Mac Mini Best Media Center PC? TV as monitor

legaleye3000

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jul 31, 2007
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I'm looking to use a Mac Mini as a media center pc that will b hooked up to my LCD big screen. I'll be getting the Elgato hybrid tv tuner.

Is this setup the best? Is Dell's "mini" computer (forgot the model name) better? Will the connection from the Mini to my TV output in HD if I have HD cable?

Thanks
 

rgarjr

macrumors 603
Apr 2, 2009
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Southern California
The minis kick butt in HTPC mode. Have one dedicated to my 37" HDTV. Yeah it will output HD video if you are watching a video that's in 720p or 1080p.
 

legaleye3000

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Jul 31, 2007
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What's HTPC mode? Also, how do you connect it to the TV if you will be playing HD videos? I know VGA isn't HD... So what connections do I use? Thanks
 

rgarjr

macrumors 603
Apr 2, 2009
6,470
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Southern California
HTPC is Home Theater Personal Computer, its just a fancy name to call a machine dedicated for watching movies.

U use minidisplayport to HDMI.
 

legaleye3000

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Jul 31, 2007
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Is there a difference between using mini-dvi to hdmi vs. minidisplay to hdmi?

Thanks!
 

mingoglia

macrumors 6502
Dec 10, 2009
446
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HTPC is Home Theater Personal Computer, its just a fancy name to call a machine dedicated for watching movies.

U use minidisplayport to HDMI.
Actually I think you meant mini-dvi to HDMI? Or I guess it would be technically mini-dvi to dvi to dvi to hdmi? Wow, that's a mouth full. :)
 

legaleye3000

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Jul 31, 2007
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Well.. There's a mini-dvi port and then there's a mini displayport.... So, is one better than the other for picture quality?

Also, how would I hook this up to my tv for sound...?

Thanks again
 

mingoglia

macrumors 6502
Dec 10, 2009
446
8
Well.. There's a mini-dvi port and then there's a mini displayport.... So, is one better than the other for picture quality?

Also, how would I hook this up to my tv for sound...?

Thanks again
Yup, the mini-dvi port is the port you're wanting for superior picture quality. With regards to your question about sound I believe there's some converters that convert the dvi and a cable from your audio out and convert it to an hdmi to go into the TV. Don't take this as 100% fact from me though as I'm ignorant when it comes to using a Mac (or any PC) as a video source...so others will chime in. :)
 

legaleye3000

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jul 31, 2007
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Ahhh ok- I'll use the mini-dvi then... I assume as for remotes the Elgato Hybrid TV Tuner comes with one to change channels, record ,etc...

Anything else I should know for making a Mac Mini into a HTPC?
 

and09890

macrumors newbie
Oct 2, 2008
13
0
Well.. There's a mini-dvi port and then there's a mini displayport.... So, is one better than the other for picture quality?

Also, how would I hook this up to my tv for sound...?

Thanks again
The best way to do this is to buy this adaptor from Monoprice:
http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=104&cp_id=10428&cs_id=1042802&p_id=5969&seq=1&format=2

It has a mini-displayport and a USB cable for audio, and both connect to the Mac Mini. Then using a small box (inside it must be magic) it converts those two signals to a single HDMI cable. It works flawlessly, and I highly recommend it.

For software I recommend Plex, as long as you are willing to invest some time in learning it and setting it up. There is a great community of users out there and a good set-up guide at www.plexapp.com.
 

legaleye3000

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Original poster
Jul 31, 2007
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If I use that adapter, it seems the sound comes through USB? Do I need to mess with any settings to get it to work?

Also, if I wanted to do it individually, do I just need a standard 3.5mm audio jack cord to go into the TV and a mini-dvi to HDMI for video?

Thanks
 

ian.maffett

macrumors 6502
Aug 1, 2008
258
0
Florida
If I use that adapter, it seems the sound comes through USB? Do I need to mess with any settings to get it to work?

Also, if I wanted to do it individually, do I just need a standard 3.5mm audio jack cord to go into the TV and a mini-dvi to HDMI for video?

Thanks
Yes, you can use a 3.5mm to RCA to your home theater if you like - that's what I do.
 

ian.maffett

macrumors 6502
Aug 1, 2008
258
0
Florida
I don't have a receiver, just my Plasma TV....
Ah, well, either way - if your TV has an aux in, you can use the 3.5 - 3.5 or RCA, whatever you need. Otherwise, if your TV is all you use, just use that USB adapter and it'll pipe the audio through the HDMI just like a regular signal would travel.
 

legaleye3000

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jul 31, 2007
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Ah, well, either way - if your TV has an aux in, you can use the 3.5 - 3.5 or RCA, whatever you need. Otherwise, if your TV is all you use, just use that USB adapter and it'll pipe the audio through the HDMI just like a regular signal would travel.

And I wouldn't need any program or need to mess with any settings on the mac or tv to get sound from the USB port on the Mac?

Thanks!
 

Undo Redo

macrumors 6502
Jan 22, 2009
277
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Colorado, USA
I've always just used a stereo mini-jack to RCA for audio, but I don't have a home theater sound system. The Mac mini is capable of 5.1 channel sound if you want to go digital audio, through the same mini-jack. Never tried it.

I just switched from using the mini-DVI port to the mini-DisplayPort. Have run both to the HDMI on the TV and can't tell any difference. Far as I can tell, they're equal signals, just different connectors. Neither outputs audio.

Having tried Plex, Front Row and iTunes for playing video, I've decided I still like the old fashioned method; the Finder. I keep a wireless mouse and keyboard next to me and play TV & movies with VLC, DVD Player, or QuickTime Player. The Apple remote comes in handy for volume and pause/play. Plex and the others look slick, but it's just eye candy and doesn't make things any easier.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do. :)
 

legaleye3000

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jul 31, 2007
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Undo-

Are you having any resolution problems like Ive been hearing about? Also, is text easily readable on web pages? I'll be hooking it up to my 50inch plasma.
 

kellen

macrumors 68020
Aug 11, 2006
2,362
55
Seattle, WA
If you have an odd resolution it may be a problem, but it can be easily fixed.

I would learn shortcuts for increasing the font (command +) and zooming in (control mouse wheel up or down). Really helps with small text.
 

MacHamster68

macrumors 68040
Sep 17, 2009
3,252
3
How do I connect an Intel Mac mini to a television?(same applies to when using huge screens to use as television , and the top spec mini is slighly faster then the dell zino HD (thats how they call him)
specs of zino :

CPU: Up to an AMD Athlon™ Neo X2 6850e processorZinoHD Colors
Graphics: Optional ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 4330 GPU
Memory: Up to 8GB of DDR2 800
HDD: Up to 1TB
ODD: DVD or Blu-ray drive option available
the dell zino is specifically build to be used on big tv screens

spec of mini are well known

CPU : up to 2.66 intel core duo
Graphics :NVIDIA GeForce 9400M (m stands for mobility)
Memory up to 4 GB
HDD: up to 1 TB
ODD : superdrive (there is no blue ray option for mac`s )

so mini vs zino both top spec , the mini gets faster processor , the zino the better graphics card
and double the memory
you can run both with windows 7 , the zino comes already with it installed , but os x you can only run on the mini so in terms of operating system you got the choice with the mini either run os x or windows 7 (windows 7 you have to add to the price of the mini if you realy want that thing )




How to connect your Intel-based Mac mini to a television depends greatly on the type of television you have (and the Mac mini you have as well). Apple provides a helpful document entitled "Using Mac mini with a Television" on the Apple Support Site.

The Apple Support Document notes that the Intel Mac mini can be connected to digital HDTV sets via DVI, HDMI, and VGA/RGB [emphasis added]:

- A standard DVI cable can be attached from the [pre "Early 2009"] Mac mini [models] to an HDTV, supporting resolutions up to 1920x1080. [The "Early 2009" models can be connected to a DVI equipped television via DVI by using a Mini-DVI to DVI adapter].

- HDTVs with HDMI inputs can be connected to [a pre "Early 2009"] Mac mini with a DVI to HDMI adapter. A DVI to HDMI adapter will relay video but not audio from the computer. [The "Early 2009" models can be connected to an HDMI equipped television by using a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter]. . . [To connect audio], the Belkin PureAV HDMI to DVI cable can be ordered from the Apple Store [and numerous other resellers].

- The DVI to VGA adapter that was included with your [pre "Early 2009] Mac mini can be used along with a VGA cable to connect [the Mac] to an HDTV with an analog PC-input (VGA/RGB), supporting resolutions 1920x1080. [The "Early 2009" models can be connected to a VGA equipped television by using a Mini-DVI to VGA adapter].

The same document provides instructions on how to connect pre "Early 2009" Intel Mac mini models to an analog television with the Apple DVI-to-Video Adapter via Composite or S-Video:

- Composite is the most widely available video input on traditional analog televisions. It delivers acceptable quality at resolutions up to 800x600 on most televisions.

- S-Video separates the analog video signal into separate channels, providing better quality than Composite. S-Video is best used with a resolution of 800x600.

For connecting the audio, Apple mentions that all Intel-based Mac mini models use "a combo mini-plug connector to output both digital audio and analog audio signals" and audio can be connected using digital and analog audio:

- Digital Audio: Use an optical mini-plug cable with the audio output on the Mac mini to connect A/V receivers and home theater audio systems with 5.1 surround sound and optical audio inputs. A mini-plug to TOSLINK adapter may be needed to connect to some receivers. The Belkin PureAV Digital Optical Cable with Mini-TOSLINK adapter is available from the Apple Store [and other resellers].

- Analog Audio: The Mac mini can be connected to most televisions, audio receivers and speakers using analog line-out. A mini-plug to stereo RCA adapter may be necessary. The Monster iCable mini-to-RCA left/right audio cable is available at the Apple Store [and elsewhere].
 

Undo Redo

macrumors 6502
Jan 22, 2009
277
0
Colorado, USA
Undo-

Are you having any resolution problems like Ive been hearing about? Also, is text easily readable on web pages? I'll be hooking it up to my 50inch plasma.
No resolution problems here. I have a 37" 720p set and text is readable for a while, from eight feet away. I wouldn't want to read web pages for more than a half hour or so, but checking the latest news or weather is no problem.
 

rotlex

macrumors 6502a
May 1, 2003
625
252
PA
Just figured I would piggy back a question in here, as I'm thinking of picking up a new mini myself just for TV\Movie viewing purposes.

In regards to web browsing, mini would be connected to a 37" HDTV, does anyone have any experience with the quality of watching tv shows over the web? You know how you can go to say fox.com, or nbc or whatever, and watch nearly any tv show through your browser? How do they wind up looking using an HDTV as a monitor? I would assume OK, but again, just wondering.
 

Undo Redo

macrumors 6502
Jan 22, 2009
277
0
Colorado, USA
In regards to web browsing, mini would be connected to a 37" HDTV, does anyone have any experience with the quality of watching tv shows over the web? You know how you can go to say fox.com, or nbc or whatever, and watch nearly any tv show through your browser? How do they wind up looking using an HDTV as a monitor? I would assume OK, but again, just wondering.
I do it all the time and it looks great. Most of the shows look about DVD quality and that's perfectly adequate (in my opinion) on a 37" TV.
 

knewsom

macrumors 6502a
Jun 9, 2005
949
0
Just figured I would piggy back a question in here, as I'm thinking of picking up a new mini myself just for TV\Movie viewing purposes.

In regards to web browsing, mini would be connected to a 37" HDTV, does anyone have any experience with the quality of watching tv shows over the web? You know how you can go to say fox.com, or nbc or whatever, and watch nearly any tv show through your browser? How do they wind up looking using an HDTV as a monitor? I would assume OK, but again, just wondering.
One thing to note is that CBS's tv shows on their website look AWFUL - for example if you try to go fullscreen, it's usually offset down by about a quarter of the frame so you can't see the pause button, or the whole lower quarter of the show. Ugh. It drove me to TPB.