AppleTV as a potent media center using Plex?

The new AppleTV is a nice piece of technology for just 119 €. I am fine with streaming video content and renting movies from the itunes store. It works just as expected. But when it comes to streaming more than just itunes content you are reaching the limits of its capabilities. You’d rather want the full package of the Plex Media Solution on your HDTV.

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How? As posted on awkwardtv.org it is actually quite easy to jailbreak the new AppleTV, enabling it to install various software and there is an experimental Plex Client available. It just plays back video so far, but you can stream music and photos via itunes anyway.

So, if you are interested in trying it out, you might consider looking into this guide from appletvhacks.net. Officially this is not supported in any way and you will loose your warranty by jailbreaking your AppleTV. So I can not encourage you to do so.

Until now, Plex says:

Will this run on AppleTV?

We believe that it is probably technically possible to get Plex to run on Apple TV hardware. The processor would be underpowered for most HD content, and it would probably perform very closely to the original XBox hardware (unless someone figured out how to utilize the onboard h.264 hardware). While it seems to be technically possible, this team has no plans to support Plex on Apple TV. We are big fans of both Apple and their technology, so we are not willing to engage in anything that Apple could consider “hacking” or encouraging people to hack. Our official recommendation is you want something like Apple TV, either buy an Apple TV, or spend the extra $200 and get a Mac Mini and be able to do both!

(Source: plexapp.com Nov 24 2010)

But there are lots of rumors that Apple will actually provide an official AppleTV SDK to allow developers to create native AppleTV applications similar to the iOS platform. This would certainly improve the odds for an official version of Plex for AppleTV as Plex just recently stated in its FAQs:

Will this run on AppleTV (2010)?

Maybe, but only if Apple offers an Official SDK for the New AppleTV.

(Source: plexapp.com Nov 24 2010)

So, there is hope for us yet. Until then you just have to keep using the Mac Mini as a Media Center. It will be needed after all because you still have to stream content from a Plex Media Server in any case.

By the way, there is a Plex App for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad in the itunes store. You can stream all your Plex Media Server content to your mobile device. It works just fine in your local WiFi network as well as over 3G (additional configuration is needed).

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As the recent update to iOS 4.2 for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad now supports AirPlay, you can stream the content from the Plex Media Server via the iOS App to the AppleTV.

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This is kind of strange, but it works fine. (Except for sometimes, when it just streams audio to the AppleTV)