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So Maybe I Want an AppleTV?

Initially, I didn't want an AppleTV because I wasn't sure how hackable it was, nor did I think it would work really well with my current setup. That "current setup" is this: I have a third 500 GB drive in my Mac to which I've ripped some DVDs I own. I tend to do so in MPEG-4 with the H.264 decoder and AAC audio, though I have a few I ripped in straight MPEG-4 (whatever that option is in HandBrake). I also have a few AVI files that play just fine in VLC.

I have these items stored in folders called "Movies" or "TV Shows" (for my Sports Night and West Wing rips) or whatever on a drive, again, separate from my main drive. They're not in my iTunes library, nor will they be.

I wrote the AppleTV off previously because I didn't think it would work in this situation, though I'm starting to think that perhaps it will behave in this way just fine. Am I correct? Can I use the AppleTV in this fashion to play my ripped DVDs on my computer, despite them not being in iTunes? I doubt the AVIs will play, but might they (somehow)?

P.S. No, I'd rather not re-rip the movies in a different format, if possible.

P.P.S. I have read Bill's take, yes.

9 Responses to "So Maybe I Want an AppleTV?"

  1. From what I can tell, pictures can be synced from a custom folder but not movies. You will need to add the movies to iTunes. You give up a little control doing this, but it really does make the whole experience a lot smoother. It's a great device, especially for video podcasts and iTunes purchases, and if you have 1/3 of your external drive filled with movies and TV shows you'll definitely get a lot of use out of it.

    Prepare to be disappointed about the AVIs though. I haven't tested anything except H.264.

  2. Out of the box, you'll be disappointed.

    Hack it a bit and it'll easily do everything you want it seems. I'm considering getting one for this very reason. See for what they've achieved so far. But a summary of what you'd want: .avi support, ac3 support, streaming from a NAS/network location somewhere (ie not bloody itunes).

    All do-able now!

  3. What are you ripping your DVD's with and what kind of quality are you getting? I tried ripping some of my kid's movies to have them preserved from fingerprints and scratches. On the surface they looked OK, but there was a weird choppiness to the playback. Hard to describe because it was still somewhat smooth. I wondered if animated films somehow looked worse. I gave up the idea for now and figured I'd wait to hear about some people that were having success with this idea.

    If you decide to buy the AppleTV, I am sure you will provide us all great detail on how well it worked for you.

  4. [quote comment="41177"]What are you ripping your DVD's with and what kind of quality are you getting?[/quote]

    HandBrake, 2000 kbps, single pass, h.264. I hope the new version of HandBrake (with MediaFork) is released soon.

    Quality seems fine on my end. It's still interlaced, and you can see it if you pause or whatever, but I'd expect that.

  5. Hi,

    For photo's, they need to be in iPhoto or Aperture and they need to be sync'd directly onto the Apple TV.

    Movies need to be in iTunes in order to sync or to stream from another box.

    I had ripped a bunch of DVDs at 1000kbs, dual pass, H.264 and alot look pretty good but I am reripping at 2000kbs. I also increased the audio to 160kbs, I may use 192 but I'm not sure it makes a difference that I can notice.

    One potentially easy way to handle your movies without adding to your existing iTunes would be to use fast user switching and have 2 iTunes running at once. You could add all of your movies to the a new iTunes instance. (I haven't tried this though)

    Personally, I couldn't be happier with the Apple TV (course I got it for free so I didn't have any expectations). I had a Airport Express for streaming to my living room stereo and this is far better. Being able to control the music directly from the Apple TV is worth it just by itself. Having all my kid's DVDs on the box is a huge plus too.

    I guess if you already have a large video library in alternate formats it may not be worthwhile but if you are starting near zero it is pretty useful.

    NOTE : Mactheripper is essential for newer DVDs that can't rip via MediaFork. The newer beta's (R14) work well for copy protected dvds.

  6. I have a first generation G4 Mac Mini with an EyeTV 200 connected to my TV. It does everything an AppleTV does plus a lot more, including DVR functionality. Unfortunately it's slow and lacks Apple Remote support, although I am using an ATI Remote Windoer.

  7. Erik, what are you using for ripping TV ?

    Is the EyeTV the best you can get for the Mac ?

    Any particular model that stands out ? (I was thinking of getting the Hybrid)

  8. [quote comment="41183"]Erik, what are you using for ripping TV?[/quote]

    I'm not. I don't.

  9. Can anyone tell me if you can shuffle music videos, or watch more than one at a time? I have several music videos purchased and ripped that can only played one at a time on iTunes. I'd like a way to watch all the music videos in a playlist either one after another or shuffled.