I bought an AppleTV this weekend and am in love with it. I can easily play much of my videos, all of my music, and also be entertained by YouTube and podcasts.
My Linux "entertainment center" started to die last week. I believe it is an issue with the NIC that is causing the kernel to hang. Unfortunately, the NIC is integrated into the motherboard, so I believe it was a bad omen.
Unbelievably at the same time, my 6 year old G4 iMac died. My kids used it to play games. Imagine how insufferable my daughter became when this happened: she kept saying over and over "I won't know how to spell my name anymore!"
SO, I bought an AppleTV, a Mac Mini, and a 640GB external USB hard dive. It took me several hours to transfer my mp3 music and mp4 video collection off of the old Linux box, through the network, onto the HFS+ formatted external drive connected to my Macbook, as the Linux kernel would hang every 30 minutes or so killing the transfer. Once I finished that, I plugged it into the (prepped and patched) Mac Mini, but far enough away so that the kids don't accidentally knock the thing over.
I added iTunes to my daughter's login start up items as "hidden", unchecked the "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library" box in preferences, and then told iTunes to add that drive to its library. To be safe, I opened up Finder preferences to hide hard drives from the desk top (nothing like a 1 year old pounding on the keyboard, changing drive names to ruin your day).
I then plugged in the AppleTV using the component out (my HDTV is 6 years old, and predates the popularity of HDMI), went through the setup dialogue, and pointed it to the Mac Mini. That involved restarting iTunes on the Mac Mini to have it see (immediately) the Bonjour broadcast of the AppleTV, then selecting it under "Devices", and entering in the passcode given by AppleTV. I then opened up my Macbook's and my wife's Dell's iTunes to share their libraries with AppleTV. That involved some firewall changes on the Macbook and Dell, as TCP 3569 needs to be open for iTunes.
The downside: out of the box, AppleTV won't play my library of DIVX avi's. It is pretty specific when it comes to following the iTunes standards of mp4. Since most of my movie library was in mp4, I wasn't that disappointed. At least, not disappointed enough to re-encode my avi's. Also, I need to ensure that iTunes is kept up and running on the Mac Mini, something that I am sure will be a chore since it is on the kids' computer.
I also noticed that every now and again, AppleTV gives me an annoying pause when navigating the menus. I think that has more to do with the vast size of my mp3 library as it has a lot of work to do to synchronize itself.
Politics and Technology.