Should I get a Mac Mini as a media centre ?

Discussion in 'Apple Forum' started by MMachine78, Nov 27, 2010.

  1. MMachine78

    MMachine78
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    Hi,

    Just after a bit of advice. I currently have a wdtv hooked up to my tv and movies on a portable hard drive. I also own a MacBook pro; iPhone & iPad.
    I am going to put the wdtv upstairs and want to have something else through my tv, it will be used to watch movies and tv shows I have downloaded ( I want a nice interface so plex or xbmc) and also maybe YouTube etc.
    I am getting myself a bit confused reading all the threads on different options.
    Apple tv, Mac mini, revo.
    What do people think is the best way to go?
    If I get a apple tv do I need my MacBook on to stream everything or can I plug a portable hard drive straight in?
    Will a Mac Mini be worth the outlay as that's the more expensive option?
    Or do I go for a revo which is a bit cheaper but then will the mini integrate with all my other apple products?!?
    Help!!!
    Cheers
    Mmachine78
     
  2. CamFire

    CamFire
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    There are some posts here.
     
  3. shahedz

    shahedz
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    If budget isn't an issue a Mac mini running plex is the way to go in my opinion.

    Plex s a fantastic interface and dead easy to use.
     
  4. D20PAX

    D20PAX
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    Sorry to hijack but how stable is mac mini and plex?

    I previously ditched my media pc as it was a ball ache and often had me spending more time buggering about than watching the films

    I would love a true media server but I think the 20k price tag can wait until I win the lottery:rolleyes:
     
  5. jms_uk

    jms_uk
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    Been running plex almost since the beginning.. Great, stable solution IMHO :)
     
  6. Matt_C

    Matt_C
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    What the hell kind of media server costs £20k?

    On the subject of MM as media centre, I'd love to do it. It's price that stops me. My ATV is *nearly* perfect running XBMC as it's media front end, with the CrystalHD card it's almost flawless in it's playback, and file type/codec isn't a massive issue (though multichannel AAC audio is a problem, as of course the AVR the ATV is connected to by optical cannot decode AAC, so it just plays as stereo)

    I'd love to go the next step up, and have a MM running either Plex or XBMC as it's front end, hooked into the TV probably via HDMI, or possibly VGA depending if it can handle the graphics at 1920x1080 (I expect it can since my el cheapo windows PC could) and into the AVR via optical. All I'd need is a bit of software running in the background to transcode multichannel AAC to AC3 and I'd be set (another win for Windows; AC3Filter will do this for you with no seeming loss of quality or any timing issues. I expected it to max the CPU but amazingly, for my lowly spec'd PC, it didn't even break a sweat doing it!)

    With a replacement SSD in it (onboard storage space isn't an issue as it's all over the network), 4GB or RAM and at least a 2Ghz CPU, I reckon it'd handle pretty much anything I chuck at it - with the benefit of having a built in DVD drive so I ditch the DVD player!

    But at £300 or so for the MM, plus the cost of an SSD, plus the cost of possible RAM upgrade, it all works out rather expensive. I already took a huge leap to a £100 ATV (old model) + £38 for the CHD - compared to the PC I had (free) all I added to that was an optical equipped sound card (£7.50)!!!
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2010
  7. shahedz

    shahedz
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    As far as stability goes it' vert stable. I have not had any issues with Plex on my MBP or MM. I am not the most savvy with computers either. the latest plex is unbelievably simple to use!
     
  8. MMachine78

    MMachine78
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    I have looked at the ATV but i dont really use itunes for my movies and i keep seeing that you have to use handbrake to convert everything ?
    Will the ATV also stream music to my Surround Sound System ?
    I can probably get a new Mac Mini for £500. But this seems quite a bit if i can do something cheaper. (I don't think the other half wants to stump up that much for a xmas present after getting me a macbookpro last year!)
    I would rather stick to apple if i can so i can use the iphone / ipad as a remote.
    Would i need a ATV and Airport express for the music ?

    Matt_C - How do you run XBMC on your ATV ?

    Cheers

    Mmachine
     
  9. CamFire

    CamFire
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    Actually, I am thinking of a path like that - use AppleTV (gen 2) with a low-powered (intel) second-hand MacMini as the iTunes server...
     
  10. MMachine78

    MMachine78
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    I was thinking more of a MacMini sitting under my tv with itunes on and using Plex and then i assume i can connect the MacMini straight to my surround sound system ?
    I really want a good interface but would prefer something cheaper if i can...if i could use ATV and put plex or xbmc on this that would be good.
    If not i am thinking of a revo as a cheaper option if all else fails!
     
  11. Matt_C

    Matt_C
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    The old ATV can be used standalone with XBMC, but the new one, at least at the moment, can only be a media extender to Plex - so you still need a mac running Plex on it so the ATV2 can stream from it...
     
  12. MMachine78

    MMachine78
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    So on the new ATV if I'm running plex on my macbookpro will it show plex on the tv?
    Also I have heard there is a Program I can run so it reads this while my laptop is in sleep mode?
    Sorry for all the questions, I have read loads of threads but I'm getting more confused!!
    Cheers
    Mmachine
     
  13. Matt_C

    Matt_C
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    I'm not fully up to speed on ATV2 and Plex, only what I've read on here and some Google looks, but as I understand it, you need to hacktivate the ATV2 to install Plex on it, but also need a Mac running Plex to supply it. The Mac does all the decoding/transcoding/whatever and sends it to the ATV2 Plex interface so you can see it on the TV.

    As for being able to play stuff from the Mac while it's in sleep, I don't know anything about that. But I don't see how it could, as if the Mac is asleep, then it can't do any coding nor serve files on it's drive while it's technically not running...
     
  14. CamFire

    CamFire
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    There were a couple of threads on this - wake-on-lan, wake-on-wireless, etc. Allow the Mac to sleep, but wake it up remotely (somehow). Do a search here...
     
  15. Matt_C

    Matt_C
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    To be honest, I'm not really interested in the ATV2 - now my ATV1 seems to be all up and running I'm happy with that; the ATV2 seems very limited in what it can and can't do compared to the ATV1. My answers were more to the question posed.

    However, even if it can wake on lan, etc, the Mac "serving" it still needs to be on to actually serve it, no?
     
  16. dc8900

    dc8900
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    I'm running a 2ghz C2D, with 1GB RAM on snow leopard and PLEX for my HTPC, been very stable for me, not had any issues (although I will be doubling the RAM soon)
     

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