MacMini as a media centre, opinions?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by MaxFawahl, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. MaxFawahl macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #1
    Just wondering how many of you guys here have been using the new Mac Mini as a Media Centre mac, and what your general opinions of it are?

    I'm fairly sure there is HDMI, but is the media playback up to par, and how easy is it to use from the couch?

    And opinions/tips would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Max Fawahl
     
  2. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #2
    hello Max, welcome to MacRumors!

    first of all, how were you planning on playing back the movies/tv shows? will they already be ripped onto a networked storage device? or will you be putting DVDs into the mac mini to watch them? either method will work fine, but it will influence what software you should have installed onto the computer. for media centres - the Mac Mini + Plex.app is a WONDERFUL solution. it lets you integrate most functions that you would be after, and is very well coded (allows for optimal playback).

    HDMI allows for video + audio playback (thank god), so no problems there.

    either way, the Mac Mini is a great media centre! you will be very pleased with it.

    the inbuilt storage of the mac mini is fairly low, so consider some networked storage if you need it.
     
  3. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #3
    I use my mini as a media center and backup utility. I mostly use it for listening to music, but will occasionally play a movie on my TV from it. I communicate with with using the built-in screen sharing OSX has. It works out nicely for me. I also run game emulators on it from time-to-time, which is one of things I like that a mini can do that AppleTV can't.
     
  4. MaxFawahl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #4
    Thanks for the reply!

    I will be using network storage. Would you see any issues using network storage for media over wifi? Or would it have to be ethernet.

    Have a link to plex.app?

    Thanks,
    Max Fawahl
     
  5. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #5
    no problems. here is the link to plex.app.

    as for wifi - what type of videos will you be playing over the network (in terms of bitrate if you can), and is your home router a 802.11g or 802.11n router. if you have a 802.11n capable router then you wont have ANY problems even if you decide to play 1080p BluRay rips back over the network. of course, ethernet is always recommended as there is less latency (movies will start just that tad quicker) and less interference overall.

    here is a great introductory guide to Plex
     
  6. PurdueGuy macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #6
    I'll also throw my opinion behind Plex. I love version .9. The media manager stalls sometimes, but nothing major.

    I have movies in iTunes, so I can stream to an AppleTV, but my AppleTV has the GPU issue (green screen), so I'm using Plex now, and couldn't be happier. I haven't looked much, but I wish I could just right to a list of TV shows from the main menu, instead of having to go one level down. Maybe there's a setting fot that *shrug*

    In fact, I like it so much that I'm contemplating making it my full-time frontend. I have a TiVo as well, so files would be automatically pulled from the TiVo and re-encoded (with KMTTG), then added to Plex, so I have a single source for all my stuff. Currently, the sticking point is figuring out the season/episode number. The TiVo will give you episode #, but that doesn't translate right to season/episode. You can do a lookup on thetvdb.com to map them, but that's a bit of work. Maybe someone else has already done that. But I might script it. *shrug*
     
  7. DaveNinja macrumors 6502

    DaveNinja

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    #7
    plex is great. i had problems with it playing netflix and hulu but i was able to downgrade from Flash 10.1 to Flash 10.0.25.2 (or something like that) and fix the problem.
    Some videos i find play better through XBMC so you might want to install both
     
  8. FireWire2 macrumors 6502

    FireWire2

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    #8
    To use MacMini as a Media Center, I think it's a little waste of $...
    On top of that you have to load all the codec in order to play container such as: MKV, TS, M2TS, BD.ISO, RMVB, FLAC, AVI, RMV, OGG...

    It's not simple as everyone wants...

    I would use MacMini as Media Server with additional external five drives RAID5 to it, use it to rip/ convert/encode all the media and stream media content to HD media players such as: DUNE BASE, DUNE prime, TVIX

    Those HD media players already built-in all the codec, it will play almost anything.

    Please note MacMini will not support DTS-HD and True-HD sound, where HD player does
     
  9. DaveNinja macrumors 6502

    DaveNinja

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    #9

    I installed Plex on mine and never had to deal with any codecs. i havent found a video file it (or XBMC) wont play yet
     
  10. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #10
    HD audio is irrelevant to 95% (probably more) of consumers.
     
  11. FireWire2 macrumors 6502

    FireWire2

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    #11
    Try the BD ripped M2TS with WVC1 codec
    It won't play... The file that I tried Justin Timberlake 'FutureSex/LoveShow" main M2TS file

    Cave.Man
    Your nick tells it all :) just joking
     
  12. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #12
    The problematic VC-1s are usually interlaced. Non interfaced VC-1 (e.g., 1080p) play fine in Plex and XBMC.
     
  13. DaveNinja macrumors 6502

    DaveNinja

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    #13
    i'm not "in the know" on all the format details. i did try a M2TS through it (shutter island brrip 1080p that i use to look for stuttering since it has some good ocean scenes at the start) and it worked. but it may have been non-interlaced
     
  14. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #14
    Shutter Island is encoded with h.264, so Macs should have no problem with it, provided the DTS core has been extracted from the DTS-MA track.
     
  15. Osamede macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    #15
    Ditto here.

    I use the Mac Mini 2010 with plex for playing Videos and Movies on my projector. But not the music - I keep my music on a Windows 2008 R2 box linked to a Squeezebox.

    Overall the mini took a lot of work to set up and Plex is flakier than I expected, so I had a hard time at first, as first I was getting sound and no video, then video and no sound. But now it works, using optical audio to my receiver and mini port to HDMI adapter for the video.

    With VLC I continue to have problems, but Plex plays every file I have given it so far.

    Of course there is always a "but" and that is that Plex is too inflexible. It is too dependent on automated metadata filling with no good manual option for tagging the video files. And right now the Plex auto metadata filing is f-ed. Hopefully they will sort it out, but no indication at the moment that will happen, as they are pretending to be non-commerical and acting as if they really dont know why IMDB no longer wants to give them free metadata.

    But as for the Mac Mini on latest hardware. Yes it works as a media center. A bit of setup work but very doable and you wont find a faster machine that is as quiet in your living room.
     
  16. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #16
    I've got two late 2009 minis as media centers (in two different rooms!) both running Plex. It works fine except Plex has to be restarted frequently to select new titles as its menuing seems to get messed up. The latest version of Plex looks better and I've been testing it on yet another Mac. Only problem I've seen with that is that it looses the folder hierarchy I use for storing files which makes it difficult to find things.
     
  17. JAT macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2001
    Location:
    Mpls, MN
    #17
    Well, as a Mac user, I'm in the 5% of computer users.
    As I use my Minis for HT, I'm in less than 5% of Mac users.
    As a projector owner, I'm in less than 5% of TV owners.
    As a Sigma DSLR owner, I'm in less than 5% of SLR owners.
    As an HD audio user (7.1 here), apparently I'm in less than 5% of surround audio users.

    There's a theme here! (I just threw the camera thing in there for fun)
     
  18. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #18
    (0.5)*(0.5)*(0.5)*(0.5)*(0.5) = 0.0000003125

    That makes you 1 in 3,000,000!
     
  19. tbayrgs macrumors 603

    tbayrgs

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2009
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    #19
    I'm using a 2009 Refurb base model (2.0 gHz C2D) with RAM bumped up to 4 GB as an HTPC connected to my 50" plasma and to echo a common theme here, it works great. I also use PLEX and while I don't throw anything exotic at it (codec wise, that is), it handles 1080p just fine. I have all of my media on an external connected to the Mini via FW and also stream it wirelessly to a pair of :apple:TVs using 802.11n from a Time Capsule hooked up to my macbook in the home office and have no issues.

    I have a bluetooth keyboard and wireless mouse for it but can't remember the last time I used them as I have my Harmony remote programmed to use PLEX and for the rare occasions where I'm not accessing it via screen sharing or VNC via my iPad, the Air Mouse app on my iPhone is more than capable.
     
  20. Rad macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2006
    #20
    2010 Mini

    I just set up a 2010 2.66 Ghz Mini with 8 GB ram to use as the main media player attached to a new Panasonic Viera 65" 3D top of the line plasma and a Bose T20 sound system. I had originally an Apple TV and a new WD LIve Plus. The WD Live was unreliable and the discussion boards are filled with nonstop problems. The Mini image quality is fantastic and even OS X looks great at 1080P on a 65" screen. I have a variety of choices for playback, each with a special strength, ranging from Apple's Front raw, iTunes, Media Central, VLC, XMBC and Plex. I can play raw M2TS files or converted video with surround sound intact. This is an addition to the native Netflix connection through the Viera TV and a Blu-Ray 3D player and cable TV. The Mini is fantastic - reliable and flexible.

    Multiple ways to control it, including Apple wireless BT keyboard and the Magic Pad as well as an Apple Remote. Bought several iPad control programs that work, but have not bothered using them since the keyboard and wireless trackpad work so well.
     
  21. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    #21
    My usual caveat; one man's 1080p is not necessarily the same as another's.

    Downloaded "1080p" HD movie and television torrents (bitrate circa 12-15Mbps) will run fine. A straight, 100% Blu-ray dump (circa 40Mbps) may not. Then again, maybe it will - it wouldn't on the 2009 Mini, but the 2010 Mini has better video components.

    [shrug]

    If playing unprocessed Blu-ray dumps is nowhere in your plans, the Mini will serve you well.
     
  22. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #22
    oh come on. stop spreading RIDICULOUS crap. my 2006, Core Duo, 2.16ghz MacBook Pro will play uncompressed 1080p rips fine using Plex. :mad:
     
  23. Rad macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2006
    #23
    Blu-Ray

    I can play the raw files from a Blu-Ray disk ripped by AnyDVD HD on my Mac Mini 2010 in XMBC and Plex, preserving the surround sound.
     
  24. Irishman macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2006
    #24
    Why networked storage for files instead of just plugging in external Hard Drives?
     
  25. Irishman macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2006
    #25
    Not to me.

    My understanding of the ripping software (like makemkv) is that you can choose the audio format you wish to have (including HD audio) and have the Mini pass the bitstream (video and audio) to your AVR.

    Am I wrong?
     

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