Need a media center PC

Discussion in 'iMac' started by diman1881, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. diman1881 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #1
    Looking for advice on the Mac Mini for a home theater PC...

    Basically looking to have a system that will play movies (DVD and Web stream) along with video chat capability and web brousing.

    Looking for something that can handle a high end 1080P tv...

    I think the mini has some pros and cons but wondering if anyone has done any significant research to keep me from spending a few months looking :)

    Also does anyone know if there are some good wireless webcams that work well for video conferencing? Looking to set up the entire system myself at home without drilling through the walls for cables.

    THANKS!!!
     
  2. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #2
    Mac Mini + Plex + Logitech DiNovo Mini = Heaven.

    Can't help you with the camera.
     
  3. diman1881 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #3
    Thanks (can you offer more info to a neopfite?)

    sorry but what are the other components you mention and how do you feel about the lack of BlueRay?
     
  4. mastershakess macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Location:
    Bel Air, MD
    #4
    Do you already have a main pc to use to stream video/audio from?

    If you could stream from another computer I'd suggest a PS3 or Apple TV
     
  5. diman1881 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #5
    My home laptop just crapped out last week and I am off to the apple store this weekend to pick up the high end MB.

    I was thinking that a dedicated mini may be a better option than streaming from a laptop...

    Short answear to your Q is No :)
     
  6. mastershakess macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Location:
    Bel Air, MD
    #6
    Well I've plugged my mini into my 40" Sony Bravia using DVi to HDMi cable and everything looked great. I tried watching a HD TV file and I used the Netflix instant movie feature, both worked great. I use my ps3 for blu-ray.

    Feel free to ask me any questions about this setup.

    I don't see why your couldn't use any webcam, as long as its compatible with mac.
     
  7. neiltc13 macrumors 68040

    neiltc13

    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
    #7
    Mac mini is not an ideal media centre PC because the software lets it down. Front Row is awkward to use (thanks to a fiddly little remote) and doesn't support TV tuners.

    Also, it won't be capable of playing back DRMd WMV files either.
     
  8. dXTC macrumors 68020

    dXTC

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Up, up in my studio, studio
    #8
    Is that a smidgen of a joke there?
     
  9. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #9
    The DiNovo is a wireless minikeyboard/mouse pad and Plex is free software that is the best media software for Macs. I have my Blu-ray movies copied to a hard drive and play them with Plex with my 1080p projector and Onkyo 5.1 DD/DTS audio system by optical cable.

    There is no such thing as an ideal media center PC. The Mac Mini gets about as close as you can for a Mac-based system that integrates with OS X and iTunes. It also works perfectly well with Elgato's Eye TV so you can get TV as well.

    Blah. I doubt many people with Macs get WMV that's DRM'd. If it's not DRM'd then Plex will play it just fine.
     
  10. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #10
    Read Post #2. Perfect solution for MANY people.

    One reason people use the Mac Mini is due to the very low noise level (if you can even hear it at viewing distance) compared to a PC of the same price range.

    DRM WMV files are extremely rare.
     
  11. neiltc13 macrumors 68040

    neiltc13

    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
    #11
    You should be able to build a PC that is quiet for the £500 Apple wants for a Mac mini these days. Also, it will have more internal storage and the potential for Blu Ray playback. Mac simply cannot do that.

    They are used on BBC iPlayer and 4OD. Pretty important for a media centre to get two of the major networks' content on demand, right?

    Personally though, I think the ideal media centre computer is a PlayStation 3. This too won't be able to play back DRMd WMV files, but it does have the bonus of being able to play lots of good video games and it has a built in Blu Ray player, along with a web browser. You can buy a TV tuner for about £60 which allows you to record, rewind and view digital TV.
     
  12. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #12
    My gaming computer cost $2000, has $300 of silencing parts and still not as quiet as a Mac Pro.

    iPlayer is available for OSX. :rolleyes:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7787335.stm

    Yes people use PS3 for blu-ray playback. However Blu-Ray takes 1 minute to read the disk. High definition computer content works much faster than blu-ray disks.
     
  13. diman1881 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #13
    thanks everyone! Great info so far, please keep it comming, I am learning a TON!

    Few points of clarification so far...

    1) I am in the US so I don't watch BBC all that often. If that format is primarily used in the UK than I can probably live without it... (Although who doesn't love "Dr. Who"????) :D

    2) I am planning on connecting the computer to my 50" Panasonic Plasma TV (errr monitor) (DVI to HDMI?) so I will not need a TV Tunner... The plan is to recycle my current Panasonic tv into my office / media room and pick up the new Samsung LN52A650 for my living room. I digress...

    3) It seems that now that I am turning into a MAC convert (the only Apple product I own right now is my iPhone, getting a MB this weekend, and am considering options including the mini (this thread)). So with all this info, does it matter for the ease of networking with my wireless network, wireless printer, planning on a wireless TB HD? I guess it's part of moving into the 21st century...

    THANKS AGAIN!!! You guys are AMAZING, TONS of great knowledge!!!
     
  14. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #14
    The quietest ones I've heard of are the Lian Lee's (~US$200), and their fans run all the time. If you put a desktop cpu in it, it will generate much more heat than a notebook cpu. But then you have the performance issues, too. The Mini is pretty much the best you can get. It would be nice to have Blu-ray support natively, though.
     
  15. mastershakess macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Location:
    Bel Air, MD
    #15
    My gaming PC costed me $1000, plays every game on highest settings at 60fps and its almost silent. I don't see the point in this argument?

    My PS3 doesn't take 1minute to load blu-rays, not sure what you are using. To my knowledge digital HD content isn't 1080p like blu-ray, it is 720p at best. You can't compare blu-ray to any digital content unless I guess you saved the entire blu-ray to your HDD, all 50gigs.
     
  16. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #16
    But the Mini is silent with video playback.

    The m2ts files in Blu-ray movies are typically in the 15-25 gb range. If you remux them without the additional audio tracks, you can get them down to 10-15 gb in size, provided they're in VC1 or AVC video. And they are still 1080p.
     
  17. diman1881 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #17
    OK another Q for you guys, what is the best quality that the mini will output JUST from the DVD player (720P?, 1080i?). I can live with 720 P as this will not my primary media center...
     
  18. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

  19. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #19
    It cost money to silence a computer.

    I don't do blu-ray but reviews of cheap blu-ray players are reported to take a minute to load the disk.
     
  20. diman1881 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #20
    hmmmm

    I forgot to mention that I have a Dennon 1080P upconverter... I would prefer not to use it for this media center as it is a giant, 50+ LB black box.... OK it does work amazingly and is currently setup to basically give me 1080P on all media types (including non HD cable) although I would bet (with my untrained eye) that I am getting 720P or so...

    Anyways what do you guys think? Is it worth using an upconverter between the mini and the tv? I am sure there are smaller ones these day but probably most of them are still heat / electricity hogs... It's basically just a giant video / audio amplifier...

    By the way am I missing something, why not just order the 4GB bundle from crucial and get an aftermarket 7200 HDD? It seems like apple is kind of bending people over for the upgrades. Does the case come off easily? I would think that this is a VERY simple DIY upgrade...
     

Share This Page