Enlighten me then! Mac Mini as a "Media Centre" - how does it fare?

Matt_C

Distinguished Member
Been thinking more and more about replacing my cheapo Compaq "ghetto" HTPC with a Mac Mini, but never having had a Mac, nor having ever even seen a (real) Mac Mini - how does it fare as a media centre?

It wouldn't have to do any TV related jobs (I have a PVR already) so all it needs to do is play music (MP3 mainly) and video/movie (typically DVD files, AVI's and some MPEG/WMV)

I'd need one with an optical audio output that passes untouched bitstream (for the DD/DTS in movie files) to my AVR

I control my current PC using a touchpad wireless keyboard/trackpad (think it's RF wireless, not sure - uses a USB dongle plugged in the PC)

So how would a Mac Mini fare?

Anyone got screen shots of theirs doing the sort of thing I'd want one to do?

Is there a "Media Centre" front end for a Mac Mini? I installed MEDIA PORTAL on the PC, but it's not great - that might be down to the PC mind......

Enlighten me my little Mac using brothers!!!!!!!!
 

jont

Well-known Member
A mini will do all of those things quite nicely:

It has an optical output - it comes with a very simple IR remote control for selecting and scrolling up and down lists - it comes with a built-in media centre software called Front Row which will play video files/dvd's/music and display photos (these can be on the hard drive or shared from other macs around the house) - will happily play HD and DS QT/.mov and .avi/.mkv files (with the add on of a component called Perian) ...

Take a few minutes to search the forum and you'll find lots of supporters of macminis for this duty and their thoughts/experiences

rgds

Jon
 

Matt_C

Distinguished Member
I meant to add that my TV is a CRT, so what sort of connectivity would I have for the TV?
 

jont

Well-known Member
Ahh ... could be a bit convoluted - the MacMini has a dvi output and comes with a dvi>vga convertor - guess you could put a vga>rgb scart box on the back of that ?

You can also get a dvi>s-video adaptor ...

What inputs does your crt have ?

Jon
 

Matt_C

Distinguished Member
Just scart (both svid/composite compatible) basically. I also have RGB Scart and component, but the Freeview PVR and DVD player occupy those inputs...

Does the Mac Mini output svid/composite from it's DVI output? If so, would it be as simple as using THIS cable, in conjunction with a DVI-to-VGA adapter?
 

jms_uk

Well-known Member
There's also another thread I started on regarding the software options we Mac folk have available to us... Might wanna check there for some ideas and answers and all contributions desperately, gratefully needed.. :)

http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=609383

One thing to consider as you're using a CRT with Scart/Component inputs, is that the supported resolution and image sharpness offered are (IMHO) just OK if you're only going to be using the big bold menus that most media centre type apps offer... More detailed image definition like those from an HTPC/HTMac desktop (text, webpages etc.) tend to appear quite blurry and unreadable otherwise
 

dodger747

Novice Member
The other thread has a good range of options available. If your looking at playing SD files than Front Row is more than capable and has a graphical interface.

If you intend on playing HD files than it becomes a bit more complicated. Front Row can't really handle HD files even with plugins so VLC or similar is a must, but then you lose the interface.

The market is crying out for a HD media center and the first company to release one will make a very healthy profit...:)
 

jont

Well-known Member
If you intend on playing HD files than it becomes a bit more complicated. Front Row can't really handle HD files even with plugins so VLC or similar is a must, but then you lose the interface.
If you are trying to throw 1080p files at it then I'd agree - but for 1080i/720p its fine on my old intel CD macmini (not C2D) ...

Bit of a moot point I guess though as will be watching a crt via s-video so SD will be fine ... and anything higher won't be noticed anyway !!

Jon
 

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