Why purchase Apple TV?

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TheFNG

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Should I pay 300 bucks for an Apple TV that plays movies on my TV when my iPod already does that, for the price of a $20 A/V cable you can buy anywhere? This is not a slam, I really wanna know. Cuz from what I am reading on the website, it doesn't do anything that mine doesn't do already. At least, nothing worth 300 bucks
 
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Reading the reviews can help you make an informed decision. They are very detailed. After reading them you should know if you want to spend the funds to purchase one. I had the same thoughts and decided to wait and glad I did. Reading the articles linked below helped me make that decision. I decided not to buy one since my iPod was sufficient for using it with one TV only.

Apple Inc. Apple TV - review of the product.

The Complete Guide to Apple TV Optimization
 
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Sparkee

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I don't have one yet and I'm in no real hurry to get one. I will probably get an Apple TV more for convenience, it will always be there connected to the TV when I want it. The main problem I have with using my iPod connected to a TV is the lack of a remote. I do have a Dock and an Apple Remote, but it has very limited functionality in that you can not browse through your library.

Another reason I will get one is it's a new gadget that has many new hacks out for it already.
 

Jesse Hollington

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The iPod itself can certainly do most of what the Apple TV can do, although not nearly as elegantly, since it lacks a remote control on any on-screen menu capabilities.

There are a number of docks by Griffin, Belkin, and DLO (among others) which provide on-TV menus, however even these are limited in terms of what will display on the screen - specifically most do not provide any video menus, so you still need to walk up to the iPod to see the screen to select which videos you want to play. Regardless, one of these docks will still run an extra $120-180 in addition to the cost of the iPod.

Further, with the iPod you're obviously limited by the capacity of the iPod itself. Even though the Apple TV only includes a 40GB hard drive, it can stream content from a back-end computer with your iTunes library, so in reality you're only limited by the size of your computer's hard drive.

Lastly, the iPod will only output a maximum resolution of 640x480, and there are no docks that provide any kind of HDMI or component output for an HDTV. The Apple TV is capable of 720p output to an HDTV (and in fact, will only output to a widescreen TV via HDMI or component video). Although there is not yet any content available in this resolution, it is possible to encode your own in 720p with Quicktime Pro or any number of other third-party tools, and I suspect it is only a matter of time before Apple starts providing 720p content on the iTunes Store.

The bottom line is that if you're only looking to play back the occasional TV show on a normal TV, and don't mind the lack of any remote control or on-screen menu capabilities, the iPod solution is just fine. If you're looking for something that's more integrated into your home entertainment system and you have an HDTV, the Apple TV is a much better choice.
 

TheFNG

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Ok, just to point something out, DLO now makes a dock which in fact does have video menu capability. Of course this will cost you the price of the dock. But it's still cheaper than the Apple TV and probably allows you to do more using the remote. Of course I can see where there are still a few minor (and not worth it at least to me) advantages to getting an Apple TV, most notably the fact that you don't need to have the movies on your Ipod to play em, or even have an iPod at all I suppose really. However, I have decided to forgo buying an Apple TV. With the iPhone and Wi-Fi iPods both coming out this year, I feel I should simply save my money for use on those nifty gizmos. Of course, if the price of an Apple TV drops low enough on Ebay maybe one day I'll pick one up =p
 

kornchild2002

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Getting an Apple TV all depends on your equipment. If you don't have an HDTV but have a 5G/5.5G iPod, then I say that getting a Apple TV isn't needed. If you have a HDTV and want a little better video quality from your iTunes Store content, then an Apple TV might be a worthy investment. Just remember that the use of HDMI doesn't mean the video quality will be outstanding. Many videos purchased from the iTunes Store appear pixelated and visually flawed simply because they are encoded at too low of a bitrate and too small of a resolution. I am sure user created 720p content will come out fine. However, encoding a DVD to the mpeg-4 format and playing it back on the Apple TV will result in lower quality than you just purchasing a $100 up-scaling DVD player.

All in all, it really depends if you want to play your iTunes Store content or not on a HDTV. I know that I am not going to purchase one. I thought about it but it just doesn't appeal to me. I have a HD projector (1080p) and my computer is already hooked up to it so playing iTunes Store content requires a simple push of my mouse. I don't play iTunes Store content on my projector though simply because it looks like crap. I also own a Xbox 360 so my need for a Apple TV just went out the window. The Xbox 360 only currently supports WMV but Microsoft will add support for both standard mpeg-4 and mpeg-4 AVC (h.264) 1080p playback in the Spring update coming out in a few weeks. Believe me, on a 1080p projector, it makes a difference whether the video is in 720p or 1080p. I have some 720p content and it doesn't look bad at all but the 1080p content looks much better.

Anyway, I view the Apple TV as more of an added luxury instead of a necessity. Sure, it can play iTunes Store content but iTunes Store content looks like crap on my projector and my Xbox 360 does a much better job upscaling DVDs to 1080p (HD-DVDs really shine as well) than the Apple TV does of upscaling iTunes Store content to 720p. It's not really the Apple TV's fault, it is just that video purchased from the iTunes Store doesn't look good at high resolutions. It looks just fine for standard TV viewing or for viewing on small resolution (ie 1024X768 and below) monitors but it doesn't look good on my 1080p projector or 1920X1200 notebook monitor.
 

Jesse Hollington

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Just to be clear, though, although this may vary between projector models, I don't find the iTunes Store content to be any worse on my 1080p projector than it was on my 720p unit or my 800x600 presentation projector. Of course it looks worse by comparison (considering that when you go to a 1080p unit you'll be dealing with HDTV content much more often), but the bottom line is that, in my case at least, I'm just getting SDTV quality (well, slightly better than analog SDTV) through an HDTV projector unit.

Obviously compared to HDTV or HD-DVD it's looks pretty substandard, but I can't even notice that much of a difference between that an a standard DVD (although I'm not using any kind of specific upscaling player).

The HDMI or component outputs do make a difference in most cases, but again it does depend upon the TV/projector that you're using. I use DVI directly from my Mac Mini to my projector, and the quality is significantly better than using S-Video, even for the lower-resolution content (in fact, even for analog TV).

I don't have any interest in an Apple TV at this point, but that's because I"m already using a Mac Mini in the living room. The result is that an Apple TV would mean a prettier interface with less overall functionality (no DVD player, no PVR, no Salling Clicker media remote, etc).
 

Dim

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Apple Store content looks okay on my Sony CRT 34" Widescreen HDTV. However, if I encode a DVD to 3-4Mbps H.264 bitrate, it looks just as good as the DVD to me when playing back on my set. Perhaps using a CRT helps in that scaling or upconverting isn't really needed? I'm using HDMI from AppleTV to my set. Movie trailers look very good and in fact, downloading 720p movie trailers from iTunes to stream to my set looks excellent!
 

Sparkee

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I should also add I'm really not looking for top quality video as long as it's viewable. I'm starting to build a fairly large library of old TV shows from DVD collections. Most of these are from the 60's, 70's and 80's and are VHS tape quality at best even on a DVD. My plan is to eventually retire my iBook or get an iMac to make a media server for the house running iTunes to serve the TV Shows and collect video podcasts. The server may even include something like a Miglia TVMax to capture some content off cable, but I have been thinking of giving up my cable since I hardly watch it anymore anyways.

Depending on how well it works I can see myself buying future versions and eventually having an Apple TV connected to every TV in the house. I may buy TV Shows from iTunes if they make them available in Canada, but the main use will be my classic TV Shows and podcasts.
 

SicMX

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For me the Apple TV is perfect. I have around 200 ripped DVDs in DVD quality (around 2-4gb each with H.264 and anamorphic rips so no resolution is lost) and loads of TV shows.
I have nothing on my Apple TV except music because frankly all my videos wouldn't fit

If you have alot of videos in iTunes AppleTV is a must.

Also i don't have an HDTV, just regular PAL scart TV.
 

thedaveman

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Is an Apple TV worth it if one wants to stream a photo slideshow from iphoto and/or music from one's itunes library?

(... just a little bit of background .... my family and i have three ipods--and ipod photo 60 gig, nad two nanos, and a iMac (theee best computer ever)-- and i have a bzillion photos on iphoto library and a huge itunes music library but zero videos to date...)

...also i have a fantastic Bose surround sound system (...top of the line Lifestyles) and an HDTV sony grand wega 50" TV

... i am going to buy an ipod video (when purchaseable video content actually becomes available in Canada) or i will probably get the iphone since i am a gadget buying type of guy...and i have plans of buying video in the future....

Should i buy an Apple TV if you were me?
 
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arkstfan

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I'm passing on Apple TV because it doesn't do what I would like it to do.

My primary video watching on my iMac is two-fold.
1. Going to sites like the innertube service from CBS to catch up on shows that I've not recorded on my DVR or because a sports program ran long missed part of or due to bad weather missed part of because of rain fade on my satellite or because of the interruptions for weather updates.
2. Streaming video of games I can't get on satellite.

That programming is all in Real or WinMedia

While I'd be happier and more comfortable watching those feeds on my TV, I've not seen a great, easy to do it.
 

Jesse Hollington

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Well, since my earlier post I've taken the plunge and bought an Apple TV. What motivated me was a combination of buying an HDTV and the wife-acceptance-factor.

The Mac Mini was a neat solution, but EyeTV isn't quite ready for prime-time as a media centre solution... It's almost there, but there are still too many little quirks for a non-technical user (like my wife) to want to put up with.

Additionally, in my case I basically got another computer back for the price of an Apple TV, since I moved the Mac Mini back into my home office, and now use it on the back-end to sync and stream to the Apple TV, as well as for a multitude of other tasks.

The bottom line is that the Apple TV is a great solution if you live in iTunes for your audio and video content, and have your photos in a compatible application like iPhoto, or even just in a decently-organized folder structure.

For thedaveman, it sounds like an Apple TV would be a good fit. You'll need to sync the photos to the Apple TV's hard drive (this works in the same way as it does for an iPod), as it won't "stream" photos, but music, videos and podcasts can all be streamed and/or synced.

In my case, I have an 802.11n network that I put in for the Apple TV, so my streaming speeds are more than acceptable. I primarily sync content to the Apple TV just to keep a short-list, since I have a fairly large content library that can be a pain to dig through. So I keep my favourite music and recent purchases synced to the Apple TV, as well as any TV shows that I'm following (either from iTunes or self-converted from EyeTV recordings, which I still do on the Mac Mini on the back-end).

So far I'm very happy with the Apple TV, and best of all it "just works" without any fuss. Again, however, you have to be fairly solidly into the whole iTunes ecosystem in order for it to really fit into your world. As arkstfan points out, it won't handle video formats like Real or WMA, and can't stream from Internet sources at all (beyond the "top-ten" lists and movie trailers that are built-in to the menus).
 

arkstfan

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jhollington said:
So far I'm very happy with the Apple TV, and best of all it "just works" without any fuss. Again, however, you have to be fairly solidly into the whole iTunes ecosystem in order for it to really fit into your world.
Which is why I'm hoping the next generation will support streaming content and handle plugins or reasonable hacks to support other streaming formats.

If not then I'll cross my fingers and hope that when ATT rolls out IPTV in my market that there will be a set-top solution that permits tapping into outside content.
 

thedaveman

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well,.... i think i am going to go down to a computer place in my city called Simply Computing where they have an Apple TV all set up ..... (i will bring my ipod down with me) and i will see how the apple tv works .... this is a store that sells exlusively Mac stuff
 

kylo4

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I'm being very serious when I ask this question: I own a 20 inch JVC television that is not HDTV, that was purchased around 5-6 years ago, and has very sharp picture etc. My question is, would an Apple TV work on this?

If my dad has a 36' television that isn't LCD or Plasma (it does have a Rogers HD box hooked up) would it work on that?
 

Jesse Hollington

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Sorry, but unfortunately the short answer is that if it's not HDTV, chances are slim that the Apple TV will work.

The longer verison of tha answer is that the Apple TV supports Component video and HDMI outputs only. If your TV doesn't have the necessary inputs, the you basically have no way of hooking up the Apple TV to your TV.

Some high-end non-HDTVs have component inputs, but it's unlikely any average TV would have them. HDMI inputs are only found on HDTVs.

There are converters available for Component to Composite/S-Video, but they tend to be expensive, as they're more complex than just a simple adapter plug -- they actually have to convert the signal. The resulting quality from most of these devices that I've seen is generally not worth the expense.

Keep in mind as well that the Apple TV menus and other screens are designed for 16:9 widescreen viewing as well.

The bottom line is that it's a device targeted specifically at HDTV owners.
 

kylo4

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Alright, thanks for the info. It would've been neat as well if Apple released a 40GB version that was a bit cheaper for other televisions so they could sell more units. I know a 20' tv isn't realistic, but my parents' 36' is. (It's a Toshiba if that matters and has a dvd player, dvd/vhs recorder, Roger's tv recorder box and vcr attached. It does have an S cable attached as well). I think nowadays 36 inches is a reasonable size for a television.

Oh well, by the time my dad gets his much wanted LCD tv maybe Apple TV's will be a bit cheaper. Thanks for your help.
 
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