Is the Mac Mini the best Media Center?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by sammyman, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. sammyman macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    #1
    What is the cleanest, semi-affordable, best media center on the market? Does a Mac Mini stand up the competitors? Or, are you guys just using some Microsoft Media Center Machine made from Dell? Are there any advantages in using the mac mini besides its good looks? Or should I just buy a cheaper crappy dell?
     
  2. godslabrat macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2007
    #2
    The Mini is an awesome media center because:
    *The form factor is perfect for TV use
    *Supports DVI out of the box, HDMI with an adapter
    *Includes all of OSX's basic a/v software tools like iPhoto, iDVD right out of the box
    *OSX has a very nice STB-like interface if you use the remote
    *It can act like a STB when you want one, and a computer when you don't.

    The Mini has some limitations:
    *Graphics power underwhealming, might be fixed if Apple doesn't kill the line. Then again, it might not.
    *Gaming support is classic Mac- little to none.
    *1080p video is a challenge for the unit, though 720p is fine.
    *no integrated memory card reader. Apparently, apple is allergic to them.
     
  3. sammyman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    #3
    What limits the 1080p video support? Is it the integrated graphics card, or the processor?
     
  4. QUiKSR20 macrumors member

    QUiKSR20

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Location:
    Neptune, NJ
    #4
    Just wanted to say, With the Media Center PC's there may be more in depth options but I opted for a Mac Mini.

    I only have a 1.6 Core Duo w/2 gigs of ram and it does 1080p fine.
    I really store anything on it. Just use it for living room browsing, Watching DVD's, listening to music via Airfoil etc..

    For that it works fine. Even played a few Apple Trailors in 1080p fine.

    A few things I like as a Media Center is :

    • Its Small
    • Its Quite
    • It has DVI/HDMI ( with adaptor ) output
    • Optical Audio Out ( big + )
    • Built in Remote / iR
     
  5. IroquoisPliskin macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2008
    #5
    The current model Mini is two generations behind in technology and a very poor value.

    Looks are the only thing the mini has going for it right now.
     
  6. fohawk17 macrumors regular

    fohawk17

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    #6
    well the mac mini is mostly for internet and media. not really made for anything else. we use one for the youth ministries at my church and it runs fine. it is use for displaying lyrics such. also used for surfing by the kids
     
  7. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601

    themoonisdown09

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    #7
    I was also thinking about getting a Mac Mini and using it for a media center. My DVD Recorder with a 160GB hard drive just crapped out, so I was looking for another solution. I didn't ever use it for burning DVDs, just scheduling and recording tv shows (I guess I used it like a DVR). I've been looking at the EyeTV Hybrid, but I'm still not sure yet. I'm still a little nervous about trying to use the Mac Mini with my DirecTV satellite and tv.
     
  8. uicandrew macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2006
    #8
    also looking more towards the future, blu-ray isn't supported right now

    you'd have to switch over to xp on bootcamp, but even then, i'm not sure if the processing power is great enough.

    the lack of a built-in tv tuner is also a downer, but it is understandable since apple is in the business of selling tv programs.

    yes, you can get eyetv, but dvr produce wear and tear on a hard drive (if you leave it on all the time like a traditional dvr)
     
  9. robotica macrumors 6502a

    robotica

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Location:
    Edinburgh
    #9
    the thing with the mini is its not just great for a media center -

    In my mind I want a media center PC, but I also want a TM server, file server and maybe download box all in the one machine.

    imo a machine dedicated to only video is a bit of a wasted machine. Sure my great idea involves 2-4 500GB/1TB external drives which take away from the clean look but would be useful. Much more useful than ATV.

    Really hope they decide to give it a new lease of life and dont kill it
     
  10. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #10
    If you want Blu-Ray computer, then go with the Dell. Otherwise, the 2 gHz Mini is a fabulous machine. Here's mine:

    2 gHz Mini with 3 gb RAM
    1080p Sanyo PLV-Z2000 projector (via DVI to HDMI cable)
    Onkyo 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound system (by optical cable)
    Plex home theater software (key to the whole system)

    I play 1080p Blu-Ray rips (VC-1, H.264, MPEG-2 with DTS, DD, True-HD or DTS-HD audio) with no dropped frames. These files are encoded at 30 mbps (or more) and the Mini has no problems whatsoever.

    The Mini is a kick-@$$ computer for home theater media center.
     
  11. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601

    themoonisdown09

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    #11
    I don't want to hijack this thread but, since you have a lot of experience with this, do you have the Mac Mini connected to a satellite receiver? I was wanting to do this, but I wasn't sure it is worth it.
     
  12. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #12
    Nope, I use an Eye TV Hybrid with a roof-top antenna. Used to have DirecTV, but dropped that service two years ago after its compression became too high for good video playback (and I had had DTV since 1996).
     
  13. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #13
    Neither, it's the software. Quicktime has trouble with high bit rate and is limited to certain codecs, but Perian helps on those. VLC is better, but still not great. Plex and XBMC rule when it comes to playback on Mac OS X.
     
  14. fj45 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2008
    #14
    I would like a Mini for a MC box because then I could use it to be the primary sync for my AppleTV. I have one AppleTV and they are good but are limited because they can't be used (easily) for surfing etc. I would like to connect one TV to a mini with iSight, bluetooth keyboard/mouse for web browsing etc and have the rest of my TV's connected to AppleTV's. I use Sapphire on the AppleTV and I love it.
     
  15. Optimouse^^ macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    #15
    On its website, EyeTV lists DirectTV, DISH and VOOM as compatible with its products.

    Did you drop DTV it b/c you couldn't replay the recorded video, or b/c DTV didn't work with your EyeTV for normal viewing/surfing? Ultimately, I'm thinking about the same thing as themoonisdown09: I'd like EyeTV and a Mini to be the basis of my video Media Center.

    Your knowledge and feedback are always appreciated Cave Man!

    OM^^

     
  16. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #16
    I dropped DTV when I got the Apple TV. I bought the Eye TV Hybrid about 2 months after I cut the satellite cable. I cannot comment on its performance with S-TV.
     
  17. glj100 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2008
    #17
    Im looking at this also. Either an Apple tv or a Mac mini.

    Very 50/50 at the moment. Am a bit concerned about the Video though, if it is good enough!

    Any help from anyone else ?
     
  18. motoxpress macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2006
    #18
    The Mini is really an excellent little system for HTPC in a mac environment and for Windows as well. With Bootcamp, you *can* run Vista Media Center and have the benefit of well-designed h/w.

    -mx
     
  19. DubOverdose macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2007
    #19
    I just picked up a mini this afternoon for a media center. Works better than I expected! Even Hulu video looks good.
     
  20. fohawk17 macrumors regular

    fohawk17

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    #20
    and we all know the quality of the hulu vids........:mad:
     
  21. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601

    themoonisdown09

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    #21
    What is your set up? Are you also using it for watching TV or just streaming videos?
     
  22. Adamo macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    #22
    I'd prefer the performance to be better, but to be honest I've not tried it as a media centre much - there are dedicated programmes for the Mini for acting as one, aren't there? Recommend, please! I want to give one a go, especially so if I can use my FrontRow remote with it.
     
  23. motoxpress macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2006
    #23
    My only real complaint for the MacMini for HT duties is the video performance. If we could get the new Macbook chipset and video in this mini we would be set with a capitol M!

    -mx
     
  24. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #24
    What video problems are you having?
     
  25. QUiKSR20 macrumors member

    QUiKSR20

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Location:
    Neptune, NJ
    #25
    Yeah what issues are you having? I can play 1080p flawless?
     

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