mac mini

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by stevomacca, Nov 1, 2005.

  1. stevomacca

    stevomacca
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    Just started considering the mac mini as an HTPC, any comments?
    Looks to me like a good sub £500 system.
     
  2. Maff et1

    Maff et1
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    I'm using one with my Toshiba ET-1 projector. Not had much chance to play with it yet but it's looking hopefull.

    I'm using DisplayConfigX to get matching res for the PJ (856x480) - http://www.3dexpress.de/

    VideoLan Client for playback - www.videolan.org

    I've set up a share on my main windows PC for DVD's, I then have a web page which I can browse on my mini showing all the DVD's. Select one and it links to a m3u playlist file that tells VLC to start DVD playback.

    Processing power is limited so if you want to playback hidef material (720 or 1080) it has problems.

    It's certainly proving harder to find information then for a PC (although as I'm new to macs I probably just don't know where to look), but it's so small and quiet I'm really happy with it.
     
  3. jon stallard

    jon stallard
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    It's certainly got a lot going for it, so much so that I bought one for the same purpose. To cut a long story, the primary problem for me is the lack of a front end (such as the MCE one) and a remote control that will cover everything. But that's just my opinion based on sitting on a settee and being reluctant to get up off my @rse :)

    Processor speed on a mac has no direct comparison to a PC, they simply work in a different way, at least, that's what I was told. I'd suspect that any limitation in video out oomph is more down to the titchy little graphics card. The combined size of my graphics card and fan on my HTPC is probably the same in volume as my Mac mini! Sounds like quite a decent system you have though Maff et1.

    So mine languishes at the moment, desperate for a front end and all encompassing remote. There are ways around this, especially if you search this forum but for me, I just want 'out of the box' and working in minutes.

    Jon.
     
  4. markxtc123

    markxtc123
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  5. dkboy22

    dkboy22
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    I'm also considering a mac mini for HTPC but concerned about the lack of horsepower for HD stuff. Then I saw this:
    http://www.thinksecret.com/news/0509macmini2.html
    CPU up to 1.5GHz and double VRAM to 64MB!! :)
    Although Apple is not really publicising the fact that there will be upgraded Mac Minis out there? :confused:

    Does anyone think that the upgraded specs will now cope with HD 720P at the very least? If so, I might just take the plunge.
     
  6. Maff et1

    Maff et1
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    That looks rather good, I shall have to have a try this weekend
     
  7. cwick

    cwick
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    Centrestage is a bit pants IMHO. They had plenty of time to make a FrontRow, but they disappeared up their own *rses building a sodding great framework and architecture. I suspect Apple will pull the rug out from under them in short order. Shame, 'cos the early concepts looked great.

    If you search around a few blogs, it's fairly easy to pick up the FrontRow.app that's doing the rounds. Works fine here, nice 10ft UI for iTunes & downloaded videos.

    dkboy - the minor bump to the processor and a bit more vram won't improve HD playback enough to make it tolerable. Dropped frames will still be the order of the day (my powerbook is 1.5Ghz, and has a 128Mb 9600 on board - so more oomph that those new minis. Still not good enough).

    Cheers, Carl.
     
  8. Maff et1

    Maff et1
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    Shame if CentreStage is a duffer, the way most open source projects die - elegant design and a never reducing todo list.

    Best thing about my hacked up approach of a web page and vlc is it works on the mini and my PC's (and if I ever get round to building a linux box it'll run on that aswell).

    If I can switch my browser to kiosk mode it'll look just like a media front end, infact maybe I'll start an open source project.... ....my design is really elegant (html and css, plus cgi and or php, giving extendability and themes), I just need to put together a todo list...

    I could call it back row, or maybe Aisle Seat
     
  9. tomson

    tomson
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    Presuming you're using Safari there's an app called Saft that allows you to view in kiosk mode.
     
  10. mac_monkey

    mac_monkey
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    I'm using a mini as my HTPC. Cheapest option for a SILENT HTPC TBH. Heres a couple of links I've aquired whilst researching.

    http://www.salling.com/Clicker/windows/ -- Control mac with phone/pda ove bluetooth/wifi

    http://www.machtpc.com/
    http://htmini.com/
    http://solutionspheres.blogspot.com/
    http://www.hometheatermac.com/

    http://www.ripdifferent.com/ -- Mac the ripper (DVD shrink clone for mac)

    http://www.itheaterproject.com/ --More promise than centerSatge
    http://matinee.dizandat.com/ -- Video TS launcher, doesnt work over network :(
     
  11. jon stallard

    jon stallard
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    What exactly is kiosk mode please? Is this a mac thing?
     
  12. Maff et1

    Maff et1
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    Gets rid of menus and stuff. Back when the intershed was going to make everyone rich we were apparently going to stand arround in shopping malls and the like paying to access the web through kiosks. So the browsers added kiosk mode to stop you getting to the underlying desktop and filesystem.

    For IE on Windows try this in the run dialog: iexplore -k www.google.co.uk

    To close use Alt-F4
     
  13. markxtc123

    markxtc123
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    Just tried it. Says the parameter is incorrect.

    Mark
     
  14. stevomacca

    stevomacca
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    Hey that's cool, good prank to play on pc dummies
     
  15. stu_69

    stu_69
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    Any chance you can tell me how you set this up? I am looking for something similar and yours sounds like a great solution.

    Cheers
    Stu
     
  16. jon stallard

    jon stallard
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    Yeah, like this one! :) Ran it and it worked.

    Unfortunately, I did it at work where I use 2 x 21" CAD monitors so I had the equivalent of a browser opened up on a very big widescreen or in other words, it was visible for miles! (followed by a mild panic of 'how do I get rid of this')

    So yep, would be a good prank.... now that I know how to close it:))
     
  17. Maff et1

    Maff et1
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    Still very much a work in progress for me (and as I've just got the last Babylon 5 boxset it might remain that way for a while).

    First thing is to get VideoLan Client and check it plays DVD's OK for you (it defaults the strange things like no de-interlace and 300ms playback buffer so mess in the preferences till you're happy with the picture).

    Now if your media is on another machine you need to create a share on that machine and map to it on the playback machine.

    You should now be able to playback ripped DVD's from that share (or a folder on this machine if you aren't using a server) - can't remember in VLC if you choose play folder and select the VIDEO_TS folder or use play file and select VIDEO_TS.IFO in the VIDEO_TS folder

    Once you've started playing back a DVD you should be able to see it in the playlist editor, save this playlist to the same share/folder as your DVD's.

    If you open the playlist file (m3u) it's easy to see the format it uses, so you can make new playlist files for each dvd.

    Now create a webpage (or pages) linking to the playlists.

    Associate the m3u files to VLC

    Open the webpage in a browser and now when you click on a link it grabs the playlist file and opens it in VLC, which then plays the movie.

    Sorry this is a bit vague but I only had chance to try it as a quick proof of concept a couple of weeks ago and have been doings stupid amounts of overtime since so haven't worked on it.
     
  18. bad robot

    bad robot
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    I considered a Mac mini but believed it to be too underpowered for a really good htpc. Really i doubted it could play the best of 1080i like ROTK or Gladiator some of which go to 12-16mb per sec

    Apple always seem to mention H.264 and hi-def in general with G5s.
    Even though im in the process of building a new HTPC id be interested to hear from someone thats using a mac mini successfully for full 1080i with no problems and possibly streaming off a F/wire or USB2 external hard-drive.

    Could of saved me a small fortune.

    Good thread btw
     
  19. Maff et1

    Maff et1
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    You're right, theres no way a mini (G4 processor and 32mb Radeon 9200) is going to handle hidef.

    Doesn't bother me however as my PJ is only standard def.

    A firewire drive isn't going to have a problem with 12-16mb (with 1 stream anyway), USB should handle it aswell but with a processor hit.

    I use Formac XTR firewire drives, dual interface FW400/800 each with 2 250gb drives striped (so 1/2TB per unit), I recon they're fantasic (on my 2nd now, 3rd soon), and at about 210 quid not much more then a single 1/2tb internal drive. If they haven't yet they are soon to launch an 800gb unit.
     
  20. doctorjuggles

    doctorjuggles
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    So if the mini battles with hi-def, will the forthcoming releases like the MiniPC from AOpen and the Intel offering that's also in the pipelines be underpowered for hi-def too?
     

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