Will the mac mini work for this purpose?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by mde8965, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. mde8965 macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2013
    First a little background.

    I currently have about 6TB of media (movies and TV series - all of which are legal rips of physical media which I purchased). The deployment solutions I use to get this media to 6 TV's in the house are a mess. I currently have 3 streaming media boxes (Mede8er), 2 ATV's and 1 Roku.

    So for the whole house I have to keep the MKV rips as well as the apple TV specific rips.

    I bought the Mede8er boxes thinking I was going to convert the whole house to them. They play MKV rips without an issue. But after about 8 months of using them, I have come to dislike them very much. I mean they work ok, but the interface is horrible, and they are very high maintenance – metadata/tagging involves two different programs what only run in a windows environment – practically the only reason I use Bootcamp.

    I also have elderly parents living in the house, and they can’t use the Mede8er. Too difficult.

    So now I am doing an about-face and I want to convert the entire house to ATV’s (the parents like the ATV interface). I am excited about that as I will save a ton of storage not having to keep all of the MKV rips. I already have all the files in ATV format. I will not have to re-transcode the DVD rips even if I get all ATV3’s because there will not be a video quality gain. But I will gladly re-transcode all of my Blu-Ray rips (about 100 Blu-Ray files). All my files live on a Synology NAS, with backups to a second “dumb” NAS unit and another backup to various USB external HDD.

    I have a late 2013 iMac which currently houses my main iTunes. The iMac is located in the office where none of the TV’s are and I hate the idea of having to go turn on the iMac and make sure iTunes is running to watch movies on the ATV’s. I just acquired a mid-level late 2014 mac mini to replace a late 2012 MBP that one of the kids took to college this year.

    What I would like to do is to move my iTunes to the mini. Plug the mini into the AVR/TV in my living room so I can use it as a computer out there with the 65" TV as a monitor…and at the same time have it be an iTunes server feeding the ATV’s that will be in the living room, den, and each of the 4 bedrooms. I would run the mini 24/7 and disable sleep mode. Because I absolutely must have it so that anyone that turns on an ATV in any of the rooms is ready to go without having to go to another room to turn anything on… The Mini would be connected to the network via Ethernet, and all of the media files would continue to exist on my NAS which is in my office.

    Can I accomplish what I want to do with my mac Mini? Or am I missing something?

    Also any tips would be greatly appreciated. I know about Plex too, but even with that it would require an interface solution, such as ATV, that is dumbed down for the parents and the wife. So I might as well stick to iTunes…

  2. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Yes that will work just fine. I do pretty much the same thing although I don't have it hooked to my TV (it just sits in my office), but it serves 4 AppleTV's via HomeSharing. I have it set to automatically log in and load up itunes upon restart (i.e. if we lose power or a software update). That way I never have to think about it (especially if we lose power during the day when I am at work).
  3. mde8965 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2013
    Thanks for your response. I never really gave a lot of thought to the "lose power" caveat. Thanks for those tips.

    As a side note. I spent a couple of hours looking at Plex tonight. Don't want to use Airplay to my ATV's, so if I used Plex would have to do PlexConnect. And that scares me. And I am hearing some are having issues with recent ATV firmware updates. It looks wonderful, but also introduces more complexity to the end user experience, so I think I will skip it...
  4. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    If you use Plex, use the roku App. No hacking. It just works. I've use both. Both have their positives and negatives.
  5. mde8965 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2013
    And yet now you are using ATV's? Does that mean you ended up preferring the ATV/iTunes solution over the Ruku/Plex solution? Just trying to weigh all my options here...Thanks
  6. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    I love the ability to buy something (like a movie) with my iPhone/iPad/MBA and being able to watch it directly on the AppleTV and playing music via the remote app to my AppleTV's is great.

    Watching movies from a local library on the AppleTV is a bit of a cluster and that's where Plex on my Roku shines.

    I really am not sure either is perfect....
  7. mde8965 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2013
    You have been a huge help to me on this subject. Since I already have Roku's all over the house, and older ATV2's over part of the house (except for one room), I am going to keep both of my file formats for now (MKV and mk4). I am going to set up iTunes on the mini and get that all working with the ATV's, then install Plex and give that a go with the Roku's. If I like how the Roku/Plex option works, I will demo it with the parents and the wife. If they can use it without issue, then I will go that route rather than spending nearly $500 more to have ATV3's in all 5 rooms.

    I was beginning to think the Roku's were somewhat useless to me, but maybe this will be a good thing. And a fun project. But I cannot help to think I am losing sight of why I wanted to use the mac mini in the first place (to simplify my system and only need one file format instead of multiples)...

    Thanks again...
  8. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    I run Plex Server and iTunes on my Mini. I have everything in "ATV" format simply for space savings and serve those thru Plex. Then again, having the highest quality movies isn't my biggest concern especially since many I won't watch more than once or twice.....
  9. mde8965 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2013
    And that is another good point that I forgot about. Plex transcodes on the fly. So I can have all mk4 files and they will all work on ATV (iphones, iPad, etc) and Roku/Plex. That will necessetate me re-transcoding all my MKV blu ray rips to MK4 for ATV to get 1080p but that won't be too bad. But at least I won't have to store both formats on my server!!

    It is important to me to have highest quality possible (that is noticable) espcially in the living room with my main home theater setup (lots of gear, expensive speakers, etc.).

    Glad I got the mid level mini instead of the base level because I am not sure how the base level would have dealt with the transcoding...

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