Mac Mini, APTV or stick with the PS3??

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by iMerlin, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. iMerlin macrumors 6502a

    iMerlin

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #1
    Hello all,

    I currently have a PS3 hooked up to my Denon AVR with HDMI. I can stream 1080p Movies, music and photos to my PS3 from the iMac using PS3 Media Server very nicely. But here is where it falls short...
    My iMac controls 4 airtunes speakers. So if Im having a party I like having all the speakers in the house playing the same music controlled by the iMac (and Remote on my iPhone). One of those airtunes is also connected to the Denon on a separate input. So when Im streaming music to my Home Theater via airtunes, I have no video to watch. When I stream via PS3 Media Server I can do music and pictures, but then all the other speakers in the house are playing something different.

    What I would like to be able to do is have my PS3 as an airtunes speaker but I know thats not possible. If I could do this I would then be able to stream a slideshow to the PS3 while having the SAME music throughout the house.

    So I started thinking about adding an APTV which could be an airtunes speaker. The problem this brings along is that Ive already spent a fair amount of time encoding movies at 1080p and APTV doesnt play nice with anything other than 720p, correct? So I started thinking about a Mac Mini but similar problems... A Mini cant be an airtunes speaker, although I could use Airfoil for that but then lose the ability to change speakers with Remote.

    So how does everyone handle something like this?

    Oh and Ive tried changing the audio input on the Denon to the airtunes input (Optical 1) with leaving the video on the PS3, but since the PS3 is hooked up with HDMI, it wont allow me to change the audio source to anything other than that HDMI.
    Hope this all makes sense.
     
  2. wysinawyg macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2009
    #2
    If you go the Mac Mini route you could always run a duplicate iTunes library on it and use that rather than the iMac. That way it is the "Computer" output for Airtunes and you keep full remote flexibility (what I'm doing although not for the purposes of having a slideshow but just so I can have an always on Airtunes music source).

    If its just for parties though and you're otherwise happy I'd be tempted to just run the Airtunes via optical and swap HDMI cables when having a party!

    EDIT: Actually not even much swapping if you buy a F/F coupler, just unhook both HDMI leads from the back of the amp and stick them into a couopler then back again post party.
     
  3. cawesjmu macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2004
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    #3
    I'm not sure if you can have the HDMI cable AND the analog cable hooked up, so when you're just using the PS3 for movies/games you could use the HDMI and then for parties change the PS3 settings to analog, and change your audio source on the AVR. That way you get video from the PS3 and maybe it wouldn't force you to use the audio from the PS3.

    I think the PS3 analog cable is about 20 bucks, which would be cheaper than getting an ATV or Mac Mini.
     
  4. iMerlin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMerlin

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #4
    Im actually the same as you. I always have music on, even if not for parties. I work from home sometimes and Ill be all over the house, so I have music going on every speaker in the house.

    I like the mini idea running a copy of the library, but then I wouldnt be able to get my iMac playing the same thing. :D I know, its stupid but my basement is kinda like a big loft. On one end of the basement is my office and my home theater is on the other end. Most night Im messing around on the iMac but I like having music all over the basement. Its kinda like I want to use the Mini as an APTV, it would be cool if someone could create an emulator that you can fire up on the Mini to make it act like an APTV!

    Oh, and how do you keep a duplicate copy of iTunes? I have a MBP and my iMac and Im having a hell of a time keeping the library in sync.

    You lost me a little on the f/f coupler... Ill have to look into that further.

    You are right in thinking you cant do it. HDMI killed this feature for me. I used to be able to have video from one source and audio from another but then HDMI combined it all into one cable so now I cant do it unless I use analog cables. But at that point Im defeating the purpose of having video cause it wont be HD... Id rather have no video than analog! :eek:
     
  5. wysinawyg macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2009
    #5
    For the f/f coupler I just mean:

    http://www.google.com/products?q=f/...esult_group&ct=title&resnum=3&ved=0CCQQrQQwAg

    Assuming your HDMI cables aren't too long it just seems easier to use one of these. Rather than take the PS3 HDMI out of the amp and put it into the TV you take the TV HDMI and the PS3 HDMI out of the amp and link them together. Should be less faffing.

    Synch is more of an issue. I'd read someone on here saying glowing things about Tune[s?]Ranger but then found lots of people saying less good things about it. For parties though less of an issue and just dumping your iTunes folders onto it manually overnight shouldn't be too much of a hassle.

    If you were wanting to shell out for the MacMini you could always install Airfoil on it as well. That way when you're playing with the iMac you can Airfoil the Mini but if you're having a party just run the Mini as the main Mac.

    Also thinking on it if you're using Airfoil can't you just set iTunes as the program that Airfoil is distributing and then Remote iTunes anyway? You'd lose individual speaker control but if you're just wanting everything in sunch shouldn't be an issue.
     
  6. iMerlin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMerlin

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #6
    Good point about airfoil, at that point I really dont need individual speaker control. Im liking the idea of the Mini more and more. I love the PLEX interface so if I got the mini I would probable load up iTunes and PLEX for my HD rips. HMMMM...

    Another question about APTV though... I know it can act as an airtunes but can it distribute to other airtunes? In other words, could the APTV be my main iTunes? I dont think so but I thought I would ask anyway.
     
  7. wysinawyg macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2009
    #7
    My understanding is that the last update (or maybe one before that) brought in the functionality for ATV to distribute to other Airtunes so assuming you can keep what you want to play within the 160gb (or hack the ATV) it could run the show.

    My main reason for going the MacMini route is that I want to get all my DVDs into iTunes and I've otherwise only got a MacBook (well and three or four PCs but they don't count...). So it made sense to me to go MacMini with storage hung off it first and then look at the ATV when I come to putting video into other rooms later.
     
  8. iMerlin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMerlin

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #8
    Thanks for the replies! The price of the APTV definitely makes it more appealing. But I went to the Apple store the other day and figured out how to get one of the iMacs to control the APTV but couldnt go in the reverse direction, which makes sense since the iMac isnt an airtunes device. So I would have to test that at home.

    I need to do more reading about hacking the APTV. I really dont like being resolution limited which might be my reason for going with the Mini. Or get the APTV for music and slideshows and continue to use the PS3 for bluray rips... Ohhhh, I think Im onto something!
     
  9. srexy macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    #9
    Just get the Mini and use it for your music server. You can have it playing iTunes locally and to all of your airtunes speakers. You can either use Plex to control it or your iPhone/iTouch.
     
  10. bilby91 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2010
    #10
    If you need help hacking your APTV just ask me . . .
     
  11. iMerlin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMerlin

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #11
    Yeah, its looking more and more like the Mini will get the vote!

    I havent totally looked into the hack yet. What kind of functionality does it give me that I wouldnt get otherwise???
     
  12. srexy macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    #12
    I've got both the :apple:tv and the mini. I ended up buying the mini because the :apple:tv just wasn't cutting it.

    You might be able to get your Atv to play HD content at some point using the latest Broadcom card but the hassle factor is definitely there vs the Mini where you just hook it up, load up Plex and then point Plex to your media.

    Yes Plex does have a bit of a learning curve but it's nothing compared to the amount of hacking you'll have to do to get your Atv to do 1/2 the things your Mini will.

    On top of that - with the addition of a Mini on your network it opens up a huge potential for an always on media server - the Atv will never be able to do that.
     
  13. iMerlin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMerlin

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #13

    Excellent point about the mini there! I personally LOVE PLEX. Its a bit clunky at first but once you get used to it its smooth as silk. I would love to fire that up on the 50".

    It would be awesome to have a Mini running on the Home Theater and have it pulling media from my Network Storage devices that are hanging off my iMac.

    Here is a Mini question then. How do you connect it to the system? Im assuming you would do miniDP to HDMI but that doesnt provide sound, does it? I would need to run an optical also, right? If the Mini had HDMI I would be at the Apple store buying it now.

    Arent you losing LPCM (or any HD audio format) by using Optical instead of HDMI??
     
  14. ReggaeFire macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2003
    #14
    You can get adapters that are USB/mdp->HDMI, so the sound goes through usb port into the HDMI. They're about $35, but they do the trick. I don't know if it passes LPCM through the USB or not.
     
  15. srexy macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    #15
    I tried using the Mini DP -> HDMI adapter but couldn't get it to work for some reason. Can't remember if it was an off-brand but it was shortly after Apple intro'd the Mini DP and there weren't that many on offer. Rather than spend the coin at the Apple store I just bought a mini DVI -> HDMI connector from Monoprice (at the same time as my mini-toslink -> toslink cable)

    Right now I have the Mini DVI -> HDMI cable plugged into a Monoprice HDMI switcher feeding into a commercial Panny 50" panel (no speakers) and the toslink into a Panasonic amp. I had already integrated a Harmony remote into my HD setup so it wasn't that hard to add Plex into the list of key commands. I've also used a couple of guides from plexapp.com to configure some soft-keys for my frequently used Plex stuff.

    We've ditched HBO and Showtime in favor of Vuze (running 24/7 on the Mini - cough) and my wife loves it.

    PS - thanks for all of your work on the Better touch stuff. Just got my MM yesterday and loving it!!
     
  16. iMerlin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMerlin

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #16
    Thanks for the replies! The price of the APTV definitely makes it more appealing. But I went to the Apple store the other day and figured out how to get one of the iMacs to control the APTV but couldnt go in the reverse direction, which makes sense since the iMac isnt an airtunes device. So I would have to test that at home.

    I need to do more reading about hacking the APTV. I really dont like being resolution limited which might be my reason for going with the Mini. Or get the APTV for music and slideshows and continue to use the PS3 for bluray rips... Ohhhh, I think Im onto something!


    EXCELLENT INFO!! Thanks srexy!

    No problem! I like getting the word out there about BTT, its a great utility. I just got back from the Apple store and picked up another MM for my MBP. I love it!

    I also talked to the guy there who was pushing me more towards APTV, but he was approaching it from a cost standpoint. He actually let me know he has it hacked and LOVES IT.

    But you bring up the Mini with Plex running and I keep thinking about that. Not to mention I dont know what this Vuze is you speak of. Google here I come!

    Edit: I forgot to mention to you the Touchpad mode on the Magic Mouse srexy. Make sure you check it out, it turns the surface on the MM into a touchpad! So you can sit on the couch and control PLEX the the MM in hand instead of on a table or something!

    Hey, by the way, thanks for all the opinions!!
     
  17. iMerlin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMerlin

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #17
    I must be an idiot. I was playing with my setup tonight and figured out how to split the audio into my Denon. I just had to poke around in the setup menus more.
    So now I can have a slide show streaming from the iMac to the PS3 and still have the iMac iTunes controlling the music.

    Even though I got this working, Im still considering APTV or the Mini. Bluray playback with the PS3 media server has been inconsistent. One night no stutter, the next night stutter.
     
  18. iMerlin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMerlin

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #18
    Im revisiting my own thread now... LOL. I got a nice bonus at work today and was thinking about the Mini again. But now Im seeing rumors of HDMI in the next Mini so Im debating on waiting for HDMI. Even though I think the optical and MiniDP-HDMI would work just fine for my needs.

    Anyone who has the Mini as an HTPC... how do you control it? I know srexy has the harmony, Im going to look into adding that those keys to my Pronto and see what happens. I should be able to test on my iMac.
     
  19. Maks macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2009
    #19
    I picked up a used 160gb ATV a few weeks ago just to play around with. Installed boxee/xbmc on it and was enjoying playing local files, but was really bummed that the online streaming was horrible. The CPU/GPU and memory in the ATV is just not made for that sort of thing. I picked up a new 2.26GHz Mini yesterday for $499 and no HDMI wasn't an issue as I already had an old DVI->HDMI cable from my old DVD player. I'm still getting everything setup (doing a fresh OSX install right now), but it's going to be a way better solution than the ATV. If you think you'll want to ever play streaming content, got with the Mini.

    I picked up one of the new aluminum Mac remotes to use and I understand there are some apps that can make it nearly as good as a real mouse. I also grabbed one of the wireless keyboards yesterday in the event I ever do anything that requires a keyboard.
     
  20. wysinawyg macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2009
    #20
    At the moment I'm still setting it up and using an old plastic Mac Remote and the screen sharing feature through my MacBook.

    I've also got the Logitech's free remote app for iPhone and the proper Apple Remote app (which is great for just playing iTunes media).

    I suspect I will end up with the Rowmote Pro app for my iPhone (still with Apple's remote app) though as it gives me full control even once the Mini gets put in a cupboard.
     
  21. iMerlin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMerlin

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #21
    Good info Maks! About streaming though, Ive done Hulu and a little Boxee on my iMac and wasnt totally happy with the video quality. Am I doing something wrong or is that just how it goes with streaming these days? Either way, it didnt look like HD does.

    Oh yeah, good call about the screen sharing. Forgot about that!! I use it all the time between my MBP and iMac. Is the Apple remote bluetooth or IR? Im sure I could easily find out by googling!
     
  22. wysinawyg macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2009
    #22
    IR which was proving interesting when I have my MacBook, two iPhones in universal docks and the MacMini sat under my TV...

    Trying to play Batman on the MacMini and everything else was going nuts!
     
  23. ljonesj macrumors 6502a

    ljonesj

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2009
    Location:
    Kingsport TN
    #23
    i use a logitech dinvo mini controling my mac mini love the mac been happy with it i just dont like plex and boxee as i can never get my content setup right for them i think its more user than the apps thou
     
  24. Maks macrumors member

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    Feb 26, 2009
    #24
    It's definitely not HD quality. It's more convenient than my Comcast onDemand in terms of what shows are available and when and it beats sitting in front of my Macbook to watch a show on Hulu. It's not great, but it gets the job done and is a nice addition to a HTPC IMO. If the ATV would've been better at streaming, I probably would've kept it. It's a great little form factor, but I really like the added flexibility of the Mini and what I'll be able to do with it.

    Gonna stick w/the stock HD for now and upgrade to 500G down the line.
     
  25. iMerlin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    iMerlin

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #25
    LMAO!! To funny!! Thanks for the info!

    Yeah, I think you are right. It took me a while to figure out how to add content. But once you get it you dont have to worry about it any longer. I dont really LOVE navigating PLEX but for some reason I just LOVE the UI!

    Yeah, Ill still be keeping my DTV HD DVR, so I guess Hulu isnt as important to me. I just want a reliable way to stream my Bluray rips from my iMac and still have the option for streaming and everything else.

    I guess I better get me an airfoil license! I really wish iTunes could list other computers as Airtunes speakers!!
     

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