Macworld: Secrets: Upgrading Apple TV's hard drive, Page 1
MacWorld's step by step for upgrading the hard drive in an AppleTV.
Nicer documentation than some other online efforts.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Macworld: Secrets: Upgrading Apple TV's hard drive, Page 1
AwkwardTV � Blog Archive � Asterisk running on an Apple TV!
Now if I knew more about what that was....
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/30/2007 03:33:00 PM
Apple TV Heat Test - Featured Article - Digital Trends
How hot do she run?
How hot in comparison to a Macbook?
(Although the REAL measure of Macbook heat is the BOTTOM - that's the hottest part, and while Apple switched to calling it a "notebook", it is still a "laptop" in realistic use.)
Bonus round - how cool do false color IR images look of Macbook/AppleTV?
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/30/2007 03:25:00 PM
MacService - 24 Hour Apple TV Upgrades
60GB Hitachi 5400rpm - $195
80GB Hitachi 5400rpm - $215
100GB Hitachi 5400rpm - $225
120GB Seagate 5400rpm - $235
160GB Hitachi 5400rpm -$295
"$79 next day shipping available
I'll compare the three available vendors in the next few days...
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/30/2007 03:22:00 PM
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Ten Myths of the Apple TV: 5.1 Audio
Oooh, this is GOOD and well researched (for the most part).
He spends so much time on 5.1 audio (Myth #1), tha the breaks 2-10 into separate post.
AFAIK, he scores one miss - stating that AppleTV can work with regular 4:3 aspect TVs over component connections. This is only half correct - it DOES plug in, an image DOES show up, the device DOES display movies etc...but in the wrong aspect ratio. 4:3 content shows up too skinny and pillarboxed, etc.
This guy does a DIY home theater setup with more features & options than AppleTV. He then goes on to spend more money on more hardware and software to do extra stuff. Not as plug'n play simple as AppleTV, but if you're reading this, that probably isn't a problem.
This has a nice outline of additional hardware and software needed to get all this working.
AwkwardTV � Blog Archive � AppleTV plugin that plays movies
Video demonstration of proof of hack.
More info on the hack in this thread:
We just got xvid working on the Apple TV - The Something Awful Forums
Thanks to Rusty Moyher for sending this one in.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Apple TV user reports/tips/issues: " if you leave the Season and Episode metadata blank and
number the filenames with 001, 002, etc. they will appear on the
Apple TV in order by name from first to last. This kind of defeats
the purpose of metadata, of course, but is the only way I have found
to control TV Show sort order. Personally, I'll be tagging files with
the metadata and wait until Apple provides more preferences/options
for sort order on the Apple TV."
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/28/2007 05:05:00 PM
Joost successfully run on Apple TV : JoostTeam.com
tutorialninjas.net has reported success in running Joost on the Apple TV.� There are currently some problems with fonts but I am sure this will be fixed in a near future%u2026 right? What does this mean?� Once Joost goes live you will get free, unlimited TV experience in your living room for less than $300 plus what Apple TV currently offers you
What Is Joost?
Tutorial Ninjas � Blog Archive � Hacking the Apple TV:
This guide will help you with the following:
Disabling the Firewall
Enabling SSH & VNC
Playing xvid/divx encoded stuff
Running Applications(Firefox, Centerstage, etc)
Read on for Teh Guudness.
Macworld: First Look: Hacking Apple TV
Good overview of the available hacks & mods. New stuff:
Like the iPod, the Apple TV%u2014specifically, its included Apple Remote%u2014has special button combinations for accessing various %u201Chidden%u201D features. For example, pressing Menu and Up ( ) simultaneously, for approximately six seconds, will cycle through possible display resolutions. Even more interesting, pressing Menu and Down (-) will bring up the Apple TV Recovery screen, which gives you options to Restart, Run Diagnostics, or perform a Factory Restore. (The latter tells me that one of the Apple TV%u2019s hard drive partitions%u2014the drive has several%u2014contains a copy of OS X and the Apple TV software; restoring the unit restores the Apple TV, from this partition, to an out-of-the-box configuration.)
It also turns out that, Apple%u2019s statement notwithstanding, connecting a keyboard to the Apple TV%u2019s USB port does do something. Specifically, you can boot the Apple TV into single-user mode by holding down Command S at startup%u2014you can%u2019t do much from there, but it%u2019s still interesting%u2014and you can enable Verbose startup mode by holding down Command V at startup."
Also includes list and links of the known hacks and summaries of progress on some of the forums like AwkwardTV and Something Awful (and how did the SA guys become the Go To place for this topic? Not their usual genre it would seem!).
YouTube - AppleTV OS on a PC 2
Video showing what looks like AppleTV OS booting on a PC. All I have to go on is the video, have no confirmation as yet.
Thanks to Greg Boston for sending this tip in!
If you see I haven't posted something good, feel free to email me with tips etc. at the address at the top of the screen (in the site description).
So I'm still waiting to see full OS X running on an AppleTV with mouse/keyboard. Then Linux of course.
What options HAVEN'T been done yet?
Nurding out is fun.
Technical Note TN2188: Exporting Movies for iPod and Apple TV
Has some nice nitty gritty detail on max frame size, frame rates, and datarates for export for playback on AppleTV. Here's some salient bits:
....so my advice about 5 channel audio at 160 mbit may not be advisable. But then again, this is just what Apple is kicking out for the AppleTV, perhaps not the hardware's maximum capabilities.
MacNN | MS counters Apple: Xbox 360 Elite, HD films:
Microsoft on Wednesday launched its own counter to Apple's new set-top device and iTunes with its new HDMI-enabled Xbox 360 Elite game console and new HD content offerings on Xbox LIVE--"
-HD movies from Paramount and Warner Brothers (Apple's only SD)
Net Xbox 360's new features:
-it is black
-black wireless controller and headset
-HDMI output (regular unit only has component connections)
-Xbox LIVE market adds TV series & movies from A&E, ADV Films, National Geographic, & TotalVid.com
-there was already 1500 hours of content available
Read on for more specifics of what content is available in movies and TV shows.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Gizmodo's Top 5 Apple TV Hacks - Gizmodo
Headline says it all!
Almost...the 5 hacks are:
1.) Boot AppleTV from an external USB drive
2.) run XviD files on AppleTV
3.) Upgrade the hard drive in AppleTV
4.) Make Front Row look like AppleTV
5.) Get AppleTV to work on your old school non-HDTV, non-EDTV
There's links and details for all of these in the Gizmodo article, go check it out.
Since you can boot it from another drive, and run AppleTV on a regular Mac, about the only thing that hasn't been done is to run regular OS X on the AppleTV...how many days until that gets done?
MacNN | MoboVivo brings content to Apple TV:
MoboVivo and its content providers today announced that the thousands of hours of lifestyle, documentary, and entertainment TV shows that were already available for iPod, PSP, and other portable device owners are coming to the Apple TV.
$2/episode to start
MacNN | Apple TV OS successfully booted on Macs:
MacNN is reporting this:
The customized version of Mac OS X used on the Apple TV will boot on other Macs, users have confirmed today. Taking advantage of news that the customized version of Mac OS X is portable to other hardware, one owner of the media hub has successfully used the software on an external USB drive and run the OS from a MacBook rather than the Apple TV's native components -- including authorization and streaming.
Includes a video of a MacBook apparently firing up AppleTV.
EDIT - I'm not convinced this is genuine - if you watch the video, you see a "normal" Mac bootup process - which the AppleTV DOES NOT DO. It gets all the way to the dock, and THEN we see the AppleTV interface. Perhaps he just put "launch FrontRow" in his Startup Items, and then did this.
Then I read that they had to patch the Finder to make it work - so maybe this is legit?
I'm leaning towards that possibility (legit) now - see here for details.
This Much I Know - So does the Apple TV support 5.1 audio?
No. And yes. In that order. This article gives the full detail behind what that really means.
Presently can't play back 5.1, only stereo - hopefully that'll change with future downloadable software updates on AppleTV. Nice thorough analysis of all options.
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/27/2007 12:18:00 PM
Monday, March 26, 2007
Make FrontRow Look Like an AppleTV by Winnopeg.com
Spiderroll created and posted a "skin" for FrontRow to make it look like AppleTV, pulling the images directly from the OS.
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/26/2007 10:59:00 PM
So I did a little more research and updated my original article - if you've got a typical 2.40:1 aspect ratio movie*, Apple's downloadable movies are all 640 pixels wide - your DVDs are 720 pixels wide. Apple converts to square pixels, but my way you can use an anamorphic aspect ratio and use more resolution.
I bought Cars off the iTunes online store to show off iPod video for my neice and nephew on a road trip. The 2.35:1 aspect ratio movie is 640x272, for a total of 174,080 pixels.
If I rip it my way, I'll get 720x368=264,960 pixels.
That's 52% more pixels, thus 52% more resolution - and who wouldn't want half again better resolution for their movies on their AppleTV? Granted, these won't play on iPod video, but I don't want to watch them there anyway.
Read on for all the details on how to do it:
AppleTV Hacker: Mike's Hands on Report: Step By Step How To Rip DVDs for AppleTV with MediaFork
* (like many big budget movies are - Casino Royale and Blood Diamond are my two test examples)
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/26/2007 09:56:00 PM
Apples and Oranges Hands-On: Apple TV vs. TiVo Series3 HD - Gizmodo
They compare the features the two have in common - looking at pictures, surfing music, looking at downloaded content.
My favorite observation:
Both Unbox and the iTunes Store don't have enough movie and TV show content for our taste, and both can't deliver HDTV movies or TV shows. So in our mind, for now, they both suck.
They were fair in their analysis, no BS comparisons or sucker punches - in other words, I agree with their analysis.
Fun little read, spot on in my book.
Why a $100 XBox can be better than the Apple TV
His argument boils down to pick up a used Xbox for $100, if you're technically inclined it can do more than a $300 AppleTV.
I counter that if you want a slick interface and easy setup and aren't super technical (but you probably are if you're reading this), then AppleTV is the way to go.
Folks will ALWAYS be able to suggest a roll-your-own approach that is less expensive, but the quality of the purchased option, and the value of your time, are oft overlooked, no offense to the author.
iResQ - Results for Full_Service_AppleTV_Hard_Drives
I was wondering how long it would take somebody to offer this as a service - iResQ is offering updated hard drives, price includes overnight pickup and delivery:
160GB upgrade to your existing AppleTV: $300
120GB upgrade: $260
80GB upgrade: $210
(I just hate typing "99" as it is just dumb pricing psychology, all prices are actually $1 less than stated....as if that would stop you from buying it...)
Somebody else is in on the action too - TechRestore Overnight Storage Upgrade for Apple TV.
60GB Storage Upgrade: $99.99
80GB Storage Upgrade: $149.99
100GB Storage Upgrade: $169.99
120GB Storage Upgrade: $179.99
160GB Storage Upgrade: $219.99
Shipping Costs (USA I assume)
Self-ship with return overnight shipping - $19
Door-to-door with overnight pickup/return - $49
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/26/2007 07:54:00 PM
Mac Rumors: MacRumors Review: Apple TV [Updated]
I like their breakdown by category:
Ease of use - 19/20
Features - 10.5/20
Performance - 18/25
Value - 10/10
Overall - 82.5/100, B-
In summary from them:
Pros: Easy to set up and use, gorgeous interface, cross-platform connectivity to 5 computers, price
-- Cons: Limited surround sound, limited codec support, some features are incomplete/unpolished
Macworld: Mac 911: Displaying presentations via Apple TV
this is the kind of hacking I'm interested in doing with AppleTV - repurposing for other useful things. A $300 HD presentation machine is nice to have, and between Keynote, iMovie, iPhoto, QT Pro, and other simple/easy to use tools, you can do a lot.
Devil's advocate - for $375, you can get a Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player that plays back MUCH MUCH MUCH better looking footage - but you need DVD Studio Pro to author for it. And while it isn't as interactive as AppleTV for this purpose, you can make it plug-n-turn-on simple for deployment - not the case with AppleTV (until somebody hacks it to auto-play something).
Depends on whether you need to do a retail installation for presentations or an in-the-meeting-room type of presentation.
MacInTouch: timely news and tips about the Apple Macintosh
MacInTouch's useful info and links on AppleTV
Macworld: News: ViddyUp video conversion software supports Apple TV: "ViddyUp, the video conversion software from Splasm Software originally created to enable users to quickly and easily convert video to the iPod, now supports Apple TV. The 1.8 update is free for registered users; ViddyUp costs $9.95."
Read on for further details.
Macworld: First Look: Apple TV Diary: Your questions answered, Page 1
Lots going on in my non-AppleTV related world, so a quickie here - lots of Q's and lots of A's, mostly to do with networking and syncing your AppleTV.
Hey all -
so I sat down and doodled some more with my AppleTV last night and today, and here's what I learned.
What is DVD
DVDs for widescreen movies are anamorphic 720x480 - this means that if you look at the image with all the pixels as tall as they are wide, it looks wrong - the image looks too tall (or not wide enough - same thing). To get the image to look proper, you need to either crush it vertically or stretch it horizontally. And therein lies a key quality decision - if you crush it vertically, you're losing vertical resolution. if you stretch it horizontally, you maintain the resolution.
In order to maintain full resolution and display with square pixels, you want to keep the 480 pixels tall, and stretch the horizontal pixels wider to get the aspect ratio in order and get the pixels to square display.
For 16:9 movies (a 1.78 aspect ratio), the 720 pixels needs to be stretched to 854 pixels wide. I'll explain best way shortly.
Apple's downloadable movies take the cheap way out - they scale the 720 wide pixels to 640 pixels, then scale the vertical size to 360 or less (depending on aspect ratio - the "wider" the aspect ratio, the shorter in height they make it).
For iTunes video downloads (and your own converted videos for playing on iPod Video) the max datarate is 1.5 megabits H.264. Apple COULD use 640x480 size and use anamorphic display, but they chose to use smaller pixel dimensions to get better video quality at the limited datarate the hardware could handle. Perhaps we'll see separate AppleTV optimized videos in the future that are larger? I'd guess that in order to differentiate them from the iPod video size, they'd skip straight to 1280x720 (or 1280 by whatever less for aspect ratio reasons)
So, let's see how to make the best possible video conversions from DVDs for your AppleTV.
The best tool I've found so far had been Handbrake. When I went looking for the latest version, I discovered they've merrged with another company to make a new/revised product, and it is called MediaFork">MediaFork. You're going to want to download and install it.
I've got a couple of different DVDs I've been testing with - The Sciene of Sleep is a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
MediaFork Configuration for AppleTV rips fo DVDs
If I fire up MediaFork, I can configure it for optimal output of AppleTV files.
Here's how to do it:
1.) Insert your DVD (we're going to start with 1.85 pixel aspect ratio movies first)
2.) If DVD Player starts up automatically, quit it.
3.) Launch MediaFork
4.) Select the DVD in the "Detected Volume" (should do so automatically)
NOTE - click on any of these images for a larger view, but be warned it'll take you to a new page with just the image. Yes, my coding skills are weak and/or I'm lazy, take your pick. So command-click in Safari if you have Tabs enabled is my recommendation
5.) Press Open, it'll scan the chapters
6.) Title and Chapters will take care of themselves. The first thing you'll want to change is the destination - click the Browse button if the desktop isn't where you want it to go.
7.) Now is where we need to start actually changing settings from the defaults. The first one to change is under Output Settings - the File Format is already correct, but we need to change the Codecs setting from MP4 to AVC/H.264 / AAC Audio
8.) Then make sure the Encoder is set to X264 (h.264 main)
9.) Average bitrate is set to 2250 (this is my guesstimate to maintain picture quality on par with Apple's downloadable videos at the larger size we're going to use)
Note - this is pretty good quality, but scenes with a lot of motion will probably block up a bit. High data rates will yield better quality, up to a limit of how good the original DVD looked in the first place. Exactly how high you can go before you run into diminishing or non-existent improvements is something I haven't tested but am interested in the answer. The answer will also vary on a scene by scene basis - a static shot of someone standing in front of a white wall uses lots less bandwidth than, say, a panning wide shot of a city on fire - the more stuff changes frame to frame, the more bandwidth is needed to maintain a given quality level per frame. If you haven't dealt with compression before, it is a complicated subject. But it has been suggested that my suggested datarate is higher than optimal - I don't know yet, but while I may be overdoing it here, I'm confident this will look pretty good. I'm converting these to play back on my 60" 1080p set, so I want them to look REALLY good, a close match to the source DVD in quality.
10.) Click the 2-pass encoding option to ON
Your Video settings should now look like this:
11. Now click on the Picture Settings button - on the screen that comes up, click the Anamorphic (PAR) button. Keep Aspect Ratio should be OFF. You should see something like this:
12. Click Close
13.) You should see something like this:
14.) Now click on the Audio tab (next to Video)
15.) Change Sample Rate to 48, Bitrate to 160 (these are somewhat arbitrary, just what I prefer to use). EDIT/UPDATE: I'm choosing 5.1 audio in this example, banking that Apple will EVENTUALLY support it in AppleTV, but they don't as yet. Chose the stereo option if you want to save file size or are pessimistic. You should now see this:
16.) Click Rip in the bottom left corner, it will start encoding your movie. This will take approximately forever - depends on the movie length and the speed of your Mac. You'll see something like this:
17.) When it finishes, let's see what we've got. Drag your new movie to the QuickTime Player application icon to open it in QT Player, you'll see something like this:
See how everything looks too tall? That is because we're looking at an amamorphic image. In order for this to be viewed properly while still maintaining resolution, we need to stretch the image wider. How wide? While the aspect ratio is 1.85, our display is only 1.78 - so we multiply our image height (480 pixels) by 1.78 to get 854. How do we make it that wide? Easy - with QuickTime Player Pro. You have to have the Pro version - the standard version lacks the needed features. It is $29 from Apple online, or comes with Final Cut Studio. You want QT 7.1.5 for all this.
18.) To do this, press Command-J to see the Properties window. Click on the Video Track and then the Video Settings tab to see this:
19.) Uncheck Preserve Aspect Ratio, and change the Scaled Size first number from 720 to 854.
20.) If it isn't checked, make sure High Quality is turned on. You should be seeing something like this:
OK, now the should be looking right - circles should be round, not too tall or too wide.
The catch is, you need to save these settings for them to stick. If you just hit Command-S, you get a Save As dialog, since a simple .mp4 file can't remember to display stretched, so it has to be a QuickTime movie. Select Self Contained Movie and save it wherever you want it to go. Before pressing Save, you should see something like this:
OK, now you've got a movie. Want to watch it on your AppleTV? It has to go through iTunes, so drag your NEW movie icon (the one that ends with .mov, not .mp4) to the iTunes icon in the dock.
Once it is imported into iTunes (and I recommend using the Keep iTunes Libary organized so it'll copy the file to a stashed directory), you can sync iTunes with your AppleTV and make sure this new movie file gets copied over (but that's another posting).
It should display correctly in iTunes, and moer importantly, on your AppleTV and you should be good to go.
OK, it is late, so I'm going to wrap this up for now - unfortunately, I'm having trouble with Casino Royale and its 2.40:1 aspect ratio - MediaFork refuses to process full 720x480, I get 720 by less than 480. So I need to figure that out. In theory, the playback sizes should be:
for AppleTV 1.78:1 aspect ratio playback (standard 16:9): 854 pixels wide by 480 tall.
UPDATE: For 2.40:1 aspect ratio movies (like Blood Diamond and Casino Royale), if you go with the non-anamorphic defaults, you'd get 720x300 or a square pixel movie. If you wanted iPod Video compatibility, you'd have to bring that down to 266 pixels tall and 640 wide. So my way, we're getting a 50% increase in overall resolution. You still want to do the QT Player trick to stretch it to 854 pixel playback - that'll be the case with all anamorphic DVD conversions.
If you discover that I've got something wrong here, or you find out something new and useful, please add it to the Comments below.
PS - some have suggested a "Rent, Rip, Return" model with Netflix or the like, so you could add to your video library. I think that would be illegal AFAIK, and not fair to the content creators to hang onto a copy of a rental. Would you like it if somebody did that with the movie YOU made?
Sunday, March 25, 2007
I haven't tried it yet, but it is claimed it'll install and boot on any Mac - Intel based I'd presume.
Here's the link.
Makes sense - it IS just a stripped down OS X after all. Too bad it won't run on PPC hardware - I'd love to convert an old G4 and stick it in a closet....nah - AppleTV easier/better solution....
PS - thanks to Dave Gutt, Tom Parish, and the Lemmkes for sending this one in! Dave was first....
PPS - ....and it is gone - Apple legal probably swooped in pretty quick on that one - it was bootlegging the OS. But it is out on the torrent sites as all software does...
Apple TV: The first 24 hours - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)
Nice compendium of David's personal experiences with it as well as links to other articles and goodies.
The Apple TV is a trojan horse: I *so* have the urge to start buying iTS content without reserve. A long time ago a friend bought Pirates of the Caribbean as a gift for me, but I never caught the movie bug. After playing with the Apple TV for a while yesterday, however, I began wanting to buy movies like never before because this setup just works.
yep yep yep - I soooooo totally agree.
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/25/2007 12:11:00 AM
Apple TV Video
This page has links to download the AppleTV launch video (which is way groovy and in 720p), as well as the Floating Pictures screensaver - which you can run on your Mac!
Intro Movie - click to watch, right click and "Download Linked File" to save it
Right click here to Download Linked File to get the floating photos screeensaver - EDIT - while it is the screensaver from the unit, it is a Quartz Composer file, and even then may be looking for specific directories that may not be where expected. I'm not Quartz Composer savvy enough to know how to manipulate it
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/25/2007 12:05:00 AM
First Look: Apple TV
Nice sectioned reader report on AppleTV from MacinTouch. From his preliminary conclusions:
Apple TV is a great device which integrates easily into an existing home network and living room. Setup is incredibly easy, and the simple Apple Remote is a snap to use. While not of true HD quality, TV shows and movies purchased from the iTunes Store look and sound good – and better than what we get from standard cable. Slideshows are much more accessible on a large TV screen than on a computer in an office, and sharper and more detailed than those from an iPod with an AV cable. Adding other iTunes sources is easy, but Apple TV can't display slideshows from them.
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/25/2007 12:02:00 AM
Saturday, March 24, 2007
How-to: Upgrade the drive in your Apple TV - Engadget
Turns out it is NOT as easy as I thought! There are multiple partitions involved, you need to use iPartition and the command line....not a trivial task, but at least documented and doable now.
I'm going to futz around with mine some more before I upgrade it, the key limitation at this point seems to be that photos can't be streamed and MUST be local, therefore you're tying up space with the photos mandatorily onboard. All else CAN be streamed....but then you have to have the other machine on and running. Key to this process is careful and smart selection of preferences to determine what gets cached locally and is always available vs what you're OK with streaming. Either a really big drive or an upgrade to a Mac to be a fulltime server is in order it would appear...
PS - thanks to buddy Zane Rutledge for pointing me down this path...
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/24/2007 05:20:00 PM
A little OOBE (Out Of Box Experience) video I took of unboxing and hooking up my new AppleTV.
This is just Part 1, getting it out of the box (yep, that's the first time I opened it), plugged in, powered up, and connected to a network.
I talk while unpacking about various pros and cons and issues as we go. The descriptions take a little longer, but I'd pre-strung my toslink and HDMI cables, so it is about a wash.
I'll finish up the tour and other parts later - it's LATE!
I set up an Amazon Affiliate Store for recommended gear and gear of interest - click here or use the link at the top right of the page.
Just set it up 5 minutes ago, I'll keep fleshing it out, adding more details, and filtering down to The Good Recommended Stuff over the next few days.
It is all Amazon, not me - this is just a simple affiliate page - what that means is I never see your credit card, it is all Amazon in terms of pricing, service, shipping, security, etc. Prices are the same as you'd get going to Amazon in general, except that I get a itty bitty weensy cut of it.
So support this site by buying your stuff through these links - and save a buck or few in the process. $50 for an HDMI cable at Radio Shack? Bag that, get one for $3.65 instead from my store!
Other goodies include WiFi routers, HDMI switches, etc.
Update - I set up a nice simple page with Best Of choices for cables & Apple WiFi routers here - nice and simple, and if you don't know which cables you need, you could buy them ALL for about $40, under $50 with shipping...which is STILL less than Radio Shack charges for the 6 foot HDMI cable...can ya believe that?
Friday, March 23, 2007
Video: Apple TV menu and interface walkthrough - Engadget
Until I get my own one done...
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/23/2007 10:40:00 PM
NOTES ON APPLETV:
Executive summary type stuff first:
-a wired connection is waaaaaaaay faster. If you can sync over an Ethernet rather than Wifi connection, DO IT. 100BaseT as compared to 802.11g (not the faster/newer 802.11n) is about SIX TIMES FASTER. 802.11n is also slower than an Ethernet connection - the limiting factor is the write speed of the drive in the AppleTV.
-I'd been planning on upgrading my hard drive in the AppleTV since somebody said you couldn't fine tune manage your AppleTV content - incorrect - you can only sync by Playlist, NOT by individual song/movie. This makes it pretty manageable.
-Also, surfing via remote gets cumbersome when looking for something in particular - you miss that search field...
-the AppleTV is VERY careful about screen burn in issues - when playing a song, it flips the picture and text to opposite sides after a brief interval, then flips to screensaver mode if unattended. Then song info is overlaid in the corner - NICE attention to detail
-AppleTV can only "pay attention to" one network connection at a time - if syncing over Ethernet, I can't add another iTunes to stream from over wireless.
-so best setup suggestion - sync originally over Ethernet, then switch to wireless for streaming. I'll betcha getting long playlists up, fast forwarding, etc. is faster over wired connections though.
-what happens when you set up to sync to one machine wired, then switch AppleTV to wireless? Will it get confused or cause problems?
-I therefore plan to connect wired as much as possible.
-the physical unit itself - sucka runs HOT - stacking ill-advised
-even after pairing the remote with the AppleTV, it keeps accidentally triggering stuff on my laptop - can I pair my laptop remote with my laptop so they'll leave each other alone? DEFINITELY a concern!
AH - THE FIX:
1.) Hold remote for the Mac close to the little IR sensor on the Mac
2.) Hold down Menu and Next (right arrow) on remote for several seconds until the chain link looking icon appears
-can't play back stuff in Movies or Music folder on your Mac - it HAS to go through the gatekeeper of iTunes
-as already noted, only H.264 is supported at this time officially - although hacking Xvid in there seems to be doable (I haven't...yet)
-Also seems that it can't utilize the wireless/wired bridging that my Apple brand (Airport Express) router does - while my wired & wireless machines can see each other over the network, AppleTV can't, and that's a damn shame I wish they'd fix in v1.1
-MAN this thing has depth. There are lots and lots of "Apple Luv" touches all over it - while there are still a bunch of rough edges, a LOT of your $300 worth of value is from the good UI in my book. Roku? F that - a high def iTunes interface with HD picture viewing and a killer UI - that alone, TO ME, is worht the $300. I'd love it if it had "real" HD playback, PVR, HD downloadable movies etc. - but that is all extras.
-up/down buttons do NOT adjust volume if connected via optical audio - this is kinda normal/expected, but annoying
-if you surf out of a category (like Music), it stops playing - so you can't keep listening to music while you look over Photos or something.
-high res artwork is worth having!!!
-Navigating large song libraries is tougher in AppleTV than in iTunes. It is about the same as with an iPod, but no click wheel (you just hold down the button to scroll fast through a list instead, which isn't as precise).
-between cover art and trying to surf through content by artist/genre/albums/etc., keeping your metadata complete and high quality (every song should have cover art, genre, artist, etc. all filled in) makes life MUCH better - it is sad when you don't have cover art for a song. I came across a link for an app to go find all your cover art and install it in iTunes for you for $18 - I'm reconsidering that now, considering how much content I have.
While setting up to configure my AppleTV, I decided to first sync to my laptop, to simulate a more normal/typical user setup rather than my own ridiculous excess.
Copying over some TV shows and movies, I first started by using the built-in 802.11g (NOT the latest fastest 802.11n, which requires the newest wireless tech in BOTH your computer and your router to take advantage of).
Importing over network from remote drive directly into iTunes (which is set to copy & organize files) over 802.11g wireless with full signal strength and no other traffic on the network - about 1.5 MB/sec (yes, megaBYTES, not megaBITS).
Importing over network from remote drive directly into iTunes (which is set to copy & organize files) over 100BaseT network (from high speed RAID to laptop drive): about 10.5-11 MB/sec. So clearly, a wired connection is MUCH faster and more responsive if you can arrange it.
(note - these are G5 to MacBook transfer speeds, NOT transferring to AppleTV - I just wanted to show that wired connections are about 7 times faster!)
OK, so my goal was to see what the OOBE (Out Of Box Experience) was like with AppleTV. There's already dozens of nearly pornographic explorations online (see other posts below), so I thought I'd see how LONG it takes to get set up, by stopwatching and taking realtime notes and video.
Complete non-sequitor...I have no idea why "Gay Friendly Auto" ads are appearing on this page on my blog...does my just saying that mean that guarantees they'll continue? Just curious how the demographic/Google/AdSense algorithm decided this was a good page for those ads...if in the early 2000s it was a case of "My TiVO thinks I'm gay" as a meme, is the New Shiznit "AdSense thinks my blog is gay?" Just wonderin'...
--hooking it up - it is inherently 720p - even when connected to a 1080p or1080i set. Drat. That makes me think that 960x540 footage will be getting scaled to 1280x720 for playback. Nope - you can set resolutions on the set.
When actually syncing, I could check network througput with Activity Monitor and over 802.11g I was getting about 1.8-2 MB/sec - therefore, about 7 GB per hour - so it would take over FOUR HOURS to sync up and fill up. Bag that - I put it on a hard line (GigE) and tried again - copy transfer rate went up to
-I decided to try to capture the image via my analog inputs on my BlackMagic Multibridge Extreme. Unfortunately, I'd already returned the DeckLink HD Studio that had HDMI input - not that it would've worked anyway due to HDCP (High Datarate Copy Protection).
Is there Macrovision protection or something on the HD analog outs? Why can't I get it to show up? I tried the same presets by feeding from another uncompressed HD workstation - 720p59.94. I tried passing through the professional HD CRT and then into the Multibridge, I tried an AJA HD10A analog to HD-SDI converter, lots of things - nuthin'. In the end, I couldn't get the analog output to record to anything - protected, or am I just doing it wrong? I spent about an hour and decided, BAG IT.
Back to the little video camera.
-trailers are standard def but widescreen
-I'm futzing with some videos I took of the UI stuff, will past ASAP, but after spending an hour plus failed attempt to record the output (and doesn't THAT have ramifications for the future!), I'm kinda wiped after a long day as well (5 hours sleep on top of that)
But I'm listening to REM's "Talk About The Passion" that I haven't listened to in forever - and isn't THAT half the point of this device?
Apple TV Has Landed - New York Times
David Pogue takes a look at the AppleTV and likes what he sees. He compares it to the Xbox 360 and Netgear's similar media device, and points out something I sincerely agree with - when it comes to consumer devices, it is NOT the feature set - it is the experience, which is tied in closely with the UI...dummies....
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/23/2007 10:32:00 PM
Macworld: First Look: Apple TV Diary: The gimme moment
Christopher Breen's list of what more he wants AppleTV to do. I wholeheartedly concur!
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/23/2007 10:20:00 PM
Apple TV user reports/tips/issues
lots of good tidbits - by the way - use comments to add anything nifty you find, or just email me (see top of page for email address).
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/23/2007 10:18:00 PM
4Flix.Net announces compatibility with Apple TV | MacMinute News
Online video site 4Flix.Net has announced that all of it's digital media is compatible with the new Apple TV...
...all of its premium video content is currently available for download free throughout the month of March.
'Since all of our content is DRM-Free, compatibility has never been an issue,'
....we are proud to offer more movies than are currently available from the iTunes Movie store.'"
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/23/2007 10:14:00 PM
Apple TV's Blurry Future
I disagree with the streaming video bit though - but I'm streaming over wired connection, faster than wireless. After syncing finishes, I'll try wireless video streaming and see how that does. Mac to Mac Shared Video streaming fast forwarding over WiFi is awful, I'll see how this one does.
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/23/2007 10:13:00 PM
I learned a valuable lesson over the years - people are afraid of what they don't understand, and if they are concerned about something they don't understand (typically something newfangled), people throw money at what they don't understand, overcompensating to lay their fears to rest. All too often, however, this is a mistake. Case in point - HDMI cables. If you've been buying computer or A/V gear for very long in either the professional or consumer space, you've seen things like Monster Cables - which I won't bother linking to since they are the most horrible, ridiculous ripoff of all cabling time. It isn't that they are bad cables - they're actually quite nice. But they are RIDICULOUSLY OVERPRICED, to the point that my Alesis Monitor One manual (my nice, professional studio reference montiors (that's speakers to everybody else)) specifically went out of their way to point out you DO NOT NEED MONSTER BRAND CABLES. They are typically over-specced, which isn't a bad thing, but are waaaaaay overpriced as I mentioned.
Case in point - I goofed when ordering my HDMI switch (more on him later), and got the wrong mix of cables - I need another HDMI to HDMI, but I have an HDMI to DVI. Drat.
So I figured I'd run up to my local Radio Shack and get one, knowing it'd be overpriced but in my hands. Little did I realize...even the non Monster Cable 6 foot HDMI to HDMI cable was $50. Holy crap. The Monster brand cable was either $80 or $120, I was so appalled I don't recall the price.
Jumping on Amazon, how much are they? As little as $3 and change ($3.12, new). I've three coming with overnight shipping for less than Radio Shack would charge me for one.
Quality cables are worth having - when I was shopping for my big long 50 footer, I got a big thick fat one. But as a rule, Monster Brand cables are to be avoided like a tax audit - they will do you no good and hurt a LOT.
As a general rule of thumb for DVI, HDMI, FireWire, USB, etc. cables, look for thicker rather than thinner cables, look for stout reinforcements around the connector, look for sturdily built stuff that can take getting stepped on and yanked around. But walk right past Monster, they are worse than Microsoft in terms of FUD and price gouging. And the kicker? THEY DON'T WORK ANY BETTER. Your picture will NOT look better, your audio will NOT sound better. This is ESPECIALLY true with cables for digital gear like DVI, HDMI, toslink, etc. They typically work or they don't, and it is incredibly rare for image quality to be affected.
Now analog cables, such as for RCA plug audio, component/s-video/composite, or speaker wire? Get thick stout robust cables or wiring....at Fry's, Altex, or somesuch. Off brand speaker wire is JUST FINE if it is of sufficient gauge. Check your manual or your audio buddies for what is appropriate. I go to Altex Electronics in town, they carry stout but generic and inexpensive stuff and it all works fine for me.
So remember - that $120 Monster HDMI cable will work exactly as well, generate the EXACT SAME PICTURE as that $9 one online. Stores like Best Buy ONLY carry Monster Brand, and I wouldn't doubt it if they make more profit off the cables than they do some of the electronics they sell for the cables to go with. I know that was the case for printer cables back in the early 90s - printers were the loss leader, the cables for $50 cost $2 in bulk...
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/23/2007 05:36:00 PM
AnandTech: Apple TV Part 1: Unboxed and Dissected
Nitty gritty - what chips, how to open'er up, etc.
BTW - I had to drive out to the FedEx depot to get mine, they tried to deliver whilst I was at the hospital.
I'll have stuff to say about mine shortly.
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/23/2007 04:37:00 PM
DIY: Apple TV Hard Drive Upgraded to 120GB - Gizmodo
Hooray! It's doable. I may have to run out to Fry's to get a 200GB IDE drive today, then document the whole process.
I've already got a pretty good guess on how to do it in broad strokes:
1.) disassemble AppleTV and remove the hard drive (zero to warranty voided in how many seconds?)
2.) use SuperDuper to clone the original hard drive, using my little USB 2.0 to anything cable I have (and if mine is wrong size, that's second thing I'm picking up at Fry's) - or use my old FireWire enclosure for laptop drives. And SAVE THAT DISC IMAGE! If you screw up, you need to be able to put it back Like It Was.
3.) get a bigger hard drive of correct interface & physical size and bigger capacity
4.) use SuperDuper to put that disc image back onto the bigger disc
EDIT - 4.5) As long as you have the patient open on the table, why not install some extra codecs?
5.) reassemble and boot up AppleTV
Seriously - with over 100GB of music already, plus 3-4 Apple bought movies, plus 15 or 20 TV shows already, plus 20+GB of pictures, a 200 is entirely feasible - I might already be filling up a 160 GB drive after formatting capacity losses, OS & sample videos are accounted for.
MacNN | Apple TV hacked to run XviD, other formats - you have to pull the drive and install some stuff, but hey, here we go...but their link is broken so we can't check it out directly.
Ah! Working link for the details.
update - the thread keeps growing as more info comes in - nice job Apple with the password of "frontrow"
Macworld: First Look: Apple TV Diary: Out of the box Nice long OOBE article. If you don't know what OOBE means, then pray to Google.
Posted by Mike Curtis at 3/23/2007 01:02:00 AM
Apple TV Fast Start: The New User's Guide to Apple TV START HERE!
Apple TV: What You Need
Apple TV: Connecting the Cables
Apple TV: How to run diagnostics
Apple TV: Tips and Basic Troubleshooting
Apple TV Tip: Initial content sync over an 802.11b or an 802.11g network
Apple TV: Sync or stream differences and set up
Apple TV: Syncing time and streaming performance dependent on the speed of wireless network
Apple TV: Where to find the Ethernet and wireless ID
Where do I set my computer's name for Apple TV?
Troubleshooting Apple TV not recognized in iTunes
Apple TV cannot join networks that use high ASCII or double-byte characters in their name or password
Apple TV: Switching between wired and wirelesss networks
Apple TV: Connections through proxy servers are not supported
Apple TV: HDMI takes precedence over component video connections if both connected
Apple TV: HDMI video is too dark or too light
Apple TV: WPA-Enterprise encryption does not ask for a user name
Pairing and Unpairing the Apple Remote with Apple TV
Apple TV: Initial Configuration
Import, Sync, or Stream Your Content to Apple TV
Apple TV: What kinds of music and movies can I play on Apple TV?
Apple TV: Syncing Photos via iTunes
Apple TV: HDMI audio no longer working
Apple TV: Guide to ports and connectors
Apple TV: Adding Podcasts via iTunes
Apple TV: No picture using component video
Apple TV: Internet connection required to playback purchased iTunes Store content
Export your iMovie projects to use on Apple TV
How to perform a Factory Restore on your Apple TV
Apple TV: Change from Vivid or Dynamic picture setting for best color display
TCP and UDP ports and protocols used by Apple TV
Apple TV: About the Status Light
Apple TV starts up to a flashing question mark
Apple TV: Paired remote stops working
What does the USB port do on the Apple TV?
Apple TV: Wireless networking list does not display my wireless access point's name
Apple TV: Some languages may not display correctly
Sync is temporarily paused when Apple TV is playing video content
iTunes Mac 7.1 Help. Playing home movies on your TV using an Apple TV
iTunes Mac 7.1 Help: Playing your iTunes library on your TV over a network
Plus and minus on Apple Remote do not control Apple TV volume
Some photos may not be rotated correctly when viewed on Apple TV
Apple TV does not play purchased content after "deauthorize all"
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Movies
I'd already written these over at my usual blog, HD for Indies:
AppleTV may transform video industry....or not - link & some quotes from an article, my own rebuttal
AppleTV starts shipping, Mike's on the way - my AppleTV has shipped, but isn't here yet
Drat, I'm not first - Setting Up Apple TV video - first round of setting up videos going online, and some commentary as usual
Thursday, March 22, 2007
....and to think, even though I ordered Day Zero, AND paid for expedited shipping, and I still don't have mine. Grr, grr, GRRR!
So instead, here's a ton of info that isn't first hand from me. Sigh.
-Accelerate Your Macintosh!'s links to over 40 Knowledge Base Docs on AppleTV - 3/22/07. I'm not ABOUT to go make links to them all.
-better organized listing of new KBase docs
-Apple TV: First impressions | Crave : The gadget blog - with c|net video. complete with anal retentive chef, I mean unpacker. It is packed up like an iPod. No power brick, just a power cord (more like consumer A/V gear). NO CABLES other than power cable included - LAAAAAAME. Truly, the Anal Rententive Reviewer. Nice concise quote:
The Apple TV is a bigger, stationery-networked iPod that you hook up to your TV, and its degree of desirability is directly proportional to how much iTunes is the center of your digital media universe
-MacNN | Best Buy to offer Apple TV on Tuesday: " will be available in all 822 of its U.S. stores starting on Tuesday " - average of about 5 per store. Get there early if you want one from there. Bring your elbow pads.
-Top Ten Reasons You Don%u2019t Need Apple TV (Yet) | iLounge - I take issue with them right off the bat- # 10 talks about using a 5th gen iPod - it isn't HD, the UI is worse, etc. - not the same kind of thing. But other than that, there are a lot of rational points. Like if you don't have an HDTV, or have lots of non-AppleTV media, it doesn't DVR, it doesn't do ANY shiny disc media, etc.
-Five Little Things We Don't Like About Apple TV - Gizmodo - to cheat and summarize - initial boot time is long, wireless syncing slow, can't manually resync, trailers have to fully buffered (or downloaded?) before playing.
-AppleTV upskirt shots - but wait there's LOTS more!
-Will Apple TV be bigger than iPhone?Loooong article of analysis:
"Not surprisingly, then, some industry experts say Apple TV, due to be released this month, will be a huge iPod-like success, doing for digital video what the iPod did for audio. Some even think Apple TV could be bigger than Apple Inc.'s much-ballyhooed iPhone, which will be released in June.
'Long term, strategically, Apple TV as a revenue-generating platform is much bigger than iPhone,' said Jeff Heynen, directing analyst for broadband and IPTV for Infonetics Research. 'It's a $300 device that multimillions of people will put in their homes vs. a $500 device [an iPhone] in a market that's saturated with BlackBerries and similar things."
I dunno about that - my thoughts - as for similar to iPod's efffect on audio, yes and no.
Yes - an easy to use gadget that lets you access digital media more easily than before.
No - well, audio is a portable thing, and iPod roxored because it let you take all your music with you everywhere and enjoy it anywhere - on the bus, on the jogging trail, at work, in the car, during minor surgery, etc. But the same can't be said of AppleTV - it bridges the gap from computer in den to TV. Which is darn nice, but not revelatory. I stil think iPhone will be a bigger deal long term.
My other gripe - while it is technically HD video, just BARELY. LITERALLY - it is the lowest resolution that can clearly and arguably be said to be "real" HD, as well as the DEAD MINIMUM frame rate that any content an be said to be full speed. While 960x540 at 30fps is higher resolution than NTSC or PAL, it ain't real HD, no matter how you want to argue it. 960x540: higher than SD? Yes? As high as HD? No. No, no, and for you in the back - oh yeah, NO.
I don't even have mine yet, and already I'm realizing the hard drive is waaaaaaay too small for my own power user needs. I'm already seriously considering putting a 200 GB hard drive in there to handle all my CURRENT pictures (only last 3 years, forget all the burned CDs of Laptops Of Yore), audio (MP3s and AACs), and iTunes video (I've been a Good Boy and haven't Rip, Rent, & Returned from my Netflix service in bulk...yet...).
-40GB is pitifully small - they'll fix this.
-960x540 @ 30fps is too low and too slow. 1280x720 is too low, and 24 fps is too slow to be a real HD device. Mark My Words - Next MWSF, 2.0. Airport Express with audio streaming was the first step, this is the second with onscreen UI, full SD and toe into HD. HD downloadable movies are next @ 720p at 5mbit (that's the spec, checkit), and next year we'll get more.
-other notes from around the web:
-does not do Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Boooo!
-no streaming Internet radio playback
-can't shuffle music videos
-all movies gotta be in iTunes library, NOT in Movies folder
-streaming is its saving grace - you don't HAVE to shove a bigger hard drive in there for audio and video, but pictures MUST be local - can't stream'em.
-drive capacity is even less than expected - start with 40GB, but then formatted capacity is 37GB, then the OS and the sample videos are another 4GB, so you only have 33GB to work with for your own media.
The 40GB hard drive out of the box can store only 32.84GB (formatting, OS and virtual RAM takes the rest?). This is a major limitation for me as my digital media assets far outstrip this capacity. Yes, I know I can stream, but would like more HDD storage for flexibility and limit the need to switch between ATV and iMac for streamed content (see next comment).
The ATV can't auto-switch between sources (ATV or computer) or does not let one set preferences for the 'source' by media type. One must choose the source in the settings menu. For example, if one wants to view photos, which can only be synched/copied to the ATV, then you must choose the ATV as the source. Separately, if you want to stream music (as I want to since my music library is 50 GB) one must switch the source to a computer. This is easy, but takes a couple minutes to go through the interface and for the ATV to 'connect' to the computer/iTunes.
An issue with this, besides the time is takes, is that if I want to watch a slideshow of images (they have to be synched/copied to the ATV), I can't play any background music as my music has to be streamed, which is a different 'source'. So the ATV can only read from one source at any time and can't auto-switch based on preferences."
Bummer - but this sounds like a surmountable software issue - why NOT be able to pull from hard drive and network at same time? AppleTV is, after all, a stripped down computer, so this is a fixable thing. I'd imagine we'll see a series of firmware and software updates over time, that will likely show up in iTunes first and then be downloadable to the AppleTV, henceforth to be called ATV (great, now I'll get AdSense ads for All Terrain Vehicles...) In time, I'm sure they'll figure out how to download directly to ATV. At present, you can surf movie previews on ATV, but not download movies or work with the iTunes Store directly....if Apple wants this to take off, somebody is working on this right now, I hope. Somebody somewhere suggested they'll drag their feet to sell more Macs - I doubt it - you can use any ancient PC (or Mac) that runs the minimum OS to be the iTunes host, and it does NOT need to be fast at all - all it is doing is pushing tiny amounts of network traffic, no processing going on of any meaningful sort.
Apple TV - Review by PC Magazine
PROS: Basically a TV-sized iPod. Can stream iTunes content from five computers. Shared iTunes library function makes filling up the 40 GB hard drive easy. Stream content when you want to watch it. Could replace an entire stereo/DVD component system for non-stereophiles.
CONS: Not all video content that plays in iTunes plays on Apple TV%u2014some QuickTime surgery is required. Same cheap HiFi remote. Video resolution will irk some discerning eyes. Only works with widescreen TVs.
Rogue Amoeba - Under The Microscope - has a pic of AppleTV working with a plain jane 480i STANDARD def TV set - the specs claimed 480p was required, but there's a 480i preset, and he's even got a pic to prove it. But you do have to connect with component cables, so maybe that is why Apple is stating 480p minimum, just to avoid the cabling confusion. Also, I'd guess that the aspect ratio is "squarshed" to fit the 4:3 image when AppleTV is expecting a 16:9 aspect ratio physical device.
He goes on to state another issue, this one a serious problem for me:
With an iPod you have the choice between syncing everything or manually managing. The AppleTV does not allow for manual management. This means it's not possible to drag and drop select songs to the AppleTV. I'd love to use syncing, but my music library alone is over 40 gigs, so that won't work.
Uh oh. Read on for how he deals with it.
Hey all -
this is Mike Curtis, of HD for Indies (hdforindies.com).
I've been writing 99% of hdforindies.com for a few years, and now along comes the AppleTV, and I'm Into It.
So I decided to start another blog, specific to AppleTV, because I'm crazy that way and apparently have way too much free time.
HD for Indies is a lot of fun, but is my work - this is really more for fun.
This blog is going to be about using and messing around with the AppleTV. It is NOT going to be about doing illegal things like getting illicit content. It'll be about doing clever things, and at some point will probably involve voiding the warranty, since I'm already scheming about how to get a bigger hard drive in there, and will it be recognized, can a USB drive be attached and somehow recognized, can a USB DVD drive be attached and recognized and used, etc. etc. etc.
I'll flesh it out as I go along. Witness the majesty of how I've already screwed up the basic template. I keep hearing the Ren & Stimpy "It's Log!" song transmogrified in my head:
It's barely begun
it's a heap!
...or something like that.