Monday, March 30, 2009
AppleTv is great for viewing 480p and even some 720p content. I started with an AppleTV back in October 2008. While home movies, 480p and 720p HD are perfectly suited for the AppleTV, 1080p content is not currently possible on the AppleTV. DVD playback from a connected Mac is not possible either. All DVD sources must be ripped and converted into .m4v format.
How I used my AppleTV:
I bought the lower end AppleTV with a 40GB harddrive, with no intention of actually storing anything on it. Instead I opted to use and old PowerMac G4 for use a "server" or shared library via itunes. This is a great way of working with the AppleTV. No syncing needed in order to use the server. While you do need to have the AppleTV sync'd to a Mac, that Mac does not need any content on it. My AppleTV is actually sync'd with my personal computer, a MacBook Pro. I have it set to not sync anything. no photos, movies, tv shows... nothing.
What does this mean? Well you don't have to wait for your content to sync MBP iTunes to AppleTV. Large movies can take along time to transfer over wifi.
There are other ways to provide content for your AppleTV too, the server just worked best for me as I had a sort of old and unused computer lying around. You could even us a PC with Winblows (Windows) as a server. Windows XP would work just fine.
You could get an Airport Extreme and attach a USB Drive to store content on as-well. Or you could even by a 500GB or 1TB Time Capsule
I think the point here too, is that even if you get the 80GB AppleTV eventually you are going to need more storage. Within three months I accumulated over 350GB of video. So plan accordingly for future expansion.
So you have lots of movies on DVD but no way to play them. Well this was a must for me. I've got kids, 3 of them! DVD and kids don't mix! They throw them, they lick them, they scratch them and they stick them in places that DVDs just don't go... not to mention the DVD player itself, cards get put in there and anything else thin enough to get shoved in the tray. Anyway, having your DVDs ripped and converted into AppleTV ready files is the way to go. How do you go about doing this. Handbrake! Handbrake is a free software that allows you to ripp a DVD straight into an m4v file. Simple and easy. Nothing else to buy, no rocket science, just a bit of time to make the conversion. On the Mac side there is not better software, and it's free.
You can get Handbrake here: Handbrake
AppleTV actually does a-lot more than I have explained. From getting on the Web to view YouTube, view your Mobile Me content, Flicker, podcasts, movie trailers and itunes movie/TV store. It's a fun and fairly easy to use Home Theater. The biggest drawback for me was you can't playback 1080p content on it. Compressed 720p @ 5mbs just didn't do it for me either.