Apple TV or Mac Mini?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by rypaca, Oct 20, 2010.

  1. rypaca macrumors newbie

    Nov 8, 2009
    Hi all, I'm in the process of designing my home theatre system for a house currently in the build stage. Fully wired HDMI/Gigabit LAN/USB entertainment area, and I'm wondering what the consensus is regarding a computer peripheral. My current arsenal of Mac products includes MacBook Pro, 21.5" iMac, two iPhones, and two iPods (sigh).

    My question is: what product would be most suited for the needs (HD movies, audio, TV shows, etc.) of my home theatre: Apple TV or a Mac Mini?

    The current video library is extensive, as is the music collection, and I want the option to purchase/rent videos through iTunes and also have the option to play content from both the iMac and the MacBook Pro via the home network.

    Suggestions? Thanks very much in advance!!

  2. jclardy macrumors 68040


    Oct 6, 2008
    Well there is an obvious price difference, the Mini costs way more than the :apple:TV.

    Do all of your movies play through iTunes? If so you could just hook up some external storage to your iMac and just stream everything off of there to the Apple TV. If that is all you want to do then the Apple TV would be a great choice. You also can use Netflix if you have an account. There are a few kinks in the current software though that may be bad for you if you have a lot of TV show seasons. I don't but other users on this forum have posted about their issues.

    The Mini would be way more flexible in what it can do and formats that it could handle. You have way more options as to the interface, you could set up Plex or Boxee or just use Front Row (I wouldn't..) You could watch video from Hulu, although I am not sure if it is blocked in the current version of Plex and Boxee...You could always use a browser, but I have found that using a computer hooked up to a TV is a bit clunky. Also the Mini will give you 1080P output which you may or may not care about.

    So if you use iTunes and want simplicity, go with Apple TV. If you need more features and configuration options go for the Mini.
  3. rypaca thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 8, 2009
    Thanks a lot for the reply!

    Very few of my movies play through iTunes -- for the most part, I use VLC to play my movies and TV shows. I've tried through Front Row but the quality of playback isn't the greatest I find.

    The price difference would be the biggest concern for me, however I think I'd be willing to front the extra dollars to have the HDMI output, given the new TV and HDMI connectivity as well as the lack of iTunes movies.

    The iMac is currently connected to 2 x 2TB Western Digital external HDs and I think I'd like to use the Mini to piggy back these HDs and have content available in the home theatre area. I assume this is possible by having the HDs shared on the network and with the Mini connected via HDMI to the TV.

    What is the benefit of Plex or Boxee over VLC on the Mini with an HDMI out to the TV?

    Thanks again!
  4. tommylotto macrumors regular

    Jan 7, 2004
    best to wait for about one hour before making any mac related decisions...
  5. newagemac macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2010
    Don't forget since the Apple TV is so cost effective and draws so little power, you can place one at each TV in the house. I have a recently built house myself and had at least 2 ethernet runs placed in each room. That type of setup works great with the Apple TVs basically acting as media extenders.
  6. jcschlic macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2009
    A buddy of mine swears by his Mac Mini with Plex combination. This is mainly because he feels he has to be able to play back practically lossless Blu-ray rips.

    I happen to mainly own a library of 500 or so ripped DVDs, all stored on NAS (WD 2tb), synced with iTunes, and played back on my old and new apple TV.

    I think it all really depends on what type of media you are wanting to play back.

    But, I think there are soon to be some announcements for Apps on the new Apple TV, which will basically almost render a Mac Mini purchase complete overkill.
  7. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    My Mini/Plex combo is really nice but it's still way to finicky for my family to use. Also if I don't use it often then when I do it's wanting to implement software updates and such.
  8. jcschlic macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2009
    Yeah, the whole wife factor is huge. I consider my basement a success when my wife can walk down there, push one button (harmony remote), everything turns on, is good to go, and easy to navigate.

    When I was in college, I had a pretty slick HTPC setup, and I would equate a Mac Mini setup to that - great for a techy, but not for everyone in the family to use.
  9. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    The only two limitations of the Mini are its price and its inability to have two live audio outputs. Otherwise, the Mini wins in everything else.
  10. jajohns8 macrumors regular

    Sep 11, 2008
    Sometimes I connect my Macbook Pro up to the HDTV (I have an Apple tv First Gen also.)

    I guess the reason I vote Apple TV, is that its more convenient.

    As soon as I change source on my TV to the Apple TV, it's ready to go.

    Whenever I use the Macbook pro for an HTPC (similar in respect to you using the Mini), I have to interact with the keyboard etc. Ofcourse, it's not all that complicated, it's just a few extra steps of convenience that I personally, like how the Apple TV handles for you.

    Sure, I can play any file type on the Macbook pro, but using it as a HTPC comes at a slight 'convenience cost.'
  11. gugy macrumors 68030


    Jan 31, 2005
    La Jolla, CA
    That's my conundrum as well.
    I need something simple so wife and kids can use. If it is a bit complicate... forget it. That's my concern about the MacMini with set ups like Plex, etc. While I do understand the power and flexibility, I really just need something that I can easily turn on, navigate and watch it.
    That's why I will go trough the hassle of encoding all my DVDs to work on iTunes and BR-rips to be 720p. I might rather suffer a bit on the quality front but the reward of having anybody using it is what makes for me ATV the winner.
    I guess if I want always the highest quality I can go and pop my BR-Discs on my BR player.

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