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For both the new (tiny) generation, and the last generation, what media formats and codecs are supported for streaming to Apple TV?

How does that streaming work -- is it all iTunes-based, or are there other ways to go about doing it?

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The original Apple TV (out of box) preferred to treat your Apple TV like an iPod. It wanted you to sync your video from iTunes and had the following limitation:

H.264 and protected H.264 (from iTunes Store): Up to 5 Mbps, Progressive Main Profile (CAVLC) with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps (maximum resolution: 1280 by 720 pixels at 24 fps, 960 by 540 pixels at 30 fps) in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

iTunes Store purchased video: 320 by 240 pixels, 640 by 480 pixels, 720 by 480 pixels (anamorphic), or high-definition 720p

MPEG-4: Up to 3 Mbps, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps (maximum resolution: 720 by 432 pixels at 30 fps) in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

The new Apple TV has identical requirements as that of the new iPod touch and iPhone 4:

H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format

As for how it works, while nothing hard has been released from the UI screenshots released items from the internet (iTunes store, YouTube, Netflix, etc.) will stream from their respective sources while your photos, music and video streams directly from iTunes or from an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch (via AirPlay coming in iOS 4.2)

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While I can't speak for the 1.0 firmware, for version 2.0+ on the old Apple TV you could definitely stream from iTunes. Anything that wasn't synced was streamed from your primary library, and you could also connect it to additional libraries via iTunes sharing and stream from those as well. –  Kyle Cronin Dec 2 '10 at 1:35
    
@Kyle Cronin: Sorry corrected that error. Streaming was supported in 1.x but sure as heck wasn't obvious. It treated the Apple TV like an iPod by default. –  Chealion Dec 2 '10 at 7:28
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according to Wiki Apple TV support:

  • DivX (.avi, .divx)
  • Flash Video (.flv)
  • H.264 (.mp4, .m4v)
  • MPRG-2 (.mpg, .mp2, .vob, .m2v)
  • Windows Media (.wmv
  • XviD (.avi)

and for audio Codecs:

  • AAC (.m4a)
  • MPEG Layer-3 (.mp3)
  • Dolby AC3 (.ac3)
  • DTS (.wav)
  • FLAC (.flac)
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These are all formats available if you hack your original Apple TV and install Perian and Flip4Mac. Until more is known about the new Apple TV (namely can you even install Perian and will an ARM version of Perian be available for the A4) these won't work at all. –  Chealion Sep 2 '10 at 23:17
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