For christmas I decided to get myself a few things, an iPhone but also an Apple TV. I choose the Apple TV because of its low cost of only £99, which compared to other media streamers and also compared to buying a universal dock and an Apple AV adaptor seemed reasonable.
The Apple TV is a nice little gadget, it allows for easy streaming of iTunes content and Airplay of video and music from my iPhone.
But …and there is always a but, if you don’t have much iTunes content. I have a large amount of non iTunes content – videos from my PVR, 1080p MKVs from my camera and videos from other download services. This creates problems as the Apple TV can’t play all these natively. Only mp4, m4v based h264’s are natively supported up to 720p.
My initial thought was re-encode, much to my dismay after 4 days of encoding using Handbrake using a slightly modified ATV2 encoding profile (I have enough free space to trade off space for quality)
Then I read up about FireCore, a modified media player interface for the Apple TV.
After Jailbreaking using the provided SeasOnPass utility, I can view all my MKVs, WMVs, AVIs, MP4s and any files I can throw at it. What is amazing is that it can connect to my Apple Time Capsule (and the attached hard drives) so I have 11TB of content all accessible from the Apple TV, with Metadata actively pulled from the internet.
With this application, the Apple TV has become a truly incredible bit of kit, without it, it is merely just a fancy viewer of iTunes content.
So why is the original Apple TV so unworthy? Quite simply they don’t want to kill the cash cow of iTunes purchases through the device, but they made it easy enough to JailBreak by end users, heck they even put on a MicroUSB port for maintenance!