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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey!
I guess I should start by explaining what I do now, then ask about what I want to do. First off, I'm not a big HT guy. I don't have cable (or an antenna), and until recently not even a TV. I'm much more a two-channel analog guy. But I got a deal on a 42" flat screen, and I'm trying to integrate it into my system. Right now, what I do is haul my older 2009 Macbook, along with an external HD, into the living room, plug in the mini DVI to VGA cable, plug an eighth-inch mini-jack to RCA cable between the headphone jack of the Macbook and the stereo, et voilá, home theatre. Most of the video I play is lately in the form of .avi and .mkv files, for which I use VLC.
I started looking into Apple TV, and at first, it sounded like the solution I needed. But it seems it uses iTunes to control video play, and not all of my files are iTunes media. Then I came across VideoDrive, which apparently provides the codecs needed for iTunes to play these other files. I'm wondering if anyone here has used it, and how well it works.
I have two concerns about the Apple TV. One is that I'm using a Linksys WRT54g wireless router. The router is at the other side of the house, which works fine for most things. But having no experience with streaming video, I wonder how well it will work, particularly if someone else in the house is using bandwidth. As it is, I think my laptop is too old to handle 1080p. I certainly can't get it to play without choking over the adapter cable. Will 720p do ok over the wireless?
The other is the fact that the Apple TV has no analog audio outputs. OK, I was kinda thinking of getting a D/A converter, but as I'm not working right now, I can blow $99 on an Apple TV, but a D/A converter? The only thing I can think of is to use the analog audio outs of the TV. Not the best solution, even if it works, but ok, a temporary kluge. Am I right to assume audio also travels through the HDMI cables from the Apple TV?
So, I guess my question is: Will my ideas work? And of course, I will appreciate whatever thoughts you might have.
 

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Hi there,

First, Videodrive is supposed to be a good choice for what you are trying to do. (I don't have experience with it personally). The idea behind Videodrive is to get iTunes to accept video formats (like AVI and MKV) that it would not accept otherwise into its library. There are a few different ways to do importing, some of which involve leaving the original format of the video as is (since iTunes can play them on a Mac anyway) or converting them to H.264 so iOS devices like iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs can play them. People have been doing this for a long time on the Mac. Videodrive is supposed to make the process easier for the novice user (or the user who doesn't want to fool with the hassle).

I would go out and immediately replace your wireless router with a new one. An 802.11g router of any kind is not going to cut it in the world of wireless video streaming. Virtually all routers these days, whether you get Apple's or Belkin's or D-Link or Linksys support 802.11n. And so does your Macbook and your Apple TV. Your MacBook is aging but it still should be able to handle sending video to an Apple TV.

Yes, the Apple TV has no analog audio. So audio can be achieved two ways...either through HDMI. Most TVs made in the last few years have at least two and maybe up to four HDMI ports....just plug the Apple TV into one of them. Or if you have a two channel audio setup that support toslink, you can have your Apple TV send audio to that as well.

Lastly, one things that might solve your problems without going through the importing of your content into iTunes is to try Airparrot (airparrot.com). You may have heard that it is possible to wirelessly send audio and video content from an iPhone or iPad to an Apple TV. What you may not have heard is that you can also do it with Mac made in the last year. Your Mac is too old but a third party tool, Airparrot has filed the gap. Like Videodrive, you can try it for free to see if it works for you before paying for a license.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, that's very helpful! The only real question I'm left with is, since I'll have to take analog audio from my TV's audio outs, is how bad will the TV's D/A conversion be? But, ok, no need for speculation here. I'll just have to deal with it as a temporary solution.
If I had the money, the first thing to do would be to get the Airport Extreme going. But I'll probably try Apple TV with the 802.11g router first. If it doesn't work, I'll have to bite the bullet. OTOH, I hope to be working soon!
 

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The TV's D/A for its analog output will not be up to your standards but it will work until budget will allow for something else.

And I can already tell you that 802.11g won't cut it for video streaming, especially anything in HD. It just doesn't have the bandwidth. Sorry.
 
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