2011 Mac mini HTPC - External Superdrive?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by ToothTooth, May 4, 2012.

  1. ToothTooth macrumors member

    Oct 8, 2010
    North Carolina, USA
    Ok, I've searched these forums and can't find a straight answer. I'm using the 2011 mac mini as a HTPC and its hooked up to a 42 inch Panasonic plasma HDTV via HDMI. Once in a while when I want to watch a standard DVD, I play the disc using a Toshiba HD-DVD player which upconverts or upscales the standard DVD and makes it look very close to HD quality. I'm pretty pleased with this result.

    My question is this: If I were to purchase an external Superdrive and use it to watch DVDs using the stock "DVD Player" application that came with Lion, does the DVD Player app perform the same resolution upscaling that my HD-DVD player and other similar stand alone players do?
  2. JAT macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    Yes, the Mini performs upscaling (not DVD Player specifically). But not the same, they do not have the same software. I couldn't tell you which would do a better job.
  3. flatfoot macrumors 65816

    Aug 11, 2009
    If you have another Mac (that has a DVD drive), you could also use RipIt or MakeMKV to create an image of your video DVD and use that image on the mini.
    => Less money spent and tidier living room.
  4. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012
    I've got more news for you too.

    This whole "upscaling DVD player" nonsense is just that - nonsense.

    Assuming you have an HD plasma then the only thing it can display is 1920x1080 pixels. This means that any SD signal it displays is automatically upscaled. If it was not, it would just display as a small window in the middle of the screen.

    So when you play any DVD on any HD TV, it is always upscaled.

    The question is not "will it be upscaled". It is "which device is doing it". And "which device would I like to do it". i.e. either the DVD player can do the upscaling, or the plasma can and it's debatable which will do it better.

    The scaler in a Panasonic plasma is actually very good, and by no means is it a foregone conclusion that upscaling in the DVD player would produce a better picture. Often it's worse. Especially if the DVD player makes a mess of 3:2 or 2:2 cadence detection. Then after it's upscaled the messed up picture, your plasma has no hope of sorting it out.

    Regards your Mac, if you are outputting 1080p (as I suspect you are) then of course this must be upscaling the DVD image, or again - obviously - it would be outputting a tiny 720x480 image in the middle of the screen.

    Luckily for you, the Mac makes a pretty decent job of the upscaling.

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