Mac Pro Media Center/File Server?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by BenHoleton, Aug 9, 2007.

  1. BenHoleton macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    #1
    My wife and I are in the process of having a house built. It is actually going to have a home theater room. I also want to have :apple:Tv's in many other rooms for streaming (bedrooms, office, etc). Initially I thought of making the home theater system a Mac Mini, but I just don't think it'll cut it for everything I want to do. So, I am considering a mac pro if I can make it work. I just like the storage options, dual bays (hello blu-ray!), etc. I have a couple questions about the feasability of this.

    1. First of all, is there an HDMI PCIe card that I can attach to the Mac Pro so I can hook it directly to my 60" Panasonic Plasma?

    2. Am I correct in assuming I can RAID two of the hard drives to provide me with a back-up copy of the media content I have in the other two drives?

    3. Can I use a remote such as the Logitech Harmony 1000 to control my Mac Pro? Let's face it. What good is a mac-based home theater if I don't have a remote control (don't really want to use a mouse and keyboard)

    4. And while I'm at it, can I put front row on a mac pro?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Toknee macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    Location:
    NYC-The Big Apple
    #2
    1. First of all, is there an HDMI PCIe card that I can attach to the Mac Pro so I can hook it directly to my 60" Panasonic Plasma?


    There are currently no Mac Video card with HDMI Outputs, you would have to convert the DVI to HDMI


    2. Am I correct in assuming I can RAID two of the hard drives to provide me with a back-up copy of the media content I have in the other two drives?

    You will be able to do RAID1, mirroring

    3. Can I use a remote such as the Logitech Harmony 1000 to control my Mac Pro? Let's face it. What good is a mac-based home theater if I don't have a remote control (don't really want to use a mouse and keyboard)

    There is no IR/RF interface built into the MAC PRO, would probably have to add some type of IR Interface

    4. And while I'm at it, can I put front row on a mac pro?

    Sorry, I don't know enough about this software
     
  3. BenHoleton thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    #3
    Thanks for that. Does anyone know of an Rf transmitter that maybe pluggs into a USB port? Or if I use elgato's eyetv, will that suffice?
     
  4. LeviG macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    Norfolk, UK
    #4
    I'm going to suggest you look at salling clicker (may need cheap pda or left over phone with either bluetooth or wireless), may not do everything you want but it might be another alternative.

    linky

    as to original questions.

    1) unless playing hdcp content (ie blu-ray/hd dvd type stuff) a simple dvi to hdmi cable should cover this along with an optical out to either the tv or audio equipment. As you say you want blu-ray then the graphics is going to be a slight issue.

    2) yes, iirc its software based on mac pros without shelling out for additional hardware - works the same just more cpu cycles used (plenty spare with the mac pro :))

    3) yes but as said need an rf/ir adapter.

    4)yes front row can be enabled on mac pro but needs the ir adapter etc, can't remember how they enabled it though.
     
  5. dkoralek macrumors 6502

    dkoralek

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2006
    #5
    DVI is essentially the video component of HDMI, so you could attach any of the Mac Pro video cards to the tv with a simple adapter (actually, you can get cables that are dvi at one end and hdmi at the other). But as others have said, the big issue is HDCP. At present, none of the components are HDCP compliant, so you won't be able to carry encrypted content, such as blu-ray, to the tv through the Mac. Likewise, there aren't any cable card devices available for the Mac Pro, so you won't be able to tune encrypted hi-def channels, like ESPN HD, through the Mac (although, you could easily just switch input on your tv/receiver to a cable box, but you won't be able to record the content to your Mac). You can carry 5.1 audio through the optical audio out jack on the mac pro to your receiver.

    Yes. You now have two choices, software RAID, or you can buy one of the rather pricey new RAID PCIe cards that Apple is offering. But, software RAID should be enough (either way, this doesn't help you on the windows side).
    As others have said, with an IR receiver you should be able to do this.

    Apple doesn't officially support it, but it is possible (IIRC, the software is there but it isn't enabled, but I haven't looked for it myself, a wireless mouse is usable for me).

    Unfortunately, at the moment the windows side of things (as much as it might pain me to say it), provides the most complete HTPC options since you can get full HDCP support and with Vista support for cablecards to support tuning any channel you can with a cable box (the only negative would be if you are a frequent on demand user, because I believe that all communication is unidirectional with cablecard systems).

    Cheers.
     
  6. BenHoleton thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
  7. milk242 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2007
    #7
    I hate to say it but I think PCs are better equiped for doing a media center.

    Usually I don't suggest PCs, but it might be your best option using a ready built media center PC that comes cable card ready running windows vista media center. But then again I don't know your full intent for the Mac Pro, all I'm saying is that PCs are just more ready for being used as a media center.
     
  8. GeorgeTheMonkey macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2004
    #8
    I think this is a great plan, although are you building a separate closet to house all of your AV stuff + the Mac Pro?

    If you're interested, there's great software out there to let you control your Mac wirelessly (either via WiFi or Bluetooth) from most phones -- including iPhones. Remote Buddy is brilliant for that... you should check out what it offers. You likely wouldn't be able to control your whole HT system through it, but it would offer the greatest experience for controlling your Mac Pro with.

    You're really in luck here – yes, you can install Front Row on it right now (a quick Google will show you the way), but what I'd suggest you look forward to is the release of Leopard. Leopard will sport a new Front Row-interface akin to the AppleTV's. Absolutely brilliant.

    Enjoy!
     
  9. Gilmoure macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    #9
    Mac media file server hardware

    How robust of a machine would I need for a basic file server of ripped DVD's, iTunes and iPhoto, to 3 or 4 family iMacs? I have a G4 1.25 GHz single processor tower. If I max out the ram and ATA 100/133 HD's, connected to a gigabit switch, should this be able to server 3 DVD images at once?

    iTunes now recognizes ripped DVD's and since iTunes can share, I figure I'll use that as the server/client on all machines.

    Client machines will be new iMacs so they should be able to handle HD decoding, when we get to that.
     
  10. absolution macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    #10
    I'm planning on doing something like what you want to do, although I'm waiting on the new Mac Pro and don't plan on using an HDCP'd Blu-Ray drive inside the machine. I've done some research, so hopefully I'll be able to help:

    Yes. Although I would think twice about the 1000. Go here and read this and some of the other user reports:

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=10363637&highlight=mac#post10363637

    There have apparently been some issues getting the 1000 to work with Intel Macs. People have had luck with the 880 and the 890 though, specifically when using this IR transceiver:

    http://twistedmelon.com/mira/hardware.html

    This was designed specifically to be used on Macs without built in IR transceivers.

    http://in.mypocket.com/index.php?showtopic=1190&hl=harmony

    The above link is a thread that talks about what you're trying to do. Essentially, you install the IR transceiver and then teach the Harmony remote the Apple remote codes. Then - with some tweaking to get the button presses right - you can control whatever the Apple remote can control with your Harmony.

    Here's another forum that deals specifically with Macs being used as HTPCs. Although most folks opt for Mac Minis, some - like myself - turn to the more expandable desktop models.

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=115

    Hope that helps! :D
     
  11. macenforcer macrumors 65816

    macenforcer

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Location:
    Colorado
    #11
    I have gone round and round with this problem.


    Apple tv is no better than hooking up and ipod to your tv. 640x480 is not good enough I have found out on a 60" TV.

    Hooking up my mac mini to the tv worked but not very well. Resolution was a problem. Using a mouse, keyboard. Yuck.

    What I finally settled on is this. I hooked up a PC in the basement with windows media center. It has 3 tuners in it. Must require a hack to get 3 to work but its not too hard. It has 4tb of storage. Then I put an xbox 360 in every room I want to watch the tv. I must say this is the best setup possible. The only drawback is editing the videos. Not realistic.

    I don't think we will see a real solution to this problem with the mac until the apple TV has hd video and a tv tuner to record tv.
     
  12. Kosh66 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    #12
    Nobody mentioned so far that you can't play Blu-Ray movies on a Mac Pro. Yes you can put a Blu-Ray Recording drive in your Mac Pro, but it's only good for data (with Toast 8). DVD Player doesn't play Blu-Ray movies yet.
     

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