A Home Theater Advice Thread

Discussion in 'iMac' started by l3lue, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. l3lue macrumors member


    Jul 2, 2006
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Hello all and thank you in advance to anyone that can give me some helpful advice and/or lead to where I can get more information.

    I just bought my first house and I want to set up a great home theater in the living room.

    What I do have right now is a Vizio LCD Tv and an Onkyo Home Theater Box set (basically a receiver and 5.1 speakers) that will be in the living room and a MacBook that is set up in my bedroom.

    I definitely want to set up some sort of Media Computer in the living room.

    I'm new at this so please give me your input but at this point this is how I see my options...

    1. Buy an AppleTV. I think I want to find a different route than this.

    2. Buy a Mac Mini and stream video content from the Mac in my bedroom.

    3. Buy a Mac Mini and an external hard drive that is loaded with my content.

    Now comes the questions...

    If I go with the streaming option, will high quality video work? I really like this option because then I can just keep my main computer updated and access it's harddrive over the network.

    If I go the route of the external hard drive... is there a way to make that hard drive mirror the content of my main computer's hard drive?

    What are my alternatives to Front Row?

    And then also comes in the question of watching cable TV. Would there be a way to integrate this into my media center or would my best option there be just to watch cable normally and then when I want to access my computer content, switch to a different input?

    I'm really just overwhelmed with the options out there and want to make sure I go the right route. Thanks again for reading and to anyone that can help me out.

  2. mpshay macrumors 6502

    May 19, 2008
    I went the mac mini & external harddrive route. I've 2 of them, one in the media room and another in the mater bedroom. I'm still using Tivo HDs for recording cable TV because I have not found a better way to do thaton the Mac.

    For storage, I put a 1 TB drive in a mini stack V3 enclosure. It's small quiet, and matches the style of the mini pretty well

    I'm still using Front Row, but I'm interested in Boxee. That may end up being the way I go, but I don't know. It's still invite only and I'm waiting for mine!

    If you want TV on the mini, take a look at some of the Elgato products.
  3. Fonzijr1964 macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2008
    I was just going to make this thread!!!

    Have u considered the Mac Pro that may be the route I go
  4. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    If you can afford it, #3 is your best option. I have an Apple TV for the living room and a Mac Mini with a 500 gb Mini Stack 2 FW boot drive for the HT. I'm considering buying Samsung's 500 gb 2.5" drive to put in the Mini so I can lose the Mini Stack (which is noisy as hell).

    You'll only need 2 gigs of RAM for HTPC, so don't worry about maxing it with 2x2gig sticks. You can also connect an Eye TV Hybrid so that you get DVR functions as well (I love this device).

    The big disadvantage is the klunkiness of Dolby Digital Quicktime movies on a Mac. Apple seems to have gone out of their way to make it difficult to do. The Apple TV is far superior in handling audio than any Mac - it can autoselect AC3 or AAC tracks; Macs cannot.
  5. l3lue thread starter macrumors member


    Jul 2, 2006
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Here's my problem with this, and maybe you can help me: This route requires me to move any new file from my main computer to the mac mini's external hard drive every time.

    Is there any way to set up the mac mini's hard drive to match my main computer's hard drive?
  6. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Easiest thing to do is this: In itunes on your main computer, turn on sharing. This allows the files to show up on any other Mac (and Apple TV) on your network within their iTunes. Will work with Front Row, too.

    Still, though, if you're wanting DD 5.1 by optical, you'll need to do some tinkering with Quicktime and Perian.
  7. nathanjbrown macrumors regular

    Apr 9, 2008
    Boston, MA
    The software "TuneRanger" might help sync your music and video files from one Mac to another Mac (or external drive connected to another Mac). I'm not really sure how it works though...Mine is on order from Buy.com (Free with Mail-In Rebate: http://www.buy.com/prod/tuneranger-for-itunes-pc-mac-allume-tuneranger-retail-pc-mac-n32416/q/loc/105/206274109.html). I'll report back when I know more...Though I'm sure you could do a search and find all sorts of information on that software.

    Have a good one!

  8. CMD is me macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2006
    I'm also thinking about doing #3. I have a HD camcorder and thought about :apple:TV, however 30fps is limited to 540p. 720p is limited to 24fps (or maybe it was 25). I'd like to keep the videos at 720/30p or 1080/60i.

    So rather than go with a :apple:TV which limits resolution, bitrates and storage, I thinking Mac Mini + FW400 external. I've tried a few short clips with a MacBook Pro through Front Row and the 720/30p looks very good!

    Is there any reason to stick with a C2D and do you need to max out the RAM? (not sure how taxing h.264 playback decoding is)

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