RTFM Education – Virtualization, VMware, Citrix

Nov 4 2011   8:39AM GMT

MAJOR UPDATE: Apple TV and UK Online TV – What works & what mostly doesn’t

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

Note: Be careful with AppleTV remote. It’s a IR transmitter and it can be used to communicate with the MacBookPro. Get these two in close vicinity as you scroll down the AppleTV menus, you will find yourself turning the sound down on your MBP! :-D

Today I did (YET) another AppleTV update. Each time one pops up my heart beats with hopeful expectation that this £99 unit will actually one day meet my excessive expectations.

So here’s what does & doesn’t work:


Major Update

I rather dropped the ball on this post – I can only blame my sheer ignorance. IOS5 does introduce a new way of displaying what’s on the IPAD to the called “Mirroring”. Now I had heard of this before – but ass-u-me-d that this was just a fancy re-branding of feature that allows you to redirect display/audio to the TV for certain applications. What mirroring does is extend this functionality for ANY application on the iPAD including Safari.

Does it change the tennor this article? I don’t believe so. At best IOS5 “Mirroring” can be seen as fall back position IF the application your using doesn’t support native “AirPlay” OR more likely does, but doesn’t work reliably.

The trouble is that is not easy to find. First, you have double click the big home button – which raises up the application bar. Then scroll to the VERY far left. The gesture is left to right…

When switched on this changes the title bar at the top to be sort of navy/blue colour… and in the top right hand corner – you should see the AppleTV icon – which is common on AppleTV devices as method showing you can switch between remote and local display

NOW. This did fix two problems. I can now browse the web, and redirect a web-page to the TV screen. Also this “fixes” the BBC iPlayer issue – and also CineXplayer. I’ve updated the content below this update to reflect this new discovery of mine.

Now here’s the BUT…

Maybe its the cavernous settings of my Samsung Plasma TV – but the BBC iPlayer looks horrible displayed this way – as does Safari. Were talking only as good as youtube, and perhaps worse. Everything is displayed in a squished up aspect ratio where about 6 inches of the 42″ plasma is lost. Sadly, no amount tinkering with the settings on the telly changes this…

On the PLUS side – the new mirroring on IOS5 does fix the problems I’d been experiencing with CineXplayer. You turn on mirroring first, and it works like a charm.

I guess the other questions are does the “Mirroring” feature in IOS5 justify the expense of £99 AppleTV? Given the limitations around the functionality of a lot of the TV applications and media formats supported by the iPAD justify the expense of an iPAD used as media player only?

You can get more or less the same quality of experience with the £20 HDMI connector for the iPAD. Sure you don’t get some other whizz bang features from the AppleTV (listed below) but ask yourself if it is worth the spend for features you might hardly ever use.

iPAD as media player. I don’t think so. For the ordinary consumer you have do a LOT of work to get the most out of it – things like AirVideo and CineXplayer help. I personally think if you want to end your subscription to digital or terrestrial TV you’d better better off with cheaper netbook with a HDMI connection it it. It would be just as portable, with a lot more disk space than an iPAD for storing content – and you wouldn’t be restricted by the application support – so you could download BBC iPlayer content to disk and watch offline through your TV – but still have access to flash content for example. If you wanted a “media player” to store your content – you’d have the freedom to chose a whole range of different media players on the market for Windows or Mac.

On-Demand UK TV Apps for the IPAD:

:-( BBC iPlayer on the iPAD – Works on IOS5 with mirroring but quality is poor. Does not have a native button to send video to AppleTV. However, audio appears to work – which isn’t horribly useful..

:-( BBC News App –  Works on IOS with mirroring but quality is poor. Appears to have different format to BBC iPlayer – as the “Live” button which opens in the QuickTimey like application – this in turn has button to send to Apple TV but only gives audio not video. :

:-( ITV Player on iPAD – Works on IOS with mirroring but quality is poor. No native button to send video to AppleTV

:-) CH40D – Success by Accident…. Seems to show video & audio. But only by accident. If you take the BBC New App, go live – and then close it – magically CH40D does audio & video. CH40D works with IOS5 mirroring but this work around actually delivers better quality because it shows the program using the full screen size on 42″ plasma…

:-) AirVideo – Success. In case you don’t know its a popular video streaming application that works on Windows or Apple Mac. Chief advantage is that it can stream & convert videos on the fly to the iPAD and iPhone – even ones the iPAD can’t support natively.

:-) CineXplayer – Success – but you MUST use IOS5 mirroring to make it work. Quality is good dependent on file being played. This rather excellent DivX player is brilliant for local play back of movies – and is brilliant in every respect. Why you should need a special application to play DivX is a question only Steve Jobs can answer – and he’s not around to do that anymore…

:-( SkyGo – Fail. Really requires a Sky subscription, unless you just want access to SkyNews. Again, you get audio but no video the TV… Even if you turn on IOS5 mirroring you get an message stating “HDMI out is not supported on this application”.

:-) LiveTV – Success. Opens TV stream on AppleTV with button. Downside is that this is live TV not on-demand. So you might as well switch your TV on, and watch the picture over the air. Could be an option if you’d rather not pay for subscription TV (Sky/Virgin Media) or terrestrial TV license (BBC).

:-) Apple Video – Success. As you would expect the native Apple app works. Remember quality is controlled by encoding used – the better the quality the more space you will need on the iPAD.

:-( Safari – Works with IOS5 Mirroring but quality is poor. There’s still no native way inside Safari to transfer your web-browsing to a large screen.

:-) Mac/iToons – Success. Videos in iToons play through the AppleTV. A good combo if you an Orange customer is getting movies for a 35p text message, and playing through the Mac to the TV. The quality is good too. If you subscribe to my chinwag/vendorwag video podcast you can watch me on your big telly too. The same goes for audio & video

As you can see iPAD/iPhone to AppleTV audio video is VERY hit and miss. Considering you could get a £20 widget to plug in the back of your TV. It’s hard to see the big advantage of the AppleTV unit.

Movies on-Demand:

Another “selling” point of the AppleTV is the content you can watch straight from the unit. It’s perhaps worth looking at the variety and price. So to see the biopic of “Senna” is £4.49.  That’s a relatively modern movie – so I thought I would look at the pricing of a “classic” where most of the money has been made already via opening weekends, DVD sales, and pay-for-tv rights. The term “classic” is open to definition. To me a classic is something like “Casablanca” or “To Kill a mocking bird”. On AppleTV “Top Gun” is priced at £3.49. On Amazon you could buy the DVD second-hand (not on-demand) for £1.04 and watch over and over again. The VHS version is even cheaper! [What hoot, VHS! Maybe I will find a BetaMax version too]

Internet Channels:

Wall Street Journal Live – Great if you like to keep the same hours as our American cousins (4.00pm ET onwards). There’s some on-demand stuff – but does contain US adverts for Health Care plans which serves as timely reminder of why our NHS doesn’t represent some communist socialist plot of the Dr Strangelove variety.

MBL.TV – Requires a login ID. I believe it shows something American’s call “Football”.

YouTube – Excellent if you idea of fun is watching JennaMarbles teach you “How to talk to animals”. Of course youtube stuff on a 42″ plasma doesn’t look to hot. You could of course search for MisterRTFM and watch one of my many miniwags at VMworld US.

Vimeo – Excellent for watching Mr Sloof videos. Sadly if you search for Mr Sloof via the AppleTV our Dutch whirlwind isn’t found. :-(

:-) Podcasts – Works fine

:-) PhotoStream – Introduced with iCloud you can now see your photos from the cloud without neccessarily mirroring them from the iPad, Iphone or MBP. This can also be set as your screen saver on the AppleTV – instead of the default which shows footage of lions, tigers and bears. Not sure on the capacity of photostream and the quality whilst OK, is deminished somewhat by the quality of the device mainly my iPhone4 which I use for photos.

FlickR – You can add flickr accounts. I’ve never used this service so I can’t vouch for or against it.

Radio – Lots of Internet radios – but they don’t broadcast all the time. Many based in US so you do face timezone differences

:-) Computers:

You can leave iTunes open on a Mac or PC, and browse your library. This is whole of your library – including music, music videos, rentals, movies, tv shows, podcasts, itunes U and photos. This does mean enabling “Home Sharing” on the Advanced menu in iToons, and if you want to see photos “Choose Photos to share” from the same Advanced menu. The only downside is IToons will only play certain file types, and if it doesn’t play it – neither will the AppleTV…

So for example Camile’s rather beautiful (but frankly quite rude) “Wet Boy” which I saw on Jools Hollands Later last week – and ripped off youtube using kipvid.com plays fine.

This entry was posted on Friday, November 4th, 2011 at 8:39 

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