How to complete my simple home media setup?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by rchappers, May 7, 2012.

  1. rchappers macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2012
    Hi - I've been lurking for a while and finally registered. I've been trawling the forums trying to work out how best to complete my home media setup with a Mac purchase.

    Current situation
    >Laptop - 2009 C2D running windows vista (this thing is falling apart!)
    >Western Digital MyBookWorld ("MBW") II running TwonkyServer 5.0 hooked up to my ISP supplied router
    >Aiport express hooked up to speakers in the lounge
    >PS3 connected to the TV in the lounge.
    >JUST PURCHASED - iPad 3 16GB Wifi

    Current uses
    >Stream TV and films held on the MBW from the Laptop to the Ps3 using an on the fly converting media server.
    >Stream music from the MBW to the airport express via the laptop using itunes.
    >Complete small amounts of work using office on the windows laptop.

    Now I've just bought the iPad and I love it. However there's a couple of things bugging me with my current system which I hope to resolve:

    -I want to use the iPad to stream music from the MBW to the airport express. I can do this using the buzz player app, however the interface is a bit clunky and the connection isn't great (Side note: in order to connect buzz player to the MBW I have to first connect via 'AFP' then via 'UPnP' which is slow - with my laptop's media server I only connect to UPnP and it's quick - any idea why this is?).
    -Syncing OTA is great! However, I need to have my laptop on, which is annoying as if i want to sync overnight the laptop is on all night.

    Now I've come up with a couple of options:

    Option 1 - Mac Mini

    I could purchase a Mac Mini - connect it to the router (and hence the MBW) and run iTunes on the mini. This would solve the syncing and the 'Laptop on to use iTunes remote' problems.

    As I understand the Mac Mini can sleep using minimal power and then be woken using a remote. Can the iPad do this? Can the Mini wake to sync?

    Which mini would I need for these purposes? Would it have to run Lion? Or could I get a cheap, older model, say a 2010 C2D? Older? (In this case I may be able to justify a mini purely media purposes and sort out a laptop separately when the Windows machine finally dies)

    I would, potentially, also have the option of using a bluetooth keyboard and mouse with the iPad and Airdisplay app to complete the small amounts of work I have to do using office on the mini. However I understand this isn't an enjoyable way to work!.

    Option 2 - MBA/MBP

    I am wondering if I can achieve all of the above with an MBA/MBP.

    Can I connect it to the router (using an adapter if no ethernet port), on a stand with power plugged in (so it's running directly off AC rather than charging/draining the battery). And have it operate in the same way as the mini above? (with sleep/wake when i need it?)

    Is having it constantly connected going to kill the Macbook quickly? Can I have a similar sleep to wake function as I would have with the Mini?

    The bonus of this is that I have a nice sturdy Macbook to complete my work on - and this is transportable is necessary (unlike the Mini +Ipad combo).

    Sorry for the length of the post! All ideas appreciated!
  2. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
  3. rchappers thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2012
    Well as cheap as possible really! Less than £1,000 unless there's a really good reason why I should exceed it. I am entitled to the UK Higher Education discount

    So I figure it's going to be either a Mini <£650 with a RAM upgrade

    Or a base 13" MBP/MBA £850-£1,000

    Or an older mini from ebay + base MBP/MBA which may just exceed £1,000 but I wouldn't need to buy both at the same time.
  4. estrides macrumors regular


    Apr 8, 2012
    New York
    Id say any Intel C2D Mini would do just fine. The RAM and HDD upgrade(if necessary) would also benefit you. You also don't need Lion, Snow Leopard works just fine!

    If you're going to do light office work. The ipad+bluetooth combo really isn't that bad. especially if you use it in conjunction with Google Documents.

    Hope this helps.
  5. rchappers thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2012
    Thanks for the tips.

    I have been thinking long and hard about this for the last couple of weeks. Watching some ebay auctions and stuff.

    The first C2D was Aug '07 - but to get one of these with a Keyboard and MM would be ~£400 from what I can see. Looking at the 2Ghz processor and 1GB RAM upgradeable to 3GB

    I can buy a new i5 with a new keyboard and MM for ~£580 with applecare under the UK HE contract.

    Seems like a no brainer to to go for the new one!

    If I went any older than this would the mini be too slow to use as a server? And to sync an iPad/iPhone wirelessly. (I suppose it depends on whether Snow leopard can run on a core duo/G4)?

    Two questions:

    >If I also purchase an ATV3 will I be able to stream stuff from the mini to the tv using plex? Or will I have to go through the iPad? Of course I could continue to use the PS3 to stream stuff but this needs to be controlled by the PS3. Or I could run an ethernet cable round to the TV and play using HDMI.

    >Are there any 3rd party integrated keyboard/trackpads available for the mac mini. Ideally with an integrated dock for the ipad. my understanding would be that This would feel like using a laptop with the airdisplay app? The keyboard and trackpad would control the mini with the display on the iPad?
  6. rchappers thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2012
    Can anyone answer the 2 Q's above?

    Can I stream plex from MM to an atv3?

    Is there an integrated touchpad-keyboard available to control the mac mini when using an iPad?

    Also what is the oldest MM that I can go with to use a media server with iTunes wifi sync. Would it be the aug 07? Could I go older?

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