Most of the Apple TV mods I’m seeing out there are designed to fill a need, but some of them seem quite misplaced. I think those involved in the modding frenzy should step back a bit and evaluate what they want from a modded Apple TV unit.
Support for formats like XViD and DiVX, and higher disk capacity are by far the most popular two.
Unfortunately most people want to make the mod as radical as possible simply for coolness factor. One such HOWTO went so far as to detail instructions on how to replace Front Row with CenterStage, an open-source based alternative with considerably less functionality. Another expounded on the virtues of using VLC rather than QuickTime to play movies (something recommended often by inexperienced Mac users – but that’s an entirely separate rant).
A mod to the Apple TV should enhance its functionality, not decrease it. The unit syncs movies and music over the air with any PC or Mac running iTunes, and any mod replacing FrontRow kills that utterly.
Other suggestions include manual uploading of .avi files via SSH or Samba. SSH and Samba? These are better than the default? Ideas like these are impractical when it’s clearly simple to convert .avi’s with XViD content to the .mov container format and use QuickTime plugins to play them on the Apple TV. This lets you sync them from your iTunes library and use all the features the Apple TV comes with.
Remember, when thinking about modding your Apple TV, ask make sure the mod will enhance its functionality while preserving the slickness of the product and getting you the best value for your buck, and not neuter it by installing half-functional open source software.
Cool mod ideas:
- Adding functionality like home automation and telephone services
- Adding codecs so the unit can play more formats
- Increasing storage capacity
Uncool mod ideas:
- Anything to do with installing Linux on it. Replace your car’s engine with that of a lawn-mower? No. Linux has nothing to offer the media center market.
- I know what you’re thinking! You just saw the LinuxMCE demo on YouTube. Hype and vaporware. Do you really think a _Linux_ box is going to plug into your home automation and your TV/Stereo equipment without your having to edit text files? Come on now.
- Adding functionality by adding difficulty to the user interface
- Replacing Front Row (until you can name something superior, forget it. No, none of the current alternatives.)
Remember to be sensible. And, happy modding!