I think I made a huge mistake. Mini HTPC

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by enigma2118, Oct 26, 2014.

  1. enigma2118 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2006
    #1
    If there are any Mac Mini HTPC owners out there, I'd love to hear from you and what you've learned, any suggestions. I'm a bit bummed right now with my Mini HTPC.

    I recently sold my jailbroken Apple TV because I decided to use my Mac Mini as a HTPC (just wasn’t using it as a computer, use my laptop all the time). That and the Apple TV was starting to show it’s age, had a hard time streaming some files, could never stream any HD streams off of Icefilms. Certain types of files on the local HD (plugged into the router) would always quit. If the file had any type of error in it, it would quit. Video and audio would often un-synch. Random re-booting.

    Still, it was a wonderful little box.

    But I thought to myself, “Well, if I’m going to sell one or the other, sell the ATV. People pay a good $200 for them, or more. It’s getting old and slow. The Mini is way more powerful. Can handle any type of local file. What could go wrong?”

    And then I discovered. There just isn’t a user friendly way to control the mini. The benefit of the ATV was that the OS was just for watching TV and the few apps on it. Streamlined. I had figured that with a full computer, there must be tons of choices on how to play Netflix and Hulu and HBO and NHL and Amazon in the same friendly way as the ATV.

    Nope.

    And I was disheartened. Knowing that my wife was going to hate having to learn a whole new way to watch TV. What a bummer.

    I started looking for solutions. Sure, XBMC is the same as on the ATV. And Plex is great for the add-ons it has, and for local files. But nothing was there for the usual suspects, Netflix and Hulu and HBO and NHL and Amazon.

    How about Fluid? Makes apps out of webpages. Nope, it just basically bookmarks a webpage.

    Nobody has made desktop versions of these apps? Grrr. Plex doesn’t have any add ons for these. Neither does XBMC. Grrrr. I even started hoping I could find an emulator to run either iOS or the Apple TV iOS on the Mini. That would have been awesome, but nnnnnnope.

    So when I came to accept that my easy user interface was gone, and I’m handcuffed to the web pages instead, I tried to find a way to at least navigate the Mini. And there were a few options, but kinda clunky. And I have a bluetooth keyboard and trackpad. Seems like overkill and a bit of a big “remote”.

    The one gem I found was Apptui. This makes the whole thing seem like it may be possible. I would still love to see a desktop versions of pretty much everything on the Apple TV, or an iOS ATVOS emulator for the Mac. However, until then, I’m happy to have found Apptui.

    Still finding other issues. As I'm watching Hulu right now, the video seems a bit jumpy. Not quite smooth. I would love to hear your experiences and suggestions.
     
  2. macUser2007 macrumors 65832

    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    #2
    I still have a HTPC, but barely use it anymore, precisely because of the issues you describe.

    They work, except when they don't. Generally you can fix them easily, but your significant other cannot. So at the end they all fail as appliances.

    I now use ATV 3s. I also have Roku and Chromecast, but Roku is butt-ugly and Chromecast requires a mobile device, plus it doesn't respond to universal remote playback commands.

    I ordered a Nexus Player (Google Player), which has apps. Will be here next month, so we'll know how it compares to ATV.
     
  3. orestes1984 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2005
    Location:
    Australia
    #3
    Just get an Apple TV3 and if you need the other stuff, just install Plex Connect.
     
  4. tentales macrumors 6502a

    tentales

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    #4
    You made 3 mistakes. Not to rub it in or anything ;)

    1) You sold your ATV2 too soon! Coz u wanted the 2x return on $$
    2) You didn't test your "entertainment replacement device" before the sale
    3) You didn't consider the WAF ! <-- that should actually be #1 :)

    Seeing you pocketed $200 for your "old" ATV2, spend $75 of that on the newer ATV3 refurbished just as good as new:
    http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/appletv

    I use my MacMini (2012 quad-i7) to handbrake and serve my "home videos" to my ATV3s around the house. hardwired thru router to avoid lag and wifi issues.
     
  5. steve-p macrumors 68000

    steve-p

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    Newbury, UK
    #5
    Shame Apple discontinued Front Row as that would probably have made it usable.
     
  6. westrock2000 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2013
    #6
    I found out by accident that my 2012 Mini could be controlled by the IR remote that comes with the Apple TV. You can buy them $20 from Apple.
     
  7. foobarbazqux macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    #7
    That's a big reason I don't bother with HTPCs (windows or macs) anymore and switched to Apple TV 3s. That and it's hard to justify spending at least several hundred dollars and a bunch of time on a computer when a $100 device can do most of the same stuff.
     
  8. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    #8
    I dabbled with XBMC and Plex for a while, but in the end I wanted to stop hacking and watch content instead. I use multiple Apple TVs and iTunes. Once the canonical Apple TV file format was identified and tools were created to use it, I converted my files to match.

    It is not perfect, but being able to wake up the Mac in the office with my Apple TV, watch a movie, and have everything go back to sleep when I am done always puts a smile on my face.

    A.
     
  9. StinDaWg macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    #9
    I feel the opposite. After having a HTPC I could never live with just an apple tv type box only. You can do whatever you want with a HTPC, there are no restrictions. Play anything you want, get better video quality with madVR, game, record OTA/cable, use a real web browser. You can build one easily for $200, $300 if you want a decent dedicated gpu.

    I totally get the WAF factor though, but as a single user who is a tech nerd nothing beats a HTPC.

    I use this as a remote, love it.
    [​IMG]

    When I just want to watch a video or channel surf, I use this.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. ratsg macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    #10
    Not sure what a HTPC is, but I purchased an Apple Mini + an EyeTV bundle for DVR use, and it has pretty much been awesome.
     
  11. VideoBeagle macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2010
    Location:
    App Q&A testing by request.
    #11
    Home theater PC


    ---------------------------

    Check out Kylo Browser
    http://kylo.tv/

    I used it a few years ago, pre-ATV on a Windows machine I set up as a HTPC.
    It shows a mac version now.

    It was designed as a browser to be used on a computer connected on a TV, with big buttons for the different things, like Netflix and youtube.

    It WAS aimed to promote the companies remote mouse thing...but apparently (according to the web site) they gave up on that and turned the browser over to the Open Source community.

    NOT SURE it'll do what you want (and it was years ago I used it, ) but might be worth a try.
     
  12. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #12
  13. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #13
    I have that same remote. That little circle thing in the center is an optical sensor, similar to that on older blackberries. You swipe your finger across it in any direction to move the mouse. It works fairly well, though it's certainly not quick. It also has a touch-sensor scroller below it, where you swipe the finger up and down along the dotted lines to scroll up and down. That part works very well.
     
  14. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #14
    Is there some reason why you can't say what brand/model it is? :)
     
  15. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #15
    Sorry, missed that question. It's the Lenovo Multimedia Remote. They have a few versions. The first version was shiney black, and had a little trackpad instead of the optical sensor, and it did not work very well. The grey/silver ones are newer. Some are backlit, some are not. This is the one I have, which you can find for as low as $30 sometimes on sale: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0..._m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=06FSH88ZNDGH72JRGACK
     
  16. jwhazel macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    #16
    1.) Install Windows 8 on your mini. This is one of the only uses I've found for win 8 and it works really really well. The metro desktop and apps makes for one of the best 10' interfaces I've used. Native netflix/hulu apps. Very nice metro plex client. Everything buttery smooth. Wife approved (at least in my house).

    2.) Amazon Fire TV. It still needs a bit of work, but I'm pretty happy with mine. Smooth and easy to navigate interface. Native netflix/hulu/plex/amazon apps. Voice search works amazingly well. No need to "hack" to side load apps. Can load up a web browser and attach a keyboard/trackpad and use for web content/video.
     
  17. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #17
    Thanks!
     
  18. StinDaWg macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    #18
    You can increase the speed of the cursor in Windows drivers.
     
  19. rihia macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2014
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    #19
    look into the logitech dinovo mini... it has been a great form of control for my htpc for the past 4 years! everyone that sees it is just in awe at the design. never had to use a standard keyboard or mouse since using it. battery life is awesome too.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. StinDaWg macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    #20
    Lenovo Multimedia Remote is better and it's half the price.
     
  21. rihia macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2014
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    #21
    imo the dinovo looks way better and has backlit keyboard... has a flip cover, in case you lean on it, won't press buttons by accident. in what way is the lenovo better? i got the dinovo from a local supplier for $109, not that expensive
     
  22. StinDaWg macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    #22
    I've used both, and I got the Lenovo for $25. I like the optical thumbpad on the Lenovo over the Mini's diskpad. It's easier to use, and the device itself is more comfortable to use for extended periods of time because of the way you hold it (right hand on bottom part, left on left side). The scrollbar under the thumbpad is extremely convenient. It is backlit too just like the Mini. The flip cover on the Mini is annoying and just gets in the way IMO.

    I'll give you that the Mini looks cooler, but form over function is more important to me.
     
  23. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #23
    The Mini makes a fine HTPC if you are willing to put some effort into what you are trying to accomplish. Both XBMC and PLEX offer up some very good features on their own for playback of files, plus you can use iTunes as well. As for me, I tend to find that my other equipment handle Netflix, Amazon and a host of other services quite well so everything fits together nicely.

    My TV, Blue Ray Player and TiVo all can handle Internet streaming services. The Mini works best to serve up your own movie media files (XBMC or PLEX) and iTunes for iTunes purchases and rental movies.

    Sometimes its not about a single box doing everything but the combination of devices that work together creating the entertainment system.
     

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