive of the AppleTV and iPhone as I was of the iPod in late 2001. I waited until the 3rd gen came out in mid 03 to buy my first iPod, and will likely wait until 09 or when there are more compelling reasons to buy the apple TV or iPhone.

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AFAIK the Apple tv is only HD

AFAIK the Apple tv is only HD, thus HDMI and component, but no composite or s-video.

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Re: Apple TV is a Front Row exten

e wrote:
. . . . is a pretty good price considering it supports 720p, 802.11n, and has a built-in hard drive.

What?!?! No support for HDTV 1080p ? If it's going to stream from a blue ray disk player in, say for example a PowerMac to be released in March or October 2007, it better be able to handle the highest resolution HD, otherwise it's not very advanced or appealing.

Mutant_Pie

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Re: Apple TV and other TV related issues

IceCap wrote:
  • Computer with a DVD drive capable to playing DVDs.
  • DVI/VGA to XXX adapter to use the (HD)TV as a monitor (not sure about the options here).
  • TV-in card to be able to record TV on computer, and potentially write it to DVD

Minimumreasonable:

  • Beige G3 with generic IDE DVD drive and ATI Rage 128 with TV in/out and DVD decoder daughter card, or Radeon (not sure on the TV I/O options with a Radeon)
  • Wallstreet (G3 Series) 300MHz Powerbook with DVD hardware decoder on motherboard and (slightly rare) DVD drive. Has SVHS out, don't know about in (Cardbus?)

None of the above will get you HDTV though.

Better than that I don't know about. Unless it's a tower/video card with built-in TV out and in, or a 'book with same, you're probably looking at a Cardbus/Firewire/USB2/PCI solution which (I dunno but) might cost you around the same as an ATV.

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Re: Apple TV and other TV related issues

DrBunsen wrote:
None of the above will get you HDTV though.

For bargain-basement HDTV interfacing it's hard to beat a low-end Nvidia video card. I recently threw together a Linux-based TV computer from found parts (admittedly pretty decent ones), and the only thing I bought was an AGP GeForce 6200, which came with both a DVI port (easily adapted to HDMI), and a breakout box for component video. Cost less then $50. (Fry's special)

If you were starting from scratch, buying new, and, didn't care about things like having a sexy case a full-out HDTV entertainment computer will run you about, oh, I'd say between $600-$700. Figure $400-$500 for the basic computer (an Intel or Athlon system with a 2Ghz Pentium 4-ish speed CPU, 512MB-1GB of RAM, 200GB+ hard disk, DVD Burner, and a TV-friendly but low-end video card like a Nv6200), $129 for a Linux-friendly ATSC hi-def tuner card, and another $40-$100 bucks for things like a LIRC-compatible remote control, wireless keyboard and mouse (optional), cables, etc, etc. Install MythTV (which unfortunately is a pain in the neck) and you're set.

Doing it with a Mac would be almost the same ballpark. ($650 for a refurb Superdrive-equipped Mini, $200-ish for a USB 2.0 HDTV tuner.) You'll have less hard disk space, of course, but a lot less futzing. Either's cheaper then a Windows Media Center box, which thanks to the higher minimum system requirements will probably come in closer to $1200.

Those price points sort of suggest the ATV is a reasonable value for what it offers, honestly. If your goal in life is to have a brain-dead easy way of showing what's in your iTunes movie library on your TV it's hard to beat it. The only thing *much* cheaper is to get a DVI-HDMI cable for your already DVI-equipped Powerbook/Macbook and plug it into the TV every time you want to do it, and that's not really an option if all the stuff you want to watch is filling up the 400GB hard drive in the desktop machine in the other room.

If your goal is to do more, the ATV is a non-sequitor. Ignore it.

--Peace

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Re: Apple TV and other TV related issues

Eudimorphodon wrote:

...
If you were starting from scratch, buying new, and, didn't care about things like having a sexy case a full-out HDTV entertainment computer will run you about, oh, I'd say between $600-$700. Figure $400-$500 for the basic computer (an Intel or Athlon system with a 2Ghz Pentium 4-ish speed CPU, 512MB-1GB of RAM, 200GB+ hard disk, DVD Burner, and a TV-friendly but low-end video card like a Nv6200), $129 for a Linux-friendly ATSC hi-def tuner card, and another $40-$100 bucks for things like a LIRC-compatible remote control, wireless keyboard and mouse (optional), cables, etc, etc. Install MythTV (which unfortunately is a pain in the neck) and you're set.

Doing it with a Mac would be almost the same ballpark. ($650 for a refurb Superdrive-equipped Mini, $200-ish for a USB 2.0 HDTV tuner.) You'll have less hard disk space, of course, but a lot less futzing. Either's cheaper then a Windows Media Center box, which thanks to the higher minimum system requirements will probably come in closer to $1200.
...
--Peace


This is exactly what I was after. So if you wanted to do this on a budget and not neccessarily have the "latest and the greatest" (OK, there is a definition behind there somewhere), one could probably do this for ~$300-400.

Find the lowest DVI equipped PowerMac (probably a G4, I have a 2002 QS, which would work), TV tuner PCI card, wireless remote/mouse/keyboard (if that is important), large HD, and DVI-to-Components (aren't those ~$100 or so?).

If one needed the wireless streaming to a "mothership" then a wireless card.

All in all, more functional than ATV, probably slightly more expensive, and a LOT more time to setup (=FUN for some of us).

Just wondering.

Thanks

IC

EDIT: I'm assuming that the TV-tuner card would come with adequate software, but I guess there is no guarantee.

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Just curious, in the same vei

Just curious, in the same vein as all this. I was thinking of setting up my old G4 tower or my G5 tower to do a little more media stuff. The only tv-tuners I can find that work with os-x seem to be upwards of 150$ Does anyone know of any that are cheaper?
Also about the apple tv. On the site it says that it only works with widescreen digital flatpanels in edtv or hdtv, so my digital SDTV crt with component video won't work at all with it?

I think the apple tv could have been perfect if it allowed navigation of user shares, had a built in tv tuner with possible tivo-style recording, and an updated version of itunes that includes better video setup, as the current version's video support of non iTMS videos is pretty poor.

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It is capable of 480p so it m

It is capable of 480p so it might work, but we can't say for sure of course.

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Re: Apple TV and other TV related issues

IceCap wrote:
Find the lowest DVI equipped PowerMac (probably a G4, I have a 2002 QS, which would work), TV tuner PCI card, wireless remote/mouse/keyboard (if that is important), large HD, and DVI-to-Components (aren't those ~$100 or so?).

A system of that description will display on an HDTV, but it'll probably be too slow to play high-def content. HDTV tuners with Mac support generally specify a G5 or Intel Mac.

(Download some high-def movie trailers and try to play them on a G4. It's a depressing experience.) :^b

--Peace

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THIS MAY BE OFF TOPIC BUT WHAT IS

THIS MAY BE OFF TOPIC BUT WHAT IS BUT WHAT IS A brakeout box?
As I would like to use it with my really old tv.

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Response to guy who uses ALL CAPS

blueturtleshells wrote:
This may be off topic, But what is a breakout box?

Wikipedia.org wrote:
A breakout box (BoB) is usually a box, in which a compound electrical connector is separated or "broken out" into its component connectors.

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