I'm trying to set this all up for my brother to use.
The problem it seems with the ATV2 is that you have to do everything wirelessly.
Since you then have to stream everything from iTunes from a Mac or PC it really gets clumsy. My brother and his wife both have work PC laptops and travel a lot. That means one or the other laptops could either be in the house or not, maybe neither.
Also work may not be happy with them loading on iTunes and/or content on work computers. iTunes is a real PITA with multiple iPods, iPhones and iPads, how it is going to manage different sources of content on a mobile external HDD is something else.
Do you have to dash out of the living room and start up your PC and make sure the right iTunes/media is loaded up whenever little Harry wants to watch his favorite Toons?
Will shuffling large media files affect their work and Internet connections? Do the ATV2 streaming and possible DLing from the Internet cut into each other and is it true that the ATV2 only does 720p?
Seems to me to be a very ill-fitting jig saw, with quite a few pieces missing out of the box. From the day you buy it.
That's putting a happy gloss on it.
It basically doesn't work unless a bunch of other fairly expensive hardware is all up, running and within easy reach.
The media is almost inevitably going to be duplicated, restricted in format and interferes with the smooth operation of the local network, assuming that it is even in range.
Couldn't possibly imagine how that could be described as "Just works!".
The crazy thing is that Apple has long declared laptops and mobile devices as the real computers for the 21st century, and yet this all seems to be based on a traditional server type computer always being around and unchanging.
Peter the contents of your post are extremely inaccurate, the Apple TV doesn't only work on wifi, doesn't require "A Bunch of Fairly Expensive" other devices and doesn't interfere with your network unless of course there is a problem with your network and aren't willing to take advice about sorting it out.
Your post is somewhat bemusing given your status, surely you know using a thread for the purposes of a personal rant is frowned upon, your very first line made it quite clear you knew the answer to your own question before asking it.
True you can use the one ethernet port, if the long cable running back to the router did not bother, or trip you up.
Yes it does need a Bunch of Fairly Expensive other devices:
1. A computer to feed the material to AVT2
2. A wireless router
3. HDMI cable (not supplied)
4. Storage somewhere (not supplied)
5. An Optical Drive somewhere (not supplied)
Items 1-4 all need to be working just to get media to the TV set sitting next to the ATV2. You will probably also be paying Apple for their iTunes media, which here has an extra Non-USA User tax on it, because everything else is just too hard.
AppleTV 2 really does not sound like the ideal device for use in this sceanario.
I was only recently commenting on the usefulness of AppleTV1 when travelling as it needed no other equipment to work, and only needed internet if you wanted to rent/buy something new on the move or use the internet features.
While I think AppleTV2 is neat, fairly fast and energy efficient I do agree that the requirement for 'always on' or wakeable PC/Mac is quite contrary to what Apple should be striving for in terms of basic operability if you consider 'green issues'. I leave a Mac Pro and Mac Mini on 24/7 as servers for various AppleTV's but with energy bills rising incessantly it's expensive (admittedly they get used for other things a lot but not constantly). All tghis cloud stuff is fine but only if features are available in your country and also only if you have very fast unlimited internet.
With respect to your list a computer is probably not unreasonable at some point to organise media etc. Most employers would probably not want their employees running 3rd party software from Appel or anyone else without approval. Could they consider a compact Windows computer or Netbook to server the media?
A router would be necessary for internet features and you wouldn't expect one to be bundled.
Very few AV products come with HDMI leads (though some do) - like USB/parllel cables for printers.
One thing they should include is a microUSB cable to allow an itunes restore.
Storage - yes, I'd like an AppleTV2 with reasonable internal storage or ability to connect some.
Optical drive is not required at all unless processing your own CD media etc.
It is not just that Apple has made ATV2 such a clumsy and difficult fit for my brother, who only wants to watch media on his large screen TV in his lounge room, it is also a big stumbling block for myself.
Because it won't do the simple connections, I have had to try other Media Servers and in practice just lug my not very portable 27" iMac to another room to use as a TV.
Crazy, but then that's Apple for you. They didn't have to build a bicycle with square wheels but I suspect they get a great deal of amusement out of watching their more impressionable customers trying to wheel down the street on them, pretending that this is a "special experience".
ps The Optical Drive is to read media which oddly enough still comes on optical disks.
Peter, as you can guess I really like the AppleTV products, but will criticise them too.
I think they should be far more succesful than they actually are or were (for ATV1). This is largely due to them completely failing to do 'obvious things' many customers want - those are the customers who do not want to buy into the Apple ecosystem hook, line and sinker.
It also partly boils down to the expectation that everyone buys all their media from iTunes Store.
The original AppleTV was revolutionary, and had no commercial itunes store tie in as such until 'Take Two software' which had the iTunes store in your face at every turn.
The interface has always tended to be quite slick, but it is looking jaded on many fronts.
The main complaints about it I would suggest are:
1 - Limited video format support (geared to iTunes Store formats for video)
2 - Inability to access DLNA servers or network storage folders without iTunes acting as helper.
3 - Lack of 1080p - I'm not convinced it's always essential but clearly fits with itunes HD quality - the average consumer however has been brainwashed to believe 1080p is the only HD format that matters.
4 - Lack of ability to connect local storage and need for iTunes for AppleTV2 or to stream content not synced to AppleTV1.
5 - All the miscellaneous wants of browser/apps/games/time/weather/effect visualisers etc.
There are undoubtedly more. I know several people who might have bought one but it doesn't tick the right boxes for them and things like WD Live devices, Boxee Box, Popcorn Hour etc are more suited to their needs.
My own concern about AppleTV is that it's becoming more of an iOS accessory than a true media playback device - while Airplay/mirroring etc are ok in concept you'll see form many posts that it's not always great in practice.
We all want slightly different things, but I personally want a capable media player foremost and gimmicks second. If itunes is needed ok, but it would be far more flexible if it was optional and media could be directly accessed from local storage or network.
Anyhow, I'm sure you know the links but in case not send feedback about how it doesn't suit your family's needs:
Thanks. Pretty much agree.
Shame that Apple doesn't.
I got myself in a spot as I sort of put it up as a solution to my brother until all the problems reared their ugly head.
I was also hoping to use it as a jailbroken media server, but it just is more of an expensive dud the more I look at it.
Now how to get my brother a workable installation? He just doesn't get this @#$%.
His wife, who has never liked Apple, is just going to say "I told you so!"
Peter, I'm disappointed with my new ATV2 that I got for Christmas. Limited file format support is my biggest complaint. And I wish you could connect a hard drive to it as you describe. My Blu-Ray player will play almost any file format. The only thing I use the ATV for is AirPlay.
I known this seems more like a rant, its not intended to be. People should know ATV is VERY limited compared to other streaming devices. Do your research BEFORE you buy.