Why do I still use iTunes?
There was the "cash for clunkers" initiative for old cars that people were stuck with a couple of years ago; if only there was something similar for iTunes.
I love my iPad, iPhone and Apple TV. I reluctantly continue with a Dell Inspiron (Windows 7 Laptop) because I can't afford an iMac or MacBook to use as my server for my movie library. I like iTunes Match and the fact that when I buy anything it arrives across all my devices. I am enjoying iTunes Radio.
Is iTunes as cumbersome on a Mac?
Is there a better way to integrate my devices movies apps and music?
I have all my music at google music also.. In case I feel like jumping off the good ship Apple..
Is Google Play,, Chromecast or Plex worth a look? I don't feel like hacking my Apple TV and turning it into an expensive hockey puck
I prefer that these services will work across devices and platforms (not just devices), and everything is mirrored everywhere without needing to worry about downloading/transferring anything.
If you use an iPhone and Apple hardware like the Apple TV it's a good deal, and is often misunderstood by people who do not use it. I also sub to Spotify as well. But iTunes radio has a better curation based off an artist or song. If you are looking to listen to broad musical tastes then either is a good choice. But if you are already using Apple for one or more things than iTunes Match with iTunes Radio is a no brainer.
If all your devices are integrated with iTunes and Apple, I'd just stick with the environment. It seems like you're only really using it as a media streamer for the AppleTV. So perhaps it might be worth it to just try out Plex?
Running it on a Mac won't cause it to suddenly manage 3rd party video files or stop it from flattening whatever organization you've imposed on your photos.
Yet another sucky experience .. Along with Wifi Sync.. Not recognizing Devices .. Crappy UI. Messed up album art on my phone.. I could go on.. As I am sure you could too!!
I envy you. I have a Mac, with an iTunes database of 26,000 songs, ~150GB and I'm lucky if it starts in under 7 minutes! :( Seriously, it's the worst application I've ever used.
Also "Though Airplay is never as stable as when it is with all Apple hardware." -None of it is actually Apple hardware, the only part that is Apple is the software. I've had a recent machine (both Mac and x86) with Itunes and it only ran fine on Mac, the PC variant was bulkier and slower. I have 500+GB of music alone that Itunes hates, even on Mac---but I bought those 10yrs+ CDs, not from Itunes perfect environment.
Regardless of what device you use, it will only run as desi(red/gned) on barebones setup.
I have tried all kinds of software and hardware...
This is what I personally run:
iPhone 5S, and run itunes match for my music, since it will up the bitrate of your content and plays well.
Apple TV Gen 3, hacked to work with Plex, since now I can play any movie format and don't need a phone or ipad to act as middle man.
Chromecast (2nd TV)
I also have a windows laptop acting as my media server, SSD with OS (and iTunes) on it, 2nd HDD with all my media on it.
Works wonderfully. Hope I helped answer your question somewhat.
Unless you are referring to Plexconnect which is not a hack but a workaround. It is also not the same as running Plex on the Apple TV, as I do on my modded ATV2, before I got a Roku. Plexconnect info can be found here elan.plexapp.com/2013/06/04/introducing-plexconnec...
Roku devices (even older models) work just fine with Plex minus any hacking as there is an app provided by Plex you can run on the Roku boxes. Chromecast will also work with Plex (as I am sure you know) but I am fairly certain you have to pay for the plex pass service $4 a month, $30 a year, or $75 lifetime. If you want to use cloud services to keep your media online you also get access as part of Plex Pass but I have never used Google Drive (which might be how play stores its music online at this point) with Plex. It also works with some other popular cloud storage services, like dropbox etc.
Plex is as close to an Apple like experience with out being tied to Apple hardware, but Chromecast is not as flexible as Airplay if you are not into the Google Play echo system as Airplay requires commitment to the Apple Eco system.
Right now Plex is the only true middle ground that works equally well with Apple Gear as well as Microsoft / Android etc.
Also depending on his Apple TV it might be impossible to hack as he may have it updated past where it can be modded. Hopefully Apple will open up the Apple TV to Apps soon rather than keeping it closed.
I also back up all my photos, videos and important files. I think they also have a PLEX server for Synology, not sure about that though you will need to double check. There is also a great development community for Synology that create apps for it. I have crashplan ( www.crashplan.com) as my cloud backup, someone wrote an app to allow you to run the backup engine on the Synology device so its running all the time, My backup strategy is, all files are on 411+II, backup nightly to my 411J which is located on my wired (not wireless) network BUT is not in my house, in a protected location outside my house. This is to help protect against fire and hopefully theft, but both could get stolen I guess. Then my 411+II has crashplan that backsup actively to the cloud. So even if everything is gone, say in a flood or double theft of NAS's I can get my files from Cloud.
If you have a USB OTA TV tuner or a silicon dust network tuner (www.silicondust.com) the NAS will also pull in the TV signal and act as a DVR to record shows, and has an APP to watch them on iOS or Android and on devices like a playstation 3, Xbox 360, or other compatible devices. I have a OTA silicon dust and a cable card silicon dust network device which is used on my HTPC. Synology also has a video surveillance app, can handle alot of IP cameras, think its like 20 but its dependent on the hardware of your NAS (why I went with 411+II in the end 411J not powerful enough) They give you one camera license free, if you add more you need to buy separate camera licenses at ~$50 each, most dont need more than 1 or two. I only have one.
And they also have a cloud storage app, it works just like dropbox, use an app on iOS, android or windows/mac's. Only difference is instead of saving files to dropbox cloud it saves back to your NAS device, and the big advantage is your savings on dropbox's storage fees.
So my NAS works as an iTunes server, Video Server for home movies, a DVR, a home video surveillance, local backup device, cloud backup server and cloud storage.
Yes, its not overly inexpensive at ~$500+ with out drives, but it does a whole heck of alot for me so its worth it for me and my family.
Hope this was useful.
One other thing I forgot to mention, if you dont want to use the iTunes server and just want to use it as an mapped network drive on your computer and use something like Music Bee ( getmusicbee.com/ ), Media Monkey ( www.mediamonkey.com/ ) or some other music player, you can just point to the mapped drive or you can also use UNC name ( compnetworking.about.com/od/windowsnetworking/g/un... ) to get to it. I have Music Bee and Media Monkey along with iTunes. All have there +/- I tend to use iTunes more often since I use the equalizer and iTunes lets you set an eq setting to each song and not set it and it applies to all songs you play like some other players.
Still a long way from having all my stuff in the cloud.
It's hard to say if Crashplan would improve your backup speeds from the external drive, as I don't know whether Carbonite is your current problem. Part of it might be that these backup services encrypt your files before the data leaves your computer. So Carbonite has to read the files off your local storage (slow), encrypt them (slower), and upload them to the internet (slowest).
I don't know if you described your computer somewhere in this thread, but it could be a performance issue...
I have ~1.5TB on Crashplan now and got there 4 year family plan, dont think they offer it anymore. Initial backup took a month but like I said once its on my NAS I dont think about it much.
If you dont have a lot to backup and want to backup from your computer only you can use a great open source app called Duplicati ( www.duplicati.com/ ) it will do backups, compress them and encrypt them and then push them to cloud service like Microsoft Skydrive , soon to be renamed Microsoft Onedrive, It does incremental backups so if you change a file say a word file, it doesnt send the entire file again, just the part of the file that changed. It does recommend a full backup every month however. I use this at work to backup my files, even though IT backs them up as well but I have had them lose files in the backup so I follow the methodology of TNO, Trust No One, when it comes to important files.
Ed, I love that you got Crashplan running on your Synology. That's awesome. I'll have to do that too.
They do still offer that plan, they've just simplified their plans (and raised the prices). Now they offer single or multiple computer plans, and you pay up to four years in advance.
Google play is just like itunes, except one huge difference = device support, you will have access to your music on everything, rather than only Apple devices.
Chromecast is basically a cheaper version of current technology included in Roku and your Apple TV with "airplay" as they call it, simply DLNA compatibility with security encryption to only allow Apple certified devices (how nice!). Except it works like plug and play with any devices that sees it on the network, with the SDK openly available now you should see more content and apps support Chromecast, as Apple TV has been available for years it has more of a collection.
Also you may look into a NAS=Network Attached Storage, basically a HDD with WIFI or ethernet connected to the router(Airport Extreme, I hate the stupidity of these names).
Lastyly, you shouldn't need to afford an Apple computer, they are extemely over priced, it is almost literally your dell with all the somewhat beefed up hardware available, but plus $1000, or lets make it $2000 just becuase they include their useless "Office Suite" that i(think)"works." As always, you will be buying a PC essentially, plus Apple bloatware for a premium.
I've been collecting physical CDs for many yrs, ripping, and storing on WinAmp since like '99 or whenever they introduced cd ripping (I've used DBpoweramp as well) to curate my 500+GB of music, not including anything I've recorded in the studio (Whole other story)
Call me old-school, but I use WinAmp still, and it works great. Tied in with my Google Music Manager to sync with my Google Play (free Itunes match). They have these wonderful things called shoutcast which are literally real people setting up their home computer as a radio server to listen to/rip. Predating anything named podcast, pod? what is that, the word just means thing essentially...off topic. :D
I've heard good things about MusicBee, but honestly I haven't used it that much.
An app called Station Ripper to save my legally recorded MP3s from streaming radio (its been legal to record radio since the 90s)
and another app called Saver2 for Pandora.
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Since you use Apple devices you can use plex on your PC and the plex apps on your phone to stream via Airplay to the Apple TV thus negating having to Hack your mac but still being able to stream things like mov files to your TV. To be honest the best solution if you want a better PC experience with iTunes without giving up on using your Apple gear is bite the bullet and get a Mac, you are not going to be sorry and iTunes will run much better on even a two or 3 year old mac. But if you got a new Windows machine and installed iTunes you would have access to all your iTunes match music and it would probably run much better as well with a clean install. I am more biased to Macs now. But I know that most of the hatred for iTunes is pretty biased and based on poorly maintained or overworked/underperforming Windows machines as well. I would recommend sticking to Win 7 if you get a new PC however. Good Luck.
I also think the digital goods have many new function now ,but the old goods are beautiful .