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powerdave
Sep 7, 2008, 10:45 AM
Hello all!
I'm thinking of using my Powerbook G4 as a poor man's Apple TV or media library. Having read this thread over here (Mini vs. Apple TV (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=545083)) I wanted to get some input specifically to a Powerbook. I gather that the main problem I'll have will be HD media.. but nevermind!

I've got:

- Powerbook G4, 1.33Ghz in decent working order.
- Samsung 32" HD 'ready' TV, 720p, 1366 x 786 (model LE32R81B)
- Xbox - irrelevant?

I'm hoping to buy a new MacBook Pro soon which would mean retiring the PB, so I'm thinking oh using it as some sort of music/ video library with the TV.
What are my options here?

Video: At the moment I use the DVI out to hook the PB to the TV's HDMI input, works pretty well. I'm happy with my current HDMI cable setup, don't think I can improve on this.

Audio: What's the best way to hooking this up to the TV? Right now I've just got a 3.5" jack analogue cable.. pretty basic here.

+Speakers: I also want to get a semi decent 2.1 speaker setup (I think 5.1 is overkill for me). Is the analogue out audio on the Powerbook my weak link here? Any recommendations for speakers? I don't know whether to go for higher-end PC speakers or a cheaper 'home entertainment' system. I'm not really an audiophile, just looking for a reasonable setup to make the most of an ageing Powerbook :)

Software: I still use 10.3.9 so I've never used Front Row, although it looks like a great interface. Are there any other options out there, or should I install Leopard and get myself a remote? Would be useful to use the internet aswell, so I could get myself a wireless keyboard and mouse combo while I'm at it.

Doable at all or more like throwing money into a hole?
Answers on a postcard please!

David



mobilehaathi
Sep 7, 2008, 11:51 AM
I can't really answer any of your questions, but I am interested in your progress. Do keep us updated how tings pan out if/when you set it up.

powerdave
Sep 7, 2008, 12:11 PM
Will do!
I figure it shouldn't take a lot of work, just a case of choosing the right bits... if the machine itself is up to it.

Andre1980
Sep 7, 2008, 01:46 PM
I am really interested in your project, too.

Two things sprang to my mind when I read your post:

Number one, I think front row will be an improvement to get a nice home cinema feel (even without the remote). But this also means that all your movies have to be run via iTunes - DVDs or MP4 no trouble, but in case you have any AVI files you'll have to reencode them (eg with iSquint) or not use front row at all.

Secondly audio. I had a very good hifi setup consisted of a pair of Canton speakers and a Kenwood amplifier. However, I wanted to create more room in the apartment for other stuff (like toys for my daughter) and reduce those hifi items I didn't really need. Initially I wanted to get rid of the hifi setup and buy some good PC speakers instead. But then I came across a tiny digital amplifier called T-Amp from Sonic Impact. So I replaced the bulky Kenwood amplifier with the T-Amp (50 Dollars) and use the speakers with it instead. A great sound result which I wouldn't get with any PC speakers under 150 $. If you have some quality speakers available and if you are fine with regular stereo sound you should take a look at the T-Amp plus some (used) stereo speakers.

cheers

powerdave
Sep 7, 2008, 03:06 PM
Thanks for the post, genuinely helpful stuff there.

I forgot about Front Row requiring everything to be run through iTunes. That's not really ideal... iTunes for music is okay but most of my video is .avi which I just run through VLC (recent versions of which don't work for me at all... anyone else running 10.3 have this problem?)

So, it might be time to check out MediaCentral (http://www.equinux.com/us/products/mediacentral/index.html) as mentioned on another thread... Oh, it's not freeware anymore (thread is from 2006!) and it requires OS 10.4.11. I'll add it to the 'maybe' list.

Regarding the amplifier... it looks like a good product. I don't know if it's what I'm looking for though, as if I start looking for an amp, then any one will do really, it doesn't have to be a space-saving battery powered one.

If I do go down the amplifier route, when what should I be amplifiying? My TV or the Mac? I don't know if this is the wisest idea, but I figured if I was going to buy speakers of some description, then I'd hook 'em up to the TV and get use out of them all the time, as opposed to connecting them to the Mac and only getting the benefit when I'm playing content through the computer.

Cave Man
Sep 7, 2008, 04:29 PM
A G4 won't be able to handle high def h.264 decoding. I think you're in for a world of hurt if you want to play back contemporary media files.

powerdave
Sep 7, 2008, 05:17 PM
H.264 is beyond the G4's capabilities, I get that. At some point in the future that will be a pain in the ass alright, but right now I can live with it.

Andre1980
Sep 8, 2008, 04:18 AM
I hooked up the mac to the amp, because I usually watch TV / movies via my mac mini. The speakers are sitting right next to the living room TV though, so I sometimes watch media from the mac on the TV (using a S-Video cable to link the mac to the TV). So in my case I really have to hook up the speakers to the mac because the S-Video doesn't carry sound to the TV.

By the way I use the latest T-Amp with a power adapter. Another reason to consider the T-Amp besides its small measurements is the small price.

Andre1980
Sep 8, 2008, 04:20 AM
I use VLC 0.8.6f (PowerPC) without any problems.

tompon1923
Sep 8, 2008, 01:35 PM
In your first post you mentioned you have a xbox. If it is a 360 you can download connect360 from nullriver which allows you to stream content from your mac to a 360. I use it all the time, for 1080p and for lower ress movies.
It works oustanding and setting it up is very easy. (Blughh feel like im some kind of salesman.) I stream stuff from my macbook so i don't know how it will preform on a powerbook. To run the program i believe you have to run Tiger, I don't know for sure but you can always try right?

powerdave
Sep 8, 2008, 02:03 PM
Excellent stuff! I'd never heard of that... I just bought the Xbox a couple of week ago purely for GTA 4. :D Looks like I'll need to get rid of Panther and get at least 10.4, but it seems like a pretty cool piece of software. Thanks for the heads up!

Reading the blurb on the website, am I right in thinking that Connect360 will stream a HD file from the Mac, decode it and play it? Sounds ideal.

spacepower7
Sep 8, 2008, 02:13 PM
Number one, I think front row will be an improvement to get a nice home cinema feel (even without the remote). But this also means that all your movies have to be run via iTunes - DVDs or MP4 no trouble, but in case you have any AVI files you'll have to reencode them (eg with iSquint) or not use front row at all.


This is wrong.

Front Row can easily play AVIs and MKVs. You just new to install the free quicktime component Perian from www.perian.org

You can just put all your AVIs into your home>Movies folder and Front Row will already find them. And if they are on an external drive, make an alias and put it your Movies folder.

KingYaba
Sep 8, 2008, 05:49 PM
powerdave, do you have an Xbox or Xbox 360? The Xbox 360 can play all the high def content you want. Buddy had a G4 PowerMac at 1.2 ghz with large hard drives. So he downloaded this utility (http://www.nullriver.com/products/connect360) and used his Xbox 360 to play high def videos that are stored on his G4.

tompon1923
Sep 9, 2008, 12:29 AM
powerdave, do you have an Xbox or Xbox 360? The Xbox 360 can play all the high def content you want. Buddy had a G4 PowerMac at 1.2 ghz with large hard drives. So he downloaded this utility (http://www.nullriver.com/products/connect360) and used his Xbox 360 to play high def videos that are stored on his G4.


/\ that's what I'm talking about.

bmb012
Sep 9, 2008, 12:39 AM
I'm gonna second connect360, top stuff.

I have a 1.67 Powerbook that can handle 720p files with ease... I don't know how much a difference those few mhz make, though.

powerdave
Sep 9, 2008, 11:16 AM
Xbox 360 of course, like I said, I just have it a few weeks. Thanks for the replies... Connect360 sounds like the way to go.
Glad I mentioned the fact that I've got an Xbox 360 :D It was just an afterthought, had no idea that people out there were opening it up.

Anybody got opinions on speakers? I was just considering getting some (decent) PC speakers to supplement my TV for now.. as it seems like a cheaper option than opening the can of worms that is the world of amplifiers and hi-fi speaker combinations...

Andre1980
Sep 10, 2008, 04:19 AM
This is wrong.

Front Row can easily play AVIs and MKVs. You just new to install the free quicktime component Perian from www.perian.org


Happy to read that I'm wrong :-)
downloading that thing as I write...

tompon1923
Sep 11, 2008, 01:38 AM
logitech has some good ones, I have the z-2300 and I must say they are pretty good.