questions regarding mac mini as a HTPC and Plex

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by pmcmvp, Aug 3, 2009.

  1. pmcmvp macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    #1
    Hello there,

    Im thinking of buying the new mac mini (2G/320G harddrive version) and using it as a htpc. Im planning to use Plex as the interface. I have a 46 inch Samsung 650. Also planning to buy the HP mediasmart server for more storage.

    My main use will be watching my ripped dvds, and record/watch tv using plex inteface.

    I just have a few questions (sorry some are obvious but just want to make sure =P)

    i) mac mini can output 1080p and 5.1 audio (every person i asked in the apple store gave me different answers!)

    ii.) how can I record analog/digital tv? Is the eyeTv solution any good? Can the recorded tv be played through plex?

    iii) When I power on the mini, is there a way for plex to start up right away. (trying to make this easy for the wife and kid)

    iv.) Can i use the apple remote with plex? any other remotes that could be used?

    v.) I should be able to play video from the hpmedia smart server?, (using ethernet wired)

    I was thinking to build a pc htpc but I really want to stay with apple (i have a macbook already).

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. geoffreak macrumors 68020

    geoffreak

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    #2
    Yes. You will need a mini TOSLINK to TOSLINK cable and a mDP to HDMI adapter.

    Yes and yes. Plex can run the EyeTV software directly through it.

    You can have it launch at login (and setup automatic login), but it doesn't send the focus to it. The menu and dock show on top of Plex. If anyone has a workaround, I'd like to know.

    Yes. Logictech's Harmony remotes work too.

    Yes, just set the storage to the network drive with Plex. You might as well get a direct connection solution though. Firewire drives will be much faster than a network drive.
    You can also share a local drive over the network to PCs and Macs
     
  3. Shake 'n' Bake macrumors 68020

    Shake 'n' Bake

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Albany
    #3
    1. It should be able to do 5.1 via a TOSLink cable. 1080p via HDMI.

    2. I'd get a DVR from the cable company for this.

    3. Set it auto login and open Plex on login. Both of these options are in System Preferences -> Accounts. Auto login is under Login Options, Login items under the account.

    4. Yes. It is a $30 option.

    5. I don't think so. To get remote media to Plex, you need Plex Server on the sever.

    If you feel like it, get the cheaper mini and upgrade the RAM and HDD yourself. It saves a truck load of cash.
     
  4. pmcmvp thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    #4
    thanks Geoffreak for the quick response.

    about having a network drive, its faster with the direct connection, but would I see any issues playing my movies off a network drive such as HP mediasmart server? Anyone have similar setup?

    about the focus on plex starting up, can I get plex to be the focus if I push a button on the apple remote? Im trying to avoid anyone needing to use a keyboard and mouse to start using plex

    thanks
     
  5. Shake 'n' Bake macrumors 68020

    Shake 'n' Bake

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Albany
    #5
    I've got my iTunes media on a PowerMac G4 server, and even with multiple computers playing music or watching videos, it does not slow down or get choppy.

    You've got to keep it backed up, though.
     
  6. pmcmvp thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    #6
    thanks Shake n Bake,

    I really want to use the mini to record (dont want a separate dvr). Do you have bad experience with the eyetv? If the eyeTv is unbearable, Im really going to think about getting a pc htpc then.

    Yes ive read its easy to upgrade but just scared I will break something! =P
     
  7. Shake 'n' Bake macrumors 68020

    Shake 'n' Bake

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Albany
    #7
    I've never used eyeTV.

    IMO Windows Media Center is better than Plex and TV tuners are fully supported.

    I'm not sure about the new minis, but my mid-'07 is easy enough. My Apple Genius neighbor did it though. The only thing you really have to be careful of, aside from the tabs, is that one of the for screws holding the drives down is longer than the others.
     
  8. pmcmvp thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    #8
    I think Plex is good enough for me as I want to stay with apple (if possible)

    For people that have eyetv is EyeTV 250 recommended over the regular eyetv hybrid. Only difference I can see is eyetv 250 has a dedicated hardware encoder
     
  9. Shake 'n' Bake macrumors 68020

    Shake 'n' Bake

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Albany
    #9
    I know you said you want to stay with Apple, but, for less money (and more fun), you could make a Linux box and run XBMC. If I can persuade my dad to subsidize the cost, I'm going to do that. The only problem is the lack of Linux-compatible TV tuners.
     
  10. boston04and07 macrumors 65816

    boston04and07

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #10
    I know this is an old thread but I found it when I was trying to figure out whether or not I could launch Plex by pressing a button on the Apple remote (like Front Row). Anyways, if anyone knows this - I'd like to know!

    Also, I have an Eyetv 250 and would definitely recommend it. I've never owned a hybrid but if this is going to be your primary dvr, having the dedicated hardware encoder will probably make a difference. I got mine used on Amazon for a little more than $100, which is around the cost of a new hybrid.

    I know this kind of came late but hope it helps anyways! :rolleyes:
     
  11. electrolux76 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2008
    Location:
    NY,NY
    #11
    Hi boston04and07,
    I use a program called Mira, it's made by a company called twisted melon and it works great. It adds a ton of functionality to the apple remote.
    Check it out
    http://twistedmelon.com/mira/
    Hope that helps
     
  12. boston04and07 macrumors 65816

    boston04and07

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #12
    That looks like it might be exactly what I had in mind! All I wanted was a neat little way to choose which application to launch with the remote, and it looks like that's what it does. I'm away from my main computer right now but I will definitely be giving it a try when I get home in a few days. Thank you!! :D

    Edit: Which button on the remote do you push to enable the launch menu, just out of curiosity??
     
  13. healeydave macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2008
    #13
    Its amazing what you find reading these forums. That Mira looks neat, I would have instantly bought it if I didn't spot it doesn't work in Snow Leopard yet.

    It makes you wonder what other goodies are out there you haven't stumbled on yet :)
     
  14. boston04and07 macrumors 65816

    boston04and07

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #14
    I know, right?? All of my favorite apps were found this way, I love it. I'm constantly looking at the favorite apps threads just to see what I'm missing!

    As for Mira, I'm running SL and so far it appears to be working fine. Granted, I haven't tried it with my apple remote yet as I don't have it with me. Where did you read that it wouldn't work??
     
  15. healeydave macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2008
    #15
    Directly on the authors web page, under the news entitled "Snow Leopard - Bad Kitty".

    link:
    http://twistedmelon.com/news/#08280901
     
  16. hoverX macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2009
    #16
    I have a 42" samsung and mac mini. I tried using an HDMI cable with it. No luck, couldn't set the TV to a good resolution where the image wasn't too small or too big. I ended up using a VGA cable and getting 1024 x 768, which still looks fine but no digital and no 1080p :(
     
  17. boston04and07 macrumors 65816

    boston04and07

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    #17
    Ohh yeah I missed that. Hmm, I was wondering why it wasn't working - hitting the Menu button on the remote brought up my new menu, but started Front Row as well, and I couldn't figure out a way to change that. Once they write the new version though, it looks like this is exactly what I was looking for.
     
  18. NeilP macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    #18
    The Plex forum has threads on setting the resolution. As I recall, on Samsung sets you have to turn off the fast motion feature. On my Panasonic, I had to go several menus deep to turn on the PC input feature of HDMI port #1 and also turn off overscan on the Mac. That gives one-to-one pixel mapping.
     

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