Author Topic: Report: Apple TV 2 with XBMC as streaming client for VDR  (Read 4461 times)

Offline muellerph

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Hi,

I recently bought me an Apple TV 2 streaming client. I made the jailbreak and installed XBMC for IOS from the GIT trunk tree.
I know this is the VOMP forum, but I'm now searching so long for a device after MediaMVP that I assume a lot of you maybe interested in this report.

Apple TV 2 http://store.apple.com/de/browse/home/shop_ipod/family/apple_tv?mco=MTAyNTQzMzg:
  • it's available for 120-130
  • has WLAN and ethernet
  • has only HDMI port for connection of TV
  • has already support for e.g. YouTube
For jailbraking you need a Micro-USB cable (not a Mini-USB). For connection to the TV a HDMI cable is also needed extra.
Jailbraking can be frustrating, as it may not work the first time you try it and you don't know what went wrong. I needed 4 hours, others can do it right with the first try. It's an untethered jailbreak, no connection to pc needed after it.

Installing XBMC is rather easy afterwards, i.e. when you are used to apt-get.

Getting the right XBMC is on the other hand tricky.

For VDR support you need the unstable PVR branch.
For Apple TV 2 support you need the unstable IOS branch.

Both have nightly builds but not the combination. None of both is available in the current stable branch.

One dev was so kind to compile one for us test users so I was able to install and test it.

For VDR you need the VNSI plugin, also available from a GIT tree and must fit to the same PVR branch of XBMC (protocol is still changing).

VOMP and VNSI can work in parallel.

Situation:
  • XBMC starts and runs
  • Most non video functionality is working as expected with some crashes here and there. So it is still alpha status (did you expect something else?) but already usable for potential shows to satisfy the WAF - legitimate the investment  :D
  • Video: I have no HD card installed, so I cannot test it atm. But HD with H264 is the only format currently supported with hardware acceleration by the box.
    SD is not supported through the accessible hardware (even that the chip should have support for it, it is not accessible through the software library).
    But it is sayed that the CPU should be able to do it in software.
    On my box, it always stutters, through wireless or cable, recordings or live-tv. But this seems to be a known issue, some tell it works for them, some not..
    I have updated to the latest version, changed one setting and can now confirm that SD is working without stuttering as well. But it is not deinterlaced.

What is supported in PVR module:
  • Live-TV in fullscreen also with channellist and current epg
  • EPG with possibility to set timers
  • Recordings, playing, deleting. Markers are not yet supported by the PVR plugin but I'm sure it will be.
  • Timer: Set, Edit, Delete, all supported already
  • Search: You can search through the EPG for entries

So everything that VOMP has is/will be supported and IMHO much more appealing.
For sure you also have a Linux, Windows and OSX client already available through XBMC normal support. Other IOS hardware (IPad, IPhone) is working similarily.

Performance:
VNSI is as responsive as VOMP is (if you use XBMC on e.g. Windows). The usage on Apple TV 2 is not the same. But I wouldn't say it's way to too slow. Just that you feel some delay here and there but not everywhere. I read some comments that the big areas are already addressed, so huge improvements are not forseen anymore atm.

Now to the bad:
  • Development is on Apple only and you need (afaicr) 10.3 at least. So no cheap dev environment possible as long as you don't have a Mac already. No cross compiling possible from Linux or Windows boxes.
  • Nothing else than H264, so if you have any HD else than H264 you are lost
  • MPEG2 is still a risk, if it will ever be completely without stuttering/buffering unclear, if it will ever be shown deinterlaced
  • Jailbreaking maybe not possible in the future anymore in case Apple is really fixing it the hard way

If you have any question, I will help answering them or even test them if needed/possible.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2011, 08:20:58 by muellerph »

Offline stu-e

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Re: Report: Apple TV 2 with XBMC as streaming client for VDR
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2011, 13:26:38 »
Can you say if the device outputs interlaced video correctly?
This is the most important feature missing from XBMC.

Stu-e

Offline carsten

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Re: Report: Apple TV 2 with XBMC as streaming client for VDR
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2011, 14:22:25 »
Hi,

XBMC also works in this combo pretty well on Atom/ION boards. There is even a distribution, yaVDR, which is
isntalling a minimal Ubuntu together with VDR and different Clients (vdr-sxfe, xine, XBMC) that can connect
either to the local or any remote VDR through VNSI.

It works for me pretty well with my VDR headless server, I am even able to watch during recording of HD. The
ION (nVidia) chip uses VDPAU to decode and de-interlace (when necessary).

There are some reports though that have problems in this setting when extensively watching live TV. What I
normally don't do.

And like muellerph explains, XBMC looks nifty, and adds other features, like weather, music, photos, movies in
basically any format, getting film meta information, watching trailers, viewing streamed video (e.g. Tagesschau
in 100 Sekunden, to get the latest EHEC information).

Atom/ION boxes come in various sizes, some even with blueray players. So there could be one of your choice...

BR,
Carsten.

Offline stu-e

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Re: Report: Apple TV 2 with XBMC as streaming client for VDR
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2011, 15:02:43 »
My experience with nvidia VDPAU has taught me to be cautious.
The ION platforms cannot perform advanced deinterlace of 1080i. Even a GT220 which can perform advanced deinterlace of 1080i, will not perform 2:2 pulldown detection at the same time, meaning it will try to deinterlace progressive material delivered as interlaced video, causing twittering and general loss of resolution. You have to use at minimum a GT240.
If only XBMC output native interlaced video it would avoid all of these problems and use less electrical power.

Stu-e

[Edit] The situation with the GT220 (and the GT430) might have changed due to nVidia driver improvements. The review here says these cards will now do 2:2 pulldown detection:
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/radeon-hd-6450-caicos-blu-ray-3d,review-32162-10.html

« Last Edit: June 10, 2011, 09:31:27 by stu-e »

Offline carsten

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Re: Report: Apple TV 2 with XBMC as streaming client for VDR
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2011, 15:16:14 »
Oh, I see. As a "nomal" user, I have only German HD 720p, my films 1080p. This is not an issue for me, but true. BR, C.

Offline muellerph

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Re: Report: Apple TV 2 with XBMC as streaming client for VDR
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2011, 08:10:07 »
Can you say if the device outputs interlaced video correctly?
This is the most important feature missing from XBMC.

I got SD to work without stuttering and can (sadly) confirm that SD is not displayed deinterlaced.

After getting around the stuttering, I wanted to see with my wife a TV show. It took her 5s to force me to switch back to the MVP.
There is a comment that they are working on the deinterlacing issue wihtin XBMC, but if this will solve the issue on ATV2 is not yet clear.

Form what I read in the forums the HD material should be displayed deinterlaced already.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2011, 08:22:44 by muellerph »

Offline stu-e

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Re: Report: Apple TV 2 with XBMC as streaming client for VDR
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2011, 09:35:22 »
Ok Thanks for checking that out.

Apologies for being slightly off topic, due to nVidia driver updates I'm going to have another go with XBMC+VDPAU+GT220 and see if 2:2 pulldown detection has been fixed.
I'll be testing Openelec-pvr this weekend.

Stu-e

Offline muellerph

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Re: Report: Apple TV 2 with XBMC as streaming client for VDR
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2011, 18:40:55 »
Just another update.
I found the deinterlacing option and can confirm that it is working for live-tv, but only if bitrates are not too high.
For recordings you get constant buffering, this maybe optimized later.

So I'm optimistic for deinterlaced SD content.

Offline stu-e

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Re: Report: Apple TV 2 with XBMC as streaming client for VDR
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2011, 10:08:53 »
My experiment with the latest drivers for nVidia VDPAU and a GT220 did not go as I had hoped.
Watching some progressive video encoded to 1080i (2:2 pulldown), inverse telecine was not working. Where as on older drivers you could see deinterlace turn on and off erratically, now deinterlacing just stays on all of the time. This means inverse telecine is now even more broken for 2:2 pulldown.

FYI this means when watching TV or TV recordings, you can either turn off deinterlacing (interlaced source video has combing artifacts but progressive video looks great) or you can turn on deinterlacing (interlaced source video looks great but progressive video delivered over 1080i has line twitter, jaggies and general loss of detail).

Alternatively you could perform human based 2:2 pulldown detection and turn deinterlacing on and off as required using the remote control  :o

Stu-e