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Author Topic: Anyone have Apple TV? (now with more Netflix!)  (Read 2339 times)
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Jag
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« on: May 17, 2008, 01:30:03 AM »

Thinking about getting a media server, ripping my DVDs, etc. Curious if anyone has or has used Apple TV.
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gellar
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« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2008, 01:32:03 AM »

My buddy has one.  It's slick as hell.  My main problem with it is that the quality of HD downloads from iTunes, while marginally better than XBox Live HD, is still pretty crap compared to Blu-Ray.  To get the sizes to a manageable level, you are losing fidelity.

That being said, if all you want to do is share your iTunes movies/music that you've ripped yourself, it's a really slick solution for that.

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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2008, 02:42:46 AM »

I considered buying one, but I was able to get all the functionality I needed out of my 360.
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rittchard
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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2008, 04:19:15 AM »

I just got it recently, like a week ago.  It signifies the complete takeover of my life by Apple smile

Installation was a little flaky, and sync-ing seems a bit quirky.  Also the remote is a bit too simple, would be nice to have the spinwheel of the traditional iPod when sifting through content.  Aside from those minor details, it's definitely very slick and very nice.  While my original main purpose was to gain access to the new rentals feature, I've found what I like the most is being able to play music and music videos on the big screen (and on my main stereo system) at a whim.  I'm also enjoying having my favorite Office, South Park, and other TV shows at my fingertips.  Eventually I'd like to start moving more of my favorite movies onto the unit so I can watch them (or parts of them) at a moment's notice.

As with most Apple devices, it's not that it does anything that much different or better than other similar devices, it's that the overall friendliness of the interface and the ever increasing content and capabilities of iTunes that makes it special. 
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Zimix
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« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2008, 08:08:02 AM »

I got one about a month ago, and I love it.  I have a large collection of music that I have bought on iTunes, and playing the music on my stereo was what made me initially interested in it.  Movie rentals, trailers, music videos, etc are added bonuses.. smile  Apple is also adding a lot of new TV series.  They recently introduced several series from HBO.

The remote control does leave a bit to be desired, especially when searching for videos on YouTube..

Other than that, it is a great device.
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Jag
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« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2008, 04:40:16 PM »

I thinking of ripping my dvds and using it as a media player. How is the quality for downloaded or ripped video. I have a 65inch TV so i would see the bad quality.
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Belhazamar
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2008, 01:41:39 AM »

Had one since it launched (and subsequently only a smaller HD) and I really enjoy it.  Great thing to have.
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PointerOO
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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2008, 05:44:31 PM »

I've got a mac mini that I have hooked up to my TV and use as a media server. Works an absolute treat althogh front row can be a bit flaky since I upgraded to Leopard.
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rittchard
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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2008, 07:12:43 PM »

Quote from: Jag on May 17, 2008, 04:40:16 PM

I thinking of ripping my dvds and using it as a media player. How is the quality for downloaded or ripped video. I have a 65inch TV so i would see the bad quality.

Well I think that's going to depend on how you ripped it for ripped.  Most of what I read, the Apple folk use Handbrake and are pretty pleased with the results.  There's tons of discussion on what the best settings are, etc.  I generally check the macrumors forums (Apple TV) section for info.  FWIW, I watched a few minutes of my ripped Aliens disc (also on a 65inch TV) and I thought it looked great.

I also watched my first downloaded HD movie yesterday, and as most of the reviews have stated, it definitely looks better than standard DVD but not quite as good as Blu-Ray, same with sound quality.  It holds up very well with what I get with Directv HD content, possibly a bit better.  Haven't done a standard movie yet.

All that said, right after praising it in this thread yesterday, when I turned it on all the content I had sync'd had vanished.  I think what happened was I had hit some button in iTunes the other day to tell it to only sync what I told it to.  I guess it decided this was a reason to wipe everything, grrr.  It may just be me, but the sync-ing is still a bit wonky.  Of course my issue is I am using the same iTunes library to sync to my iPhone which can only handle limited content, so I'm not exactly sure how to keep the 2 things separate.
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Devil
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2008, 10:47:20 PM »

www.popcornhour.com
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gellar
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« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2008, 11:26:28 PM »

Quote from: Devil on May 18, 2008, 10:47:20 PM


No built in HD?  Poor music playback support?

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Devil
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« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2008, 11:57:19 AM »

No need for another PC running iTunes up at all times either.
Ability to just hook up a USB drive and go.

Music playback is fine.

What do you mean by 'built in HD"?

It's not pretty. I'll give you that.

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Jag
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« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2008, 01:44:02 PM »

I read about Popcorn, but didn't think of it as an alternative to AppleTV. I'll see what people say when it comes out.
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2008, 01:59:29 PM »

How robust is the codec support for non-iTunes stuff in Apple TV?  Does it handle Divx?
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Devil
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« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2008, 02:13:29 PM »

Quote
I read about Popcorn, but didn't think of it as an alternative to AppleTV. I'll see what people say when it comes out.

Mine showed up on Friday - Haven't done too much with it yet but it seems fine.
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gellar
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« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2008, 02:56:20 PM »

Quote from: Devil on May 19, 2008, 11:57:19 AM

No need for another PC running iTunes up at all times either.
Ability to just hook up a USB drive and go.

Music playback is fine.

What do you mean by 'built in HD"?

It's not pretty. I'll give you that.


I mean that in order to match AppleTV functionality, I have to buy a USB HD and put it next to this eyesore.  And supposedly the MP3 ID3 tags aren't read properly.  It doesn't seem to match up well to the AppleTV.

gellar
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Devil
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« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2008, 03:18:45 PM »

Paint it white and put an apple on it or hide it somewhere.

For it to work like an Apple TV you need to add an INTERNAL HD (got a 320G for $50) and that goes further to my point. You CAN add space and CAN attach a usb drive (standard, stick or portable).

I just didn't want to have a PC running all the time to listen to music in the room with the home theater stuff and no option to expand the HD.

"Oh - I'm in the basement and want to listen music? Gotta run upstairs and throw on a computer."

Two HUGE omissions on the part of Apple.

I'm an Apple fan (Macbook, 2 iPhones, mulitiple iPods) but the Popcorn Hour has far more options.

You seem to be taking this personally.

Apple TV is great but I'm not sure it would have worked for me.

I just threw it out there as an option, and something to consider.


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gellar
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« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2008, 03:46:48 PM »

Ah an internal HD would make it much more appealing.  I guess I don't mind a PC running all the time because... well, my PC is running all the time.  It serves things up to my PS3, which is why I have no desire to buy either of these products.

gellar
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Devil
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« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2008, 03:50:43 PM »

Popcorn Hour feed my PS3 too!

See - Now you need one!

 icon_wink
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gellar
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« Reply #19 on: May 19, 2008, 03:57:05 PM »

Quote from: Devil on May 19, 2008, 03:50:43 PM

Popcorn Hour feed my PS3 too!

See - Now you need one!

 icon_wink

It just seems awfully redundant.  The reason I wanted an AppleTV was for HD movie rentals.  When I found out those were not of the greatest quality ever, I scrapped that plan.

gellar
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Fireball
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« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2008, 04:48:10 PM »

I love my Apple TV. Got it in January, when the 2.0 software was announced. I use it pretty much every week to time shift certain TV shows (particularly podcasted shows like Meet the Press and Face the Nation), rent movies that I just want to see right then and not wait for Netflix or watch trailers. The HD content is very nice -- not Blu-Ray nice, but very sharp on my 720p TV. All in all, I'm extremely impressed with it.
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Beer Goggles
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« Reply #21 on: May 19, 2008, 07:39:38 PM »

Devil,

Is your network wired or wireless?
Saw the Popcorn Hour in action on Tekzilla and the menu navigation was very slow.  How has that been for you?
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Devil
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« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2008, 08:26:14 PM »

BG -

Just got it Friday so I'm no expert on it but it IS wired, but I have a HD installed so I just dumped everything on there and that, of course is fast.

I took all my content and copied it to an external USB drive, then hooked the external up to the PCH and loaded it all on the internal PCH drive.

When I was using it wirelessly it was OK. Not any different than any other wireless HD connection like the Time Capsule, etc.

Going forward I'll update it from time to time wirelessly, but it should always play content off the internal drive for me. You could also do this with a USB drive alone and no internal drive, in which it acts like a PC accessing a USB drive and is pretty quick as well.

This kinda play to gellar's point of redundancy but, I don't need anything else turned on to access my content.

« Last Edit: May 19, 2008, 08:29:09 PM by Devil » Logged

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Jag
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« Reply #23 on: May 20, 2008, 07:29:04 PM »

Netflix player?

OMG

http://gizmodo.com/389698/first-netflix-streaming-box-review-100-and-unlimited-downloads
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Devil
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« Reply #24 on: May 20, 2008, 07:31:13 PM »

No HD?
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gellar
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« Reply #25 on: May 20, 2008, 07:35:02 PM »

Quote from: Jag on May 20, 2008, 07:29:04 PM


Yeah someone on Popehat posted that today... awfully tempting.

gellar
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YellowKing
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« Reply #26 on: May 20, 2008, 07:41:58 PM »

Supposedly there is a working (if somewhat buggy) free software utility called vmcNetflix that will allow you to stream Netflix movies from a Vista Premium PC to an Xbox 360. I'm going to give it a shot tonight.
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« Reply #27 on: May 20, 2008, 07:55:52 PM »

Quote from: gellar on May 20, 2008, 07:35:02 PM

Quote from: Jag on May 20, 2008, 07:29:04 PM


Yeah someone on Popehat posted that today... awfully tempting.

gellar

It's only 480p at the moment, but supposedly there will be a firmware update to go full HD with it. It sounds interesting though.
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Jag
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« Reply #28 on: May 20, 2008, 07:58:55 PM »

I'm definitely waiting on this, but if they get good quality HD and 5.1, i'm in.
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gellar
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« Reply #29 on: May 20, 2008, 08:26:57 PM »

Quote from: SkyLander on May 20, 2008, 07:55:52 PM

Quote from: gellar on May 20, 2008, 07:35:02 PM

Quote from: Jag on May 20, 2008, 07:29:04 PM


Yeah someone on Popehat posted that today... awfully tempting.

gellar

It's only 480p at the moment, but supposedly there will be a firmware update to go full HD with it. It sounds interesting though.

I think that has more to do with the source than the player.  None of the Netflix Watch Now stuff is in HD and honestly probably isn't even in 480p.  Bandwidth limitations and all.

gellar
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #30 on: May 20, 2008, 08:32:22 PM »

Damn, I think I might have to get that Netflix box.  I would love to be able to watch as many episodes of a TV show as I could get through without being worried about individual discs.
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gellar
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« Reply #31 on: May 20, 2008, 08:37:16 PM »

Quote from: Kevin Grey on May 20, 2008, 08:32:22 PM

Damn, I think I might have to get that Netflix box.  I would love to be able to watch as many episodes of a TV show as I could get through without being worried about individual discs.

Yeah that's my main purpose for it as well.

gellar
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Jimmy the Fish
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« Reply #32 on: May 20, 2008, 08:59:48 PM »

FINALLY, I can talk about the Roku player!

Just so no one thinks I'm some sort of evil viral marketer, I've been a member on these boards for a while now. I used to work at TiVo, but went to  Netflix last September when this box was still an internal project there. Our group got spun out and acquired by Roku, Inc several months ago, where we've been working on this set top box in complete secrecy until now. I'm part of the QA group that did all the testing of the Netflix player, so if anyone has any questions about the product I'll do my best to answer them.

For me, on a personal level, this is probably the most exciting product I think I've ever worked on. Not so much for what it does now, which is still pretty cool, but for what it could potentially do in the future. Let's just say that it's a Netflix only player now, but there is nothing technical that could prevent it from playing any other streaming content available on the internet today. Regarding the HD question, the hardware itself is HD capable, enabled through a quick downloadable firmware update. The content coming from Netflix however needs to be available in HD. Their instant watch stuff isn't HD yet, but it will be at some point soon. Sorry, I don't know exactly when yet. Currently though the box does scale anamorphically, so if you have a 16:9 HDTV, if the movie being streamed was encoded in 16:9, we will display the video in the correct aspect so you don't get the dreaded "postage stamp" effect (black bars on sides and top/bottom). To me video quality, at its best, is about equal to standard def DVD.

If you read the numerous reviews of the box on the web a lot of them compare us to AppleTV, which we expected would be the case. I wouldn't say we are a head to head competitor. For one, the subscription models are completely different and admittedly, there is a big difference in size and quality of movie titles between the two services. I think our little box would like to eventually be on par with AppleTV, but there's still work to be done to get to that point. However, if you think the Netflix instant watch stuff is a nice secondary addition to the DVD delivery part of the service, then a $99 box I think would be pretty compelling.

Anyhow, like I said, if anyone has questions I'd be happy to answer as best I can...
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #33 on: May 20, 2008, 09:02:42 PM »

Is it actually shipping now?  This might be a good Father's Day gift for me. 
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Jag
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« Reply #34 on: May 20, 2008, 09:03:48 PM »

Wow, that's pretty cool Jimmy. BTW I totally understand the concern about being viewed as a viral marketer, so the disclosure is welcome. I work for a vitamin company, but also belong to some vitamin forums (yes they exist) so i'm very careful not to be viewed as a viral promoter.

I'd also like to know if and when an external HD would be available for playing your own content (home movies, ripped dvds, etc). That would be the ultimate Apple killer.

More importantly when is DTV going back with Tivo?! slywink
« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 09:05:39 PM by Jag » Logged
Jimmy the Fish
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« Reply #35 on: May 20, 2008, 09:07:41 PM »

Quote from: Kevin Grey on May 20, 2008, 09:02:42 PM

Is it actually shipping now?  This might be a good Father's Day gift for me. 

It is in fact shipping now. Our intial stock was around 2500 unit I think and from what I've been told we expect to run through that in another day. We have plenty more coming to the warehouse though.

Quote from: Jag on May 20, 2008, 09:03:48 PM

Wow, that's pretty cool Jimmy. BTW I totally understand the concern about being viewed as a viral marketer, so the disclosure is welcome. I work for a vitamin company, but also belong to some vitamin forums (yes they exist) so i'm very careful not to be viewed as a viral promoter.

I'd also like to know if and when an external HD would be available for playing your own content (home movies, ripped dvds, etc). That would be the ultimate Apple killer.

More importantly when is DTV going back with Tivo?! slywink

The way the box is designed there is no possibility of attaching a hard drive. This is strictly a box that does streaming video. The box has no fan. It's a 5 inch x 5 inch x 1 inch cube so it's very small.

I don't have any inside info on DTV and TiVo getting back together, but my gut feeling is that it will happen. The president of the company that acquired DTV from Rupert Murdoch is good friends with Tom Rogers, the CEO of TiVo.
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Jag
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« Reply #36 on: May 20, 2008, 09:21:52 PM »

Here are some more reviews:

http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-media-receivers/netflix-player-by-roku/4505-6739_7-33018087.html

http://www.engadget.com/2008/05/20/roku-reveals-first-netflix-set-top-box-gets-reviewed/

http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/05/review-roku-net.html

http://crave.cnet.com/8300-1_105-1.html?keyword=Apple+TV

Quote
Likewise, if you invest in multiple Netflix Players, you could pause a movie in the living room, and then pick up where you left off in the bedroom. (Currently, Netflix lets you have four boxes plus four computers linked to each account.)
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« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 09:28:55 PM by Jag » Logged
Devil
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« Reply #37 on: May 21, 2008, 01:49:06 AM »

Thanks , Jimmy!

As soon as there is HD....IN!
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Jimmy the Fish
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« Reply #38 on: May 21, 2008, 03:31:44 AM »

Believe me, we are chomping at the bit to make HD content available. We fully realize that there are a lot of folks who will hold off on buying one until that day comes. Unfortunately for Roku, we have no control over this as it is Netflix's job to encode their library of movies in HD. However, they are very committed to making this happen, and from what I've heard, it's supposed to be sometime before the end of the year. Ideally for us, it would be wonderful if this can be achieved before Christmas. The entire group at Roku who worked on this box are all ex-Netflix employees so we have a very tight relationship with them. It's in their and our best interest to bring HD content as quickly as possible.

Also beyond Netflix, we would like to bring other video services to the box. Technically there is nothing stopping us from getting the box to work with stuff like YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Unbox. It's all a matter of whether or not these other services are willing to work with us, but we are very optimistic we can make it happen. To me, this little $99 box running all those services would be just about the holy grail of set top boxes.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2008, 03:34:34 AM by Jimmy the Fish » Logged
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« Reply #39 on: May 21, 2008, 01:09:26 PM »

Cannot believe how small the Netflix player is.  Jimmy, does it support WPA2 encryption?
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