XBMC on AppleTV 2G mini review

I just wanted to post my thoughts related to the XBMC for Apple’s newest TV appliance, kind of ‘Is it worth giving it a go?’answer to whover might wonder about that.

First things first, you need a jailbroken AppleTV, in my setup it’s a 4.2.1 ATV, jailbroken with seas0npass. This is of course a tethered jailbreak and although it’s a pain when you have to boot the ATV up, that doesn’t happen very often. Sleep or restarting the Lowtide frontend doesn’t count as a restart hence no need for cable or laptop.

Now, the XBMC frapliance itself is the actual XBMC application we all know and love, compiled for the ARM A4 CPU the ATV has. This means all the goodies that are available in normal XBMC are working in this port, especially something everyone hoped for, native play of MKV files, no transcoding, just pure 720p ecstasy :). One thing this affects is that XBMC just doesn’t have the smoothness and the general look and feel of the ATV interface (who used one will know what I’m talking about), but it really works and it’s a first version, I am sure it will get better.

My setup consists of a NAS server, a mac mini mid 2010 doing the downloads and file sorting, running PLEX for the main TV and an ATV on a second bedroom TV running the XBMC and PLEX clients. All of this is sending data over a wireless N 5ghz network.

Playing in XBMC of all 720p files WEB_DL 5.1 and lower has been flawless in my setup, but I have had no such luck with 1080i/p files, buffering happens every few seconds and the output is still limited to 720p visually as far as I know. I don t really mind this as if I want to watch 1080p I will watch on the main TV, but there are a lot of people that consider this a show stopper.

The interface in general is smooth, some very very small slowdowns on full screen transitions, nothing that makes the experience bad really, It just does what it says on the tin, there is really no reason to not give it a try if you can jailbreak.

Anyway, I hope these few words will be helpful to someone that is searching for an opinion on how this works in a real usage scenario. I myself would preffer it had some way of interfacing with PLEX or that the PLEX plugin would be able to play as well as this but hey, beggars can’t be choosers :), I’ll take what I can as long as I can see my media

Thanks to everyone that made this possible.

/UPDATE seas0npas beta with untethered boot has just been launched, pwange tool 4.2 also enables untethered jailbreak for ios 4.2.1 on apple tv so no reason not to update your apple tv and get plex and xbmc on it.

Category: blog

- January 23, 2011