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Creating your home entertainment center with Apple products

Just over a decade ago, our home entertainment routine always started with a video store. I still remember as if it were today that Friday was the day to spend at the video store and rent a bunch of films for the weekend, besides always going out with ice cream, popcorn and sweets. The video store was also a place where we met people, talked and asked for tips from new and old films, and we were looking forward to the next releases.

However, faster than the entry of the largest network of rental companies in the world to Blockbuster in Brazil, it was its exit after the purchase by Americanas. When Blockbuster closed its doors here and moved its operation to the virtual world, stores like NetMovies and Pipoca Online were already successful. In the United States, technology on-demand it became more and more common and access to digital content over the internet was easier and faster.

At the end of a decade, we saw a revolution in residential entertainment. The old VCR gave way to the DVD player, which in turn was replaced by the Apple TV. Rental assistants, who previously always hinted at new movies, have been replaced by online communities, which are now in the palm of their hands even on iOS apps, while the physical rental company that gave way to virtual portals is now at the forefront of your fingers and your remote control.

Seeing all this digital revolution, a very smart American noted that the future of home entertainment was in the connectivity of all possible devices and the ease of sharing their content. In a few years, Steve Jobs created hardware and software solutions that aim to connect and entertain the user in the most diverse ways.

Devices connected via Wi-Fi

And why can?t you take advantage of all this technology to bring your family and friends together to watch a movie, see photos, listen to music, etc.? You can not only how to take advantage of all this technology to your advantage, but with so many devices, technical terms and possibilities, we decided to give you a little machine.

Creating a network

The Apple entertainment center starts by creating a network inside the home. We have three different solutions that make it possible to integrate personal computers and iDevices.

Apple Wi-Fi Bases

The first and simplest solution is AirPort Express, a small and elegant router capable of creating a wireless network in seconds. It still talks to your printer and can be connected to your home theater through an audio cable.

The second solution, a little more expensive and complete, but no less elegant is AirPort Extreme, a router that has greater range, operating in two frequency bands. While Express allows up to 10 simultaneous users, Extreme raises that number to 50 users.

The third most complete solution is Time Capsule, an AirPort Extreme hybrid with a large capacity hard drive for storing backups. The network capabilities of the Time Capsule are the same as those of AirPort Extreme, but the big attraction of the accessory is the ability to make backups of all Macs on the network easily and quickly, with just one click on the Mac OS X Time Machine.

Editor's note: at the time we published this post, only AirPort Express was available for purchase at the Brazilian Apple Online Store. That's because AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule were recently updated by Apple and, therefore, need to go through a new homologation process at Anatel.

It is also worth remembering that the three solutions can talk to each other, but the highlight is the possibility that AirPort Express offers to extend the range of a wireless network originally created on an AirPort Extreme or Time Capsule.

The choice of the ideal solution is up to the user. The three solutions have their pros and cons (usually just one cons: the price) and each must decide what is best for them. From the Apple entertainment hub's point of view, the choice won't make much of a difference. We carried out tests with the three products and also with the possible combinations with AirPort Express and in all of them everything worked perfectly.

Your computer is the center of everything

It doesn't matter if you have a MacBook Air, a MacBook Pro, an iMac, a Mac Pro or even a PC: they will all be able to create incredible possibilities for you and your family, as long as you have the right applications.

However, before talking about applications, we have to remember that in the entertainment center your computer will be the center of everything. in it that all your photos, music, videos and files are stored and, for this reason, we will call them backend, that is, the place where the work is carried out, but which does not appear to the end user.

There are dozens of applications that can be listed, but we will assume that you are creating your first entertainment center, and for this reason, we will only use three of them:

  • iTunes: Apple's media center. In it you will have all your music, movies purchased from the iTunes Store, music clips, series, etc.
  • iPhoto: family photos and personal videos are here. (This is the only Mac only compatible; PC owners will have to settle for a shared image folder.)
  • Plex: the only application that is not from Apple, but that will help users access their digital files in formats not compatible with iTunes, such as MKV, DivX and others. Its use is very simple and always requires two applications, one installed on your computer (compatible with PC and Mac) and the other installed on your iGadget (iPad, iPhone, iPod and Apple TV).

With the three applications on your computer, the most important time has come: to organize and share the content we want to view on front-end. But rest assured, this configuration is very simple to perform.

In iTunes, everything you need to do to turn on Family Sharing (Home Sharing). It is located in the menu Advanced Enable Family Sharing. With that, you can access the front-end all your iTunes and iPhoto files. However, we must remember that, for iDevices recognize these contents, iTunes should always be open on your computer.

iTunes - Family Sharing

In Plex, the configuration is different, but it is not more difficult. After downloading and installing the application on your computer, you will go through some configuration screens in which all you need to choose are the folders where your digital files are stored. With the application open you will have a similar screen that we see below:

Plex Media Center on Mac

With iTunes and Plex installed on your Mac and PC, you are practically ready to enjoy your home entertainment center, just choose how you want to view all the content you have on your computer.

Enjoying your entertainment center

You have already set up your network and already shared all of your music, photos and movies on your computer. Now just access all of this content from your iGadgets. To do this, we need to understand what each of them can and cannot do:

  • Fur Apple TV: can reproduce all the contents of your computer located in your iTunes, iPhoto and Plex it can be installed on Apple TV with jailbreak, in this case we recommend that you use FireCore systems, for ease of use. You cannot distribute the content to any other iDevice.
  • Fur iPhone, iPad or iPod: can reproduce all the content of your computer located on the Plex (requires the purchase of the Plex app for iOS, for $ 5). In addition, you can distribute all the content of your iPhone to your Apple TV using AirPlay technology.
  • Fur iTunes: you can share through AirPlay all your content to Apple TV or AirPort Express (via audio port).

But is the price worth it?

We have to be realistic: create a network like the one described in this short article on the cheap. All Apple products are expensive in Brazil and some of them are not even officially available in our country.

The main one, however, is Apple TV, which can pass all your digital content onto your TV, the cheapest of which is only $ 100, and you can use your Mac / PC with any router.

If you are addicted to movies and series, it is essential to have this entertainment center in your home. Do not consider articles saying that it is not worth having an Apple TV at home, as it will definitely change your routine.