Mac Mini as Server and hookup to HDTV

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by ScKaSx, Jul 24, 2008.

  1. ScKaSx macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2006
    #1
    Hi All,

    I am planning to use a mac mini as a server for files, music and movies and storing it in a cupboard. Anyone done this and have suggestions (parts used, enclosures, etc.)?

    Also, I want to hook it up to a nice LCD HDTV. I was wondering does Mac mini have ability to output HD or for that matter 5.1 sound (or will I have to buy AppleTV)? If I have to go the AppleTV route can I put it in series with the mac mini to output only what comes from the Mac Mini. Basically, I want to use my LCD HDTV as a large monitor for the mac Mini and play music through my Denon reciever. Any ideas for this?

    Cheers,
    ScKaSx
     
  2. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #2
    Yes your Mini can do HD and digital surround sound.

    But...there are a lot of variables that go into it. You need the files to be encoded in certain formats and at certain bitrates. The audio is best if it's in Dolby Digital.

    However, the biggest problem is the lack of good software for such purposes. Quicktime sucks, VLC is buggy as hell, and the best software (XMBC) is god-awful clunky. You'd think Apple would be able to make a decent version of Quicktime for HD playback, but that's apparently not the case. The most promising solution, IMO, will come with the release of Boxee, which is being built around XBMC's player. I'm still waiting for my copy to try out, but it looks pretty good on paper (er, on screen).
     
  3. ScKaSx thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2006
    #3
    Thanks for the reply,

    So for the video I can just go through the VGA/DVI port? And how bout for audio, USB port (or does headphone port have enough umph to give good surround)? I'm asking this because I'm going to be running wires through the wall to my TV and I need to know what connections to make. Thanks.

    Out of curiousity, what is AppleTV good for other than a box that will play internet media?

    Cheers,
    ScKaSx
     
  4. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #4
    The Mini has optical audio out. Have a read here, especially the blue font of the first post. It should explain everything you need to know about Dolby Digital (optical) vs. Dolby Pro Logic (analog) surround sound.

    I've put almost all of my DVDs on my computer, and my Elgato Eye TV records HDTV that gets streamed to my Apple TV. You might spend a few hours in that forum to get an idea of what others do.
     
  5. ScKaSx thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2006
    #5
    Caveman,

    If I use the DVI/VGA display will I be able to get 1080 in a 16:9 fullscreen format of my computer screen (such as desktop). Regardless of what I watch using the computer, what will my desktop look like on the screen, will it be crisp and clear?

    Also what sort of connection is the audio optical out on the mini, is it the same as the PS3 audio optical out (because it looks alittle different)? Also do you know of a place to purchase the femal version of the optical out so that I can run a wire from the cupboard to my TV? Thanks again.

    Cheers,
    ScKaSx
     
  6. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #6
    The Mini will output up to 1920x1200, which is perfect for 1080p (1920x1080; 16:9). It can do so at 24 fps, provided you have (1) a properly encoded video at a moderate bitrate and (2) software that can decode the video fast enough.

    Quicktime cannot do this, but VLC and XBMC can. (VLC is a bit buggy but getting better.) I have a 1080p clip from "Live Free or Die Hard" that is encoded in H.264 at variable bitrate (max around 15kbps) and with DTS 5.1 surround sound. It plays just fine on my Hackintosh (with Perian installed) using VLC, but on my Mini VLC has trouble with it. However, on the Mini XBMC plays it without dropping any frames.
     
  7. ScKaSx thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2006
    #7
    Hi Caveman,

    Thanks again for your post. So do you use AppleTV because you haven't found suitable software to run on the mac in terms of playing video? Also, since I'm still in the process of planning the server, I am thinking that I won't need the AppleTV since I will be able to play video from the server (mac mini) without loss in image or sound. Is this correct, because in the AppleTV forum I read that the AppleTV "makes the image and sound SOOO much better." I guess, the bottom line is do you see an added benefit to having an apple TV in addition to the mac mini server I am planning?

    Also, how does Elgato Eye TV compare to say the TIVO? Because I was thinking for video recording and broadcasting I would record video from a TIVO or equivalent DirectTV box (I have satillite) and then watch from the mac mini (which, again, is connected to the TV via VGA/DVI port).

    Anyways, I'm in my brainstorming mode right now and wanted to know your opinion on these matters (or any ideas that would make the system better).

    Cheers, ScKaSx
     
  8. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #8
    The Apple TV is more a matter of convenience (wife, kids, etc.). The quality of the two are just the same, but the Mini can do more (including 1080 if I have a projector/TV capable of such). There's no difference in sound - Dolby Digital is Dolby Digital.

    I use the Eye TV Hybrid because it is a tuner and the software is Tivo-like (though I've never used Tivo). After it records, it automatically transcode the MPEG2 streams to H.264 for the Apple TV and drops the file into iTunes (so it shows up on the Apple TV and all computers in the house).

    A lot of ways to do it. It'll be up to you to see what works best.
     
  9. rw3 macrumors 6502a

    rw3

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Location:
    DFW, TX
    #9
    I've been wanting to do this same thing but I'm always brought back to the AppleTV because of HDMI and ease of use. Hard drive is another thing as well although I'm working on an internal 500GB drive. :)
     
  10. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #10
    How are you doing that?
     
  11. rw3 macrumors 6502a

    rw3

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Location:
    DFW, TX
  12. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #12
    I'd just like to know how you're going to fit a 500 gb drive inside the Apple TV.
     
  13. rw3 macrumors 6502a

    rw3

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Location:
    DFW, TX
  14. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #14
    So, you really don't have a 500 gb Apple TV...
     
  15. rw3 macrumors 6502a

    rw3

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Location:
    DFW, TX
    #15
    No, I do have one with an external solution like yours....but working on an internal solution.
     
  16. Demodex macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2008
    #16
    You will have to post some pics once you get the 500GB harddrive in there
     

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