Mac Mini vs ATV

DTphonehome

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Apr 4, 2003
1,766
2,267
NYC
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!
 

helicon1

macrumors newbie
Jan 8, 2012
19
0
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.
 

rstansby

macrumors 6502
Jun 19, 2007
493
0
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!
I think you should just buy two Minis.
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,419
759
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.
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.
 

Spencie

macrumors regular
Aug 17, 2011
235
0
The Mothership
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.
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.

----------

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!
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.
 

luckyblue

macrumors regular
Jan 7, 2010
154
90
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.
 

george-brooks

macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2011
732
16
Brooklyn, NY
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.
 

hardax

macrumors regular
Jan 16, 2008
181
45
New Hampshire
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.
 

pagansoul

macrumors 65816
Aug 10, 2006
1,041
40
Earth
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.
 

chiefpavvy

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2008
707
0
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.
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.
 

george-brooks

macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2011
732
16
Brooklyn, NY
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.
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.
 

Lara F

macrumors 6502a
May 5, 2005
850
9
Montreal, Quebec
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.