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Old Jan 22, 2008, 10:56 AM   #1
dmccarty
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Apple TV 2 vs. Mac Mini + EyeTV solution?

Are any AppleTV potential owners using a Mac Mini + EyeTV as an entertainment system instead? The initial cost would be higher, but you would basically have Netflix + Tivo in one box (with no monthly costs except rentals).

I've been thinking about doing this and wondered if anyone else has already done it.

Mac Mini + EyeTV:
  • Pro: tuner/DVR-like functions
  • Pro: DVD drive
  • Pro: actually a full networked computer running OS X
  • Pro: 80GB hard drive (base ATV is 40)
  • Con: $599 + $150
  • Con: 802.11g (vs. 802.11n)
  • Con: no HD (iTunes) content
  • Con: doesn't autosync with iTunes
(There are some unknowns: could I share content between the Mini and iMac? Would it stream well enough over my home's wireless? Is some solution with a Sling player better? etc.)

Is anyone doing something like this already?
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Old Jan 22, 2008, 12:14 PM   #2
forrestmc4
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I'm in a similar situation except I already own an Eyetv Hybrid. I'm strongly leaning towards the Mini + Eyetv solution due to the pros that you outlined in your original post. I bought an AppleTV for my father about a year ago, though I don't live with my parents, I've had plenty of time to play around with it and consider the advantages provided by the recent update. I currently use the Eyetv with my MB about three to six times in an average week.

My bottom line: I love my Eyetv. It is handsdown the best computer accesory I have ever purchased. The software was recently upgraded to version 3 with improved features. Go with the Mini+Eyetv.

To more directly address the cons:

Price: You're getting a full computer plus quality DVR, well worth the extra cash.

802.11: Okay, so you might be losing out a little here but the whole idea of the Mini based system is that the content is stored on the mini rather than streaming. Even on the occasion that you do use the network to move files you can get by with G rather than N.

HD Content: ATV can only output 720p anyway. It is a tradeoff that you will have to decide on for yourself. Personally, not a huge dealbreaker.

iTunes Syncing: True, but you could always remotely manage the Mini library from your primary Mac. More control than ATV syncing.


Hope this helps.
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Old Jan 22, 2008, 01:08 PM   #3
ChrisA
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There are more options then what you listed. One of them is this one.

http://www.mythtv.org/modules.php?name=MythFeatures

Some of it could run on a mini and it can use the eyetv converter or others. I'll eventually build one of these systems up to a "2 by 2" system with two front ends and two digitizers. Both the ATV and the Mini would make a nice front end.

The other third option is to buy a G4 mini. These are priced like an ATV but of course can run the full leopard OS. You don't need a $600 Intel mini for this.

The advantage of ATV is that it works out of the boxwith very littel thinking required.
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Old Jan 22, 2008, 01:20 PM   #4
MikeL
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Both? More? They do different things. It really depends on what your goal is.

If time-shifting TV programming is what you want to do, a DVR is what you want. You can create a really expensive and somewhat less capable DVR by going with the Mini+EyeTV route. Or you get can a DVR from your content provider. Or you can build a Linux box. Or you can get a Tivo.

If watching movies is your thing, then ATV and a DVD player is your best bet. Rip your DVDs to iTunes, watch rentals on the DVD player. Or maybe you just go with a DVD player.

I've got a complicated collection of do-dads in my theater. They all feed a nice sound system and 92" screen. I use the ATV or 360 for watching my movies. The 360 for photos. An HDTV receiver for live TV. A ReplayTV (simply the best DVR ever, even years after it was created) for SD programs. The Macworld sale and 10% off coupon recently convinced me to add an EyeTV Hybrid into the mix, which I'll use for recording HD programs--then they'll stream to either the ATV or 360.

First you need to decide what you want to do, then find the particular tool that fits your budget and, ideally, is the best tool within your budget range. The answer won't always be Apple.
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Old Jan 22, 2008, 01:39 PM   #5
Cave Man
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeL View Post
If time-shifting TV programming is what you want to do, a DVR is what you want. You can create a really expensive and somewhat less capable DVR by going with the Mini+EyeTV route. Or you get can a DVR from your content provider. Or you can build a Linux box. Or you can get a Tivo.
Mike - will those routes permit the playing/watching of TV shows on other macs in the house? We have the EyeTV Hybrid and with the new version 3 software can can watch recorded/recording shows on any of our 4 macs in the house. (I've never owned TIVO or other DVR, so I don't know what they can do.)
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Old Jan 22, 2008, 01:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cave Man View Post
Mike - will those routes permit the playing/watching of TV shows on other macs in the house? We have the EyeTV Hybrid and with the new version 3 software can can watch recorded/recording shows on any of our 4 macs in the house. (I've never owned TIVO or other DVR, so I don't know what they can do.)
Not having a Tivo, cable/satellite DVR, or Linux box I can't tell you. As I understand it you can from a Tivo, you probably can't with the provider-DVR, and you certainly can with a Linux box--it's just a question of how much work you want to do with it.

With my ReplayTV, there's a dandy piece of software called DVArchive. It lets me pull shows off the RTV to any of my Macs or PCs, or I can stream them from the RTV. I don't bother doing this much. I've got two RTVs, and they can play content off of each other (as well as remotely schedule each other).

The very best thing about time-shifting is being in control of the TV. I never have to sit down and watch anything at any specific time anymore. I can get through a whole football game in about 40 minutes. I can have a life while I still have my favorite shows.
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