The Alternative to Hacking
Hack Me Not
For all cool things that you can do with your Apple TV without resorting to all that SSH malarkey or touching a screwdriver, read on. If you want to contact me, please do so though this site. --Simplicity 13:57, 4 June 2008 (CEST)
Stream and Sync Simplified
One of the very best reasons to hack your Apple TV was to get more storage. With 2.0 and iTunes 7.6.1 onwards you get much better sync / stream options. The ATV used to distinguish between "Shared" iTunes libaries, from which you could stream content and that which was synced. Now, you can select what to sync and what to stream from a library and as long as the iTunes Mac/PC is on, all the content is available seamlessly - whether local to the ATV or not.
Better still, you can choose what TV Shows to sync (Last 1,3,5+ or unwatched episodes only) of selected shows, so if the iTunes Mac/PC is off, you can still watch the latest episodes.
With this seamless sync / stream linking to your iTunes library, even a 40Gb ATV becomes totally usable.
Everything you can put on a hacked ATV, you can put on a normal ATV running 2.x. And, you won't have to pray that a new firmware release won't break everything. Only a one-time conversion of existing files is needed. Compared to the time you need to maintain a hacked ATV, it's really, genuinely, properly, not much hassle.
Use the free Handbrake for all your DVD ripping needs. It has presets for the Apple TV, which will deliver near DVD quality rips that will stream easily to your ATV.
DivX / AVI
Previously, you could convert any AVI movies you had kicking around using he freely available iSquint (or its shareware big brother, VisualHub), both these programs were discontinued in late September, 2008.
Fortunately, the team behind HandBrake is working to make this free software convert any file (not just DVDs). As of this writing, an early "snapshot" (beta) release of HandBrake 0.9.3 is available with this feature. It seems to work very well. Once HandBrake 0.9.3 is released, you can just use that.
Whatever you have ripped or downloaded can be converted using the above and then copied to iTunes, but it will appear without any TV Show / Movie data like episide name, number, etc. To fix...
Make Video Tags is first choice as it has a basic but effective interface. With iTunes 8, this seems to be working more reliably than before. Alternatively, try the more hands on Set Video Kind of Selected. Both from Doug's iTunes Scripts.
TVTaggr also looks like a promising project, with future versions possibly scraping the internet to auto-populate key fields.
Check out MetaX. Pretty easy to use and grabs data from the Internet.
With these tools, you can have all your movies and TV shows perfectly tagged and organised without much effort at all. Ongoing, maintenance is very low. Only your first conversion is the problem.
Rentals / Podcasts / iTunes Store
Come here, there's more. Running 2.x, you get get movie rentals, buy TV shows and browse podcasts straight from your Apple TV. A lot of items in the store are now available in HD, too.