Who has experience with Mac mini as Media Center?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Floris, Sep 7, 2007.

  1. Floris macrumors 68020

    Floris

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    Sep 7, 2007
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    Netherlands
    #1
    Of course, one could get the Apple TV .. but .. who here as experience using the Mac Mini as a media center in their house for watching tv and listening to music?
     
  2. kellen macrumors 68020

    kellen

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #2
    I do. Have it hooked up the surround sound and my HDTV. Works great, I would recommend a refurbed mini over an apple tv.

    Try 123macmini.com. They are dedicated to minis and have a specific HTPC section.

    If you have any specific questions, lemme know.
     
  3. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

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    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #4
    I use a Mini G4 1.42 gHz as my media center. I use it connected to my big screen TV and have Front Row running on it and I use a Griffin AirclickUSB to control it.

    It works seamlessely for bittorrented movies, DVD's, streaming iTunes, and streaming iPhoto. It is great!
     
  4. motherduce macrumors 6502

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    Oct 3, 2005
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #5
    How do you have it connected to your TV?

    I'm considering this option.
     
  5. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

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    San Francisco
    #6
    DVI to S-Video adapter. $20 at an Apple Store. I have audio running to my stereo via line out RCA cable.
     
  6. dontwalkhand macrumors 601

    dontwalkhand

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #7
    Most HDTVs have a port that supports a computer one way or another, be it DVI, VGA, or HDMI. You just need the proper cord.
     
  7. brad.c macrumors 68020

    brad.c

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    #8
    Same here. I use the composite (yellow plug) connection to hook it to my 15 year old JVC CRT. Sure the finder text is unreadable, but I only use it for Front Row. Any finer control is done via Timbuktu (thinking of switching to VNC).

    The iTunes library is on the main HD, and the video lib is on an external 120Gb firewire drive.

    Now our CDs are stored in the basement. I can rip rental DVDs to watch later if we don't get to see them before the time is up (2 small kids), and we have a back-up computer if the MBP dies. A big chunk of home video is on-line. Our audio library is now centralized, and our iPods sync from the one computer.

    And when we buy that wall-mounted HDTV, we'll use a BT mouse/keyboard combo to have a family computer. But that's icing for a cake we're pretty happy with so far.

    I bought the mini refurb'd online from the Apple store. Not really that much more than an AppleTV, IMO.
     
  8. bluedoggiant macrumors 68030

    bluedoggiant

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    #9
  9. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    Jun 3, 2006
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    One Nation Under Gordon
    #10
    Still won't be a patch on Vista. That's has a real Media Center built-in + big time third-party support. Runs on all the media-entertainment-use machines at home. If you're going to run a 'puter as a full-time media center, I don't really suppose it'd matter much what OS it runs even if it's an all-Mac environment.
     
  10. brad.c macrumors 68020

    brad.c

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    Aug 23, 2004
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    #11
    That's true, except for the Shudder Factor. ;)

    Besides, while my mini isn't perfect, I really want to avoid the "Honey, the media centre has another virus" moments.
     
  11. Tom Sawyer macrumors 6502a

    Tom Sawyer

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    #12
    The only reason that I didn't go with a Mini for my media center was that front row doesn't seem to have any way of playing iso's over the network. That may have changed since I looked at them a year ago.

    I ended up picking up an original XBox and soft modded it to run XBMC (xbox media center). Frankly, for a $75 bucks and a little time, it is a FANTASTIC media center solution. It does an amazing job with upconversion/2:3 pulldown and supports pretty much anything you can throw at it with the exception of HD content (not quite enough horsepower).

    Completely depends on what your main purpose is for it, but if you are mainly looking at playing music, videos and DVD's off a network share, the price of entry is low and the interface is extremely nice (almost Mac like to be honest)..
     
  12. jonnylink macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    #13
    Lets say a guy (or gal) was to buy a mac mini for a media center and wanted to add DVR functionality to it, anyone have experience there? I'm wondering if folks use Elgato or Miglia and why. And if they like what they've got.
     
  13. gazelleintense macrumors regular

    gazelleintense

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    Aug 22, 2007
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    South of Heaven
    #14
    little off topic, but still interesting...

    I know a small company near me that uses macs.... he has 2 minis as file servers, and about 8 imacs connected to them. pretty cool small office setup I thought. :D
     
  14. jonnylink macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    #15
    I had a friend who once considered daisy chaining a whole bunch on mac mini's to use as a server. I think he regained his senses before getting too far into the plan though.

    Now back on topic! Experiences with Elgato & Miglia?
     
  15. iDave macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2003
    #16
    I recently got a mini to use as a media center. It's great. I don't care too much for Front Row, so it's nice to be able to play videos with QuickTime Player or VLC and be able to jump to anywhere in the video. Likewise, I can use iTunes like it is intended and not have to use the Front Row interface. (I haven't tried the AppleTV interface. Perhaps it's better than Front Row.) I can do some casual internet surfing, send and receive email and everything you would normally do with a computer. AppleTV is very limited in that respect.

    I've had EyeTV USB Wonder for a couple of years on my other Mac. It's ok but I'm waiting for Miglia's new hybrid TV Mini HD+ (delayed all summer) for my mini so that I can get Clear QAM over the cable. Then I'll be able to use it as a DVR. Analog TV is going away in about 16 months so any TV device will need to be digital. Elgato doesn't seem to have anything which will work for me right now. (There's no over the air TV in my area.)

    I have a new Apple wireless keyboard on order (not shipping yet) but until that arrives, I'm using a regular keyboard with a long cable and a wireless mouse. I spend a lot less time at my desk these days. :)
     
  16. iDave macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 14, 2003
    #17
    Forgive my ignorance but what are ISOs? I'm able to play anything over the network using my mini so I'm confused as to what you're referring to.
     
  17. shinji macrumors 65816

    shinji

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    #18
    Interesting...do you guys have issues with choppy playback on the mini? Is it powerful enough to handle anything in HD? Like WMVHD with flip4mac installed? Or high resolution DivX?

    I'd really consider the mini as a HTPC, been meaning to get something like that setup.
     
  18. iDave macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 14, 2003
    #19
    No choppy playback here at all. The only HD I've tried is trailers from Apple's QuickTime site. 1080p trailers play perfectly. I haven't tried any WMVHD or DivX.
     
  19. motulist macrumors 601

    motulist

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    #20
    Don't count on it. The switch off date has been significantly moved back time and time again. There's no reason to believe that the new switch off date wont just get moved back again. Sure, the government and big media may make a lot of money if the analog TV spectrum gets switched off, but more importantly the government knows that TV is the opiate of the masses, and the 500 pound gorilla for manipulating and controlling the population.

    I'd be willing to bet good money that 17 months from now my analog TV receiver will still work, even if it needs one of those digital to analog converter boxes the government has promised to give out for "free" (paid for with your tax dollars).
     
  20. motulist macrumors 601

    motulist

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    #21
    ISO can mean several things, but in this context I'm pretty sure he means DVDs ripped in their native format into a disk image. Meaning not a re-encode rip into a divx .avi or whatever.
     
  21. iDave macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2003
    #22
    Sure your analog tuner/receiver will work with a converter. That's the purpose of the converter.

    I know the date has been pushed back a few times. I believe February, 2009 if a firm one though. The spectrum is being auctioned off. The time has come.

    Sorry for the off-topic comment. I just wanted to point out that it's not wise to buy any analog TV device at this time.
     
  22. shinji macrumors 65816

    shinji

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    Mar 18, 2007
    #23
    Cool, and are you using the little white remote that came with it, or you have something else worked out?
     
  23. iDave macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2003
    #24
    Interesting. That is something I have not tried, so I just did. I can't get a video_ts file to play with Front Row over the network. But a ts file opens and plays perfectly with either DVD Player or VLC. I don't normally keep ts files on my hard drives. They take up too much space, but it's interesting to know I can play one even if it resides on a drive on my other machine.
     
  24. iDave macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2003
    #25
    Yep, that works too. As mentioned, I don't really like Front Row and the little white remote. But if I put an alias of a networked folder containing video files in my local Movies Folder, those networked movies can be played just fine using Front Row and the white remote.

    I prefer to use a mouse and keyboard and play videos with QuickTime Player or VLC instead of Front Row. For some reason, Front Row just seems cumbersome to me, when the Finder does the same thing, as long as you have a mouse.

    This is all over a wired network. Since Mac mini doesn't have n wireless, there is some choppiness playing remote video files over g wireless. That, I don't recommend, although it works. G wireless isn't too bad playing near DVD quality video but it would be terrible with HD.
     

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