Mac Mini as HTPC - convince me! :-)

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Sagnet, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. Sagnet macrumors member

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    Mar 5, 2009
    #1
    I've been waiting a long time for the new Mac Mini, with plans for using it as a media computer in my home cinema. It would be used for basic tasks like playing music, movies etc. But the upgrades disappointed me in three particular areas:
    - No HDMI
    - No BluRay
    - Increased price

    So considering specs, I will get a lot more for my money if I spend it on a Windows based HTPC. But for some reason, I still can't decide to not go for the Mac Mini. The size and physical appearance is one of the reasons. It will look good in my TV rack. Can you help me with other arguments for why I should choose Mac Mini over some other kind of HTPC?
     
  2. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #2
    - No HDMI
    Use an adaptor. HDMI is basically DVI with audio. It's also limited to 1080p, whereas dual-link DVI is not.

    - No BluRay
    No BluRay on any apple products. As Steve said : ""Blu-ray is just a bag of hurt. It's great to watch the movies, but the licensing of the tech is so complex, we're waiting till things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace."

    - Increased price
    The economy is down the tubes. Apple should sell products at a loss?
     
  3. OldMike macrumors 6502

    OldMike

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    #3
    I would like to do the same. We were using Media Center found in Vista - but the small PC in our living room decided to finally throw in the towel. I have an external tuner, a Hauppauge HVR 950, that is supposed to work with Macs.

    So far the deal breaker on using the Mini vs getting another Vista Media Center computer for the living room, is the fact that Front Row does not have any TV/DVR functionality (at least from what I can gather). With Media Center, I can watch everything, and the guide/dvr functionality works pretty nicely.

    So for right now, I'm thinking of replacing my computer with a Mini, so that I can use my current computer as the living room Vista Media Center.
     
  4. clickgr macrumors regular

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    #4
    Front Row works fine with eye TV if you have a USB TV tunner attached to your mini.
     
  5. OldMike macrumors 6502

    OldMike

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    #5
    Does Eye Tv integrate with Front Row somehow? I have never seen a tuner on a mac before. Can you use the Apple remote to control the guide and schedule recordings? Also, I had heard that with Eye Tv you actually have to pay for a guide, where with Media Center the guide is free?

    Thanks for any additional info - using the Mac as a HTPC seems like a great idea, I just never have seen one in use before...
     
  6. Bkxmnr macrumors regular

    Bkxmnr

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    #6
    How do you figure the price increased?
    1. Processor speed bumped from 1.83 to 2.
    2. Superdrive instead of Combodrive.
    3. Double HDD capacity.

    Remote is now a $20 extra though.
     
  7. Sagnet thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 5, 2009
    #7
    Well, according to Moore's law processor speed and HDD capacity grows exponentially (at slightly different rates). So in 2009 you should get about 3-4 times the HDD capacity and about twice the processor speed of what you got in 2007, for the same price.
     
  8. cleric macrumors 6502a

    cleric

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    #8
    I've never understood the appeal of the Mac Mini as an HTPC other than the obvious fact that its relatively small.

    I think any of the NMT products would serve most peoples purposes just fine and at half the price. And if they don't I'm not sure the mini will do them any better, you're not going to be putting your DVB-S/QAM cards in a mini.
     
  9. mrklaw macrumors 65816

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    Jan 29, 2008
    #9


    If anyone has seen/used something like plex compared to the front end of any NMT product, then you'd have *some* idea of why the mini is a very popular HTPC.

    IMO most of the self-contained streaming players in boxes these days are little more than basic DOS file browsers. Very bland user experience and not engaging at all.

    Compare that with plex where my TV shows have background graphics, plays the theme tune in the background while I'm choosing a show, I get plot synopsis etc. Its a world of difference.

    The only thing its missing IMO is the live TV integration, but with a mini you can always use front row or launch eyeTV separately.
     
  10. clickgr macrumors regular

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    #10
    Yes you can do all this and you don't have to pay for TV program guide. Check this out. http://code.google.com/p/pyetv/
     
  11. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #11
    Plex is the main reason I use mine as an HTPC, that and the fact that it doubles as a media server, file server, compute server and Time Machine device for the other Macs. Can also be used as a base station in a pinch.
     
  12. himey macrumors newbie

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    Mar 5, 2009
    #12
    As previously stated...

    HDMI is a non issue with a simple DVI-HDMI cable.
    Blu-Ray - psh, apple has given reason why they do not support this... Buy a PS3 and be done with it!
    Increased price - big deal. It's worth it. Look at it. Front Row/ Plex are both brilliant and easy to use.
     
  13. Bkxmnr macrumors regular

    Bkxmnr

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    #13
    Doh! You're right. I forgot about Moore's Law. I always seem to forget some mundane detail. Dammit Michael, Moore's Law is not some mundane detail...

    I'm not in a big hurry so I guess I'll just wait for the 2.0 GHz C2Quad Mini.
     
  14. OldMike macrumors 6502

    OldMike

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    #14
    Hey thanks, that is perfect. That is exactly what I was looking for!

    I already have the USB tuner, so I am assuming that I need to purchase the EyeTV software by itself (though I see it sold bundled mostly).

    As to the guide, when I went on the Elgato sight, it mentioned the need for a subscription to have a tv guide (I think it said the first year was included for free). Is there some other source for the guide information? I'm not sure where Microsoft gets its guide info for Media Center, but it is free.

    Thanks again. With the updates and all of these threads popping up - my head is spinning trying to keep up!!
     
  15. clickgr macrumors regular

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    #15
    In my case, I watch digital terrestrial TV through eyeTV (DVB-T) and the guide is coming from the air together with the free channels.
     
  16. Maven1975 macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    I agree.. and the BIG point is the Nvidia 9400! - Not crappy Intel GMA
     
  17. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #17
    The GeForce seems fine for HTPC duties - much better than the X1600 in my MBP. I've had the mini playing 720p MKVs using VLC and the CPU is ticking over at 20-25% so 1080p will be fine. Try that on my MBP and it'd have screaming fans and be burning the table.

    VLC, plus an iTunes encode from CD was 75% and it was still quiet. It's a very capable little machine - should fly with 4GB installed.

    Need to try my USB DVB-T tuner when I can find it. Should make a handy DVR...
     
  18. jerryskid macrumors newbie

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    Mar 5, 2009
    #18
    for all of those who do use a mac mini as a htpc was it just the "mac" thing that made you choose it over a pc version? cause from what it sounds like they are cheaper/comprable and come with bigger hds etc...? i've been an apple person my whole life so when it came to the htpc for me the obvious choice was a mac version but actually doing the research it looks like as far as bang for buck the pc version of the htpc seems more reasonable. just wondering feelings. i in no way am aiming to reinvent the wheel as far as the apple vs pc argument goes 'cause i stand on the apple side but just wondingering what the specifics were. thanks.
     
  19. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #19
    Mine kind of fell in my lap. The mini belonged to my daughter and I replaced it with a white iMac and rather than sell it, I use at as an HTPC/Time Machine server. At the time that I bought it, not many PC HTPCs could compete for the $450 I paid for the mini (refurb).
     
  20. MasterNile macrumors 65816

    MasterNile

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    #20
    I'd say buy a Windows machine, if you're all about watching Blu Ray you'd either have to buy a different Blu Ray player, or buy an external one for the Mac Mini and run it using Windows, either way that's a lot of money on top of the price of the over priced Mini.

    The Mini may be small but without HDMI you're talking a lot of cords and that huge power supply. Also if you go for an external HDD for the Mini to hold DVD rips/encodes then you're talking more cords and possibly another plug.
     
  21. sngx1275 macrumors regular

    sngx1275

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    Missouri
    #21
    For me it is the size and noise. I did run a PC connected to my TV for a while, and used Windows XP MCE, it was fine, but I could hear the computer even when it was shut in a cabinet (processor fan would speed up when it was under load). Then I got a new entertainment center and a HDTV, and ran out of a good place to hide the PC. The mini sits nicely on my TV stand now, and its quiet, even under heavy load I can't hear it if anything is playing.

    So asthetics and noise are the factors for me. Storage space I don't care about, I stream everything wirelessly. This may become an issue for me when I start dealing with 1080p movies on the new mini, but that should still work if I get a wireless-n router rather than G. Although technically G should be able to handle the bandwidth.
     
  22. HiFiGuy528 macrumors 68000

    HiFiGuy528

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    Jul 24, 2008
    #22
    Blu-Ray is dead so it should be cheaper to get a Dell with a BR drive. :D
     
  23. brand macrumors 601

    brand

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    #23
    How do you figure that? Both of these would be viable solutions to having HDMI.

    Mini Display Port to HDMI Adapter

    Mini-DVI to HDMI Adapter

    As far as the power supply goes, I don't see how it is huge. Most of the Mini PCs that I have seen also have an external power supply. Would you rather Apple increased the size of the Mini so that the power supply could be internal? The Mini's power supply is usually hidden anyway.
     
  24. Kristijan macrumors member

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    Melbourne, Australia
    #24
    The above adapters only carry video...you still need to have another cable for audio.

    -Kristijan
     
  25. brand macrumors 601

    brand

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    #25
    Using Bluetooth mouse and keyboard and wireless that would be a cable for video, a cable for audio, and a cable for power. Three whole cables. Add an Ethernet cable and make it four. Not what I would call "a lot of cords".
     

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