Building a living room system with the Mac mini: H.264 support ?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by bladerunner, Jan 18, 2005.

  1. bladerunner macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2005
    I'm trying to build a living room system with the Mac mini and have 3 questions:

    ? Has anybody discussed a Cocoa-based Media center Alternative (eg. similar functionality as with MythTV on Linux or Windows Media Center editions) ? The best would be an open-source initiative, of course.
    Given the large interest in the Mac mini, maybe there is already a project forming ?

    ? With QuickTime 7 and AVC/H.264 support, it seems odd to me that all external tuners for Macs (eg. current EyeTV devices) support MPEG2. Is there an - upcoming - alternative for Macs to record as AVC/H.264 ?
    Links from manufacturers other than Elgato are also welcome.

    ? Does someone know the specs from the Mac mini DVD drive so that it can made code-free for DVD playback ?

    Thanks for any input or other ideas.

    Below is what I'm trying to build as a living room device when the Mac mini ships:

    * Sound out
    Stereo or 5.1 over USB2.0 (Edit: There is also Firewave from Griffin over Firewire now)

    * Video
    CD / DVD playback, eg. over VLC player or upcoming QuickTime7
    ? Region-free mod for Mac mini DVD player ?

    * Remote Control:
    Bluetooth -> Salling Clicker
    Keyspan IR Remote Control

    * Content (AV from Macs): Airport / Streaming content
    Streaming over Airport
    UWB (Ultra Wide Band) may become available by end of 2005.

    * Content (TV): External Tuner
    ? EyeTV devices or similar

    * GUI (instead of 'normal' OS X )
    ? GUI: Cocoa application, presents user a sort of kiosk mode in OS X - maybe directly in start-up items - allowing to directly access Pictures / Movies / iTunes.
    Fast user switching would allow all family members to see their own content.

    * DVD Burner
    Internal or later external Dual Layer burner.

    * EPG
    TitanTV (USA) or tvtv.xx (Europe) Electronic Programming Guides
    These apparently work fine with EyeTV devices
  2. skp574 macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2005
    DVD Region hack

    I'd definitely be interested in the possibility of hacking the drive to be region free.

    I don't want to clog up your thread and go off-topic, but is there a way to do it?
  3. daveL macrumors 68020


    Jun 18, 2003
    H.264 at D1 resolution and DVD quality and better bit rates than MPEG4 (Divx) requires a *lot* of processing power, like a dedicated DSP and high performance codec. Not cheap or easy.

    There is a box that will do Divx-type Mpeg 4 (part 3). Ot's on the Elgato page under third-party products.
  4. bladerunner thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2005


    I'm aware of these two pages, but there were no answers yet on Mac mini DVD (combo drive version) regio free patches:

    General page:
    Mac forum:

    Usual Warning: All the downloads on those pages could damage your drive/void your warranty.

    @daveL: Thanks a lot for the info. I will check, maybe my question also wasn't precise enough: If I understood correctly, most of the Elgato devices offload the compression work from the Mac, so wouldn't the Mac only playback/record the "finished" compressed AVC/H.264 stream ?
    I hope the prices come down later this year. So the Mac mini would "only" record the compressed stream/be used to playback through QuickTime7 or another capable player.

    Another general question: QuickTime 7 (H.264 support) is a Tiger feature. Does anyone know if QuickTime - or the H.264 playback part - will be made available for 10.3 as well ?

    I doubt it. I guess Apple wants us all to spend $129 for such goodies :(
  5. bladerunner thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2005
    Mac mini in your car

    Also, to go a little OT on my own thread about Mac minis as living room devices, there was an interesting article putting the Mac mini in your car:

    Given that most good GPS solutions - at least over here in Europe - cost well over $1000, this could be cool idea.

    Maybe also for gaming - children in the backseat ;) - or DVD playback for car passengers.

    I can't wait to see Mac mini mods in living rooms and cars :)
  6. daveL macrumors 68020


    Jun 18, 2003
    The Elgato boxes do offload the encoding, but they current only use mpeg1/2. Actually, I *just* checked their site again, and they have a software update (v1.7) that now includes mpeg4 compression. I don't know if they are doing this on the box or on the Mac. It still isn't H.264, however. Yes, the mini would only be recording a compressed stream and then decode it via QT to play it.
  7. bladerunner thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2005
    Mac media center project underway !

    @davel, thanks again.

    I just became aware of another Macrumors member (mrzippy in Mini mac shipping thread ) starting a project to create a Media Center out of a Mac mini...

    Nice, I knew someone must have started this already. I hope it makes great progress, will keep an eye on that URL.

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