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

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    #1
    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

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2005
    Location:
    greenwich.london.uk
    #2
    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

    daveL

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2003
    Location:
    Montana
    #3
    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

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    #4
    follow-up...

    @skp574:

    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:
    http://xvi.rpc1.org/
    Mac forum:
    http://forum.rpc1.org/viewforum.php?f=30

    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

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    #5
    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:

    http://news.com.com/Putting+the+Mac+Mini+in+your+dashboard/2100-1042_3-5539831.html

    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

    daveL

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2003
    Location:
    Montana
    #6
    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

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    #7
    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...

    http://mrzippy.org.uk/macmediacenter/

    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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