G4 as a media center

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by parkerjames, May 1, 2011.

  1. parkerjames macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011
    Hello Folks,

    I'm finally getting an intel mac and looking for a way to use my mirror door dual 1 gig G4 tower and since I don't really need a file server and the powerbook serves as an extra office computer, I'm thinking it might be fun to hook it to the TV.
    Most of what I've googled on the subject is confusing to me, so....

    I have a new 42" LCD TV, a Sony blu ray, regular dvd player and the Onkyo Receiver with surround sound set-up. I don't have the TV hooked up to a phone line at this time and have comcast cable.

    What options do I have to play around? I've never done the computer to TV thing, so I'm at a loss.

    Thanks for any response.
  2. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    Generally, you can hook it up to a tv and just store a bunch of movies on it. If your TV has a VGA part on it (usually labeled computer), you can use that, or you can use a DVI->HDMI cable for video if your computer has DVI and you have an extra HDMI in. Audio would have to come from an audio out on the computer though.

    However, the G4s generally struggle with HD video, so I wouldn't recommend turning a G4 into a media center.
  3. parkerjames thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011
    When you say that the G4's struggle with HD what do you mean?
    Can it be overcome?
  4. DoghouseMike macrumors regular

    Jan 18, 2011
    Best test would be to get some HD movies and play them back on the G4, see how it goes, it might be ok. Problem is that the CPU gets pretty bogged down playing them back, from what I remember, and lower res vids are going to look pretty rubbish on a 42 inch screen, I imagine.
    XBMC might be of interest to you though.
    Now, if you had an xbox 360, or PS3, or no doubt some other gadgets, you could load the G4 up with hard drives and movies, and stream them from there to said TV-attached gizmo, with vuze, or connect360, or similar. With that, the computer doesn't even need to be near the TV.
  5. fpnc macrumors 68000

    Oct 30, 2002
    San Diego, CA
    I have a 1.5GHz G4-based Mac mini and it barely handles SD content let alone HD (the latter it can NOT do). A dual processor G4 at a high enough clock speed would obviously be better but I don't think there are any G4-based Macs that can play 1080p video. As for 720p, I don't know, perhaps one of the later dual-processor G4s might do.

    That said, I use my Mac mini as a media server for my Apple TV. For that purpose it works fine, streaming even 1080p content to any device that can handle that resolution. However, a G4 tower is going to use a lot of electricity so I don't know if I would use a Power Mac as an always-on media server.

    I once tested a G5-based iMac (dual-core, probably about 1.8GHz) with 1080p content and while it played fairly well it still had problems with some of the more difficult 1080p content. It could handle 720p, but on some 1080p scenes it would stutter quite noticeably.
  6. parkerjames thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011
    Thanks guys.
    This G4 plays back HD just fine without a hitch or glitch, either thru the drive or through an itunes digital copy. Both audio and video nearly flawless.
    Still trying to get a handle on the rest of this.
  7. shady28 macrumors member

    Mar 27, 2005
    You can stream to your mirror door Mac and use front row. Only problem is not having a remote, but you might be able to use one of the mini keyboard/trackball deals they have for PCs.

    Interface wise, chances are your TV has a VGA input.

    Also, check out a Logitech tv remote. You don't need the really high end ones, but they make swapping between components very easy.

    Sent from my iPad 2 using Tapatalk
  8. MacForScience macrumors 6502


    Sep 7, 2010
    As a fun experiment this is worth doing. As a serious media center its a joke. The G4 simply is to feeble to handle todays media needs. It sounds to me like your setup has things pretty well covered so this is just for fun. That being said you could probably get it to play back SD itunes videos just fine and surf the web if you have bluetooth dongle, keyboard and wireless connection.

  9. parkerjames thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011
    Once again fellas, thanks for the helpful responses.
    I'm a little behind on this stuff--OK alot behind--but I was just reading about what Apple TV has to offer and thinking of a different scenario.
    The new imacs just coming out is perfect timing, so we'll be picking one up in the next couple of days--mayhaps I'll get a chunky external drive and load it up with movies via an itunes library and go from there.
    These new machines are gonna scream!

    I'm probably missing something her, but thinking I can remote with the iphone, too.
  10. nzlucas macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2010
    I run a :apple:Tv2 from a PowerBook g4 1.5 10.5.8. Even though the computer cannot playback hd content, streaming to the :apple:Tv 2 is fine. I have my iTunes library on a 1 tb external so when I up grade computers I can take it with me. My tv can playback hd content direct from the external as well.

    I cannot afford a new computer at the Moment but this set up is working fine. I have an iPad to do most browsing etc and the PowerBook stays off to one side most of the time. I even have vnc setup on the iPad so do not need to pick up the PowerBook sometimes.

    With mac mini's being much more suitable for serving duties these days it's a shame these g4 towers are becoming a bit dated, I remember lusting after one when they first came out, I would purposefully go the mac rooms at uni just to use one!! Hope you find a use for it, maybe a web and media server?

  11. parkerjames thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011
    I realize that there is software available that will convert DVD movies to itune formats, but is it reasonable to do so in order to 'stream' to Apple TV?
    Seems like an awful lot of time. Its a shame that itunes doesn't allow import of DVD's, just as it does with Audio CDs.

    Just rambling, I suppose but has anyone heard whether itunes may do this in the future?
  12. rusty2192 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2008
    Handbrake will be your best friend should you decide to digitize DVDs. I am slowly making my way through our collection. So far I have about 500GB worth of DVDs ripped and encoded to my iMac. I use them to sync with my iPad and to stream to not only the ATV2, but also the MacBooks in the house. I am working my way towards going diskless.

    Should you happen to go this route, your G4 would work great for ripping the DVDs with MacTheRipper (will be faster than any slot-load drive on any modern Mac, and it would keep the wear and tear off your new toy) and then use handbrake on the new machine to encode (raw processing power is the main concern here).

    So in other words, in my opinion, it is very worth the time and effort (which can be pretty large) to go digital just to stream. As far as iTunes ever getting the feature built in, I doubt it. If it hasn't gotten it yet, it won't in the future, especially since they are removing disk drives, and then you have that whole pesky legality of decrypting disks issue ;)
  13. nzlucas macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2010
    Check out the thread at the top of the catagorie. http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=805573

    I haven't been able to get the whole thing to work start to finish on leopard but i use elements to make life simpler.

    I found a program called MKVtools as well which works if you happen to come across any mkv files you do not want to re-encode as well. Converts to mp4 from mkv. As long as the file is within appletv specs it works a treat.

    I then use subler to search and add tags sometimes too.


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