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Summary:

The question for the past few years has been simple: who’s going to make it into the living room first. The market is growing, features are being added, but no clear victor has been declared. I think I may have come upon a conclusion that appeases […]

The question for the past few years has been simple: who’s going to make it into the living room first. The market is growing, features are being added, but no clear victor has been declared.

I think I may have come upon a conclusion that appeases almost everyone. Bear with me, it’s a bit loopy. I plan on purchasing an Apple TV, 40 gig (to save money at first). Then by hacking it, get it to run OS X. Understandably a bit slower then most Macs, the Apple TV will at least be able to run core applications within the OS.

Then I plan on re-installing the Apple TV software as a separate application. Not only will my Apple TV function as a both, since it’s running OS X, I can plug in my Miglia HD USB Tuner. I can use my MacBook to set up programming over the web, and have Migila default to record shows in the Apple TV format. Then have it automatically delete after viewing or save as necessary.

To get around the different subsystems, including launching applications I might need a heavier remote application. I suggest checking out Remote Buddy. The app will breath new life into your Apple remote. Not only can you launch applications, you’ll be able to function without a keyboard and mouse for most other uses within your computers platform. Here’s some extra Apple remote tips just in case. But now you’ll be able to access iTunes or iPhote, stream content, or just check out the weather using Dashboard. With Perian and OS X installed, DivX will be a cinch to install, not to mention upgrading your hard drive should be pretty straight forward.

Not only will that help get you the shows you want, but since besides YouTube, the Apple TV is a bit lacking in streaming content from the web, you’ll now be able to access Hulu right from your big screen. To make accessing Hulu even easier, you can save it as an “application” using Fluid. If you haven’t heard of Fluid, it takes your favorite web apps and creates an independent, executable application for it, icons and everything. Hell you can even Cover Flow through your RSS from your TV. No muss no fuss.

If anyone has already considered this or has tried it out, I’d love to hear about it, please comment below.

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  1. You might wanna scratch that AppleTV idea and get a Mac Mini in order to be able to play HD content on it..

    You should definitely take a look at OSXBMC, especially with the Aeon or Xtv skins. The iTunes and iPhoto integration aren’t done yet, but there is a simple plugin which enables you to launch XBMC via Frontrow.

    Remote Buddy is a kick ass application, especially for a vast library of 15000 tracks in iTunes. Scrolling to, say, Zwicker with Front Row takes a while, but you can just jump to letter Z using the iPhone interface of Remote Buddy. And you can do this from the other room ;)

    I’ve been running this setup for a while now and it is ace.

  2. I agree with muzo. Why not use a Mac Mini?. Yes, it’s more expensive, but it is much more versatile than an Apple TV. I think that you really need is a Mac Mini.

  3. @muzo, Merrin: I’ve used xbmc and I actually have it set up on my xbox already, but most of my content is delivered through iTunes (e.g. all my videos are handbraked or isquinted and iTunes ready). I was considering the Mac Mini, but ideally I was hoping to save a few hundred by getting the ATV. Plus I was going for a slimmer set up, and I really don’t need the DVD drive either.

    Any particular reason not to go go with the ATV? Or is it just because it has a slower processor?

  4. If you are going to go through all that you might as well get a Mac Mini. It’ll stand you in better stead and have a longer life for the way you plan to use it.

    I’d also take a look at pyetv for using EyeTV through FrontRow.

  5. Guys- can we deal with what the author actually wrote instead of just telling him to buy a mini? I think it was made pretty clear in the article that he was buying an ATV to save money. The cheapest mini is triple the price- we’re not talking about an incremental difference.

    That said, all my research about hacking an ATV leads me to believe that it is dicey at best…difficult even for extreme nerds. Have others heard differently?

  6. Why don’t you just get a Microsoft Media Center machine, tt comes with Vista Home Premium. Plug in a tuner card and a IR remote. You’re done. MCE’s features are pretty decent. It’s a matured product. Without starting a flame war, why go through all this trouble to do something that has already been done?

  7. Sachin Patel Friday, April 18, 2008

    Don’t forget that the Apple TV software still can’t run on Leopard, so you’d need to install Tiger on it. Unless it’s been updated, that is.

  8. @Arvin: Any particular reason not to go go with the ATV?

    Well, you want to hack ATV to install OSX, Perian, plug USB tuner. With a Mac Mini you don’t need this. Mini starts at 80 gig drive, faster processor enables you to play 1080p HD content. Even you can install ATV4mac and you have ATV in a Mac. Mini is easier to upgrade than ATV.

    ATV is slimmer and cheaper, yes, but I think that this difference is worth.

  9. My living room has a 1st gen macbook hooked up to an external hard drive and my TV. It is powerful enough to download multimedia and keep it all organized. It is plugged into my cable modem too, and sharing internet with the rest of the house, since my very old airport base station stopped working. This actually gives me fewer problems than I’d anticipated.

    I like Sofa Control over Remote Buddy; that’s what I purchased and it’s working great for me. I use that for most interaction with it; I don’t use Front Row often.

  10. The biggest hurdle I had hacking my AppleTV was building the patchstick. The good news is that with a patchstick, you can hack the AppleTV without cracking the case and voiding the warranty.

    I didn’t replace the menu on the ATV, but I did add Perian. I have a 1TB NAS that I mount via NFS where I keep about 300GB of TV shows that I download via RSS feed / torrent. I also have a 500GB time capsule, so I have the benefit of N speed wireless.

    I used to run an old-school Xbox with XBMC to view all my videos on the big screen downstairs. The ATV beats it hands-down.

    A mini is overkill unless you -*must*- browse on the TV, which I don’t. I have a macbook pro for browsing and such. If you just want something that will hook-up and play your recorded videos, the ATV is the best option. I haven’t considered adding an HDTV tuner to it, although that would be pretty cool. If it had cablecard and downloadable schedules, I could ditch the DVR I’m renting from the cable co.

    Post a follow-up when you pull the trigger. I’m curious.

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