Question to those who use the Mini exclusively as an HTPC?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by essential, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. essential macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2008
    #1
    I, like many of you, was waiting for this Mini refresh to finally get an amazing HTPC setup going. There were two main features I was holding my breath for … HDMI, and what really got me ready to buy was the rumor that we would possibly be able to swap out the superdrive (pretty much useless) for a second internal (hopefully 3.5”) HD.

    What I want from an HTPC:
    A small footprint that has an internal 3.5” SATA, which ideally could be slaved to a computer, and can be easily moved from room to room.

    The Mac Mini refresh doesn’t reach my goal, but I’m not going to complain about how Apple is ripping us off with the costs for this and lack of core HTPC features, but I do have a question about the Mini’s worth based on exclusive use as a HTCP.

    Portability Cons:
    With this Mini refresh, it would need an external HD, which hurts its ease of portability, and it would require multiple video adapters, and at least one sound cord. Basically, when you hook this up, it’s staying in one spot, moving it wouldn’t be as easy other devices. If you had a Mac Mini with a secondary 3.5” SATA internal drive in place of the superdrive with HDMI output, you could move that thing around with ease, similar to a Popcorn Hour or QNAP NMP1000 with an internal drive.

    Cost Cons:
    The base model is $500, then an external would be required, plus more RAM. You’d be paying at least $300-$500 more than a WD HD TV or a Popcorn Hour, which are no where near as powerful, but very functional when your only use is a HTPC.

    Mini Pros:
    Still the sleekest looking device on the block. Has more power than most other possible HTPCs, and runs full OSX which offers great flexibility, so you install most Mac programs (assuming they don't have massive hardware requirements) including Plex Media Center, which looks to be the best front end media center program out there.

    Conclusion:
    If I’m running most files off an external anyway, the WD HD TV makes sense, and has HDMI out. The Popcorn Hour allows an internal 3.5” SATA hard drive, and has HDMI out. Neither of these devices offer the flexibility or power of a Mini though.

    Do you think the added cost and power of the Mac Mini is worth it even with it’s difficult portability and complicated adapters over a WD HD TV, Popcorn Hour, or the new QNAP NMP1000 that was on Engadget today?

    Thanks.
     
  2. mpshay macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 19, 2008
    #2
    Worth it?I think so, but I guess that's an individual choice. To me the lack of 3.5" drive is not a bid deal. I just ordered a new one to replace one of the two HTPC Minis in my house. I plan to connect this to a new Drobo (arrived yesterday) w/ 4 x 1 TB via FW 800. For me Plex is the way to go. The new app store is awesome. I don't think anything else is close!

    An HDMI output would be great, but I don't ever move this thing. Connecting a DVI-HDMI cable and TOSLINK cable is not much harder than just a HDMI cable.

    I ended up ordering the higher CPU. Figured I would give myself a little insurance for dealing with high bitrate 1080P
     
  3. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #3
    WD HD TV - STEREO STEREO STEREO. enough said.
     
  4. lamerica80 macrumors 6502a

    lamerica80

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    #4
    Do the mini have optical out or similar so i can get 5.1 digital sound from it to my reciever?
     
  5. clickgr macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    Germany
    #5
    Yes!
     
  6. suburbiton macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2009
  7. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #7
    OP what about streaming files?? did that occur to you? when i get the money ill be purchasing a mini, all my files will be streaming from an external HD connected to my MBP downstairs.. so yea..
     
  8. suburbiton macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2009
    #8
    Could you explain this idea a little more? So you're streaming to your Mini from your MBP - what happens when you need the loo? How do you pause the video?
     
  9. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #9
    i dont understand your question fully..


    i have an external HD with all the movies loaded into itunes (which is on the external HD). i open itunes on the mini and it automatically loads the library from the HD downstairs. wala. i have a remote for watching everything and a wireless keyboard/mouse near me for checking emails, using the net etc.
     
  10. suburbiton macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2009
    #10
    Ah, ok. I get it.

    If there was a way of making timer recordings of off-air programmes, then this would seem like the ideal solution!
     
  11. willcodejavafor macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2007
    #11
    I suspect you need an external tuner for that, like something from elgato. Pretty sure they even have one with two tuners so you can watch one channel and record another.
     
  12. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #12
    yup they ahve that, i have a single Digital tuner. works perfectly!!! i love it. my only complaint is that it chews a bit to much CPU usage for my liking but ahwell (only using my CD machine so i guess it would be better with a newer machine).
     

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