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TJunkers
Oct 23, 2008, 07:20 PM
I love my Apple TV. But I essentially want and Apple TV with over 1TB of space. Any suggestions? As for hooking up an external drive: I'm looking for other solutions.

Thanks!



mathcolo
Oct 23, 2008, 07:21 PM
Instead of an Apple TV I'd buy a Mac mini and hook it up to your TV. Stream iTunes, movies, and all of your media from it. That'll be a better solution that Apple TV. In retrospect, Apple TV is pretty restricted.

AeroStud1026
Oct 25, 2008, 02:17 PM
I love my Apple TV. But I essentially want and Apple TV with over 1TB of space. Any suggestions? As for hooking up an external drive: I'm looking for other solutions.

Thanks!

Instead of an Apple TV I'd buy a Mac mini and hook it up to your TV. Stream iTunes, movies, and all of your media from it. That'll be a better solution that Apple TV. In retrospect, Apple TV is pretty restricted.

I was boucing the same idea around before I bought my :apple:tv however to do it with a mini it will cost alot more...basically your gonna have to buy the Mini if you don't already have one which would be 600-800 depending on what you want, some people say get the most expensive one you can afford. Plus a keyboard and mouse (60-150 depending on what you want wired vs. wireless) because if i would do this, i would want to reap the benefits of it being an extra computer and not just a media center. a DVI to HDMI cable (10-20 bucks I believe and assuming you have an HDTV since :apple:TV doesn't work with CRT's) Your also going to need one more piece of equipment which I cannot seem to locate but in a nut shell...DVI does NOT transmit audio therefore your gonna need an additional adapter and I believe your gonna need a HDMI cable as well (I've seen it talked about on this forum before but cannot located any threads that do) so your audio can be transmitted.

When I started pricing these things out, I came to roughly 900 bucks out the door for the mini and everything to make it a functional media center as well as a computer. However I think I did choose the more expensive model :apple:TV $229.....

The best selling point a mini vs. :apple:tv has is the the mini has the ability to play alot more media types than :apple:tv but when I rip stuff it always goes to mp4 format.....I hate the quality of avi files. Just a personal pet peeve.

Here are some threads I found interesting on the issue.

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=424585&highlight=Mac+Mini+HDTV+audio

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=546055&highlight=Mac+Mini+HDTV+audio

ALSO...Check out my posts in this thread.....alot of people say the size issue on :apple:tv is a downfall but this is how i overcame that situation.

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=576010

This is a more in depth step by step process on how i achieved it, look for my posts.
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=576714

jteddy
Oct 26, 2008, 10:49 PM
Best Mac related Media Center?

Mac Mini. Currently you need the horse power of at least a Mac Mini if your going to be playing 1080i, and 720p blu-ray titles. (granted aTV can play some 720p)

For software you have the option of running frontrow, XBMC, or Boxee.
You can still rent, purchase movies of iTunes and other sites such as Jaman.

DVI to HDMI cable for the connection to your TV.
I would purchase an external USB 5.1 dobly digital sound card to hook up to your amp.

For the future, you can always buy an external blu-ray drive.

Who needs a keyboard/Mouse...Just use the standard apple remote.

Cave Man
Oct 26, 2008, 11:03 PM
Best Mac related Media Center? Mac Mini. Currently you need the horse power of at least a Mac Mini if your going to be playing 1080i, and 720p blu-ray titles.

The 2 gHz Mini can also play Blu-Ray rips with the right software.

For software you have the option of running frontrow, XBMC, or Boxee.

Plex is the best of the lot, IYAM.

I would purchase an external USB 5.1 dobly digital sound card to hook up to your amp.

Why not optical cable - that'll get you up to 7.1 and only cost $10 or less.

For the future, you can always buy an external blu-ray drive.

The current Mini is not HDCP compliant, and even if it were the DVD to HDMI cable would break that.

jteddy
Oct 27, 2008, 12:30 AM
Thanks for your feedback Cave Man. Could you please explain the following points to me further please.


Why not optical cable - that'll get you up to 7.1 and only cost $10 or less.

I assumed the optical cable only gave you stereo sound.
What does the surround sound decoding?
Do you have any additional information on where you learned this? I have a few friends asking the same question, and would like to pass on the links to them.


The current Mini is not HDCP compliant, and even if it were the DVD to HDMI cable would break that.

What is the advantage of having a HDCP compliant Mac Mini?
Do you mean DVI to HDMI cable?

Thanks.

Cave Man
Oct 27, 2008, 08:49 AM
I assumed the optical cable only gave you stereo sound.

The optical port of the Mini will pass along the digital audio from whatever file you're using, provided you're using the right software (e.g., Plex, XMBC, VLC/Perian - Quicktime is ok with Dolby Digital AC3, but not DTS). If your receiver can decode that file (e.g., Dolby Digital, DTS), then you will get audio in that format. The specification of Toslink (i.e., optical cable) is up to 7.1 surround sound.

What does the surround sound decoding?

The receiver to which your Mini (or any other current Mac, for that matter) is connected. I have an Onkyo 5.1 system for my setup.

Do you have any additional information on where you learned this? I have a few friends asking the same question, and would like to pass on the links to them.

Have a look here (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=387209).

What is the advantage of having a HDCP compliant Mac Mini?

The Blu-ray disc specification requires that the drive, video card and display are all HDCP compliant. If only two are, then you cannot play your Blu-ray discs on that system. Right now, none of the Macs are officially HDCP-compliant because of their video cards, but it's evident that the MacBook Pro and Mac Pro are, and likely the iMacs as well. It is also likely that the new MacBook with the NVidia chipset is compliant, but the white MacBook and Mini are not.

Do you mean DVI to HDMI cable?

Oops. Right. DVI to HDMI cable. DVI does not support the HDCP specification (however, DisplayPort, found on the new MB/MBP and probably future Macs as well, does). Thus, with the advent of DisplayPort the hardware issues of HDCP should be complete for Macs.

jteddy
Oct 27, 2008, 09:29 PM
Cave Man, thanks for the great information.

wvuwhat
Oct 28, 2008, 01:27 AM
Mini...

serpico
Oct 28, 2008, 10:22 AM
As someone stated above, they preferred mp4 to avi for quality. I'm thinking of picking up an AppleTV this week to hook up to my new hdtv in the family room. Since I have a lot of avi movie files, is there a way to convert those to mp4 to make it easier to share through itunes or save them to my AppleTV harddisk?

Capt Crunch
Oct 28, 2008, 10:46 AM
The mac mini is the worst bang/buck computers out there. It just barely plays 1080p and will stutter on anything with a higher-than-normal bitrate. Not to mention you can't put a big HD in there, so you will have to get an external anyways.

A couple months ago I got a fantastic-looking hp slimline with a 2.6 core2duo, blueray, 4GB on RAM, and a TB HD for $500. It was the **** in every respect except that it had windows. After wrestling with the drivers and networking ******** for weeks, I sold it for a profit. If you can make a PC work, the hardware you can get for you money is astounding. I never tried putting OSX on it.

What I'm running now is an iMac connected to my TV with a long HDMI cable from monoprice. Does everything I want. When I watch movies I have plex blank my iMac's screen so you can only see the TV.

Capt Crunch
Oct 28, 2008, 10:46 AM
As someone stated above, they preferred mp4 to avi for quality. I'm thinking of picking up an AppleTV this week to hook up to my new hdtv in the family room. Since I have a lot of avi movie files, is there a way to convert those to mp4 to make it easier to share through itunes or save them to my AppleTV harddisk?

See if you can find an old copy of visual hub. It's been discontinued but is a fantastic piece of software.

serpico
Oct 28, 2008, 10:49 AM
See if you can find an old copy of visual hub. It's been discontinued but is a fantastic piece of software.

Thank you. Too bad it was discontinued. I'm sure some other developer will bring something new for us. I'll try and locate a copy.

TJunkers
Oct 28, 2008, 10:52 AM
Yeah the mini seems to be the way to go for a mac related media hub. I need a lot of space so I guess I'll hook up my external to it and just hide it so it looks clean as can be! I'm gonna wait till they update of discontinue the mini. If they update it, it'll run even better, if they discontinue it, I'll get it in clearance for a lot cheaper!

Thanks for all the info!

mohanman
Oct 28, 2008, 11:33 AM
I have been a HTPC enthusiast for years. I spent so much time, money and effort trying to build the perfect htpc for all the rooms in my house. What a waste of time!

1) First I started with Microsoft media center.. crashes a lot, interface okay, slow, required frequent rebooting of the computer, lots of drivers/firmware and hardware upgrades.. slow, left me wanting more...

2) Then I ran into SageTV. It is by far the best software, with media extenders which require little electricity and able to play awesome 1080p mkvs files. However, samething, it required a pc (although there is a mac version now), which would require frequent reboots, lots of firmware updates, lots of hardware investment, and the interface is plain fuggly. It is nothing like appletv's interface. In fact, you will NOT find anything like appletvs interface. So I dumped that too. (although if tv, and videos/music/pictures, in ONE box is really that important to you, I recommend Sagetv by far).

3) Still searching for the perfect setup, and being fed up with some shows being recorded or others not being recorded, I ran across TIVO. Yep Tivo. They had just released their new software so that multi room viewing was possible (transferring show from lets say living room to the bedroom),and also it was possible now to transfer shows to the pc/mac to put on your iphone/ipod/dvd. I found this interested so gave it a try. What were the results? The best DVR I have ever had period. I sold all that HTPC junk and have had TIVO for a year now, and couldn't be happier. The only thing is you pay a premium price for what you get.

And what about all the movies/pictures/music? Appletv is THE best media streamer for the price, and functionality I have played with to date. Podcasts, renting high def movies, buying music, viewing movies/music by art.. its the best, and can simply be modified by your itunes on your mac. I do tend to leave my mac on 24 hours, but it isn't necesary, just load up your appletv with what you want then you are done.

So my suggestion after years of playng and wasting money with all that crap, TIVO and appletv in combo.

Thanks
Mo

Cave Man
Oct 28, 2008, 01:23 PM
The mac mini is the worst bang/buck computers out there. It just barely plays 1080p and will stutter on anything with a higher-than-normal bitrate.

Works just great for my Blu-ray rips, even h.264-encoded at more than 30 mbps. Have you tried a Mini, or are you just regurgitating what others say?

Not to mention you can't put a big HD in there, so you will have to get an external anyways.

It'll take any 2.5" SATA drive, currently up to 500 gb. After all, the Mini is a desktop made of notebook components.

A couple months ago I got a fantastic-looking hp slimline with a 2.6 core2duo, blueray, 4GB on RAM, and a TB HD for $500.

Can you provide a link to this, because it does not appear that HP's online configuration will permit such a computer for $500.

Cave Man
Oct 28, 2008, 01:32 PM
Since I have a lot of avi movie files, is there a way to convert those to mp4 to make it easier to share through itunes or save them to my AppleTV harddisk?

Forget about VisualHub. Download the latest Handbrake snapshot (http://handbrake.fr/?article=snapshot). It handles AVI files and has a really nice Apple TV preset.

dynaflash
Oct 28, 2008, 01:49 PM
Forget about VisualHub. Download the latest Handbrake snapshot (http://handbrake.fr/?article=snapshot). It handles AVI files and has a really nice Apple TV preset.

Not the latest for long. New one is going to be better. Especially the ATV preset (can you say crf ? )

serpico
Oct 28, 2008, 01:53 PM
Forget about VisualHub. Download the latest Handbrake snapshot (http://handbrake.fr/?article=snapshot). It handles AVI files and has a really nice Apple TV preset.

Thanks, didn't know handbrake did this too now. I'll grab the latest version and give it a try.

~Shard~
Oct 28, 2008, 01:54 PM
I just bought a new home theater and am looking at complementing it with a media center PC/Mac solution - there is some good info in this thread, so thanks. :)

serpico
Oct 28, 2008, 01:57 PM
I just bought a new home theater and am looking at complementing it with a media center PC/Mac solution - there is some good info in this thread, so thanks. :)

I agree, I just got a new hdtv and now starting to look at the AppleTV. I'll be picking one up soon along with a hdmi cable.:D

~Shard~
Oct 28, 2008, 02:09 PM
I agree, I just got a new hdtv and now starting to look at the AppleTV. I'll be picking one up soon along with a hdmi cable.:D

I am going to search the Forums for info on this, but my only concern with the AppleTV is how restrictive it is with respect to formats. If I download AVIs, MKVs, WMVs, etc. from the Internet for example, can I still play them on AppleTV? Do I need to/can I install Perian, Flip4Mac, other codec packs in order to accomplish this? This to me would be the only drawback of using an AppleTV...

I'll do my own research on this, but if anyone wouldn't mind posting a quick answer to this it would of course be appreciated. ;) :)

dynaflash
Oct 28, 2008, 02:12 PM
my only concern with the AppleTV is how restrictive it is with respect to formats. If I download AVIs, MKVs, WMVs, etc. from the Internet for example, can I still play them on AppleTV?
Only if you a. Hack it. or b. Reencode those movies to mp4.

Do I need to/can I install Perian, Flip4Mac, other codec packs in order to accomplish this? This to me would be the only drawback of using an AppleTV...
if you want to have it play all of the formats you list above, then you have to hack it.

~Shard~
Oct 28, 2008, 02:16 PM
Only if you a. Hack it. or b. Reencode those movies to mp4.

if you want to have it play all of the formats you list above, then you have to hack it.

Good to know, that's what I figured, thanks. :)

So what can I use to convert to MP4? Will any quality etc. be lost in the conversion? I know that Visual Hub is a good tool, however I have heard it has just been discontinued.

Otherwise, maybe I'll have to look at another solution (i.e. a Mac Mini running VLC etc?) hooked up via HDMI... I'll have to do some more research to figure out what makes the most sense...

dynaflash
Oct 28, 2008, 02:30 PM
So what can I use to convert to MP4? Will any quality etc. be lost in the conversion? I know that Visual Hub is a good tool, however I have heard it has just been discontinued.


http://forum.handbrake.fr/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=7230

Cave Man
Oct 28, 2008, 02:30 PM
So what can I use to convert to MP4? Will any quality etc. be lost in the conversion? I know that Visual Hub is a good tool, however I have heard it has just been discontinued.

Forget about VisualHub. Download the latest Handbrake snapshot (http://handbrake.fr/?article=snapshot). It handles AVI files and has a really nice Apple TV preset.

Otherwise, maybe I'll have to look at another solution (i.e. a Mac Mini running VLC etc?) hooked up via HDMI... I'll have to do some more research to figure out what makes the most sense...

Not VLC. Plex or XBMC (I prefer Plex). You'll also want a DVI to HDMI cable and an optical Toslink cable with a Mini plug on one end, provided your receiver or TV can accept optical input.

Cave Man
Oct 28, 2008, 02:34 PM
Not the latest for long. New one is going to be better. Especially the ATV preset (can you say crf ? )

That's good to hear, because I still cannot compile the svns (but 0.9.2 compiles just fine). Strange. Any chance the Xcode 3.0 to 3.1 update could have broken something? Or installation of the iPhone dev tools? It's just strange that I can compile 0.9.2 but not svns.

Also, how's that Blu-ray support coming along? :) I suspect the VC-1 transcoding is a bit challenging? (And probably the DTS, DTS-HD, True-HD to AC3, as well?)

dynaflash
Oct 28, 2008, 03:04 PM
Did you get yasm for x264 compiling ?
http://forum.handbrake.fr/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5773

Cave Man
Oct 28, 2008, 03:41 PM
Yes. I ran the installer and it placed it to:

Macintosh HD/opt/local/bin/yasm

I assume that's the correct spot.

dynaflash
Oct 28, 2008, 03:51 PM
make sure its 6.2, for whatever the reason, newer builds of yasm seem to have issues (not us, its an x264 issue ) like 7.xxx .

Edit: check this out http://forum.handbrake.fr/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5773#p40636

Sorry, but its been a long time since I did it, so not sure what the issue is.

Cave, email me a failed build log and I will try to help out. Snapshot *should* be this weekend (which will be the latest).

Cave Man
Oct 28, 2008, 03:55 PM
OK, found 6.2; dl'ing it now...

OK, it's in source only and the "readme" file has nothing in it. Make doesn't work - how do I compile yasm 0.6.2 and where does it belong?

TIA.

Capt Crunch
Oct 28, 2008, 06:48 PM
Works just great for my Blu-ray rips, even h.264-encoded at more than 30 mbps. Have you tried a Mini, or are you just regurgitating what others say?

Had it, sold it for the HP. I loved the form factor of the mini and the fact that it just worked. At the time, there was no software that could even play 1080p mkvs. Now plex can do it, but only at moderately high bitrates. I'm guessing that you have such success because of the h.264 encoding. Could that be the case?

I'll be honest, I wish I hadn't sold it, it would be great paired with my drobo. However if I didn't sell it, I wouldn't have been able to get my BNIB 24" iMac for $900 (courtesy of craigslist) :)


It'll take any 2.5" SATA drive, currently up to 500 gb. After all, the Mini is a desktop made of notebook components.

I would not trust my media (stuff I don't want to lose) to a laptop HD. My point was if you want to put any appreciable amount of data with you mini, you have to get an external drive, totally negating the small form factor.


Can you provide a link to this, because it does not appear that HP's online configuration will permit such a computer for $500.

There was an online coupon at bensbargains.net. It's probably still there. $500 off any order of $1000 or more. I don't recommend it because building a Vista HTPC seems impossible unless you like screwing around with stuff constantly.

Cave Man
Oct 28, 2008, 07:26 PM
Had it, sold it for the HP. I loved the form factor of the mini and the fact that it just worked. At the time, there was no software that could even play 1080p mkvs. Now plex can do it, but only at moderately high bitrates.

You think 30 mbps is "moderate"? I have yet to encounter a Blu-ray rip that Plex cannot play on my 2 gHz Mac Mini.

I'm guessing that you have such success because of the h.264 encoding. Could that be the case?

H.264, MPEG-2 and VC-1, all in m2ts, mkv or mp4 containers and many with DTS or DD. The only "problem" file I've encountered a bird scene from Planet Earth that is floating around on the net. It's in an mkv container, but I cannot tell what the video is encoded in because VLC cannot detect the codec. No idea what it is, but it's also screwy on playback with my 3.2 gHz quad core.

My point was if you want to put any appreciable amount of data with you mini, you have to get an external drive, totally negating the small form factor.

This is really a non issue. I have about 3 TB of data spread out over three different drives. Until someone comes out with a 3 TB drive, I have no choice. And by then, I'll probably need a 5 TB drive...

There was an online coupon at bensbargains.net. It's probably still there. $500 off any order of $1000 or more. I don't recommend it because building a Vista HTPC seems impossible unless you like screwing around with stuff constantly.

So, in other words, that computer really cost more than $1,000, and probably in the $1,200 range, judging from HP's customization web site. Don't you think it's a little disingenuous to say you got that computer for $500 without mentioning hoops you had to jump through to get it?

I'll take my 2 gHz $800 Mini over that HP, thanks. It's hardly that "(t)he mac mini is the worst bang/buck computers out there".

Capt Crunch
Oct 28, 2008, 08:02 PM
You think 30 mbps is "moderate"? I have yet to encounter a Blu-ray rip that Plex cannot play on my 2 gHz Mac Mini.

H.264, MPEG-2 and VC-1, all in m2ts, mkv or mp4 containers and many with DTS or DD. The only "problem" file I've encountered a bird scene from Planet Earth that is floating around on the net. It's in an mkv container, but I cannot tell what the video is encoded in because VLC cannot detect the codec. No idea what it is, but it's also screwy on playback with my 3.2 gHz quad core.


I sold my mini before Plex came out. Before, even on VLC and Mplayer (both which use ffmpeg as well IIRC) 1080p was unwatchable. I've read that 1080p was now possible with the mini via Plex, but I've read many (supposedly first hand) accounts where higher bitrates are still a problem. Given my experience, I had no reason to doubt it. If your setup works perfectly, then that only make me miss my mini even more.


This is really a non issue. I have about 3 TB of data spread out over three different drives. Until someone comes out with a 3 TB drive, I have no choice. And by then, I'll probably need a 5 TB drive...


I just wish Apple came with a computer between the iMac and the Mac Pro. Something with the power of the iMac, but with 2 HD bays and PCIe.


So, in other words, that computer really cost more than $1,000, and probably in the $1,200 range, judging from HP's customization web site. Don't you think it's a little disingenuous to say you got that computer for $500 without mentioning hoops you had to jump through to get it?

The hoop involved checking a website I always check, copying a coupon code into a box, and instantly saving $500. Nobody pays retail for a PC anymore. I only feel bad not mentioning it because if someone did want to go out and buy an HP for $500, they might not know where to start.

I'll take my 2 gHz $800 Mini over that HP, thanks. It's hardly that "(t)he mac mini is the worst bang/buck computers out there".

I'd take the $800 mini over the HP as well. I sold the HP because it didn't work, just like I sold the mini because it didn't work (at the time). In terms of hardware, the mac mini is a terrible buy even when you consider the apple tax. There aren't many computers with worse specs that costs more. It is a shame that while the mac mini now works with Plex, you have to pay $800 for something that is worth half that. I would almost rather spend a little bit more and get a refurbished iMac and then take a hammer to the screen.

~Shard~
Oct 29, 2008, 02:49 AM
http://forum.handbrake.fr/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=7230

Forget about VisualHub. Download the latest Handbrake snapshot (http://handbrake.fr/?article=snapshot). It handles AVI files and has a really nice Apple TV preset.

Not VLC. Plex or XBMC (I prefer Plex). You'll also want a DVI to HDMI cable and an optical Toslink cable with a Mini plug on one end, provided your receiver or TV can accept optical input.

Thanks for the tips guys, much appreciated! :)

phrehdd
Oct 29, 2008, 09:50 PM
You think 30 mbps is "moderate"? I have yet to encounter a Blu-ray rip that Plex cannot play on my 2 gHz Mac Mini.



H.264, MPEG-2 and VC-1, all in m2ts, mkv or mp4 containers and many with DTS or DD. The only "problem" file I've encountered a bird scene from Planet Earth that is floating around on the net. It's in an mkv container, but I cannot tell what the video is encoded in because VLC cannot detect the codec. No idea what it is, but it's also screwy on playback with my 3.2 gHz quad core.



This is really a non issue. I have about 3 TB of data spread out over three different drives. Until someone comes out with a 3 TB drive, I have no choice. And by then, I'll probably need a 5 TB drive...



So, in other words, that computer really cost more than $1,000, and probably in the $1,200 range, judging from HP's customization web site. Don't you think it's a little disingenuous to say you got that computer for $500 without mentioning hoops you had to jump through to get it?

I'll take my 2 gHz $800 Mini over that HP, thanks. It's hardly that "(t)he mac mini is the worst bang/buck computers out there".

I have to give you my story first then my thoughts - I downloaded Plex on a whim. (I use NAS to PS3 to Plasma) and gave Plex a go on my iMac 2ghrz desktop. I was very pleased with the results of playing ALL types of m2ts files plus other formats and the standard interface was far better than PS3.

What I found - some m2ts files do have judder and even severe screen tears. These were in general H264 m2ts files. This happened mostly during bitrate peaks. I used the "i' key and watched when the movie didn't play right to be sure of my statement.

The iMac has 4 gigs RAM, better vid than Mac Mini (though it shouldn't matter), and same speed processor. As well, the m2ts file was local to the system on a faster drive (3.5 7200 spin).

After reading Plex forums and such, people were suggesting turning off some OSX stuff include spotlight etc. I did that and it did improve but..again it still does happen at times ...judder and screen tears etc..

I believe that since Plex is CPU intensive and not at this time gpu, it requires probably a 2.4 dual processor to insure smooth play for the files that are offenders. The Mac Mini is ideal in size and performance for 720p/1080i and less but not for 1080p. It is shall we say 80/20 on that front. Would you pay for a blu ray player or dvd player that advertised "it can play almost all your movies"...? I doubt if anyone would. Mac Mini is not a great choice for 1080p if you want consistent play across the board. - People watch movies to relax and enjoy not get frustrated.

My goal is to use Plex. My options are wait for the supposed bump on the Mac Mini (or if it is being phased out sigh), build a hackintosh, buy the Mac Mini and upgrade the processor, or move over to XMBC and go to linux.

The only thing I can say that I have not done yet (from my above play with Plex) is wire the iMac to the plasma. I used the iMac's screen and speakers.

Plex gets an B+ so far for its present state and A for potential. Mac Mini gets a well deserved "D" which really means "barely passing."

Sorry that's just my experience with a 2.0 dual processor on a better machine than the Mac Mini. if the iMac srtuggles with those files and is hardware superior than the Mac Mini..doesn't take much to realize that the antiquated hardware of the Mac Mini will have similar if not more problems.

jteddy
Oct 29, 2008, 11:37 PM
I was very pleased with the results of playing ALL types of m2ts files plus other formats and the standard interface was far better than PS3.


How do you rate the PS3 as a media center?
If you had XBMC running on the PS3 would you give it another rating?

phrehdd
Oct 30, 2008, 03:00 AM
How do you rate the PS3 as a media center?
If you had XBMC running on the PS3 would you give it another rating?

You ask direct questions and its hard to give a direct answer without qualifying <sigh/grin>.

PS3 has the advantage of price over its competition first and foremost. It has direct play of blu ray discs
and does it very well. If you don't mind the limits of what Sony will allow you to play as far as file formats
then its a great unit with a mediocre front end. My immediate frustration with it has to do with m2ts files that
are VC-1. They are not supported. At present I play via NAS my mpeg/h264 m2ts files and the VC-1 blu ray
is played thru the player. The audio support for movies files is fair. I would have to still say for the money
its the best deal out there. Another disadvantage that I should not forget to mention is the usb to external
storage. It is set to read/write fat 32 files. This is too limiting. I abandoned using external drives and stay
with NAS.

If PS3 had the XMBC front end it would be an interesting fit. Let's understand that PS3 does a great deal of
work via the hardware akin to acceleration. XMBC as isn't capable of exploiting the PS3's hardware. However,
if it was just an interface, yes that would be far better than PS3's present sparse front end. If XMBC was a boot
of its own, and could play all the files it plays now and do it well...I think you know the answer..I would jump
on that in a heart beat. (just add the ability to read external drives in NTFS, ext2/3 or Mac's file format. This
would let people put direct large storage on the system.

In short - PS3 is a real bang for the buck with blu ray play and a fair amount of types of files it can play. It
has limitation put in by Sony. No VC1 blu ray based m2ts files and no mkv etc.

PS3 with XMBC would be worthwhile as just a front end or if it can really be a player that can match the PS3's abilities plus.

All in all I would prefer if there was a MAC based system that could match the PS3. I admit I am not a fan of Sony and
another Mac on the network would be better for me.

Cave Man
Oct 30, 2008, 09:09 AM
Mac Mini gets a well deserved "D" which really means "barely passing."

I've stated several times that the 2 gHz Mini is the bare minimum for m2ts playback. But if you want the form factor of a Mini, there is no other choice. I'm now up to 14 Blu-ray discs (and they're still too damned expensive) and only one has playback issues on my Mini (Stargate Continuum). But it also has playback issues on my 3.2 gHz quad-core hackintosh (though not as severe as on the Mini). So, by that scoring: 13/14 = 93%, an 'A' for any exam. ;)

Sorry that's just my experience with a 2.0 dual processor

You mean dual-core.

on a better machine than the Mac Mini.

For the purposes of video playback, there's really no difference between your iMac and and my Mini, other than the hard drive (which shouldn't matter much at all since even USB2 has plenty of bandwidth for Blu-ray discs).

if the iMac srtuggles with those files and is hardware superior than the Mac Mini..doesn't take much to realize that the antiquated hardware of the Mac Mini will have similar if not more problems.

Not my experience. Do you remove the excess baggage (i.e., unnecessary audio tracks) and downmux to DTS or DD? I do this with every one of my Blu-ray rips.

I, too, would like a better Mini. But for me the form factor is the most important aspect. Until someone comes out with the parts sufficient for better performance in the same ff, my Mini is staying right where it is as my HTPC.

sammyman
Oct 30, 2008, 12:56 PM
Hey Cave Man, I just bought a 1.83ghz mac mini core duo, and installed a 160gb 7200rpm drive in it. I think it only has 512MB ram, but I am thinking about upgrading to 2gb. What would be the limitations on this system? No HD? Definitely no blue ray??? Just curious.

Cave Man
Oct 30, 2008, 04:27 PM
Hey Cave Man, I just bought a 1.83ghz mac mini core duo, and installed a 160gb 7200rpm drive in it. I think it only has 512MB ram, but I am thinking about upgrading to 2gb. What would be the limitations on this system? No HD? Definitely no blue ray??? Just curious.

You would need to do the RAM upgrade to 2 or 3 gb. I don't think you'd have much luck with Blu-ray rips, but if you could get them transcoded down to 12 to 14 mbps you might be able to keep the 1080p video in them. Handbrake will work with some Blu-ray rips, provided they are in MPEG-2 or H.264 and have AC3 (Dolby Digital) audio. VC-1 video and True-HD, DTS-HD and DTS cannot be handled yet by the HB svn snapshot as far as I'm aware (dyna will correct if necessary).

Most 720p video shouldn't be a problem, either, but YMMV depending on how they are encoded. Also, be sure to use Plex or XBMC for best playback.

phrehdd
Oct 30, 2008, 06:11 PM
I've stated several times that the 2 gHz Mini is the bare minimum for m2ts playback. But if you want the form factor of a Mini, there is no other choice. I'm now up to 14 Blu-ray discs (and they're still too damned expensive) and only one has playback issues on my Mini (Stargate Continuum). But it also has playback issues on my 3.2 gHz quad-core hackintosh (though not as severe as on the Mini). So, by that scoring: 13/14 = 93%, an 'A' for any exam. ;)



You mean dual-core.



For the purposes of video playback, there's really no difference between your iMac and and my Mini, other than the hard drive (which shouldn't matter much at all since even USB2 has plenty of bandwidth for Blu-ray discs).



Not my experience. Do you remove the excess baggage (i.e., unnecessary audio tracks) and downmux to DTS or DD? I do this with every one of my Blu-ray rips.

I, too, would like a better Mini. But for me the form factor is the most important aspect. Until someone comes out with the parts sufficient for better performance in the same ff, my Mini is staying right where it is as my HTPC.

First, I appreciate your input in these forums and find them very helpful.

There are a couple of real challenges here - Plex/XMBC by design uses CPU which is inherently riddled with issues for real time high bit playback and, the hardware of course. I wont rehash my other posts <grin>.

For the PS3 I do strip down the files for Video/AC3 streams. This works quite well. My software at hand - AnyDVD HD, TSmuxer, EAC3to(gui), Delaycut.
Most cases, AnyDVD HD and TSmuxer is all I need. For others looking at this, be aware PS3 does NOT play files from VC-1 Blu ray only mpeg and H.264. (Sony is able to fix this with firmware download but chooses not to).

Caveman, in TSMuxer there is a "general" tab. By default, it has VBR box checked. Under that is the ability to set min/max. Do you know what this is about? Seems one can set a limit on the max bitrate. This is unfamiliar territory to me and I couldn't really find any info on it. If the present challenge is high bitrates with Plex and Mac Mini..hmmm maybe there is something to reducing the max bit rate on these files. Hopefully, it does not degrade the image (much).

Your thoughts?

- Phrehdd

Revels
Nov 3, 2008, 12:32 PM
). You'll also want a DVI to HDMI cable and an optical Toslink cable with a Mini plug on one end, provided your receiver or TV can accept optical input.

So id need one of these..

http://store.apple.com/uk/product/TR842ZM/A?mco=MTIxODk3Mw

I get that bit.. But where is the optical point on the Mini? I have optical in on my amp, so thats no problem but I dont see what it plugs in on the Mini.. :confused:

Im tempted by a Mini. I nearly ordered it today but I just keep wanting to wait to see if it gets updated/refreshed/dropped.

Cave Man
Nov 3, 2008, 01:23 PM
The audio connectors on the Mini are dual-function analog or optical. If you plug in a 3.5mm stereo cable you get analog audio. If you plug in a Toslink cable with an optical miniplug (which is longer than the aforementioned stereo cable) you get optical port activation. Inside Mini's audio port is a switch that is activated upon insertion of the longer optical plug for the transmission of the optical signal.

Same is true of the iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. But the Mac Pro has a conventional optical input.

And yes, that DVI to HDMI cable ought to work.

Revels
Nov 3, 2008, 01:34 PM
Ah I see.

Thankyou :)

phrehdd
Nov 10, 2008, 03:18 PM
I mentioned in the past that I acquired Plex on a whim and that was really after reading Caveman's postings.

Presently, I am still using Plex on my iMac 2ghrz, archiving my blu ray movies' main movie file(s). Admittedly, I am a hold out until January to see if a new Mac Mini is coming out. If not, I'll get the 2ghrz model and upgrade it myself. Only thing I have to do is re-rip my blu rays as now I have the option for DTS which I didn't have before (streamed file playback of M2TS to PS3 only handles AC3 not DTS).

A friend of mine came over who is a gamer and has Xbox, PS3, PSP etc and in general is Windows/Linux user. I was quick to show him the Plex and get his feedback. The bottom line was he was pretty impressed with what he saw and then it started him down the counterpart path for Windows and Linux XMBC.

Interestingly enough, he came back again and told me his "soap opera" situation with his girlfriend and her carousel DVD player that was dying.
I suggested he take a look at these forums and read Caveman's posts (and others) about Plex and go to the Plex site as well to see if there is another choice that might work well for is girlfriend.

Again, I got him to reread some of the postings and the result - He opted to buy the Mac Mini 2ghrz model with 2 gigs RAM and add to it a spare external drive for storage he had already.

The end result is he is ripping all of her DVD's and is putting together a "slick turn key system" for her, with fully scraped information and the like.

His comment was - tell that dude he's cool (Caveman) and this is totally kick-*ss for my girlfriend. Its perfect.

- Just thought I would share and that these posts do provide some really interesting positive results.

- Phrehdd

thorbenh
Nov 10, 2008, 04:13 PM
Hey

I do have an Apple TV and a Mac Mini C2D 1,83. I hacked the ATV with ATV Flash and regularly use Boxee. Since having Boxee for Movies and ATV Standard for Music, Pictures and Podcast I am 1000% satisfied with ATV and can recommend it fully.

As I am buying a new Macbook, I need to sell wheather the ATV or Mac Mini. I could switch to use the Mini as Media Center as it is more flexible, of course.

But: I would really miss the Mini Covers and Youtube function of ATV. Isnīt there a full replacement of ATV for Mac Mini or only Front Row? That is really sad and I can not decide if I sell the ATV or Mac Mini ....

Pls Help !!

P.S.: Since today I am testing Plex. Nice GUI, I must say but now Youtube function and a bad Music GUI in comparison to ATV. Right?

phrehdd
Nov 10, 2008, 05:51 PM
Hey

I do have an Apple TV and a Mac Mini C2D 1,83. I hacked the ATV with ATV Flash and regularly use Boxee. Since having Boxee for Movies and ATV Standard for Music, Pictures and Podcast I am 1000% satisfied with ATV and can recommend it fully.

As I am buying a new Macbook, I need to sell wheather the ATV or Mac Mini. I could switch to use the Mini as Media Center as it is more flexible, of course.

But: I would really miss the Mini Covers and Youtube function of ATV. Isnīt there a full replacement of ATV for Mac Mini or only Front Row? That is really sad and I can not decide if I sell the ATV or Mac Mini ....

Pls Help !!

P.S.: Since today I am testing Plex. Nice GUI, I must say but now Youtube function and a bad Music GUI in comparison to ATV. Right?

Very tough call there since you already stated that you like what ATV gives you and didn't give your priorities of what you want or play most often.

First - I agree that Plex's Music GUI is "different' and not as intuitive as iTunes or ATV or Front Row. However, Plex seems to improve over time and does listen to its community of users.

Second - I would opt for the Mini with Plex and also you can use other apps to handle your other needs for youtube etc. Btw, you can download files from youtube and play them with Plex if you have patience. It is not on-the-fly but doable.

The alternative is to put Plex on your new laptop and keep the ATV. That too is a decent option if you don't mind hooking up your laptop each time.

- Phrehdd