Making Mac Mini into Media Center

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by Wry Cooter, Jan 12, 2005.

  1. Wry Cooter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2002
    #1
    Sure it has been given a glancing suggestion in the rumor mill that the Mac Mini is really "convergence central", but, practically, how might this work? And what will it cost?

    Besides buying the Mini Mac with a Gig of Ram and a SuperDrive, that would easily double the cost (a move I feel necessary, arguments welcome), I think it would be good to have Bluetooth and WiFi as well, for wireless keyboarding, and fewer cables. And of course a monitor (This house has no HD ready monitors or tuners YET).

    iLife '05 will have iMovie with the "Magic iMovie" feature, which could build on making a DVR of the mini mac, you will still need an el Gato EyeTV type device to pull in program Guides and tune channels and pump it into firewire or USB 2 as a DV signal.

    You are still kind of getting expensive for a DVR/DVD burning combo, although it is also everything else a Mac can be.

    I thought if Apple really wanted to sell the device as a media center, they would provide some sort of program guide for free (or perhaps part of a dot mac sub) and toss a TV tuner onto the video card.

    So maybe toss this into the equation, for a house that doesn't have HDTV yet, and price a mac based home entertainment center that surfs.

    HDTV monitor (any size, lets say 20 to thirty inches to keep things affordable)
    SuperDrive One Gig Ram Mini Mac
    HDTV tuner with firewire HDV signal out.
    A set of speakers (again, think nice but cheap)
    Keyboard and Mouse of choice (wired okay, but less practical)
    TVGuide scheduling service
    Web Access can even be 56k modem based.

    How do you do this, dreamers? And how much would it cost?
     
  2. varmit macrumors 68000

    varmit

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    #2
    I would say an HD TV with an input that will take DVI, or just a TV that has the ability to have a crisp picture. Eyetv so that you can watch TV, Record it (comes with remote to control it). Then you just need to hook up some nice speakers, or go to a stereo from the audio out port. Done.

    Might want to see if there is a controller out there so you can control the DVD player, like you can Airtunes though the Express, or just get bluetooth and wireless mouse and keyboard.

    sorry, forgot to do price.

    Mac mini $570 (RAM up to 512)
    Eyetv, depends on which one you get but, $300+ easy.
    Speakers less than $100.

    So a good so about $900 on the low end without getting a new TV. Then it can be as expensive as you want.
     
  3. maya macrumors 68040

    maya

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Location:
    somewhere between here and there.
    #3
    I would suggest to get the base Mac mini, with BlueTooth. That is all.

    3rd party vendors will come up with upgrades for it...its only time. :)

    3rd party vendors will upgrade the:

    1. Ram.
    2. Optical Drive.
    3. HDD.

    You can also buy a TV Tuner box and you are set.

    Considering the Mac mini will support a 23" ACD. :)
     
  4. Wry Cooter thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2002
    #4
    It would be nice if El Gato made the EyeTV with a similar Form Factor as the mini Mac.

    Let's stick some prices in here, as those first two replies were before my edit of the question. You can pop in Add your own 3rd party prices, making the assumption upgrading is actually easy for the form factor. I suspect we might all want a fatter drive, even more than 80

    imac mini 499 or 599
    add one gig RAM 425
    superdrive 100
    wireless keys,mouse 99
    bluetooth 50 or 129 with airport
    speakers, etc 200
    HD resolution monitor ?? Lets say under 300
    HD Eye TV maybe 300?

    You can see where it is easy to bump the mac mini price into iMac range. Even if you did get RAM and harddrive on the cheap rather than via apple store gouging.

    I would think the RAM necessary if you planned on editing out commercials and burning DVDs of your
    TV shows with iMovie and iDVD.

    Can you beat these price estimates?
     
  5. varmit macrumors 68000

    varmit

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    #5
    $873 for Mac mini (512 RAM, DVD burner and wireless keyboard)
    $300 for EyeTV
    $140 for External Hard drive to store shows and take places (might even skip the DVD burner)
    $50 for speakers

    Total = $1363

    Add a TV at $300 you get $1663
     
  6. brogers macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2002
    Location:
    Greensboro, NC
    #6
    The mini is for people like my boss that wants to get an Apple computer but does mainly e-mail, internet and takes digital pictures. Does not want to spend much money cause he already has a computer. Throw in the fact that his daughter has an iPod and he can use his existing mouse and keyboard and all he needs is a monitor.

    Adding all the bells and whistles makes it an iMac. Doing that and one should just go get the iMac. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but will the mini support just a basic CRT monitor or does it have to be an ACD?

    BR
     
  7. varmit macrumors 68000

    varmit

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    #7
    Yeah, I was hoping that the 1600 price tag to make this into something its not ment to be. A low end iMac, with an eyetv costs the same as the Mac mini that I made in my last post. Not worth it.

    The Mac mini I think is DVI, but possibly comes with a DVI to VGA adaptor.
     
  8. Pismo macrumors 6502

    Pismo

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2002
    Location:
    NH
    #8
    I plan on getting the mini once I get some more money. I intend on buying it to replace my home entertainment center. I'm going to use it as my DVD player, music player, and for showing iPhoto slideshows. I'm also going to add bluetooth, wireless mouse and keyboard, and airport. I'm going to be purchasing a 27" Sony Wega tv soon also. I already have some nice speakers and a Sony reciever.
     
  9. Wry Cooter thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2002
    #9
    So, why would he get one? Just to get an extra computer in the house, with an old monitor?

    I thought that if something with the abilities of PhoneValet was tied into Filemaker, this could make a great SOHO computer. Voice Mail, Caller ID logging, Caller ID pulling up client info... tons of work at home types might switch.

    And if Sony allowed a Playstation emulator within, one more thing for the set top box idea.

    I would like to try to use it as a Tivo, that one could edit and burn to clear up the hard disk (perhaps external, dedicated to video and music and photos, keeping regular computer files on the internal.

    But it looks like you couldn't really do it for less than a grand. You could get an eMac with SuperDrive and
    and EyeTV, but you might want to hook up to nicer TV and speakers.

    As far as hooking it to an existing set... there is a
    cable available that will give you composite or S-video signals, I believe, from the DVI/VGA port.
    I would rather use a computer quality monitor for a TV, than an old TV for a monitor.
     
  10. Wry Cooter thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2002
    #10
    Thing is, I think to make it into anything I would want it to be, I would be doubling the price. Just to give it a decent amount of RAM, for instance.

    How many of you already have a spare keyboard, mouse and monitor sitting around for mini to play with?

    How many of you intend on buying a mac mini with the intent of pairing it to a large screen TV? Or using as a portable?
     
  11. Wry Cooter thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2002
    #11
    http://www.pvrblog.com/pvr/2005/01/mac_mini_a_kill.html has some other discussion on using the mini as a media center... Many think it may not have the horsepower as is, many are going full steam ahead anyway, basing their primary decision (perhaps without thinking) on buying one as a set top box.
     
  12. Ra! macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2005
    #12
    so....

    I've looked at a few LCD projection HDTV monitorss, particularly a Panasonic 43" and 53" that actually says it can be used with the computer as a Media Player. Does that mean though, that you can actually run the computer on it, or does that just mean that you can play media on it (DVDs, mp3s, pictures, etc...)?
     
  13. iJon macrumors 604

    iJon

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    #13
    I think this process can be done much cheaper with some 3rd party devices. I am not going to build one but if I had the money I would buy external Lacie drives that are faster, cheaper and bigger quantities than what Apple provides. Also instead of doing the SuperDrive upgrade I would simply buy Lacie's new Dual Layer 8.5GB DVD Burner. With those two things you would be set and you just get the video anyway you want. Also I believe someone recently has learned how to pull the video recorded from the Motorola DVR's onto a Mac.

    jon
     
  14. Wry Cooter thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2002
    #14
    Then why include the Mac Mini at all?

    If you toss all the expensive upgrades to more bang for the buck externals, aren't you losing both the elegance of the form factor, and the ease of use interface?

    I mean, wouldn't you have to use Toast (yet another investment) to burn to the external burner? Wouldn't you have to go through even more steps, to archive DVDs of your favorite shows?

    The iMovie Magic would make editing out commercials easy, and I think EyeTVs software does similar. I would want to clip the ads, then burn, with very little fiddling inbetween. An external HardDisk, Burner, and EyeTV seem to make some sense money wise, but still, you are probably adding 50 % to 100% of the Minis cost with each added peripheral, none of which, at this writing at least, share a similar form factor with the mini.

    Maybe by the time of g5 ibooks and powerbooks, apple will come out with a real set top box. The Automobile Mac makes more sense to me, than dedicating the mini as a TV device.
     

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