Hmm. Trying to open the show for conversion in iTunes isn't happening. Its not even opening a dialog to tell me that it can't recognize the format. It turns out that my version of AVC is far too old to handle H264 conversion from .mkv, and somewhere along the way AVC forked into an extremely limited basic version and a $14.99 pro upgrade that I may or may not want if I can't get this Apple TV box to do what it was supposed to do.
Off to hunt for decent trialware to convert this file. Gotta love technology...
Well the past two hours turned out to be interesting. After downloading, converting, and playing with all sorts of settings, I gave up and called Apple Care. I found out my choices are indeed limited to either mirror the desktop, or to put the stuff out in the cloud. The tech informed me that if I wanted to use Homesharing, I would have to log in with an AppleID. He said that Homesharing required iTunes and that I would need an internet connection. (To stream over my own network? I can stream audio over Airport Express without logging in, last time I checked. Seems kind of bizarre that Apple TV doesn't work that way.)
And... the tech told me that if I didn't want to use iTunes I should just mirror. I told him thats fine, but then I have a choice between going full screen on the iMac so I'd get a proper playback on the TV, or window the video, and then whomever is using the TV gets to watch whatever else is going on at the computer desktop. In the first case the computer is then unusable, in the second, the TV viewer is distracted.
The tech laughed and said, "Really, if you're using the iMac to play back a video over your wireless network, you really can't be doing much else with it at that time. Thats a pretty big use of its resources." I guess my new iMac has less power than a G5 circa 2006... so I'll forget about running FCP.
So, I was about to box the little hockey puck back up, when I decided to take one final look at iTunes. After dragging one of my converted vids to the icon and copying it to the iTunes folder, I started it playing. I happened to notice the Airplay button at the bottom, same as when I'm choosing my audio output. Lo! and behold - I was able to select Apple TV. The episode began playing on my HDTV, which I had left on.
How about that... no AppleID needed. I really wanted to avoid using iTunes entirely, and simply hope that Apple had included a home network media browser as part of the onboard software, but I'll take what I can get.
Just for kicks, I opened a second episode in VLC. And set it to full screen on my desktop. Two full screen 720p vids running simultaneously on what must be an incredibly stressed top of the line iMac. I hope I didn't void my warranty.
Contrary to what people have said in this forum, the Apple techs DO read these threads. Hopefully this one helps them offer a simple solution to people who just want some simple performance out of what is supposed to be a simple device.
Home-sharing doesn't require an Internet connection, its over the local network.
Did the tech tell you that they read this forum? Even if they do its probably rare and they don't post as its a user support community.
Airplay is a major feature of the device but perhaps not everyone is aware of all its functionality. Good to know.
Its definitely over the local network, but as he was walking me through the process of starting it, it asked me for my AppleID on both devices. I had looked at that previously and thought maybe I could just enter some random ID and password like I was creating a peer-to-peer local network (like the old days of crossover cables and the Network Browser), but I tried that and it definitely checked with Apple to verify the ID because the gibberish I entered came back as 'invalid'.
I told him that requiring the ID didn't make sense because I wasn't doing anything in the cloud, and I didn't want to upload to or otherwise use iCloud for anything. I was behind my own firewall running my own server (iMac) and my own client (Apple TV/HDTV). He told me Homesharing requires both the AppleID and an active internet connection to be used as intended, and he sounded pretty frustrated that I would even question that.
I should also mention that when we were trying to mirror iTunes on my HDTV my computer would freeze briefly before returning an error message of -6722, that it was unable to connect because the device wasn't on. He was mystified by this and said he'd never heard of that error. After doing some checking he had me go into my firewall settings, found that I had completely closed off my connections, and told me to turn off the firewall. I did turn it off for the purposes of testing, but I told him that wouldn't be wise to leave it open because of the security risks. He seemed almost upset that I would use the firewall, and told me that if I "HAD to have it", I should experiment later on with exceptions to allow the mirror connection.
So think about this... my iMac arrived new in the box with the firewall completely shut off. Previous Macs arrived completely locked down, until Snow Leopard came out. This guy had to look up the error message caused by my firewall, which meant he had never had a problem with a customer blocked by their own firewall. Obvioulsy, a lot of people are out there using these products without realizing that their machines are wide open, and the techs - at least the one I spoke to - either encourage it or at least think there's nothing wrong with it.
I'm still debating on whether I should just return this little puck. Too many steps to take just to watch a vid on my screen, and too much of a privacy risk to use it the way they've designed it.
The Apple ID is required to authorize the machine and both enabled to facilitate the connection. The only time I can see it requiring an internet connection is if there is a lot of iTunes purchased content (which requires authorization once in awhile).
Macs don't really need a lot of protection. In any case any streaming of this nature would need certain ports and firewall to be amended.
Other than that not sure I see many steps. Home-sharing or airplay simply need to be enabled on both devices once and then it's good to go.
I'm not sure why you would say Macs don't need a lot of protection. A visible router on the local cable system is a big flashing sign to attract hackers and worse. It doesn't take a lot of technique these days to get by a router and start on the machines behind it, so why make it easy for them?
As far as the need for a net connection to run Homesharing, the Apple tech said it was required by iTunes or Homesharing wouldn't work. If you try to do it offline, it will tell you that the ID failed verification and Homeshare couldn't proceed. I verified this myself.
But this AppleID requirement doesn't make sense in the larger picture, not even a little bit. If I have all these devices active on my home network, why would I need a live net connection and an AppleID to "authorize" them to talk to each other? Both the AppleTV and my iMac require my Airport Express password to use the network in the first place, so why the AppleID? They could simply allow Homesharing once each device is let into the home network. The extra step of entering an AppleID and related password, and then verifying that password against their servers is unneccessary. I have iTunes playing my music over the network with no AppleID necessary, so needing the ID to play a video is kind of strange.
By "too many steps", I just meant all the gyrations I went through to try mirroring (which is a failure unless one wants to use their HDTV as a monitor) and to figure out that Homesharing didn't work, and then getting to Airplay, all just to stream a simple video over a network that both devices were already communicating with. Then I have to change my media files to a container spec that iTunes is comfortable with. Too much extra shenanigans to make it easy.
AppleTV will work for streaming when can I plug it in my network, and using Rendezvous (or whatever) it can see my iMac, the iMac can see the AppleTV, and I can simply drag a video file to the AppleTV, or a folder full of files, and then set up my queue with the remote. Everything else until this happens is a waste of time.
Yes the router should have encryption but firewall isn't necessarily needed. Macs have other security built-in.
That is simply untrue. It needs a verification but not an active connection once that has taken place. I have set it up for people, and the actual home-sharing process is over the local network. Unless you have iTunes content it doesn't need a further connection.
Once you have setup home-sharing it is done, the connection will occur automatically when the other devices are active.
There are apps available if you don't want to waste time converting files or simply drag and drop/stream to the device.