Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Apple TV Will Not Replace My Mac Mini (Not Yet?)

Hacking The Apple TV

Last night I braved a 3 hour trip in the cold and wet to go 25 miles to pick up my first Apple TV. It is the First Gen Apple TV with the 40GB hard drive and it was cheap (tis the only reason I did it).

My intentions and reasoning behind getting the Apple TV is to replace a Mac Mini I have hooked up to our entertainment system where we house all of our media files (ie. music, videos, access to Hulu and....) as well as the (gasp) Windows Media Center system we also have setup in another room.

This being the first time I have gotten my hot little hands on Apples multi-media center I had to set up the Apple TV and play with it in a vanilla state.

Needles to say I was relatively unimpressed.

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Set up was easy (after figuring out that my receiver only has one optical input currently being used by the DVR) component (red, blue, green) out

and stereo out (red, white). Plug it in to the wall and it fires right up. Setting up the shared music from the iMac homework machine was as simple as typing in a 5 numerical code and we were jamming to all of our music saved on the iMac.

Ok great music is one thing, but I need my videos. The Apple TV comes with native support to play videos from your iTunes shares and if you are familiar with Front Row on the Apple Mac platform the Apple TV is second nature and easy to use. But it is limited to playing only Apple Format (QuickTime) *.m4v. ***Not Good***

A good amount of our Video files are in Divx and Xvid format (backup's of our DVD collection) its much easier than finding the DVD if you have it stored on a hard drive somewhere.

I almost never (he, he, he, ... :) ) impulse buy. I do my research before I venture out especially with "new to me" technology like the Apple TV.

Enter in atvusb-creator These guys have written all of the code for you to create a Linux Based flash drive that will be boot up your Apple TV and add #SSH support install Boxee, and XBMC.

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After downloading the program on my MacBook Pro mounting the .dmg and running the program letting it create the usb flash on my MicroCenter 4GB flash drive. I installed it in to the Apple TV all of about 10 Min of work.

Installed Boxee (Requires a log in... but its free) told Boxee where all of my videos were stored on the network and in about 10 min (Boxee had to search my drives) I was up and in digital bliss, Video Heaven. Now the Apple TV is looking more promising..

Here is the rub though, after playing with the Xvid and Divx content on the Apple TV I wanted more. Online TV like Hulu* *not on boxee anymore* Fancast (and the likes) have the new TV shows I do not have time to watch at normal hours and the DVR is sucked up by the girls in the house with all of the episodes of Desperate House Wives, Bachelor, Bacheloret, and all of those DRAMA crap shows. (LOL wife is going to love me for that one)

So Fired up the TV section of Boxee selected one of my favorite shows to watch NCIS, on the Apple TV...

And BAM Boxee error back to the main launcher...

Tried it again, this time it started to play and I could hear the dialog but the video was super slllloooooowwwwww..... Did not try the standard def on the Apple TV but by this time it was almost 1 a.m. and I did have to go to work in the morning. So for now .. the rest will have to wait....

So in my mind .. maybe the iMac and the Windows Media Center will have to stay..

Stay tuned for more indepth info on Boxee and the atvusb-creator ... when I get and if I get the chance

Go play with them see what you think.

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