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Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: Bo
Date: November 04, 2008 08:26PM
So I'm going to make the jump and pick up a refurb Apple TV through Apple's site. I'm planning on getting the 40GB version unless someone can convince me I need the 160GB.

My main reason for getting this is for simple access to my iTunes library in the house over my wi-fi network. I will probably rent the occasional movie and will likely rip some of my sons DVDs but don't really intend to use it as a storage device for movies. My music library (80GB or so) is stored on my home office machine (24" intel imac). This needs to be simple or my wife and son won't use it. Right now we stream music to the stereo via Tivo home network but the interface is a nightmare. I've got relatively all new equipment (46" 1080p LCD, HDMI receiver, HD DVD player (oops) etc) and would be connecting the Apple TV via HDMI. Is there a big advantage to storing media locally on the Apple TV rather than streaming as I plan to do?

Thanks for any input!

-Bo
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: gabester
Date: November 04, 2008 09:05PM
Dunno why you'd want to spend the extra money for a 160GB given how easy it's become to use a Patchstick and/or otherwise attach an external 1TB+ USB HD. If I'd known about that back when I had my AppleTV (I sold it because it just didn't work with my analog TV but I wanted to spend a little time hacking it) I'd still have it today.
g=
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: November 04, 2008 09:09PM
Quote
Bo
Is there a big advantage to storing media locally on the Apple TV rather than streaming as I plan to do?
-Bo

Well, the biggest reason of course is that you won't need the computer turned on for your most-commonly watched content. That's huge.

As for spending the extra money on the 160, it depends on if you want to void the warr. by opening it up to install a bigger HD or if you want to hack it for more storage. (Assuming 160G is enough anyway, and it may not be.)
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: beerman
Date: November 04, 2008 09:17PM
I have two appletv's, both the 40gb versions. Occasionally I have wanted to reboot my imac while someone was using one or both of the appletv's. It hasn't been a big issue, I just wait, but if I had the 160gb appletv's I would probably have more info sync'd to them and it wouldn't be an issue.

Also, if you intend to take your appletv someplace where it is not connected to your network then the 160gb drive would come in handy.
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: guitarist
Date: November 04, 2008 09:35PM
As long as one of the computers on your home network is on all the time, its iTunes library (movies as well as music) is accessible to the Apple TV, it will recognize it as a "shared" library. That's a good workaround, and it's an official Apple supported one. No hacking required. That gives you virtually limitless storage. Only limit is how large your computer's iTunes library is. If it's stored on an external drive, for example, it can be quite large.

That's how I've done it. I have a home network with three macs, and a 40 GB Apple TV. On one of my computers' external HDs, my iTunes library holds about 250 GBs of movies and music. I used handbrake to transfer my DVD collection and develop a menu of about 100 movies. I love it.

Still, I've sometimes wished my Apple TV was the one with the big drive. It would nice to have a big library stored locally, too. Easy to use the iPhone as a remote to listen to music or watch movies on Apple TV.
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: Rick-o
Date: November 04, 2008 09:42PM
I have the 40GB ATV and virtually everything I watch is streamed from my iMac. I had initially thought about replacing the 40 GB with a larger drive, but streaming works so well, I abandoned the idea.

I rarely turn the iMac off, and so far, I'm very satisfied with the performance.



Mr. Lahey: A lot of people, don’t know how to drink. They drink against the grain of the liquor. And when you drink against the grain of the liquor? You lose.

Randy: What the @#$%& are you talking about?
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: Bo
Date: November 04, 2008 10:13PM
Wow, thanks for all the great advice! This is generally reinforcing my favoring the 40GB version. A few questions/comments:

Gabester: the hack to add external HD space seems pretty straightforward in the event that I get swept up in local storage for some unanticipated reason

Deckeda: my source iMac is pretty much on all the time anyway since I'm streaming via Tivo home network now so another argument for the 40GB

Beerman: hadn't considered taking it with me to other locations but can see the upside to it. Currently have the 160GB iPod and take music with me. Slight edge to the 160GB

Guitarist and Rick-o: I think your scenarios are pretty much what mine would be and to hear that streaming performance is satisfying is encouraging. Advantage 40Gb

A few follow-up questions:
Will the Apple TV wake my iMac up if it is asleep?
If I'm using Remote on my iPhone do I need to have the TV on for any reason?
I currently have a wireless G network, is it critical to upgrade to Wireless N for streaming?
If I got the 160GB version does it just appear as a hard drive on the network and thus can I use it with Time Machine?

Thanks again!

-Bo



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/04/2008 10:18PM by Bo.
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: beerman
Date: November 04, 2008 10:48PM
If you hack your appletv using the atv memory stick it will enable the external storage via usb but it will also disable automatic updates from apple. I went down this road initially and decided it wasn't worth it.
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: November 04, 2008 11:23PM
802.11g is OK for non-HD video.

AppleTV (any size HD) doesn't appear as a drive. No Time Machine. Gonna guess "no" on the other 2 questions.
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: guitarist
Date: November 04, 2008 11:43PM
It'll wake your iMac up if it's asleep, yes. Streaming is great. Glad it's a good solution for you, too.

Re: your network

I'd ask you this question: Do you need the Apple TV to be wireless? It's not a portable device. If it were a handheld device, or a laptop, then it needs to be on WiFi. Since it's going to be stationary anyway, next to your stereo and TV, it makes sense to take advantage of it being wired, if you have that option.

Can it work A-Okay on a wireless network? Yes. By why does it need to be wireless if it's a stationary device? The extra speed of a superfast wired network trumps the convenience of the signals flying through the air. Especially since it's going to stay in one spot.

Do you have both wired/wireless network at home?
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: Bo
Date: November 05, 2008 12:10AM
Quote

It'll wake your iMac up if it's asleep, yes.

Woo-hoo! That's a big one for me. The idea of running out to the office in the rain to wake up the iMac is not all that appealing. I do have a wired and a wireless network. However, my wired network is in my office which is a separate building from the house itself...so far wireless has been the solution for the computers (an old iMac and an old iBook) and TivoHD in the house. Signal strength is somewhat marginal depending on where in the house you are. I assume moving to N rather than G should improve that? Running a Cat 5 would certainly be preferable but it would be a difficult run...up the wall, into the attic, across the arbor, down the wall, through the crawl space and up through the floor (I'm guessing a 75' run). It might just be time to do it though...

guitarist:
Am I correct in assuming that with Remote on my iPhone that I wouldn't even need to turn the TV on to listen to music through the Apple TV/stereo? And when using Remote would it be controlling iTunes on my iMac and streaming to the Apple TV (as it essentially does now for outdoor speakers) or would it be linked to the Apple TV directly and controlling iTunes (or Front Row or whatever drives it) on it?

-Bo



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/05/2008 12:14AM by Bo.
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: gabester
Date: November 05, 2008 12:27AM
Undoing the ATV hack is easy enough if you really want the updates... I am personally the kind to update rarely and only if there's a compelling feature (which I admit have been present in several of the iterations of the ATV OS.)

Keep in mind that the cost of a 160GB drive built into the ATV approaches that of a 1TB USB drive... and you can always load the media you might most want to port with you onto the internal drive.
g=
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: bhaveshp
Date: November 05, 2008 02:25AM
For my home network using wireless-N airports was not sufficient to stream even non-HD content. I have my iMac in my office which is about 50 feet and several walls away from the Apple TV in the family room.

As ethernet wiring wasn't a cheap option, I came across MoCA adapters which basically bridge ethernet across unused channels on your homes' cable coax. I bought 2 NIM-100's on ebay for about $45 each and they now provide an 80+ Mbps link between the Apple TV & the iMac.

Just an option to consider especially if there is shared coax between your two buildings.
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: November 05, 2008 02:46AM
Quote
Bo
guitarist:
Am I correct in assuming that with Remote on my iPhone that I wouldn't even need to turn the TV on to listen to music through the Apple TV/stereo? And when using Remote would it be controlling iTunes on my iMac and streaming to the Apple TV (as it essentially does now for outdoor speakers) or would it be linked to the Apple TV directly and controlling iTunes (or Front Row or whatever drives it) on it?

Sorry, I didn't understand this part of the question earlier. So permit me to guess (again, and hopefully correctly this time.)

Yes. Linked to AppleTV directly.

From their page, unless I'm misinterpreting it:[www.apple.com]
Quote

The free application that turns iPod touch and iPhone into a remote control for iTunes and Apple TV.

Quote

Controls Apple TV.
Remote lets you control the music on your Apple TV from anywhere in your home. Pause a song from the bedroom. Resume play from the kitchen. And enjoy total remote control.
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: Bo
Date: November 05, 2008 10:00AM
Quote
bhaveshp
As ethernet wiring wasn't a cheap option, I came across MoCA adapters which basically bridge ethernet across unused channels on your homes' cable coax. I bought 2 NIM-100's on ebay for about $45 each and they now provide an 80+ Mbps link between the Apple TV & the iMac.

I've never heard of this but it sounds like a pretty nice option. I'm definitely going to look into this as I do have cable at both locations.

Quote
deckeda
Yes. Linked to AppleTV directly.

That makes sense.

Thanks,

-Bo
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: space-time
Date: November 05, 2008 10:18AM
can you swap the drive with one of those 320 GB 2.5" drives that go on sale every so often for $60 or so?
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: guitarist
Date: November 05, 2008 07:57PM
To be clear--unfortunately--if your content is streamed from a computer instead of stored on the Apple TV hard drive, you can't manipulate it with an iPhone or iPod Touch. Check the Apple guides to make sure, but I'm fairly certain that's a limitation. I've tried it with my iPhone. I can navigate to the Apple TV's internal content, but not to a shared library. That might change in future revisions of the Remote App for iPhone/iPod Touch, or future Apple TV updates.

Also, if you must go wireless, so be it. It's a handicap, but it's still possible to stream non HD content. If you can add it to your wired network, all the better.

The pros and cons of a hacked Apple TV I'll leave for others. For some reason I'm comfortable doing unauthorized things with my iPhone (unlocked, jailbroken, connected via TMobile rather than AT&T) but I'm less inclined to screw with my Apple TV,

Considering how varied and complex our Home Theater/gaming/entertainment center already is, I've postponed it, it's just one more hobby I don't need.. I love Apple TV as it is, and would consider hacking it only to have more internal storage. Apple keeps improving it with firmware updates, which has kept me pleasantly entertained so far.
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: Kramerica
Date: November 05, 2008 08:28PM
Quote
guitarist
To be clear--unfortunately--if your content is streamed from a computer instead of stored on the Apple TV hard drive, you can't manipulate it with an iPhone or iPod Touch. Check the Apple guides to make sure, but I'm fairly certain that's a limitation. I've tried it with my iPhone. I can navigate to the Apple TV's internal content, but not to a shared library. That might change in future revisions of the Remote App for iPhone/iPod Touch, or future Apple TV updates.

I think you are mistaken on this. I just tested it to verify by watching the amount of available content displayed on my iPhone in Remote decrease greatly when I quit iTunes on the Mac that it all streams from. Relaunched iTunes and it was all available again in Remote just like the ATV.
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: guitarist
Date: November 05, 2008 09:14PM
Quote
Kramerica

I think you are mistaken on this. I just tested it to verify by watching the amount of available content displayed on my iPhone in Remote decrease greatly when I quit iTunes on the Mac that it all streams from. Relaunched iTunes and it was all available again in Remote just like the ATV.

Good to know, I'll try it again myself. Did you continue the test to launch an actual movie file, for example, to play on Apple TV, from one of your "shared" libraries? And see it successfully appear?

Thanks for the tip. I remember actually calling Apple about this, when the 90-day warranty on my Apple TV allowed me some phone support. The Apple guy who responded to my call agreed it would be cool if the Remote App did that, and suggested that this feature might be included in a subsequent update.

Remote App and Apple TV firmware have both been updated since I made that call, perhaps that's happened, that missing capability has been added. I'll test it tonight.
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: Kramerica
Date: November 05, 2008 10:06PM
Yes, I played several things that I was pretty sure were not actually on the Apple TV. I've never had anything that was on there but wouldn't play. You're probably right that it was added after the first release in one of those updates.
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: Bo
Date: November 05, 2008 10:21PM
Thanks for the info everyone! Based on everyone's input I went ahead and pulled the trigger on the 40GB Apple TV last night (got shipping verification as I'm typing this) and a couple Monoprice cables. Glad to hear a confirmation that Remote on the iPhone will drive streamed content. I'm going to give the wireless network a try first. If it's too weak it will likely be time to cover up and head for the muddy crawl space with some Cat5 in hand or look into the NIM-100s.

Some of finest people on the web here!

-Bo
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: guitarist
Date: November 06, 2008 04:06PM
Quote
Kramerica

I think you are mistaken on this. I just tested it to verify by watching the amount of available content displayed on my iPhone in Remote decrease greatly when I quit iTunes on the Mac that it all streams from. Relaunched iTunes and it was all available again in Remote just like the ATV.

I think you misunderstood the issue.

Yes, I can 'see" the remotely-stored content on my iPhone. And I can play it. But I want it to play on Apple TV, not the computer it's stored on. When I navigate using the Apple TV's menu, using a regular remote, it can navigate to "shared", and access the content on shared libraries, right there in the Apple TV menu. Unfortunately, using the iPhone's "Remote" App, it cannot access it and play it on the Apple TV. It tries to launch on the source computer.

Which brings me back to my original problem. When I want to use my iPhone as a remote, it can only play content on my Apple TV that's stored in my Apple TV. It won't play the streaming content from a shared library on my Apple TV. It doesn't see it via the Apple TV. It only sees it when I select that other library on my iPhone. In which case, I'm no longer navigating on the Apple TV, I'm navigating on the other computer. The content launches and begins to play on the computer.

Is this consistent with what you do when you use the Remote App?
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Re: Apple TV: Why should I get the 160GB?
Posted by: Bo
Date: November 06, 2008 11:40PM
Quote
guitarist
Yes, I can 'see" the remotely-stored content on my iPhone. And I can play it. But I want it to play on Apple TV, not the computer it's stored on. When I navigate using the Apple TV's menu, using a regular remote, it can navigate to "shared", and access the content on shared libraries, right there in the Apple TV menu. Unfortunately, using the iPhone's "Remote" App, it cannot access it and play it on the Apple TV. It tries to launch on the source computer.

I think you summarized my question (and your issue) much more effectively here than I did earlier. So it sounds like you are saying that using Remote will not control iTunes streaming of music through the Apple TV. It controls iTunes only on the source computer that it is linked to. Optionally Remote will control the Apple TV but only playing the content stored locally on the Apple TV.

I seem to recall a posting somewhere about Remote controlling iTunes on a source computer that was streaming music to remote speakers via Airtunes. I'm guessing this scenario bypasses Apple TV entirely and is dependent on having Airport Express.

-Bo
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