Apple TV hacks, reviews, and trivia roundup

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  • Reply 61 of 109
    shroudshroud Posts: 30member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    Mr. H, just speaking for myself, I do find you a tad incomprhensible, and full of yourself!



    Either answer a simple question (if someone wants to know when you choose to post a view), or please shut up.



    Your knowledge is no good unless shared, and your seemingly thin skin does not help.







    PS: Your reponse was not to my post.... I am just p-o'ed at your arrogance, that's all.



    {{edits: Crap, see what happens when you leave the computer for a bit to get some tea before submitting a reply! No need to read my post but I'll leave it up in case anyone feels like life is not boring enough }}



    I'm sorry but I have to question your interpretation of Mr. H's response(s). I actually thought he was being quite helpful in the discussion and that there was just some confusion between he and TenoBell. I didn't see the rudeness you mention, quite the opposite actually I. (I don't have anything against either one, I enjoy reading both of their responses on these forums)



    This reminds me of a quote by Stephen Covy "Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective- but this is not the case. We see the world not as it is but as we are conditioned to see it."

    I know I do.



    Here is a stab at your questions:



    1) GPU: A GPU is a graphics processing unit and is used to help the CPU (the computer chip such as the G3,G4,G5, Intel etc.) display graphics on your computer screen or other display connected to it. The mini has an integrated intel graphics chip (gpu) which shares memory (RAM) with the computer and the Apple TV has a dedicated graphics chip (no shared memory) and some better feature sets which should allow enhanced video quality. Note: Just because a feature is on a chip does not mean that a computer company is supporting it.



    To answer your second question on the decoding of video and processing I will need to give some background.

    When you watch video on a computer it is normally sent from your hard drive (downloaded or ripped movies, television etc.), the internet (youtube) or a DVD to your CPU and/or your GPU. These videos are encoded in a certain format that the computer will need to decode in order to allow you to see anything on the screen. Encoding is needed because non encoded video files are too large for the average user (this may be a poor way to think of it but if you can imagine that you have a bunch of papers that need to fit in your small shirt pocket. When you put them in you need to shrink them to fit. You can do this in many ways, such as different folding techniques or just straight scrunching. This would be your encoding process. Now, in order for you to view the content on the papers again you will need to straighten them out as neat as possible. This would be your decoding) The decoding is done by the CPU and/or the GPU. Not all ways to encode are equal in quality (folding might be easier to straighten out clearly than scrunching) and typically, the more you shrink a video (the more folds or scrunches the paper has) the less the quality will be when you decode it and put it on a display.



    2a) Answer: The mini does actually do video decoding when used as a normal computer. What caliminius was saying is that if your main computer was a mini (this will work for any computer also, not just a mini but whatever you are using as long as it meets the requirements to connect to an AppleTV) it will not need to decode the video because the display (your tv) is not connected to it but rather it is connected to your AppleTV. So your computer (mini or what-have-you) will only transmit (stream) the movie to your AppleTV and the AppleTV will do the grunt work of decoding (unfolding) the video and putting it on your display.

    2b) The only difference (without going into too much detail) from what the computer connected to an AppleTV and one connected to a regular computer display is that for the computer to AppleTV -the video is sent to the AppleTV and then decoded on the AppleTV and not decoded in the computer and then sent. For the regular computer and display - the video is decoded within itself and then sent to the screen connected to it.



    3) The AppleTV will receive video from any qualified computer running iTunes. I believe that caliminius was referring to the possibility that there might be a situation in which a computer won't allow material to transfer to the AppleTV without validating that the AppleTV is allowed to view the content. The future of digital rights management is not set in stone that is for sure but I think we are safe from that for now.



    I hope I answered clearly ha, it has been a long day.





    My reference for the Apple TV video card is here

    If you want to check out the specs of the Nvidia card they are here

    The intel integrated graphics chip in the current minis is here
  • Reply 62 of 109
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,740member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shroud View Post


    I'm sorry but I have to question your interpretation of Mr. H's response(s). I actually thought he was being quite helpful in the discussion and that there was just some confusion between he and TenoBell. I didn't see the rudeness you mention, quite the opposite actually I. (I don't have anything against either one, I enjoy reading both of their responses on these forums)



    Thank you.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shroud View Post


    Here is a stab at your questions:



    <snip>



    Another mammoth post! Thanks for all that, I think it complements my mammoth post rather well.
  • Reply 63 of 109
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    there is the possibility of Apple implementing in software (on a Mac Mini) all those features that would provide for decent video quality (output direct from a Mac Mini). Shame they don't do that, isn't it?



    I wonder if we'll see that in the next Mini upgrade.



    Makes sense to me... but that's just me.
  • Reply 64 of 109
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,740member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post


    I wonder if we'll see that in the next Mini upgrade.



    Makes sense to me... but that's just me.



    Don't hold your breath



    Having said that? Santa Rosa is bringing with it the X3000 integrated graphics chip with improved video-handling capabilities, so hopefully Apple will enable those hardware features. Although that hasn't really happened in the past for the QuickTime framework - e.g. the QuickTime MPEG-2 component doesn't use GPU hardware MPEG-2 decoding, it does the decoding on the CPU (unlike the DVD player, which does use GPU hardware decoding).



    I've got my fingers crossed that Leopard will bring with it much improved support for video features in modern GPUs. Did you know, for example, that many of the latest GPUs feature H.264 encoding with much, much higher performance than the CPU-based QuickTime encoder.
  • Reply 65 of 109
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    FYI, Kickaha is a programmer, not a hardware engineer. As far as I can tell, he really knows what he's doing. Most programmers of that capability that I know don't really like dealing with hardware so I imagine he doesn't play with a soldering iron all that much



    Naw, I'm too busy pounding rocks together, and my lack of opposable thumbs makes holding the soldering iron difficult.
  • Reply 66 of 109
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    Don't hold your breath



    Having said that? Santa Rosa is bringing with it the X3000 integrated graphics chip with improved video-handling capabilities, so hopefully Apple will enable those hardware features.



    Yep... holding your breath is not a good idea with some Apple products.



    I do think it makes sense for an expansion to MacMini so that it has all the functionality of the previous MacMini + all AppleTV functionality... but that may not be their plan.



    Does anyone remember an article that had Apple saying it was going to compete in 4 spaces...?

    I think they said

    1) computers

    2) iPods

    3) iPhone devices

    4)... AppleTV???

    ...but I can't find the source. I can't remember what #4 was.



    The iPhone vs iPod distinction interested me... defining the iPhone as an entire segment implied a full range of devices. Iirc, they were responding to a question on an "iTablet"



    BTW: I did know that GPU encoding/decoding of h264 was being handled more and more by the graphics cards. It'd be great to see Apple doing that - IMO the CPU of an AppleTV seems far less important than the graphics card.

    BTW2: I'd like to see some merging of DVD player functionality into Quicktime (or iTunes?) for things like GPU acceleration as well as MPEG2 support & AC3 pass through.
  • Reply 67 of 109
    superbasssuperbass Posts: 688member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by palex9 View Post


    this is apples big chance to again achieve cult status or blow it big time. should jobs decide to plug all the holes and make hacking this machine impossible or really hard, it will be like shooting yourself in the foot. if, on the other hand, they will allow the chip to fall where they may, this could be the start of a fantastic machine-running all codecs, using it as a ultra mini mac, whatever! let;s see what happens...



    I think the point of this machine is that it's for the general sort of public. And I don't think the general sort of public want to have to "hack" a machine that they buy just so they can use it to it's full potential...



    It's time for Jobs to get his head out of his ass and start supporting more video and audio codecs in his iTunes/iTV/iPod model, because eventually, (hopefully), someone will release a good system that supports things like DivX and FLAC right out of the box (as well as AIFF, WMV, WAV, MP3, etc. etc.). That universality is really the only thing that could take a piece out of iTunes/iPod/iTV - a setup that everyone can use without losing content they already have from Windows Media Player, iTunes, RealPlayer, BitTorrent, YouTube, etc. etc.
  • Reply 68 of 109
    superbasssuperbass Posts: 688member
    Sorry if this is doesn't belong here, but if I ran a line from my computer via some sort of TV out card under the carpet from my computer to my TV, wouldn't i be able to watch all the content on my computer in the same way, for less than 300 bucks? I know I wouldn't be able to use the remote while sitting on the couch, but at the same time, with Apple TV i need to go to the computer to get it to sync content, etc. anyways... Also, this way I could watch any content I want (not just iTunes low-res and lossy), and I wouldn't need an extra box sitting next to the tv that's also running at 85 degrees....
  • Reply 69 of 109
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    You get points for being thorough but you didn't really tell me much I didn't already know.





    Quote:

    I suggested that the AppleTV has superior video quality output than the Mac Mini. Whilst the Mac Mini has many advantages over an AppleTV in terms of range of capabilities, the AppleTV has superior video-playback hardware and therefore the potential for higher video output quality compared to a Mac Mini.



    Ok that wasn't completely clear, but I did not disagree with you on this point.



    Quote:

    Then you said something along the lines of decent streaming performance and decent video output quality being mutually exclusive. I replied with a post pointing out that this is nonsense. Whether something is being streamed or read from HDD has no bearing on the quality of codec decoder, de-interlacer and scaler being used.



    I wasn't talking about the quality of the codec decoder, de-interlacer or scaler. I was talking about the actual resolution of the video.



    Quote:

    Then you made a post suggesting that if a Mac Mini is streaming to an AppleTV, the limiting factor will be the Mac Mini. In addition, you suggested that since the Mac Mini has a powerful Core2Duo processor, it doesn't matter that it has a GMA950 with rubbish video features.



    Well yes I was saying the GPU isn't up to snuff the CPU has to do more of the work.



    Quote:

    You will note that Tenobell exchanged a few posts with me before he said he did understand what I was saying. Would it not have been a better idea for him to have said straight from the off he didn't get what I was saying, and to seek clarification? Instead he argued with me and proved in the process he doesn't understand the basics of video encoding, decoding and playback.



    Alright braniac. There is a difference between not understand what you are talking about and not having knowledge of the subject. You were not completely clear and in some regards still not being completely clear.



    I asked you earlier exactly what video content is available that the mini cannot play but AppleTV can. Are you speaking in theory because of the current hardware, or is there an actual video file we can test this with?
  • Reply 70 of 109
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    Sorry if this is doesn't belong here, but if I ran a line from my computer via some sort of TV out card under the carpet from my computer to my TV, wouldn't i be able to watch all the content on my computer in the same way, for less than 300 bucks? I know I wouldn't be able to use the remote while sitting on the couch, but at the same time, with Apple TV i need to go to the computer to get it to sync content, etc. anyways... Also, this way I could watch any content I want (not just iTunes low-res and lossy), and I wouldn't need an extra box sitting next to the tv that's also running at 85 degrees....



    Of course. But the purpose of these WiFi capable, media extenders are to allow you the convenience of using a remote from your couch to access media content on your computer(s) using a simple interface.



    There are many ways to save a buck when it comes to computing, but usually means a difficult hardware and saoftware setup, constant tweaking and a les than ideal experience for the user. In other words, not for the average person.
  • Reply 71 of 109
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    ?and have significantly worse picture quality. I'd suggest that picture quality on a video-playing device should be a priority.



    funny that.. i have my mini hooked up to the TV via HDMI and it still manages to display a picture... which is more than you imply it is capable of
  • Reply 72 of 109
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kickaha View Post


    Here's an idea - how long until the media extension software in the ATV is yoinked out and placeable on a mini or other Mac? ie, buy a mini, plop the ATV software on it, and have the same network-wide media access, but with a full machine?



    one of the smartest comments on this thread goes unnoticed!.. (hardly surprises me )



    "now id buy that for a dollar"



    i could see this offered in the next year?? or included as part of iLife XX (which i supose will now have to be 08 by the time its released - har har)



    or included for free in Leopard?



    but would the "Apple faithful" buy it in huge numbers for $19.95 a pop? or would it just "remain" front row 2.0 ??



    having as i do, my mini hooked up to the TV (and thats where it will stay) then i would be interested in this "Front Row 2.0" very definitely
  • Reply 73 of 109
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,740member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post


    Alright braniac. There is a difference between not understand what you are talking about and not having knowledge of the subject.



    Yes, I agree. However, as I said, your responses to me indicated that you both did not understand what I was talking about (because I wasn't being clear enough for you), and that you do not have much knowledge about this subject (it seems that you think you know/understand more than you actually do).



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post


    You were not completely clear and in some regards still not being completely clear.



    Sorry. I'm trying my best.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post


    I asked you earlier exactly what video content is available that the mini cannot play but AppleTV can. Are you speaking in theory because of the current hardware, or is there an actual video file we can test this with?



    Here's a fundamental misunderstanding of what I'm getting at. I'm not saying that there's anything that the AppleTV can play that the Mini cannot (what is it specifically that I've written that makes you think that that's what I'm trying to say?). What I am saying is that the mechanisms used to play-back files on the AppleTV and the Mac Mini are different from one another in implementation. There's a "playback pathway", if you will, that has the four stages I outlined in my mammoth post. Whether it's a Mac Mini or an AppleTV doing the playback, both have to do the following:
    • Decode compressed data

    • De-interlace

    • Scale

    • Display result on screen

    Not all content will need de-interlacing, not all content will need scaling. On the Mac Mini, all of this is done in software running on the Core2Duo, on the AppleTV all this is done in hardware on the GeForce Go 7300 (for H.264 content). The hardware implementations in the GeForce Go chip of each of these stages are superior, quality-wise, to the algorithms used on the Mac Mini when playing back the same files. Therefore AppleTV has higher picture quality. And this will be more noticeable for content that requires de-interlacing and scaling.



    Differences in picture quality between the two devices for other QuickTime codecs (such as Xvid) will be smaller/non-existent because both would be using the on-board CPUs to do all the work, therefore the algorithms that determine picture quality would be exactly the same. However, there is the potential there for Apple to implement more codecs on the AppleTV using the GeForce Go's advanced features. I really hope that they at least add MPEG-2 support sometime down the road.
  • Reply 74 of 109
    chuckerchucker Posts: 5,089member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    On the Mac Mini, all of this is done in software running on the Core2Duo, on the AppleTV all this is done in hardware on the GeForce Go 7300 (for H.264 content). The hardware implementations in the GeForce Go chip of each of these stages are superior, quality-wise, to the algorithms used on the Mac Mini when playing back the same files.



    You've made this assertion numerous times and have failed to back it up. Since you presumably aren't privy to nVidia or Apple internals, I have the feeling you can't.
  • Reply 75 of 109
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,740member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Chucker View Post


    You've made this assertion numerous times and have failed to back it up. Since you presumably aren't privy to nVidia or Apple internals, I have the feeling you can't.



    Oops, just realised I didn't properly read what you wrote.



    Yes, I do very much deserve to be called on this. It is an opinion of mine that I suspect is the case, rather than have quantifiable evidence of. My opinion is based on the fact that Apple have repeatedly implemented things poorly in QuickTime (both their MPEG-4 part 2 and part 10 (H.264) codecs suck relative to others in the industry*), but Nvidia on the other hand really know what they are doing. I am confident that the decoding, de-interlacing and scaling are better implemented by Nvidia than by Apple.



    *Their MPEG-4 part 2 codec only goes up to simple profile, not advanced simple profile. Whilst the encoder is fast, it compares terribly picture-quality wise to other MPEG-4 part 2 implementations such as Xvid and 3ivx. See for example here.



    Their MPEG-4 part 10 codec only goes up to Baseline profile + 1 B-frame (which Apple erroneously claim as being Main Profile). The quality achieved given this limitation is good, but the codec is woefully slow. See for example here (yes, an old thread I know, but Apple haven't made any significant improvements since. They have made it faster, but not by much .)



    Doom9 in general has loads of good info on video issues. Well worth perusing for those who are interested.
  • Reply 76 of 109
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kickaha


    Here's an idea - how long until the media extension software in the ATV is yoinked out and placeable on a mini or other Mac? ie, buy a mini, plop the ATV software on it, and have the same network-wide media access, but with a full machine?





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Trendannoyer View Post


    one of the smartest comments on this thread goes unnoticed!.. (hardly surprises me )



    "now id buy that for a dollar"



    i could see this offered in the next year?? or included as part of iLife XX (which i supose will now have to be 08 by the time its released - har har)



    or included for free in Leopard?



    but would the "Apple faithful" buy it in huge numbers for $19.95 a pop? or would it just "remain" front row 2.0 ??



    having as i do, my mini hooked up to the TV (and thats where it will stay) then i would be interested in this "Front Row 2.0" very definitely



    On the flipside, I'd like to see AppleTV be able to access content without using iTunes. The way that rontRow accesses media and optical drives. I know that requires a geat deal of software retooling in pretty much every part of the AppleTV's OS X but it would certainly go a long way for many people if AppleTV was not dependent on iTunes to access media. After all, this is how many of the other media extenders operate, however poorly they do it.



    PS: I think such a hack will appar within 2 months, and given the speed in which DivX/XviD was added, maybe just a ew weeks. Of course, this will not come from Apple.
  • Reply 77 of 109
    abster2coreabster2core Posts: 2,501member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kickaha View Post


    ? Let it go.



    Before you jump off a bridge, you better check to see how deep the water is.



    For your information, I used the exact quote from Mossberg in my original comment. My point was simply this, 'you may question what he said, but you needn't call him or imply that he's an frigg'n liar (my interpretation*) because he didn't include any supportive references.'



    Later this month, colleagues of mine are reviewing Collaborating Evidence on HIV/AIDs. They are going to make statements that I know I will question. However, I wouldn't call them 'talking out of their asses' no matter how much evidence I may have to the contrary. Publically or privately.



    *You tell me in private: . Call me out in public,
  • Reply 78 of 109
    abster2coreabster2core Posts: 2,501member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kickaha View Post


    ? Let it go.



    Before you jump off a bridge, you better check to see how deep the water is.



    For your information, I used the exact quote from Mossberg in my original comment. My point was simply this, 'you may question what he said, but you needn't call him or imply that he's an frigg'n liar (my interpretation*) because he didn't include any supportive references.'



    Later this month, colleagues of mine are reviewing Collaborating Evidence on HIV/AIDs. They are going to make statements that I know I will question. However, I wouldn't call them 'talking out of their asses' no matter how much evidence I may have to the contrary. Publically or privately.



    *You tell me in private: Call me out in public,
  • Reply 79 of 109
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post


    Later this month, colleagues of mine are reviewing Collaborating Evidence on HIV/AIDs. They are going to make statements that I know I will question. However, I wouldn't call them 'talking out of their asses' no matter how much evidence I may have to the contrary. Publically or privately.



    THough I agree with your points made in previous posts, there is a clear difference between colleagues and an internet forum. We may have public scrennames with ceratin viewpoints and character traits known to others by previous postings but we are still fairly anonymous here. Also, if the drama was done privately i'd have little to entertain myself.
  • Reply 80 of 109
    chuckerchucker Posts: 5,089member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    Oops, just realised I didn't properly read what you wrote.



    Yes, I do very much deserve to be called on this. It is an opinion of mine that I suspect is the case, rather than have quantifiable evidence of. My opinion is based on the fact that Apple have repeatedly implemented things poorly in QuickTime (both their MPEG-4 part 2 and part 10 (H.264) codecs suck relative to others in the industry*), but Nvidia on the other hand really know what they are doing. I am confident that the decoding, de-interlacing and scaling are better implemented by Nvidia than by Apple.



    In other words, you assume that, while Apple doesn't use the GMA 950's decoding acceleration, and doesn't use the X1600's decoding acceleration either, or that of any other recent GPU in an Intel Mac, for that matter, they do use the one in the Go7300, even though ?*as evidenced by the successful Perian installation, the build numbers, etc. ?*the QuickTime decoding is virtually the same?
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