List of file formats working on Apple TV
This is just a list of various file formats tested playing natively on the Apple TV (i.e. through Frontrow). The codec sources are noted, if needed. Drop the .component bundle in /Library/QuickTime on the Apple TV.
See also: Codec Sources
If you can add to these tables, please do!
|DivX||.avi, .divx||Yes||Perian, OS X Codec Pack||Free|
|720p DivX||.avi||??||Perian, OS X Codec Pack||For one user, video stutters every 10-15 seconds, audio never skips. Can I get confirmation either way on this? please link to a file as mine plays everything except 1080p|
|Flash Video||.flv||Yes||Perian||Free, video file must load completely before playback|
|H.264||.mp4, .m4v||Yes||Included||Supports Main Profile with some exceptions: "QuickTime WILL NOT support 8x8 dct and intra prediction, b-pyramids, lossless encoding, etc. As well as anything from the High Profile."|
|MPEG-2||.mpg, .mp2, .vob, .m2v||Yes||QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback||$19.99, does not play transport streams, reports of choppy video|
|Windows Media||.wmv||Yes||Flip4Mac||Free, Unable to play 720p content encoded using VC1 HD profile|
|XviD||.avi||Yes||Perian, OS X Codec Pack||Free|
|AAC||.m4a||Yes||Included||Should play right out of the box|
|MPEG Layer-3||.mp3||Yes||Included||Should play right out of the box|
|Dolby AC3||.ac3||Yes||A52codec||Free, read the readme for install instructions (also included with OS X Codec Pack)|
|Matroska||.mkv, .mka||Yes||MatroskaQT, Perian||Reportedly not very usable|
|Ogg Vorbis, Theora||.ogg, .ogm||Yes||XiphQT||Reportedly working|
Request: Could someone please post a link to a compiled copy of the SVN of Perian. I tried grabbing the source, and compiling it but am getting a bunch of errors (this is on a PowerPC OS X 10.4.9 box)
NOTE This build is not supported by the Perian project in any way. If it causes your apple tv to explode, they will not replace your apple tv.
Perian built from trunk has been uploaded here. It has been tested on an Intel MacMini but not on an AppleTV. Two tiny hacks had to be done to compile, but I was able to watch two MKV files with no trouble.
NOTE Perian from trunk (as of 2007-04-20) does not work entirely on the AppleTV. It plays audio and subtitles (if available), but no video on any of a dozen test cases. Very likely that /something else/ needs to be added / modified before Perian will work with Matroska files on the AppleTV.
UPDATE VLC can play Matroska files on the AppleTV, *but* it is evident that the hardware cannot handle high bitrate files. It plays 480p decently (some skips), but 720p is unwatchable and 1080p will never get past the first frame. The VLC console will simply spit out a bunch of warnings:
 ffmpeg decoder error: more than 5 seconds of late video -> dropping frame (computer too slow ?)
Video Conversion Software
Software that is known to work with converting divx, avi, and other formats to m4v or mp4 which can be used natively out of the box.
|Program||Vendor||Supported Source Formats||Cost||Platform||Link||Notes|
|Video To AppleTV Converter||Wondershare||AVI, DivX, FLV, ASF, MOV, MPEG, RM, WMV||$29.99||Windows||WonderShare||works well, you can test it but will need to purchase for it to be regularly useable|
|Handbrake||DVD Video||Free (GPL)||Mac OS X, Windows, Linux||HandBrake||For best results, follow a guide like this|
|VisualHUB||Techspansion||Just about anything||$23.32||OS X||Trial||Very easy, can use trial to convert a sample and use ffmpeg command from log for free|
|TubeSock||Stinkbot||YouTube, DailyMotion, Porkolt videos||$15||OS X||TubeSock||Simple to use. Automatically adds videos to iTunes for syncing. Free trial can convert videos up to 30 seconds in length.|
|QuickTime Pro||Apple||Anything QT can open||$29.99||OS X or Windows||Apple.com||Easy, but slow and not many options.|
|Elgato Turbo.264||Elgato||Anything QT can open||$99.95||OS X||Turbo.264||Easy and really fast. Review|