Media Center questions

imac/cheese

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 7, 2007
555
1
I would like to eliminate my home office and replace my desktop with a media center type computer. I still need to be able to surf the internet, balance our budget, use the occasional office program etc. I was wondering if many people out there use a living room media center type system as their everday computer. How much of a pain is it to use word or excel from the couch? How far can you sit from a 30"-32" monitor and still use it? Any advice would be great.
 

shu82

macrumors 6502a
Jan 10, 2007
697
3
Rocket City, AL
It depends on your resolution setting. At any of the 1280 settings I need to be about 1x times the diameter of the screen away to work in excel without strain. So with your size I would say 3 feet. If you lower the resolution you can do a little better.

I do love to surf the web from my couch and you can step back to almost 2x the diameter for that. I have a 50" and I can go about 6-8 feet from it without having to squint to read.

As for excel, I prefer a laptop. An ibook g3 will run office great for $200.
 

neven

macrumors 6502a
Oct 10, 2006
815
0
Portland, OR
We've been using a PowerMac connected to an HDTV for a few months, and the biggest drawback has been the ergonomics of it. Any way you arrange it, you'll be looking at the screen in an odd way (slightly up, most likely). My girlfriend (who used the setup more than I did) had persistent neck and shoulder pain.

We hooked up an AppleTV to the HDTV and got a monitor. Much easier on the eyes and neck.
 

diehardmacfan

macrumors regular
Mar 12, 2007
204
0
get a macbookpro and apple TV.

use the macbook on the couch for internet and word and excel. then all your media on the macbookpro will be viewable on the TV via the apple TV. If you really want to do web browsing and email on your TV, then you could run a video cable from the output of the macbookpro using one of apples adapters to the TV

another option would be to keep that cable connected at all times and just use front row for multimedia
 

imac/cheese

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 7, 2007
555
1
get a macbookpro and apple TV.

use the macbook on the couch for internet and word and excel. then all your media on the macbookpro will be viewable on the TV via the apple TV. If you really want to do web browsing and email on your TV, then you could run a video cable from the output of the macbookpro using one of apples adapters to the TV

another option would be to keep that cable connected at all times and just use front row for multimedia
I have considered getting a laptop but I really don't have the need for the portability and I enjoy using the full size keyboard and mouse.

Does anyone know how resolution independence will work? Will I be able to keep a high resolution and make excel appear much larger so I can sit 5-10 feet from my monitor and still see what is on the screen?
 

GimmeSlack12

macrumors 603
Apr 29, 2005
5,395
8
San Francisco
It is not very easy to use your media center as your main computer. Text is very small from far away, and if you're not using an HD tv with a DVI connection then the text is virtually un-readable. And trying to sit at your coffee table and use your keyboard and mouse is pretty unbearable after a minute or two. I really recommend against doing this.

I bought a used Mini G4 ($400) as my media center and it works beautifully!!! I would invest in one of these and get yourself another computer as a day-to-day machine. Macbook perhaps?
 

imac/cheese

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 7, 2007
555
1
It is not very easy to use your media center as your main computer. Text is very small from far away, and if you're not using an HD tv with a DVI connection then the text is virtually un-readable. And trying to sit at your coffee table and use your keyboard and mouse is pretty unbearable after a minute or two. I really recommend against doing this.

I bought a used Mini G4 ($400) as my media center and it works beautifully!!! I would invest in one of these and get yourself another computer as a day-to-day machine. Macbook perhaps?
I do plan on using a computer monitor as the screen versus a TV. We do not watch television so we do not need a TV tuner. I simply want to be able to watch DVDs and pump iTunes through our home stereo system.

The MacBook and mini combo is an option that I am considering, it would just be a lot easier to have one computer.

I appreciate everyone's advice on this subject.
 

GimmeSlack12

macrumors 603
Apr 29, 2005
5,395
8
San Francisco
For just one computer the Macbook is the option that would be best. You can use an external monitor no problem and it is a more upgradeable system. You can use an external keyboard and mouse to (which is what I do) and portability if the issue ever comes up.

You'll be able to hook your iTunes to the stereo and use FrontRow as well as normally as you would with a Mini.
 

imac/cheese

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 7, 2007
555
1
For just one computer the Macbook is the option that would be best. You can use an external monitor no problem and it is a more upgradeable system. You can use an external keyboard and mouse to (which is what I do) and portability if the issue ever comes up.

You'll be able to hook your iTunes to the stereo and use FrontRow as well as normally as you would with a Mini.
This is for my living room and I am not sure if I want a laptop sitting next to my entertainment center. Can you operate the MacBook with it closed?
 

diehardmacfan

macrumors regular
Mar 12, 2007
204
0
if your gonna use macbook without using the screen, then why not get a mini. just hook the mini up to your monitor and use a bluetooth keyboard and mouse....it will save u tons of money
 

imac/cheese

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 7, 2007
555
1
if your gonna use macbook without using the screen, then why not get a mini. just hook the mini up to your monitor and use a bluetooth keyboard and mouse....it will save u tons of money
That was my original plan, but I also need to use the computer for various office tasks and I was trying to see what my best options would be. If anyone here has a living room setup that they effectively use for both office tasks and as a media center I would love to see it.

I really don't want to be uncomfortable while doing ofice tasks.