G4 Cube Media Center project completed!

sigamy

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 7, 2003
1,300
2
NJ USA
I now have a G4 Cube up and running as a media center.

The Cube is in our basement family room. All content is stored on my iMac, which is one floor up. Cube is connected via ethernet. I can watch ripped DVDs (those that I own, of course), iMovies, iPhoto slideshows and listen to iTunes. I'm using AppleScript to play VIDEO_TS folders in DVD Player and force to full screen. The scripts have DVD jackets as icons. Looks really sweet.

I'm running a flashed Radeon 7000 with TV out and for now a Griffin iMic for stereo sound out. I have an M-Audio Sonica coming for 5.1 sound.

Pics at:
http://homepage.mac.com/brian.andrews29/PhotoAlbum42.html
 

brap

macrumors 68000
May 10, 2004
1,701
0
Nottingham
The Sonica [Theater] is really CPU hungry. I sold mine, when it failed to run on a G3-900 iBook... granted that was back in the day! Do update on its performance.
 

sigamy

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 7, 2003
1,300
2
NJ USA
The Cube Media Center has performed pretty well in its first day of use. I watched a movie with my kids last night and it ran perfectly for around 50 minutes before it stopped. I had to move ahead to the next chapter to force DVD player to continue on. It then stopped one or two more times. Not sure if this was a network bottleneck or if there was a hiccup while pulling data from the firewire hard drive that is connected to my "server".

The quality is pretty good--and it is more than enough for my toddlers to watch a movie. I have an analog TV so I can't do DVI. My video card only has composite out so I'm not able to use s-video. The quality is definetly higher than VHS. It looks like a good cable signal.

The audio out is working well via the iMic. I just set my reciever to ProLogic II and get simulated surround. The Sonica is ordered, I'll try that and see how it goes.

I think I'm running at 1024x768. Text is pretty hard to read, I haven't tried reading a web page but I'm sure it will be near impossible. Dashboard's weather widget looks good though. I won't be surfing on this machine. It will be purely a media center for DVDs, iTunes, iPhoto and iMovies.

Now I need to see if I can compress my DVDs down and still play them with similar quality. I also need to buy iVideo or a similar app for easy organization and selection of iMovies and other small video clips.
 

livingfortoday

macrumors 68030
Nov 17, 2004
2,903
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The Msp
That is such an awesome setup, and I am so doing that to my Cube. Man. That's really cool. What're the specs on your cube? Like, how much RAM, and have you upgraded the processor at all?
 

chaosbunny

macrumors 68000
Wow, nice! :) I'm planning to do something similar soon with my cube. I have an eyetv already, so I can use it as a recorder too. Just want to add a bigger harddisk, something like 80 - 120 gb... the original 20 gigs in it just aren't enough.
 

sigamy

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 7, 2003
1,300
2
NJ USA
Thanks all. I bought this cube specifically to make it into a media center. The cube is a stock 450mhz but it has 1.5GB RAM. I got the cube, keyboard, mouse, speakers and Tiger DVD off of craigslist for $250!

All the content is stored on a different Mac.

I'm actually not sure about TV resolution. I know DVDs are only 480 lines, I guess the video card does some type of down conversion or something...again, I'm only connected to TV via composite so it's not the best quality but it is more than enough.

If I actually use this and really integrate it into our watching habits I'll pick up a wireless (RF) mouse and/or keyboard.
 

brap

macrumors 68000
May 10, 2004
1,701
0
Nottingham
sigamy said:
My video card only has composite out so I'm not able to use s-video. The quality is definetly higher than VHS. It looks like a good cable signal.
[...]
I think I'm running at 1024x768. Text is pretty hard to read, I haven't tried reading a web page but I'm sure it will be near impossible.
That's your problem -- S-VHS is far higher quality than a composite signal. You'll be surprised at just how much crisper the image gets; even at 1024 resolution, far higher than the 720*576 of the TV, stuff is generally readable.
 

ClarkeB

macrumors 6502
Jan 24, 2005
319
0
StealthRider said:
Isn't TV a standard resolution of 640x480? Or is that an HDTV?
I don't think that is possible because 640x480 is a 4:3 res and HDTV is, by definition (no pun intended), widescreen.
 

ChrisFromCanada

macrumors 65816
May 3, 2004
1,097
0
Hamilton, Ontario (CANADA)
Yep all standard TVs using a composite or S-Video connection are 640*480. High Definition comes basically in two flavors 1280*720 and 1920*1080.



Note I am completely ignoring progressive vs. interlaced frames for this example.
 

Bid4Mac

macrumors newbie
Jun 16, 2005
2
0
Very nice!

All you need now is an external device to input TV.. then you can use it as a PVR as well. ;)

I'm thinking about getting a mini to do something similar.
 

Aldaris

macrumors 68000
Sep 7, 2004
1,824
1,155
Salt Lake
Hey That's Awesome...

I'm looking for a cube to replace my Dvd player and be able to stream iTunes... I was wondering what software you used to rip the Dvds, and what the quality is too!
 

visual

macrumors newbie
Mar 14, 2005
26
0
Please post youre applescript here, I'm trying to do the same thing and It would save me a lot of headaches.