Mac Mini vs ATV

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by DTphonehome, Jan 7, 2012.

  1. DTphonehome macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2003
    Location:
    NYC
    #1
    I have an ATV2 in my living room, and use it mostly for streaming kids' movies that I've ripped, TV shows, and the occasional rental. Works great, for the most part. I am annoyed that I can't get Amazon VOD, Hulu, or HBO GO on it.

    Now, my wife has been using an ancient MacBook (the very first gen) connected to a monitor mounted to our kitchen cabinet to watch shows as she's working in the kitchen. It's also useful for her to look up recipes, etc.

    A couple days ago, the MacBook finally gave up and died after being on the fritz for months. So, I'm thinking of replacing it with a Mac Mini. But, a Mac Mini is kinda pricey, so I was thinking if there was a way for me to get more utility out of it than the way my wife was using it before. Since my living room and kitchen are near each other, it should be possible to connect the Mac Mini to both the monitor in the kitchen, and to the HDTV in the living room.

    Before I embark on this project, I was hoping to find out if anyone has done anything like this before (two displays off of a Mac Mini), and what advantages the Mac Mini will provide for the living room setup over the ATV2. Also, what would be the best way to connect both screens to the Mini? They will be about 40 feet apart from each other, so I was thinking a long HDMI cable, or perhaps some sort of wireless solution.

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. DTphonehome thread starter macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2003
    Location:
    NYC
  3. helicon1 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #3
    The mac mini makes a good file server/htpc backend and is more responsive than the apple tv with its greater power.

    If you use a second monitor in the kitchen:

    how would you interface with the mini? A keyboard and mouse in the kitchen might be difficult.

    Would the mini successfully run an htpc setup on the tv and office setup in the kitchen or would one interfere with the other? Dunno

    An ipad might be a better solution in the kitchen and would not be restricted to that room. if you have a 2010 apple tv you could connect it to the existing kitchen monitor and airplay to it.
     
  4. rstansby macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    #4
    I think you should just buy two Minis.
     
  5. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #5
    I have a Mac mini connected to a display via MDP>DVI and to my HDTV via HDMI. It serves as both a desktop and a media server, using Plex to serve movies and TV shows from the mini, an external drive and a MBP. It plays more formats than iTunes can deliver to the ATV (non-jailbroken) and this setup works extremely well for me.
     
  6. Spencie macrumors regular

    Spencie

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2011
    Location:
    The Mothership
    #6
    The Mac Mini is a pretty awesome media center, but believe it or not the Apple TV is really good too. You actually can get Amazon VOD, Hulu, or HBO Go if you jailbreak your Apple TV and run the very powerful XBMC media center. XBMC is a bit like the Cydia for ATV. There are a bunch of developers who make add-ons that range from free movies/tv shows to live TV streaming. If you want, you can also get Plex on a jailbroken Apple TV.

    ----------

    If you dont want the hassle of a super long HDMI cable, there's something McTivia (No, it's not from McDonalds) that wirelessly links your Mac to your HDTV. The only downside is that it comes at a hefty price of $130 compared to a long HDMI cable around $10.
     
  7. luckyblue macrumors regular

    luckyblue

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2010
    #7
    I have an older mac mini that doesn't have the hdmi out, but works with the apple tv remote, and I have a dvi to hdmi converter cable and it looks great. Eventually I will upgrade to one of the newer models but it works great for now.

    It's the main hub in my family room with my external drives full of movies hooked up to it. From there I can watch movies, use xbmc, and go anywhere because it's a computer ie: nbc.com, etc. My two apple TV's stream movies off of it as I keep itunes open all the time. It's great cause every things connected and works really well together.

    I used to use a wireless mouse and keyboard but it was really annoying, so I found this mini wireless keyboard with a trackpad and got it for my family for Christmas:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005MN7DPK/ref=oh_o05_s00_i00_details

    It's worth it's weight in gold! It's not perfect but I rarely need to type stuff out anyways and it's conveniently small. The other side controls my tv and cable box too.
     
  8. george-brooks macrumors 6502a

    george-brooks

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    #8
    For your wife's light duty tasks it might be wise to just buy an older gen mac mini very cheap on eBay. Prices for the old design are especially low these days. Then get a low end mac mini to power your media.
     
  9. hardax macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #9
    I got rid of my AppleTV and got a mini instead thinking I would use all the extra features offered by the mini. I dont. I would just get another AppleTV for the kitchen.
     
  10. pagansoul macrumors 65816

    pagansoul

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    Earth
    #10
    I purchased an ATV2 for my main HDTV when they first came out but a couple of months ago I also go a mini for the same TV. I find I use the mini more. I watch Hulu more than Netflix. I also have a BR player that I used to use to watch Amazon (Prime member), now I use my mini for that also. The mini cost several times more but it's several times better.
     
  11. chiefpavvy macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2008
    #11
    This. Older Mini's are perfect for servers and are dirt cheap (Apple-relative speaking.) You don't need much juice to serve up iTunes etc. A lot of folks even recommend a cheap old Windows box for this task but I'd rather a Mini, even an ancient one.
     
  12. george-brooks macrumors 6502a

    george-brooks

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    #12
    Plus, unlike replacing the macbook in the kitchen with another ATV2 like someone suggested, your wife will still be able to get recipes online, check e-mail etc. I think replacing the macbook with an old mac mini and keeping your ATV2 in the living room, or if $$ allows a newer mac mini to replace it.
     
  13. Lara F macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 5, 2005
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec
    #13
    Have you considered a Roku instead, given that you'd like Hulu and Amazon? The LT version especially wouldn't set you back much providing your kitchen monitor has an HDMI port. Not sure about recipes but there might be something in the channel store.
     

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