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Old Jan 20, 2013, 10:41 AM   #1
FrenchPB
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New (bigger) apartement : what to buy to have a fully Mac-connected apartment ?

Guys,


I just bought a new apartment, much bigger than the studio I used to own during my student years. As a consequence, I have more rooms, and more problems to keep everything "connected" in the house.

Since I'll have some changes to make in the apartement and many things to purchase before moving in, I was wondering if you guys could help me define a fully Mac-connected apartment.


Right now, my iMac is connected to my main TV with an hdmi cable, and that's about all my Mac integration in the living room.

In the new apartment, my iMac will be in the study / computer room on the first floor, making it much more difficult to link it directly to the main TV and home cinema system in the living room. It has all my media content.


One of my main activity is to watch sports video on my main TV. Those are 1080p mkv or avi files that I don't put on my itunes cause encoding takes too much time and because I only watch them once.

I also would like to be able to access my Aperture photos on my main TV, as well as my iTunes music. Basically, my current iMac is the heart of the system, and Id like all its content, even the one that is not on iTunes, to be displayed in the different rooms of the house.


What would be the best solution to do all of that ? I'm scared an Apple TV won't do what I want, but a Mac mini would be a much more expensive purchase. Would there be a way to connect my iMac in the study to my TV through the RJ45 network cable, and control it with an ipad for example ?

How would you setup a Mac home theater in your house ? Would you use a Mac Mini and plug it to the TV and to a home cinema system, or use Apple TV ?


Here are the different rooms, and what we'd like to install in each of those :
- living room : 55-inch TV + home cinema
- kitchen : 26-inch TV + additionnal speakers maybe
- master bedroom : 32-inch TV + additionnal speakers maybe
- study / computer room : iMac + additionnal speakers maybe


I've heard of some Böse or Sonos systems, would you recommend them for music ? Also, would I have to buy an amplifier in hte living room ? pre-amp ? I'm kinda lost with so many questions, hope you guys can guide me to set up the best system for my needs.

Thanks for your help.
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Old Jan 20, 2013, 12:42 PM   #2
Stewart21
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Go to the Apple website and have a look at Airport devices. You might need to add an Apple TV to the mix. My brother in law has a setup which includes an iMac, Mac Mini, Apple TV and Airports which allows him to do what you are looking to do. I don't know exactly how it's set up but he has music sharing and can stream TV and movies all over his large 4-bedroom house.
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Old Jan 20, 2013, 02:14 PM   #3
Garsun
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Don't discount the Apple TV too quickly, I think it would do a lot of what you would like to do. However I agree that to your one-shot sports shows might not be the best fit for an Apple TV.
A couple years ago I purchased an HDMI extender. It converts the HDMI signal into two cat five cables, One for video and one for sound. It will extend HDMI signal over 400 feet. I do nit remember how much it cost but it may be a better option than purchasing a Mac Mini.
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Old Jan 20, 2013, 02:55 PM   #4
yetieater
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Apple TV is a pretty good tool to have as a streaming box, and it's not very expensive. However, it's not very useful unless you have all of your content in iTunes. In my case, I have no desire to re-encode my collection of movies so that they can be imported into iTunes.

Having a full-blown Mac residing in another room is great. A computer provides benefits far beyond what you can get out of a streaming box. You'd probably be happier with a Mac Mini connected to your TV. Even better yet, buy a refurbished MacBook Air, and you get a very functional standalone device that can be moved from room to room without complaints.
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Old Jan 20, 2013, 03:36 PM   #5
ZeRoLiMiT
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Your BEST bet is a AppleTV (2nd Generation) Jailbroken so you can stream all your iTunes and Mac stuff and play MKV files via XBMC
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Old Jan 20, 2013, 03:46 PM   #6
Koodauw
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Could you not use the screen sharing option of OSX do watch the sports events that are not in iTunes? Or is the quality not good enough?
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 07:26 AM   #7
FrenchPB
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stewart21 View Post
Go to the Apple website and have a look at Airport devices. You might need to add an Apple TV to the mix. My brother in law has a setup which includes an iMac, Mac Mini, Apple TV and Airports which allows him to do what you are looking to do. I don't know exactly how it's set up but he has music sharing and can stream TV and movies all over his large 4-bedroom house.
I have a wifi router at home. Some devices are connected with a RJ45 cavle (TVs, PS3, iMac), and some others are connected with wifi (iphones, ipad).

Since I already have a wifi router, what would an airport station (express or extreme) bring as additionnal feature ? I believe I can already share a printer or things like that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Garsun View Post
Don't discount the Apple TV too quickly, I think it would do a lot of what you would like to do. However I agree that to your one-shot sports shows might not be the best fit for an Apple TV.
A couple years ago I purchased an HDMI extender. It converts the HDMI signal into two cat five cables, One for video and one for sound. It will extend HDMI signal over 400 feet. I do nit remember how much it cost but it may be a better option than purchasing a Mac Mini.
Since I have to do many things in the apartment before moving in, I could indeed use long cables and extenders through the walls to set eveything up. However, since the iMac is at the first floor, how could I control it from the living room ? I don't want to have to go back and forth between the iMac upstairs and the TV downstairs if I have to change settings or things like that.

Right now, my iMac is not too far away from the TV, so it's pretty easy to go back and forth between the two. They are linked with a simple HDMI cable. That solution seems like it'd be complicated in the future apartment.


Quote:
Originally Posted by yetieater View Post
Apple TV is a pretty good tool to have as a streaming box, and it's not very expensive. However, it's not very useful unless you have all of your content in iTunes. In my case, I have no desire to re-encode my collection of movies so that they can be imported into iTunes.

Having a full-blown Mac residing in another room is great. A computer provides benefits far beyond what you can get out of a streaming box. You'd probably be happier with a Mac Mini connected to your TV. Even better yet, buy a refurbished MacBook Air, and you get a very functional standalone device that can be moved from room to room without complaints.
Your situation is close to mine. My parents have an Apple TV and it's great for their use, but my needs are different. Encoding every sports games I watch would take too much time and a one-shot thing.

If I wanna use a Mac to watch very high quality video (1080p video with high video and audio bitrates), what processor and how much RAM would I need ? I haven't thought about getting a laptop that could be used in other rooms of the apartment, msotly because I have an iPad and an iMac already. A Mac Mini would make the most sense cause it'd be the cheapest options linked to a TV... but what configuration should I take to be OK for many years to come for that particular need.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeRoLiMiT View Post
Your BEST bet is a AppleTV (2nd Generation) Jailbroken so you can stream all your iTunes and Mac stuff and play MKV files via XBMC
I've never thought about jailbreaking an apple TV as well. This is pretty interesting, but would an Apple TV 2nd gen be good enough to stream high quality 1080p video ?

From what I understand, XBMC is some kind of app like FrontRow, a home theater interface ? Is that the best one available ? Could it be used on a Mac Mini or MacBook connected to the TV, so that my content would have that nice FrontRow interface instead of running videos from the Finder ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Koodauw View Post
Could you not use the screen sharing option of OSX do watch the sports events that are not in iTunes? Or is the quality not good enough?
The problem would be how to control the video from one room to an other on a different floor, not to have to go back and forth between the two to run a video, choose the settings, ...


Thanks for all your replies, I hope you guys will be able to help me with my previous questions as well. It's a very nice project to think about, but I realize there are many options I haven't considered yet.

Last edited by FrenchPB; Jan 21, 2013 at 07:41 AM.
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 10:21 AM   #8
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Personally, I think your best bet is XBMC on a Mac Mini (anything second-hand from 2009 onwards will do) which is connected to your TV in the living room. You can control XBMC with any iOS device via wifi. For the other rooms, 2nd gen jailbroken Apple TV will do, preferably over wired LAN (if you want to stream 1080 material without stuttering). The Apple TV can play 1080, especially if you do some modding with a Crystal HD video card (Google fr more details on this).

I would invest in some external storage to contain your media and make it accessible to all networked devices.

All in all, not a hugely expensive solution, requires some tinkering but once it is set up, it really works.
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 04:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrenchPB View Post
Guys,


I just bought a new apartment, much bigger than the studio I used to own during my student years. As a consequence, I have more rooms, and more problems to keep everything "connected" in the house.

Since I'll have some changes to make in the apartement and many things to purchase before moving in, I was wondering if you guys could help me define a fully Mac-connected apartment.


Right now, my iMac is connected to my main TV with an hdmi cable, and that's about all my Mac integration in the living room.

In the new apartment, my iMac will be in the study / computer room on the first floor, making it much more difficult to link it directly to the main TV and home cinema system in the living room. It has all my media content.


One of my main activity is to watch sports video on my main TV. Those are 1080p mkv or avi files that I don't put on my itunes cause encoding takes too much time and because I only watch them once.

I also would like to be able to access my Aperture photos on my main TV, as well as my iTunes music. Basically, my current iMac is the heart of the system, and Id like all its content, even the one that is not on iTunes, to be displayed in the different rooms of the house.

Personally, I wouldn't store all my digital content on a single mechanical hard drive on a single machine. I'd get a NAS and dump it all on there.

What would be the best solution to do all of that ? I'm scared an Apple TV won't do what I want, but a Mac mini would be a much more expensive purchase. Would there be a way to connect my iMac in the study to my TV through the RJ45 network cable, and control it with an ipad for example ?

The simple answer to the question highlighted in red is no.

How would you setup a Mac home theater in your house ? Would you use a Mac Mini and plug it to the TV and to a home cinema system, or use Apple TV ?

For me, I'd put all my digital content onto a NAS and hook that up to my wireless network. I'd also get Apple TVs for each TV. You can access your iMac using AirPlay mirroring. Granted, you'd have to select which Apple TV to mirror to but it's cheaper and easier to manage just one computer than manage two (i.e. iMac + Mac mini).

Here are the different rooms, and what we'd like to install in each of those :
- living room : 55-inch TV + home cinema
- kitchen : 26-inch TV + additionnal speakers maybe
- master bedroom : 32-inch TV + additionnal speakers maybe
- study / computer room : iMac + additionnal speakers maybe


I've heard of some Böse or Sonos systems, would you recommend them for music ? Also, would I have to buy an amplifier in hte living room ? pre-amp ? I'm kinda lost with so many questions, hope you guys can guide me to set up the best system for my needs.

Unless you want to have a complete audio and video setup per TV, I'd recommend just having one "main" audio and video setup. For that, all you need is a A/V receiver. Plug your sound system (I recommend Bose for home theaters), Blu-Ray/DVD player, game consoles, etc. to the A/V receiver and connect the receiver to the TV. For all other TVs, a simple soundbar speaker setup should suffice if the built-in speakers aren't enough. You don't need an amplifier or pre-amp. All you need is your speaker system, media source (game consoles, Blu-Ray player, etc.) and a receiver to connect those to the TV.

Thanks for your help.
Reply in red.
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 11:32 PM   #10
vladzaharia
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If you want multi-room Wireless Audio, your only choice is basically Sonos. Airplay, while decent, pales in comparison to Sonos devices, and that's really unfortunate. Sonos devices, because they use their own private networks to talk to eachother, are much more reliable, and, also because of that, can keep in perfect synchronization, so your entire home would have the same music playing throughout it.


@SnowLeopard2008 - You need to be more specific. NAS means Network Attached Storage. It doesn't define how many drives are attached and with what means. You can get a NAS with only one drive.
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 01:06 AM   #11
spatlese44
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what model iMac?

Apple TV is a great product. Hard to go wrong for $100. Airplay everything. I'm interested in this thread as i'm a pool player and like streaming video that I'm having a hard time doing with 2007 macbook. Mountain Lion should stream everything to Apple TV no problem; right?

Currently have Mac Mini and Apple TV with two rooms of audio and big apartment and love music going from one room to the next.
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