Lowest Specs for Hulu Desktop Play

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by ingenious, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. ingenious macrumors 68000

    ingenious

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    #1
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_1_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/528.18 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile/7D11 Safari/528.16)

    I'm looking to build a home theatre system probably based around a PowerMac G4 or G5 (I need the expandability but not the power or price of a Mac Pro, obviously)



    Currently I'm looking at some dual 1 or 1.25 GHz PowerMac G4s. I know occasionally my iMac G5 stutters with Flash-based content... Would those machines be able to handle it?



    I'm planning on upgrading them to Leopard and installing more RAM and better graphics, etc.



    If not, what's the lowest acceptable Mac? A PowerMac G5?
     
  2. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    #2
    If this is simply for a home theater setup, why not go with an iMac mini?

    I can't imagine you would need to upgrade various cards and whatnot for something that will just need to produce an HD signal and play music.

    AppleTV certainly fits the bill too.

    I guess I find it odd that you seem to want to buy something that allows expandability, but you would be limiting yourself by processing power by going with a G4 or G5.

    Can you share what cards you feel you would need that would require you to have an expandable tower for this setup? Maybe I am not understanding your desires and needs? It seems like you just want a media PC.

    If you want more than AppleTV AND you want to save money...get the maxed-out iMac mini.
     
  3. ingenious thread starter macrumors 68000

    ingenious

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    #3
    I chose not to go the :apple:tv route because I'm setting this up for my parents house- and they don't have a widescreen or HDTV.

    A Mac mini is still a good option, but, from my estimates, will be significantly more costly. I think I can set up a PowerMac G4 rig for around US$100.

    Card-wise? Perhaps a TV tuner. I know USB-based TV tuners exist, but I'd rather not spend US$700 on a Mac mini in the first place...
     
  4. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    #4
    Especially if this is for your parents, I think the AppleTV route would be the best. It's the most user-friendly and doesn't rely on legacy technology (some may argue this point ;) it's not a G4 or G5 at least).

    It can run on a standard TV without composite inputs and without a widescreen.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlhIexkjfuk

    ...as an example

    If this is going into their TV...why the need for a TV tuner? Are you thinking about adding a DVR? I know many parents have always been flumoxxed by the fact that VCRs actually had seperate tuners in them. So having to watch this computer on channel 3 (?) or on AUX input and then switching channels within the computer rather than just picking up the remote for the TV is going to be an issue with them I would imagine. You certainly won't be able to design a system based on a standard mac that uses a remote control to do all this functionality...while AppleTV certainly will...AND you can add it to universal remote. My Logitech controls all my systems, including my AppleTV. One remote, very easy.

    Pricewise, I guess I can't beat your $100 price point unless you get a used one on eBay...but you are also making a very complicated system for them to just watch stuff on TV.


    Remember your audience and make it as simple as possible.
    Otherwise, everytime you go home you will be frustrated because they aren't using the system to its full potential. :confused:
     
  5. ingenious thread starter macrumors 68000

    ingenious

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    #5
    Checking that video out right now... I knew it could be used with an SDTV, but I thought it required a widescreen picture. Interesting. I was choosing to go the Mac route as opposed to the :apple:tv route because of this limitation, along with the fact they'll want DVR capabilities and Hulu & Netflix streaming keeps breaking on :apple:tv, or so I've read.

    edit: That's awesome that he was able to do that! It also opens up another option for me... possibly getting an :apple:tv and then setting up another box to do DVR'ing and iTunes converting.

    They've had satellite for years, so they're very used to the concept. My parents (father, especially) aren't obscenely tech-savvy, but they have the capacity and willingness to learn. They do very well with concepts like networking, IP addresses, Dish satellite receivers that control two TVs, etc.

    Basically, with the help of a TV tuner, I'll be running everything through the Mac. They'll be able to watch Live TV if they want (through the EyeTV app), record it, if the want, watch their recorded iTunes movies and TV shows, and stream Hulu and Netflix. The Mira app from TwistedMelon, along with EyeTV, Hulu, and Netflix plugins for Front Row will allow them to never touch the keyboard for this machine, save perhaps some DVR set-up, but I'm not going to introduce that from the outset.

    The way I'm going to introduce it to them, it will actually be a simpler set-up than what they have now. Instead of three or four set-top boxes (DVD player, satellite receiver, ancient just-in-case VCR, and a possible Roku box), they'll have one that is their DVR, DVD player, iTunes player, Home media server, and Hulu/Netflix streaming box, all neatly done within one machine.

    What makes you think I won't be able to use a remote control? Maybe I'm not following... Let me know if that's the case! :D But the way I figure it, even an older Apple Remote (with the help of the Manta TR1 IR receiver and those aforementioned plugins) will definitely be up to every task except turning on the TV, a problem for another day.


    While I agree the :apple:tv would be simpler straight out-of-the-box, I don't think this system will be that complex once I set it up. I use a similar system at my place, and it's drop-dead simple. Front Row controls everything, and I control Front Row with my Remote. No fuss.



    Now, back to the original question:

    Will a dual 1.0-1.42 GHz PowerMac G4 be able to handle Flash to play Hulu?

    Does Netflix Watch Instantly support Silverlight 1.0?

    Thanks for your input and help- I really appreciate it and all the suggestions you've offered! I don't want to get halfway through this and realize I was wrong! :)
     
  6. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    Correct me if I am wrong, but the Apple Remote didn't debut until the one piece 'floating screen' iMacs showed up or with the current batch of macBooks and iMac minis.

    I do not believe any G4/G5 towers can utilize the Apple remote if they wanted to as there is no IR detector. And even so the Apple Remote wouldn't be able to control these add-on programs...just Front Row.

    That may be your deal breaker right there. They would have to use the keyboard/mouse to navigate through things. Not so hot...


    EDIT: Just saw that Mantra remote. I guess that would work.

    AGAIN...a lot of hoops to jump through. This sounds like a Frankenstein project.

    How about a used Mini for 100 bucks to at least eliminate the external IR detector? I'm sure you could find one.
     
  7. ingenious thread starter macrumors 68000

    ingenious

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    #7
    Look at my previous post where I talk about the Manta TR-1 IR receiver and TwistedMelon's Mira app. They work great with Macs that don't have built-in IR receivers, including my iMac G5, and plastic unibody MacBooks.
     
  8. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    #8
    yes saw that...edited my previous post. ;)
     
  9. ingenious thread starter macrumors 68000

    ingenious

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    #9
    Hoops to jump through for me, maybe, but the final product won't be complex. But, to each his own :)


    A $100 mini would be a killer find. So far, I haven't found even a Core Solo that's going for under $200.

    I just found out that Netflix Watch Instantly didn't support Silverlight 1.x, only 2.x and up, so that kind of knocks out my hopes for a PPC-based set-up, unless someone discovers that Netflix really will play with an older version of Silverlight, or it works with Mono Project's Moonlight.
     
  10. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    #10
    I guess, especially with cobbling things together on a used PC/shoestring budget, I still don't see why you are limiting yourself to a G4 or G5 tower?

    You can probably grab an Intel Mini for 100 bucks on eBay. Much lower/smaller profile...already works with Remote...get a USB dongle for TV (you were already going to have to have an external piece for your solution anyway with the Mantra receiver)....plus has a much faster processor.

    ...or get AppleTV ;)
     
  11. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    I'd sell you my old PPC Mini for $75. Seriously, if you want it.

    Of course...based on your last post...you are likely looking for something non PPC now?

    I think you will find more 'this won't work with that processor' as you go along too.

    100 or so bucks for a used ATV looking better now? ;)
     
  12. ingenious thread starter macrumors 68000

    ingenious

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    #12
    Not because i'm an PPC-afficionado, that's for sure, but you hit the nail on the head when you said "shoestring budget" ... I'd much prefer an Intel-based set-up, but so far it's out of my current price range.

    I haven't seen one, but if you've found one, please do point me in the right direction. I'd be making a seller happy fairly soon... The mini really is the best option, even with the external USB dongle (as you said, the PMG4 would've had it, too, although fairly easy to hide).

    An :apple:tv would be nice, and the easiest to set-up, but I really want to offer DVR capabilities somehow...

    I guess I didn't explain this before, but they're looking to drop their satellite subscription and do everything online, so they're actually (supposedly) ready to handle this.
     
  13. ingenious thread starter macrumors 68000

    ingenious

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    #13
    I'd jump on that offer, but Netflix apparently doesn't stream to any Silverlight versions below 2.x, and PPC was kicked out after 1.x. If I found out Watch Instantly actually does work with PPC, something like that would be perfect.

    Out of curiosity, how well does your PPC mini run Hulu Desktop?

    :apple:tv is perfect if DVR capabilities can be figured out another way... Have you ever used MythTV? I hear some use it to DVR.
     
  14. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    We dropped satellite a few months ago and are just an AppleTV and OTA HDTV family now.

    Don't use a DVR now but did with DTV,we now just subscribe to the shows we want on iTunes for considerably less than it was for DirecTV service.

    We were paying $80 a month for Standard def DTV and now we have purchase season passes for 5 shows at 30 or so a pop...meaning we spent $150 bucks one time for shows for the next 6-8 months. In the same timeframe...DTV have set us back nearly $700!

    Add to this some beautiful HD rentals and 99cent movies of the week to rent and AppleTV is perfect for our family. We don't really miss the DVR aspect all that much and your parents won't either once they subscribe to their favorite shows.

    It's worth investigating.
     
  15. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    #15
    Never ran Hulu desktop on the Mini. I think I have only used the website and I seem to recall it was OK (haven't used that Mini in probably 6-8 months). Hulu worked well on the AppleTV though when I used Boxee. Although I migrated off that when the 3.0 ATV update came out.

    And we are probably overlapping comments here...but as you may have read DVR is something we don't do and don't miss right now. I did think about adding a DVR to my imac, but haven't got around to it. Again...meh for us. ;)
     
  16. ingenious thread starter macrumors 68000

    ingenious

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    #16
    So do you stick with 100% iTunes?
     
  17. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    To expound upon the DVR thing rather than going back in to edit a post...:)



    I thought about getting a dongle for my current Intel Mini and do a DVR thing there and allow the files to be sent to iTunes so I could stream them to my AppleTV. We have pretty good HD reception and this would be reasonable. Just haven't seen a solution that sparked my interest yet.

    And again, we subscribe to all the shows we want to...or watch them live...OR pick and choose individual episode (like some of the History Channel or TLC offerings on iTunes. )
     
  18. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    #18
    Yes, bolstered with my encoded DVD collection..and what we can see OTA.

    So, another thing to consider is to rip all of your parents DVDs into iTunes so they can access them on ATV/HTPC.
     

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