So for years now my iMac has also served as my media center for watching movies and playing music.
Now I'm moving to a new apartment and there's no way to have my desk positioned in a way that will make sense for watching my favorite shows, so I'm investing in a 40-42" HDTV and am looking for an ideal streaming solution.
I would most prefer the Apple TV 3 for it's seamless integration with my mac setup, but being that there is no jailbreak yet, and no timeline for it's release I'm completely out of luck now that the scene has abandoned AVI, and the Apple TV doesn't natively support mkv.
So my only options (seem to be) having to convert all the movies and shows I can only get in mkv for HD, or consider a third party solution. (or perhaps even over-paying for the now in demand Apple TV 2 and giving up 1080p?)
Thoughts and recommendations please! I need to commit and order something in the next day or two so it can all be set up when we move into the new place on the 15th.
Thanks for any help!
P.S. I am entirely new to HDTVs and streaming so please bear with. As I mentioned earlier, the computer has been my sole media center up until now.
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Many current TV's and Bluray players support AVI and MKV via DLNA wired or wireless. If you can get a DLNA server running on your Mac then you don't need any hardware other than a good TV.
My 2010 TV has limited DLNA support but my Samsung Bluray player handles AVI and MKV fine. I have an old PC running windows XP and the free Serviio DLNA server and that allows me to watch AVI and MKV on my TV without buying any special hardware. I can do the same thing with my Android tablet. No special hardware needed.
I have used the Seagate FreeAgent Theater+which seems to be a dead end product with a bad UI and I would not recommendthis product at all. I currently use a Western Digital TV Live which is a muchbetter product. I also have an Apple TV 3 and have found the WI-FI performanceon the ATV 3 to be better then the built in Western Digital TV Live. You cannotice the difference on 1080 material. You can plug a hard drive directly intoa usb port on the Western Digital and play any content without any problem. Youcan also use a wired network connection which should also eliminate and 1080playback problems. Overall I am happy with the Western Digital product and alsothe ATV 3. My content sources are Itunes and a NAS box which has DLNAcapabilities built in and outside of learning the initial setup procedure theWD product seems to have little problem connecting to either a shared networkconnection or a DLNA connection.
I know there are a few other devices available but I have no knowledge ofhow well they work.
WDTV Live +1
Works fine. Even can plug in a Mac-formatted HD (do make sure you "eject" it before disconnecting). Streams from my iMac to the HDTV and also an older SDTV (as the WDTV has HDMI, Composite and even Component). Nice product.
Danzeb, thanks for pointing out the DLNA. Looks like the TV I'm considering right now, the Panasonic TCL42E50 (currently $629 shipped) offers this and supports mkv as well as avi! Does this mean I wouldn't even need another device to stream HD videos from my iMac to the tv?
As for the WDTV Live recommendations. How does this compare feature wise to something like the Roku running Plex or XMBC?
If they are entirely different please forgive my ignorance. Like I said I am entirely new to this end of the media management!
I cannot comment on how difficult/easy/impossible it is to get DLNA working on your iMac. Whether you can pull that off or not answers your question about whether you need another device or not.
I'm not a fan of Apple TV, which was mentioned in one post. I stopped following the product years ago so perhaps this is no longer true, but it certainly was true that the product did NOT do 1080i/p video and converted EVERYTHING to 720p.
Roku is generally a very good device for streaming from the internet (ie. Amazon video, Netflix, various other sites) but it hasn't been a great choice as a media player. However, I had not ever heard of Plex prior to your post so perhaps that changes the game with the device but as I never heard of it before just now, I have no experience with this. I don't know anything about XMBC either.
If you are invested in the itunes architecture than I would have to say stick with the apple tv even though I am not an apple fan at all.
But I would certainly add another vote for the wdtv units. I have a first gen model that doesn't have network capabilities but it is a fine media player. The Live models have the networkability functions you are seaking - I assume the Live models are fully dlna compatible but I don't know that for 100% certain.
I'm sure you already know that purchased itunes videos won't work with other players. I don't know if you can Stream them at all with other players. I'm sure you can with the apple tv as that is in the "family" but I don't know if it works at all with non apple devices. - edit I know the dowloaded files won't work on a harddrive on a non apple tv unit since those are encrypted - they may be streamable if itunes allows that for non apple tv devices but I don't know if it does. edit - of course that does not apply to non-drm mp3 files you buy from itunes obviously - but older drmd itunes music files will require an apple device for playback unless you burn them to a cd and rip them to open mp3 but I"m sure you probably know that already.Donatello - The Shredder? Michelangelo - Maybe all that hardware is for making coleslaw?
I will suggest that one not purchase a TV with the intent of using its USB port to play movies from a flash drive. While it is certainly possible for some movie formats to play, my experience has been that most videos will not simply because the TV is expecting a certain encoding and your file is just slightly different ("B" frame, compression, you name it).
Buy the TV for what it is: A video display (and maybe decent audio if you intend -not- to use a home theater setup).
Being the Mac forum does anyone here have experience getting DLNA working with OS X? Would appreciate any pointers.
I'm deeply invested in the Mac OS platform, but for my videos I don't use iTunes at all since most have been avi, moreso mkv lately now as I switch to HD material. So to clarify, I use a lot of Mac OS but not iTunes all that much other than for syncing my iPad and iPhones.
Okay, so for streaming content from my iMac to the TV it seems folks are saying the WD is better than the Roku. Will the WD do this out of the box, or do I have to buy some kind of wireless adaptor, which I seem to be reading about on Amazon reviews? Thanks again for your help.
One more question as we finalize the living room layout it looks as though the computer desk may be very close to the actual TV console now… I would imagine that wired networking would be advantageous? If so, would that change the recommendation as far as WD over Roku or other alternatives?
Again my key priorities are support for:
HD Quality viewing of MKV and AVI files
Ability to Watch YouTube / Vimeo type content directly from the web.
Amazon Prime support would be nice but isn't' a deal breaker, and I'm not much at all concerned with paid channels like Netflix and Hulu.
Wired networking is by far the best way to go. The WD unit has wireless built in and is useable but on HD material may have some streaming problems.
YouTube is the death of this thread. I'm not aware of any streaming devices that support it except for Google TV and nobody recommends you use that. Google has been fierce in denying WD and Roku the ability to connect to YouTube. The reality is that you are going to have to sacrifice this, at least at present.
HD material in 720p should not be a problem streaming to the WD. 1080i/p can be a problem but if you have a fast enough wireless connection it can mitigate that. Or you could just dump the file onto a USB flash drive and connect it. My old WD player can't stream at all so that's how I have to use it. I know some people piss and moan like they are having their skin pulled off to have to copy a file to a USB flash drive to play it, but it's not that big of a deal to me.
The WD unit does support YouTube. I usually airplay from my ipad to the ATV3 for those few times I want to see a large screen version but I just checked the WD unit and it is supported.
The YouTube logo is right on the main product page for the WD TV Live!
I already have USB as an option with my DVD player, and the new TV is likely to have a built in USB option as well. Some people don't mind maintaining a physical DVD collection either, but this thread is explicitly dedicated to advice on a wireless or wired instant play solution.
RBK, so what size does WD play YouTube then? No full screen even on YouTube videos that are available in HD? If Airplay from the iPad is the only fullscreen option then I may scratch that as a buying factor in which networking/streaming device I get.
Last edited by Danteism; 9th Jun 2012 at 00:39.
Now that my computer is going to be close to the TV setup, can I just use the mini displayport on my iMac to deliver the audio and video from my computer directly to the HDTV? More importantly am I able to black the iMac screen while the video is displayed on the TV? This simple wired solution could make the entire streaming/networking exercise irrelevant.
Well, I'm not really and expert on YouTube but I just looked at a couple on the WD. I viewed them on a 32" Sharp 1080 LCD screen. The quality of the few I viewed looked fine, from very good to ok. The selection menu is a little confusing compared to the IPad YouTube app.
I know that the YouTube videos are supposed to be available in different resolutions but I do not have Adobe Flash installed on any of my 6 computers nor of course the IPad. If I remember correctly you are able to select a resolution to view and I did not notice anyway to do this on the WD unit. Some of the files I looked at on the WD were clearly HD quality and full screen and I would guess the default is some version of High Quality but I don't know this for sure. A lot of the material uploaded to YouTube is of poor quality and nothing is going to help that.
I would strongly suggest a wired connection vs wireless. My Sharp and WD are in my bedroom and currently are a Wi-Fi connection. The YouTube stuff played fine but I have had some high bit rate 1080 files that have some trouble under Wi-Fi. I am currently in the process of extending my wired connections so this problem will go away for me.
If you use Wi-Fi try to get a base unit that operates in the 5 ghz band as this seems to work much better. The Ipad and ATV 3 built in Wi-Fi can operate in this band and I suspect that this is the reason the they seem to have less trouble with HD material. I don't believe the WD unit operates in the band so wired is the way to go.
I have a Mac and you can certainly use that directly connected to your HDTV. you will have to find software for the Mac to handle the different video formats. I purchased a new Mac Mini thinking I would do this but I have found the ease of the WD unit is such that I changed my mind. I do have the mini recording HDTV via a Elgato/Silicon Dust unit and I like the fact I can do this while still watching other stuff on my HDTV with the ATV ot WD units.
Got the answer from Apple Care support. Once the TV is connected I can simply select it as the main monitor and disable the iMac monitor with a few simple clicks. So much easier than streaming and external devices. I've got my solution for the cost of a single cable!