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thatsmyfish
Nov 20, 2009, 07:31 AM
Hi all,

I'm recently married and since my wife the chef got every pot and pan she could ever hope for as wedding gifts, I get to treat myself to a Mac Mini media center. I'm hoping someone out there can give me their opinion on resolution quality.

Here's my current setup. I have a five year old 27 inch Sony Trinitron Wega 27FS120 which is limited to 480i. I have a first generation Macbook Pro and currently use a DVI to cable adapter to connect by composite when we want to stream Netflix, Hulu or use Boxee. The quality of streaming Netflix is acceptable for us, and while Hulu is a bit washed out it's still acceptable. The text on Boxee can be difficult to read at times, but we can live with it. iTunes standard definition downloads are great, and the HD obviously doesn't come across on the TV but we're very pleased with iTunes video.

From everything I've read, in order to make this work, I would need to use the mini-dvi or mini-displayport on the Mini to connect to a VGA converter to connect to composite video to make the transition to Mac Mini. My #1 concern is that video quality will deterioriate as a result of the conversion/additional adapter and I'm not going to be satisfied with the quality. We're drive-it-into-the-ground people and shudder at the thought of replacing a perfectly good TV if we can get the same quality out of the VGA-hooked media center as we're used to for a couple of more years. However, if there's going to be a noticable dropoff, with Black Friday coming, we'll bite the bullet.

Can anyone comment on what I might expect the dropoff in video quality to be considering what I'm currently using?

Thank you!
Ryan



DavieBoy
Nov 20, 2009, 07:41 AM
Iv done the setup both ways, with the macbook pro and the mini.

My first thought is that apple took away the option to use the mini-dvi to composite video adapter on the macbooks about a year ago. I guess it was when they switched/upgraded the video cards in them. I wonder if the adapter would work on the new Mini that I guess you would buy.

Also, I have to tell you from experience that the Mini looks so nice hooked up through digital wires. It really looks like a large computer monitor when your sitting on your couch.

Truthfully, with Black Friday next week, I would buy a 30 something inch LCD. Samsung or Visio look great and I bet they will be around $400.

Also, Congrats on the Marriage

thatsmyfish
Nov 20, 2009, 07:50 AM
Thanks very much! In an ideal world I'd upgrade everything, but I'm trying to do this a little at a time if at all possible. Key word being possible.

From everything I've read the mini-DVI or mini-displayport to video would most definitely not work. My only option is to either upgrade the TV or use the mini-displayport to VGA and purchase a VGA converter that hooks to video.

I've read a lot of reviews that this converter:

http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=101&cp_id=10114&cs_id=1011407&p_id=4724&seq=1&format=4#feedback

: does the job nicely, but the reviews of the picture quality are that it's either okay, acceptable, or can be tweaked to be fine.

My problem is I don't know if these same reviewers would say the same thing about the quality I have now on DVI-composite-standard def. If I can maintain the same level of quality and hold off on the purchase until next Christmas, that'd be ideal. If the VGA converter will degrade the video I currently have, I'll upgrade.

If you've done the setup both ways could you compare and contrast the video quality?

DavieBoy
Nov 20, 2009, 08:04 AM
I'll stop you right there.

Below is a pic of the unit I just took. No good.

It can be tweaked to be okay. At it's best it is noticeably worse than the apple adapter. I would say it is unusable.

thatsmyfish
Nov 20, 2009, 08:13 AM
That's very helpful. Thank you!

So on comparable standard def TV, converting to VGA will noticably affect video quality if you use the Apple adapter and then that VGA adapter and hook through composite.

I haven't researched this area because I wasn't considering getting a new TV, but are there any recommendations for features I would need to make the most of a media center? Should I expect improved quality with netflix/hulu streams on an LCD or is that effectively the best it's going to get from the source?

DavieBoy
Nov 20, 2009, 08:25 AM
Any LCD TV should have a bunch of HDMI inputs which is what you want. I prefer a TV that has a RGB input also. Thats what I have used for my media centers. Even though I am torn by using a analog wire to connect 2 digital components.

I would swear to you that HULU looks better but I think that it looks the same. It makes sense because on hulu you are watching a video that is only 480p which is like a standard TV. I don't know if netflix is much clearer because I stopped using the mac to stream when I got a Tivo HD. I imagine that you can stream HD videos from netflix onto your mini then to your TV.

That is another thing, these sites continue to get better. It is only a matter of time until Hulu starts posting HD versions of shows, then the investment would pay off.

DavieBoy
Nov 20, 2009, 08:27 AM
That's very helpful. Thank you!

So on comparable standard def TV, converting to VGA will noticably affect video quality if you use the Apple adapter and then that VGA adapter and hook through composite.


And to answer this statement, Yes, we have tried them next to each other and as I stated there is a difference.