Watching iTunes shows on a Roku player?
March 25, 2009 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Is there a simple way to watch an iTunes download on my TV set?

I just canceled my cable and bought a Roku box (AKA The Netflix Player). I'm set up for Netflix and Amazon downloads. There's just one problem: some of the shows I want to watch -- notably new episodes of Lost -- don't seem to be available. I can get Lost on iTunes, but then it's on my computer and I'd rather watch it on my TV. My computer and my TV are at opposite ends of the house.

Is there a simple way to get an iTunes download onto my TV set?

Presume I know nothing about how any of this works. Some details that may or may not be useful: the computer is an iMac. We have an Airport and everything is wireless. I don't mind paying for my downloads -- that's not the issue. I have an older, half-broken Powerbook that could be involved somehow (can I hook it up to my TV?), and also a Series 1, coal-powered Tivo that isn't being used (we don't have a land line for it to call the mothership).
posted by The corpse in the library to Technology (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe a cheap refurbished AppleTV?
posted by sharkfu at 10:32 AM on March 25, 2009

Do you have a relatively recent iPod with video capabilities? Are those downloads iPod-compatible? If so, then put them on your iPod, hook up with the requisite TV-out cable, and you're set.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:37 AM on March 25, 2009

This may not help you, but it is surprisingly easy to connect a video-capable iPod to a TV.
posted by Xalf at 10:39 AM on March 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thinking over things you may have neglected to mention:

Do you have an iPod Classic? You can hook your iPod Classic up to your TV and playback video content.

What kind of TV do you have? If your TV is a newer model it will most likely have either a VGA or DVI input on the back. You could connect the video output on your Powerbook to your TV via this mechanism and output that way.
posted by kbanas at 10:39 AM on March 25, 2009

I do it with a VGA out with my (2 year old) TV, just like hooking up a laptop to a projector in a business meeting. Obviously this method depends on your TV, and I think Macs hook up to VGA cables with a little connector thing.
posted by Overzealous at 10:43 AM on March 25, 2009

I don't think our TV is widescreen (I said I was ignorant), so I don't think AppleTV would work -- that's a good idea, though.

I have a 3G iPhone, and the downloads can be downloaded to it. The TV is about four years old and has two input choices : one of the blue-red-yellow cable sets, and one of the cables that you screw in.

So all I would need would be one of these cables, right? That seems so simple! Am I missing something, or is it really that easy?
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:45 AM on March 25, 2009

This cable will plug into your iphone on one end and the component input on the right hand side of your tv's input panel. $49 USD. The composite version is the same price but would replace whatever is currently plugged into the left side of the input panel.
posted by GuyZero at 11:07 AM on March 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, although pricey for what they are, these cables should work fine with your TV.
posted by 6550 at 11:08 AM on March 25, 2009

Also, the USB plug on those cables is to provide power and they come with a USB wall adapter, so you can watch for hours without killing the battery on your iphone. I'd suggest the component cable, as those inputs are currently free on your TV.
posted by GuyZero at 11:09 AM on March 25, 2009

So simple! $50 is more than I hoped to spend, but it seems the easiest. Thanks!
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:14 AM on March 25, 2009

what you wanted was an AppleTV with Boxee installed on it, but you've got a Roku player. so the answer, as of today, is nope.

BUT, there is hope you could do this eventually (my guess? 6-12 months out)

Roku has an SDK that Amazon used to make their Amazon VOD channel on the Roku, and other "big name partners". it is conceivable that one of these partners will have the shows you want. It is also conceivable that once the SDK is distributed more widely, someone can make a home streaming app, where the Roku Player could stream content from your PC's iTunes purchases.
posted by jrishel at 11:16 AM on March 25, 2009

An AppleTV will work with your TV, as it has component connection, but if it is a standard (not-widescreen) aspect ratio (4:3) , AppleTV will show your iTunes videos vertically stretched. For a non-widescreen TV, the iPhone and component cables is going to be an easier option.
posted by andrewraff at 11:21 AM on March 25, 2009

I am pretty sure when setting up an Apple TV you can find in the options an option for 480i (Standard Def TV)
posted by OwlBoy at 12:04 PM on March 25, 2009

> what you wanted was an AppleTV with Boxee installed on it,

Considering that the Boxee team has yet to get Netflix Streaming working on an AppleTV, that is not a workable answer. One would get AppleTV content, but then no Netflix or Amazon downloads. The Asker wants all 3 through her TV, so the iPod cable is the best current option, besides buying a separate AppleTV AND a Roku.
posted by mrzarquon at 12:48 PM on March 25, 2009

$50 is more than I hoped to spend, but it seems the easiest. Thanks!

You don't have to pay that much for an ipod video output cable.

I got mine at Meritline and they seem to have a cable on sale right this second for $7.
posted by phearlez at 1:23 PM on March 25, 2009

Yeah, I got an off-brand cable off eBay for about $10, and it works fine. Like the Meritline one, it's from Hong Kong, land of cheap electronics.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:57 PM on March 25, 2009

My understanding is that the cables need to have an authentication chip in them, and that's how Apple suckers people like me into spending $50 on them. Maybe I'm wrong. Ah well.

I got the Apple component cable, it works, problem solved, thanks!
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:38 PM on March 25, 2009

> is that the cables need to have an authentication chip in them

The authentication chip is required for the new iPhones and iPods, the older models may use the cheap cables fine.

Even if the cheaper cables were working with a new iPhone, there is a possibility that a future software update would disable video out on them.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:50 PM on March 25, 2009

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