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essential
Nov 23, 2008, 03:02 AM
I've wanted a popcorn hour for a while, but I never pulled the trigger because of some negative stuff I had read. I've been looking at that new WD HD TV adapter, but it requires and external HD, and can't be hooked up to the computer and adapter at the same time (i'm looking for something compact and easily portable).

A friend suggested I just get a Mac Mini to use as a media computer hooked up directly to my tv, and after reading about the mac mini, I must say I like the idea, it can play every media format possible (which the Apple TV can't), and I get that awesome looking front row program with a remote. Even at the lowest options (2ghz, 2gb RAM) it's overkill for a media computer. Couple possible questions though:

1) I read about the possible refresh coming at the end of January, do you think Apple would possibly put an HDMI out on a mac mini, or is it is almost definitely DVI and/or DisplayPort only?

2) I'd like to store a lot of media in the computer itself, rather than hook up an external HD. The mac mini has a 2.5" drive inside, so the highest I could upgrade is only 320gb, which still isn't a ton. Is it at all possible to open up a mac mini and install a 3.5" HD in place of the CD-ROM drive? Would there be any negative issues caused by this (heat, stability, etc.)?

3) Is it easy to network a Mac and a PC? My main computer is a PC, but I would like to be able to easily transfer files to the Mac Mini from the PC

Thanks for any help.



MasterNile
Nov 23, 2008, 03:23 AM
Even at the lowest options (2ghz, 2gb RAM) it's overkill for a media computer.

Actually these are the highest options and will cost about $875 for the 2GHz C2D and 2GB RAM, that's without upgrading the HD


1) I read about the possible refresh coming at the end of January, do you think Apple would possibly put an HDMI out on a mac mini, or is it is almost definitely DVI and/or DisplayPort only?

I doubt it, the more likely port would be DisplayPort, DVI or possibly even mini DisplayPort


2) I'd like to store a lot of media in the computer itself, rather than hook up an external HD. The mac mini has a 2.5" drive inside, so the highest I could upgrade is only 320gb, which still isn't a ton. Is it at all possible to open up a mac mini and install a 3.5" HD in place of the CD-ROM drive? Would there be any negative issues caused by this (heat, stability, etc.)?

Actually they have 2.5" 500GB HDs now, but I don't think without excessive modding you'd be able to put a 3.5" HD in

IroquoisPliskin
Nov 23, 2008, 07:32 AM
Even at the lowest options (2ghz, 2gb RAM) it's overkill for a media computer. Even at the lowest options it's very overpriced for a media computer.

1) I read about the possible refresh coming at the end of January, do you think Apple would possibly put an HDMI out on a mac mini, or is it is almost definitely DVI and/or DisplayPort only? Not a chance on DVI or HDMI. It will only have a Mini Displayport.

Is it at all possible to open up a mac mini and install a 3.5" HD in place of the CD-ROM drive? No. The optical drive is a slim design, no hard drive will fit in its place. External is the only reasonable option.

3) Is it easy to network a Mac and a PC? It doesn't get much harder than plugging them together with an Ethernet cord.

Cave Man
Nov 23, 2008, 07:48 AM
after reading about the mac mini, I must say I like the idea, it can play every media format possible (which the Apple TV can't), and I get that awesome looking front row program with a remote.

Even with Perian installed you'll be limited on some file types, plus Front Row is not very efficient. The best app out there is Plex media center. Free and remarkable.

Even at the lowest options (2ghz, 2gb RAM) it's overkill for a media computer.

If you want to play Blu-ray rips, 2 ghz and 2 gb RAM are about the minimum. And compared to the win pc boxes with similar form factor, the Mini is still a decent machine.

do you think Apple would possibly put an HDMI out on a mac mini, or is it is almost definitely DVI and/or DisplayPort only?

I'd be stunned if it got anything other than DisplayPort.

The mac mini has a 2.5" drive inside, so the highest I could upgrade is only 320gb, which still isn't a ton.

I have a 500 gb Samsung in mine.

Is it at all possible to open up a mac mini and install a 3.5" HD in place of the CD-ROM drive?

No.

Is it easy to network a Mac and a PC? My main computer is a PC, but I would like to be able to easily transfer files to the Mac Mini from the PC.


If your PC networks according to "the rules" then it should be fine by ethernet, but wireless can be problematic.

essential
Nov 23, 2008, 12:48 PM
Thanks for the answers ... it almost seems like the mac mini as a media computer is a bad idea, any suggestions as to what might be better?

Cave Man
Nov 23, 2008, 05:02 PM
Thanks for the answers ... it almost seems like the mac mini as a media computer is a bad idea, any suggestions as to what might be better?

I think the Mini is a great idea. It plays just about everything you throw at it. The only things it doesn't support is WMV and playback directly from Blu-Ray discs (because of encryption and HDPC - but then again, no Macs do).

detz
Nov 23, 2008, 05:05 PM
I plan on buying one for mine, I'm waiting to see if they release a new one in January though but I've been running HD movies of a borrowed one and it looks and works perfect. Don't worry about the HD, the only thing I store on the mini's is the OS and tmp stuff, everything else goes to external firewire TB drives.

godslabrat
Nov 23, 2008, 11:40 PM
Thanks for the answers ... it almost seems like the mac mini as a media computer is a bad idea, any suggestions as to what might be better?

I wouldn't say that at all... that's exactly why I got mine, and it's been a fantastic buy. There are tons of legit free apps to play nearly any kind of media you want to throw at it, and it's a ton of fun to hook it all up with a wireless kb and mouse. Just go into it trying to work WITH the system-- like other posters said, you are going to need to boost the system to play BluRay rips, and you will need some kind of adaptor to get HDMI out of it (personally, I was glad it had standard DVI, as my TV takes that and I don't need to worry about filling up an HDMI port).

And it's true, in terms of specs (form factor aside), the mini is currently a very poor value for the dollar. Hopefully, the supposed upgrade will change that.

MasterNile
Nov 23, 2008, 11:50 PM
I think the Mini is a great idea. It plays just about everything you throw at it. The only things it doesn't support is WMV and playback directly from Blu-Ray discs (because of encryption and HDPC - but then again, no Macs do).

Actually the new laptops support HDCP and so does AppleTV
http://www.macrumors.com/2008/11/18/apple-incorporates-hdcp-copy-protection-in-new-laptops/

And it is not entirely out of the question that if the Mac Mini's are updated in January they will have HDCP as well some type of display port (either displayport or mini displayport) according to that article

ADent
Nov 24, 2008, 01:01 AM
1) My guess is mini Display Port only.

2) You can sneak a $10 SATA to eSATA cable out the case of the mini and use any 3.5" eSATA drive instead of the internal drive. It is possible to remove the CD, get the proper adapters, and hook up a PATA drive in its place. However the adapters are hard to find and no way will the case close with a PATA drive hooked up.

3) Ehternet. Easy to do.

Cave Man
Nov 24, 2008, 07:36 AM
Actually the new laptops support HDCP and so does AppleTV
http://www.macrumors.com/2008/11/18/apple-incorporates-hdcp-copy-protection-in-new-laptops/

Yes, I'm aware of that. After all, I posted in the forum thread about it. But the current Minis are not.

And it is not entirely out of the question that if the Mac Mini's are updated in January they will have HDCP as well some type of display port (either displayport or mini displayport) according to that article

If they're built on the 9400m or x4500HD chipsets they will be.