Future Proof Media Center

Discussion in 'iMac' started by carduser22, Mar 16, 2007.

  1. carduser22 macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2006
    I have heard a lot of people use mac mini's as media centers and think this is an excellent idea. I would like to set up a media center but I have some questions about the best monitor.

    Other World Computing has just come out with an external firewire blu-ray dvd player/burner for mac. My question is since I am in the market for a Mini, I know the Apple Cinema Display says "HD" but is that just a marketing gimmick or is it really "High Definition"?

    1. What's the max resolution for a Cinema Display, 1080i? (or are computer displays resolutions different than TV's?)
    2. What's the max resolution a Mac Mini will put out?
    3. If the Elgato EyeTV supports HD programming (I don't know if it does), will the Cinema Display show it, and will it actually show High Definition DVD content? (does it work as advertised)
    4. If the Cinema display doesn't put out 1080, should I look into an HDTV with PC input, or a HDTV that would connect via "DVI to HDMI cable"?
    5. Will a Cinema Display last as long as a TV? (I'd like to sell my old TV)

    If someone knows of instructions for setting up a media center (website) that would be much appreciated)

    Ideally, I would like to sell my cheap DVD player (too flimsy/fragile), have a future proof DVD player/burner (hope I'm right about blu-ray sticking around) and use 1 screen instead of 2 so I don't have have a lot of monitors cluttering up my living room/den. (Either Cinema Display/some other monitor or an HDTV, not both)

    P.S. I am not looking at AppleTV (resolution isn't good enough and I don't buy movies off iTunes); I want a Mini.
  2. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    1) The highest monitor the mini can drive is the 23'' Cinema Display, which runs at 1900x1200. It will support 1080p HD, which is 1920x1080. The only difference is that computer monitors are 16:10 aspect ratio, and HDTVs are 16:9. So when watching TV on an ACD, you would just have a small letterbox at the top and the bottom.

    2) 1920x1200

    3) I don't have an Elgato EyeTV Hybrid, but I know someone that does, and yes, it works as advertised. He records over-the-air HDTV broadcasts and watches them on his mac all the time.
  3. Yoursh macrumors 6502

    May 28, 2006
    1)-3) I'll leave for the last post.

    4)As the other post, the mini and cinema display can actually output higher resolution picture then a HDTV. The mini will work with a HDTV by hooking it up via VGA/DVI/HDMI, depending on which ones that particular tv has. The mini would then be set to display the native tv resolution, like 1920x1080 for a 1080p HDTV. You can go with an HDMI to DVI cable but be warned, I've read some early HDMI capable tv's did have display issues with pc connections. It's a good idea to do some research on the models your interested in for any of these type of problems.

    5)If they are taken care of, there shouldn't be any difference on the lifespans of either.

    Just as a side note. If you do go with a cinema display, you would be limited to a 23" model, since the mini won't work with a bigger one. You can hook it up to a larger HDTV, but non-video stuff like text will look blury. It's the main drawback of trying to use a single screen as a HDTV and computer monitor.
  4. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    I don't think that the box you want is quite there yet in the Mini. Wait for Santa Rosa and I would be willing to bet that Apple will release a Mini that is just perfect as a media center for an HD setup. If you wait, at the very least you will get a vastly enhanced graphics chipset, a faster 64-bit processor, N-Wireless and a faster front-side bus. All of these sound desirable to me for overhead with an HD system.
  5. prostuff1 macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2005
    Don't step into the kawoosh...
    I hate to say this on a mac forum (and being a mac person myself) but the mini does not make the perfect media center computer.

    It is just far to limited. After doing a crap load of research I ended up building a PC for my media center. Granted it is nowhere near the small size of the mini but it can do about 5 times as many things.

    On of the main things the mini lack and that can not be changed is that is does not support HDCP. If you don't know what this is do some reading. Without HDCP watching movies from Blue-ray or HD-DVD are all but impossible.
  6. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    FYI, I've got my mini hooked up to a Westinghouse 37" HDTV, and the monitor aspect of it works perfectly - pixel for pixel, no aliasing, no blurring. Lower-res TV's might have issues if you try to fake a higher resolution, but... an even halfway decent HDTV (mine was only $1500 a year ago and way less now) will show the computer side of things just fine... but probably a bit small, if you try to use it at TV-viewing distances.
  7. prostuff1 macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2005
    Don't step into the kawoosh...
    jsw is correct. I have the media center PC hooked up to a 37in 1080p westinghouse and reading text and stuff is pretty difficult from regular tv viewing distance.
  8. carfac macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2006

    I would LOVE to do this with a Mac, but- for MY usage- the Mac is just not there.

    I was in a Computer store, and ran into an HP Media Center. Beautiful form factor- looks just like it belongs in my media set up (sure, not as "elegant" as a mac, but does not look like a stupid tower, either). I scored- it was 1 grand, they we blowing it out at 700, got a 100 discount at the register, and a free upgrade to Vista (which, after testing, I will NOT be using!)

    In any case, out of the box this thing did OTA HD, has an integrated, no fuss TV guide, managed my whole CD collection (in WMP, which SUCKS compared to iTunes... but I only have to set it up once), does DVR, Logs my movies, and manages all my daughters DVDs I have "hand-braked" into a library for her.

    Best of all, I am no longer getting calls from my wife asking how to just play some music or watch something- everything works on one input to the TV and Amp- no more switching to TV1 for DVDs, TV2 for OTA, TV3 to see the music library, etc.

    Don't get me wrong- I will junk this in a second when Mac gets there... but the Mac Mini/Delgato/Whatever Else is a jury-rigged system at best right now. It may work for YOU, but if it is confusing for the significant other, well, for me, that is a non starter.

    I am very happy with MCE 2005- works great out of the box. As long at it behind your firewall, you should be set.

    Here is a link to the current version of what I got:


    As you can see- it has it all in one box, and does not look too bad!


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