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Next-Gen Apple TV Doesn’t Play Nice with Home Control

With diskless design and proprietary communications, next-gen Apple TV evades integration with third-party control systems. Autonomic, Extra Vegetables explain options.

Extra Vegetables, Control4 and Apple TV Version 1: match made in heaven.
Julie Jacobson · October 20, 2010

So our conclusion is at the present time it is not possible to produce a driver for the new Apple TV. So what are the alternatives?

Option 1 – Use a Sonos ZP90 and NAS

One of the advantages of the original Apple TV was the ability to playback music from an iTunes library without a computer.

A Sonos ZonePlayer is able to play music from a computer NAS drive without any special software. So it does not require a computer running. It can play all Apple music formats except copy protected iTunes downloads. However all recent downloads from the Apple iTunes store have not been copy protected.

You can easily set up your customers computers so that iTunes rips to a folder on the NAS drive. Your customer will not need to learn anything new. The Sonos player will then regularly scan this folder for new music. You can also initiate this scan from our driver – it places no load on the Control4 system.

With a Sonos ZP90 and a NAS not only are you able to provide your customer the ability to playback music from their music collection without a computer but they also get access to Sonos online music services. These include Pandora, Sirius, iheartradio, Last.FM as well as AM/FM stations. If you are looking for a music solution – this would be our suggested solution.

* Works today with our existing driver
* Play music without a computer
* More than a music playback device with Radio and Pandora services
* Storage only limited by the size of the NAS

* More expensive than Apple TV V1 – but you get so much more – music streaming, radio, etc
* It can’t play copy protected Apple music files.
* No video playback/rentals

Option 2 – Use iTunes Direct

Our original Apple TV driver is now renamed as an iTunes driver. This driver has always been
able to connect directly to iTunes running on a computer. Since with the new Apple TV you have
to have a computer running iTunes in order to play music, you could cut out the Apple TV

* Works today using our existing driver.
* Virtually unlimited music storage via computer hard drive(s).

* Need to run audio cable from computer to multi-room amp.
* Not as good for video playback.
* No OSD [on-screen display] available like you have with the Apple TV.
* Need to have a computer running iTunes.

Option 3 – Use Control4 music and NAS

You could also return to using Control4’s music system and a NAS drive. With OS 2.0 Control4 now supports Apple lossy music formats for playback from an HC300. However scanning for music is not automatic and places a heavy load on the Control4 processor. Control4 recommend that this process is scheduled overnight. This means that new music will not be available on the Control4 system until the following day.

* Free – comes with Control4 2.0
* Play music without a computer
* Storage only limited by the size of the NAS

* Music scanning provides heavy load on Control4 system
* New music will probably not appear on system until next day
* Playback of some music formats loads Control4 processor
* No video playback/rentals

You can of course use the Apple TV V2 with an IR bug connected to the front for video playback.

It’s by no means ideal.

We will continue to investigate the possibilities of a driver for the Apple TV as more nerds, geeks and others locked in dark rooms take a look at the possibilities. But for installs in the near future you should consider one of the other options.

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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at julie.jacobson@emeraldexpo.com

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  Article Topics

News · Media Player · Media Server · All Topics
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