I've been on a never ending quest for the perfect media setup for a mac user. I'm looking for a simple solution to do 3 things.
1. Play my local videos as easy and as high quality as possible.
2. DVR shows over cable as well as Tivo does.
3. Rent/buy/stream movies from online sources. I love action and sci-fi movies, my wife loves drama and comedies.
4. Needs to be kid friendly. This means parental controls, and access to good kids movies and tv shows.
It would be great if I could do this all in HD. I have kids, so I'm not a huge audiophile, just because when I watch an action movie that needs cranking, I can't because my kids are asleep. So surround sound isn't a big deal to me (ask again in 10 years). I don't want to have to use a mouse, or switch a complicated input setup. I also don't need a bunch of unnecessary social features. I guess tv watching isn't something I really need opinions on.
I decided about a year ago to look into the Apple TV It looked like it could fill some of those roles nicely although it doesn't do DVR, and I'm assuming it never will since apple sells movies and tv shows instead through itunes.
I picked up the 40 gig model, and connected it to my 1080p 38" Vizio.
Installation is a snap, just one HDMI cable to the TV and a power cable from the ATV.
You'll first be guided onscreen to connect to your wireless network.
Then you'll need to wirelessly pair the ATV to your desktop machine's itunes, it will begin automatically syncing (copying) all movies and TV shows you have in itunes to your ATV. Occasionally there's issues finding the ATV in itunes, so if you run into that, this page can help fix it.
I wanted a bit of control, so I chose to update manually, which lets you check and uncheck which tv shows and movies you add. You can also add custom music playlists, photo libraries in the same fashion.
The apple store is where I got most of my movies. But if encoded correctly, It also is a great way to view movies from alternate sources. But movie ripping is bad, m'kay?
If you have a few gigs worth of movies, it will take an evening or so before all your movies will show up. So keep that in mind on your first evening.
Look for part 2 of 3 in the next few days where we look at how it works on a daily basis.