Home theatre advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by danielhayter, Oct 14, 2007.

  1. danielhayter macrumors member


    Apr 6, 2007
    Hi everyone.

    I am moving into a new house next week and have got together a fair bit of equipment to set up a nice little home theatre. I'm missing one central unit though and was hoping that people here could give some advice on how to link it all together.

    Here is what I have - 26" Sanyo LCD HD TV, dvd player, Xbox 360, nice seperates stereo setup (in the past I've used this for listening to music but it would be great for movies and games I'd imagine although not surround), my iBook G4 with all my music and pictures on it, and a 120gb external WD passport with all my movies and TV shows.

    I have ordered a cable broadband, tv and phone service to be installed at the house (Virgin Media - a UK provider), but it doesn't come with a wireless router.

    Could people advise on nice ways to link this all together? What, if any, new parts might I have to buy? Thanks!
  2. doobi18 macrumors 6502

    Dec 31, 2006
    Sydney, Australia
    My Setup

    Well there are about a million ways to do things, but im pretty happy with the set-up i have just achieved.

    * 50-inch Pioneer Plasma
    * Pioneer Reciever
    * Pioneer DVD-Player
    * Bass Acoustic 5.1 speakers
    * Airport Express
    * iPod Dock

    The Airport Express allows itunes to stream all your iTunes music through your system and is also a great & easy to use 802.11g router that will easily provide coverage for any not-ridiculously-sized house. iPod dock allows for easy playback iPod. The Pioneer DVD player lets you play burnt DivX movies & has a USB port for access to multimedia files on HDD or thumbstick, which is very handy.

    I am thinking of expanding this however, which might give you a display of the additional options. First, you should get a purpose-built router no-matter what, so it's your call whether you go with the Express or Extreme. The two options I am then considering are :apple:TV or a MacMini. I'm sure you know what each product are & do, but note that the price gap isn't huge & the MM is alot more functional.

    Hope that that is helpful, feel free to ask me anything else.

  3. danielhayter thread starter macrumors member


    Apr 6, 2007

    I agree I need a wireless router though I can't decide which to get. Extreme is great because I could network external 120gb WB passport, but Express has that handy air tunes! However I was wondering if there was not a way I could use my Xbox 360 for Airtunes? i.e. I buy an Airport Extreme, and then stream audio from my iBook to my stereo via the Xbox? And as for video - I believe my TV has a computer-in connection which I could hook my iBook up to to watch the odd video/tv show? I am more a music lover than a film lover.

    I was in an Apple store the other day and tried out an Apple TV and was very diappointed by the picture quality. They were running an episode of the IT crowd and it looked terrible on a mid sized HD tv. I think the Mac Mini would defintely be the way to go on that particular choice. I guess buying a Mac Mini would be the best option, but also the most expensive.
  4. stu.sutherland macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2007
    That video of the IT Crowd is an internet download, not something of high quality. We have some HD stuff on there, check them out for picture quality.

    My advice would be to stick a Mac Mini in there, with an airport Extreme, you could hook up your HD to the Extreme or have a USB/FW one on the mini. Sound output of that will then go into your stereo system and you have access not only to all your music but internet content as well. Plus you could use it as your DVD player, allowing you to use the DVD somewhere else or sell it to raise a bit of cash to go towards the mini.

    You could always get the wireless keyboard and mouse to control it, or even remote desktop with your iBook.

    If you didn't want to splash the cash for a C2D, even an old G4 Mini would do the trick as a good media centre. My house mate just got one with a monitor, wireless KB and Mouse for just over £200 so not bad at all.
  5. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    Connect 360

  6. stu.sutherland macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2007
    That Connect360 is making me think about purchasing a Microsoft product. Never thought that would happen.

    That's awesome.

    There you go then, There is your answer.
  7. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    For Wii owner's (such as myself) there is Wii Transfer.

    I personally recommend it. :D
  8. GreatDrok macrumors 6502a


    May 1, 2006
    New Zealand
    I am currently running my system like this:

    - Samsung 27" HD LCD for general viewing
    - Ceiling mounted InFocus in76 HD DLP projector for movies and big games (120" screen)
    - Yamaha HDMI upconverting AV amp connected via Component to LCD and HDMI to projector and all sources run through it
    - Mixture of Tannoy and Celestion speakers
    - Denon HDMI upconverting DVD player
    - Pioneer LD/DVD combi player
    - JVC SVHS
    - Series 1 Thomson TiVo upgraded with ethernet and 200GB drive running hacked NZTIVO image
    - NZ Sky TV satellite box
    - Sony PS2
    - Xbox 360 + HD DVD drive
    - Nintendo Wii
    - Belkin Wireless router bridging everything back onto my main network

    Upstairs I have my Mac mini with two external firewire drives attached with one being 400GB and hosting my movie collection. I have a Turbo 264 which I use in addition to Handbrake for conversions of movies and Connect 360 installed for sharing the movies and iTunes to my 360 in the living room.

    Apart from having a nightmare set of remote controls this all works well. The TiVo, SVHS and DVD player can all drive the TV directly as well as through the AV amp so I don't have to have it all on to do the most common stuff and everything can run through the projector. I have contemplated getting an Apple TV for the simple reason that while connect 360 works, the user interface leaves a lot to be desired when you have a lot of shows and movies (pushing 400 at the moment) so it takes a while to find anything. Also, the Xbox 360 is pretty noisy so an ATV might be just the business. I do also have a video iPod and the AV dock but since getting Connect 360 I have stuck to using that on the train to and from work.
  9. danielhayter thread starter macrumors member


    Apr 6, 2007
    Well a few hours of haphazard Ebay bidding later and I have picked up an Airport Express for £33 delivered. No manual, installation CDs or box but that's fine. This will be great as my wireless router and for Airtunes. Unfortunately I will also now have to buy the Wireless adapter for the Xbox 360 if I want that online all the time. I am going to see how things go with the Express and will probably start looking for a Mac Mini in a few months to tie everything together. The G4 would be cheapest and I don't need the speed of the Intel processor, but that remote would be useful...

    Connect 360 looks great for £10 but as the majority of my films or NOT wma and as I already have Airtunes I don't see much of a use for it.

    Does a Mac Mini have outputs for TV and for stereo? To be honest I may consider selling my Xbox 360 to buy the Mac Mini. I am moving in with the girlfriend and don't see myself using it much.
  10. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    You can connect the Mini with one of these HDMI to DVI cables to your TV for video. As for audio you have two options for 2-channel analog audio this 3.5mm Mini to RCA adapter or for digital audio you can use this 3.5mm digital to toslink cable.

    As for were to connect your audio if your TV supports porting video through HDMI with audio going in through another connector then piping the audio to your stereo receiver like many do I would choose this option. Otherwise I would connect video to the tv and audio to the stereo.
  11. sas76 macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2006
    It is great,

    Works perfectly. I have been using it for about 6 months.
    We now listen to alot more music, look at photo's. I am not being rude but it is that easy to use my wife use's it.

    Ripped movies look great, just use the Playstation 3 settings(PS3) in handbrake not the apple TV setting. The sound seems better with the PS3 setting.

    I couldn't recommend it enough.

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