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I use a 2009 Mac Mini. I almost thought it had died but false alarm. Regardless, it got me thinking about the future. I currently use my Mac Mini to, in no particular order:

  • watch the occasional DVD (no longer Netflix but RedBox from time to tie)
  • stream TV shows from Hulu, Netflix
  • download stuff via torrent
  • watch said stuff via VLC (it's usually a mix of mp4 and mkv)
  • do some web browsing

Clearly if I move to the Apple TV, torrenting is off, but that can be done via another computer. DVD watching is not a big deal and could be replaced by iTunes or Amazon rental, and rip some of my own DVDs. The biggest problem is how to watch the stuff on the Apple TV. If I attach a drive to my Airport extreme, any chance I can stream at least the MP4 to the Apple TV? Any chance to Airplay from another computer using VLC? Will this be solved when Apple opens up the Apple TV to developers (VLC,Plex)? Can these be installed on a jailbroken ATV? It looks like it for Plex. Anyone has any experience with it?

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This thread has some relevant information. A complex solution would be Plex Media Server on my MacPro, Plex client on my wife's iPad and airplay to ATV. Sounds convoluted... –  FrenchKheldar Nov 27 '12 at 4:21
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I'd recommend the Plex approach, not the Airplay solution. If you can handle the jailbreak (ATV2 only!), it's the best approach out there for non-iTunes movies on your ATV. And, I hate to say it here, consider the Roku, which is really cheap, officially supports Plex, and should be able to play anything you throw at it.

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And the Roku HD with ethernet and USB port is only $80 right now... Interesting. Apple really needs to open ATV to developers. And thanks for reminding me that there is no jailbreak on ATV3 ! –  FrenchKheldar Nov 27 '12 at 6:31
    
I just heard (via Merlin Mann) that iFlicks can put a quicktime wrapper around an mkv file, allowing itunes to play it. Anybody knows anything about this? Looks like this software claims to do this too. –  FrenchKheldar Dec 3 '12 at 5:53
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