Best HTPC input device for Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by wlossw, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. wlossw macrumors 65816


    May 9, 2012
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Hi all.

    I'm going to be replacing my Itunes media server / HTPC (an old Dell) that is on its last legs.

    I am leaning heavily towards a Mac mini.

    My question for you guys is what keyboard/trackpad combo or similar input device is my best choice for on-the-couch use.

    My primary concerns are that it is attractive, small and has Mac dedicated keys.

    I would prefer Black if possible, and cost is not an issue. (I am aware of the 12south spacebar and similar solutions for the apple wireless keyboard/trackpad)

    Any other suggestions?
  2. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    Wild suggestion, but you could use an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch. They're sleek :cool:
  3. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    HippoRemote app on the iPhone. Terrific touchpad app that has custom buttons for different apps.
  4. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
  5. Enrico macrumors 6502


    Feb 6, 2007
    Milano / Roma
  6. waw74 macrumors 68040

    May 27, 2008
    i've never been a fan of the iOS remotes, they may be sleek, but sitting on the couch, you have to pick it up, unlock, find the springboard page with the control app on it, open the app, and then look at the screen to hit a button. and if the phone rings, you loose the remote, and cant pause the TV to answer the phone.
    it's great in a pinch, but not for full time use.

    and depending on how tech-minded your visitors / roommates / significant other are, the keyboard/mouse combination can be a bit puzzling for them.

    if you're making a HTPC, make it a Home Theatre PC, and not just a computer hooked to a TV.

    Use something with a "10 foot interface" (meaning it's designed to be used 10 feet from the screen, as opposed to sitting in front of it at a desk)
    like Plex or XBMC

    then add a harmony remote that way you have a remote that people are used to, it has hard buttons, that your fingers can find in the dark. without having to look at the device to find them.

    to tie the remote to your computer, use remote buddy. great instructions on how to tie it all together here.
    you can also use the apple remote, or a wii-mote with remote buddy.

    then for the times you need more access to the computer, use either remote desktop or log me in.
    there are also things like teleport that will allow you to use the keyboard and mouse on another computer with the mini. so you can set up the mini to be off the right hand side of your laptop. if you want to control the mini, just move the mouse off the side of the laptop screen, and now you're controlling the other computer.

    i've been using the plex, remote buddy, harmony remote setup for quite a while, and it works nice.
    only need to use the remote desktop maybe once a week, if that much.
  7. RMo macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2007
    Iowa, USA
    I use the Logitech K400 with my TV-connected Mac mini (well, actually, I repurposed the mini as a server and built my own PC for the TV now, but, anyway, I've used it in this setup and still kinda do).

    It claims only Windows compatibility and doesn't have any Mac-labeled keys (like Cmd), but, as always, this is never a problem. They work the same by label, and you can change them in System Preferences if you'd rather them work by position (e.g., with Cmd next to the space bar instead of Opt) instead. And you can turn off "tap to click" on the trackpad without using Logitech's Windows-only software by doing some trick on the device itself that I can't remember (click the button and hold something else, as I recall, or something similar).

    Basically, it works fine. In fact, I find it works great because it has multimedia keys (volume, etc.) and a built-in trackpad, and it's small enough to use on my lap and set down when not needed. It has a USB receiver (not Bluetooth), but I don't think that's a big deal for an HTPC.

    Good luck! I'd be curious what you settle on.
  8. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Dec 14, 2010
    I use VNC with my iPad or iPhone.

    Ive just purchased a Magic TrackPad though, and will be getting a wireless keyboard to go with it - it does make things much easier!
  9. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Jan 24, 2013
    The Apple remote + remote buddy app is what you need.

    My macmini is hooked up to my big screen tv, and I mainly just use XBMC/NaviX, and iTunes.

    Remote Buddy allows me to start/exit and navigate any of those apps. You could also use it as a virtual keyboard/mouse - but I have the wireless keyboard and trackpad, so I rarely use that.

    Anyway, it's cheap, very sleek, and works very well. The brushed aluminum also looks very nice in my opinion, and the remote is pretty hardy from my experience.

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