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Maccast 2008.11.16 – Mac Mini Home Theater Revisited

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Mac Media Center, Podcast

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A podcast about all things Macintosh. For Mac geeks, by Mac geeks. Special edition. Interview with Ara Derderian from the HDTV & Home Theater Podcast. We discuss everything you need to know for integrating your Mac Mini into your home theater set-up. This show will help you understand the process and give you tips and tricks for making your media center Mac install a success. Enjoy.

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Mac the Ripper
Flip 4 Mac
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There are 11 comments on Maccast 2008.11.16 – Mac Mini Home Theater Revisited:

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  1. pds6 | Nov 17 2008 - 11:55

    Dear Adam:

    Great podcast. Like yourself, I have more or less gone the Apple TV route. I have an Apple Extreme with a Drobo attached. I have a small Apple TV upstairs and the larger model downstairs.

    When they work, they are great. I ripped all my moves with HndBrake in the automatic “iPhone/iPod Touch” settings. I can download to my Touch or play on then on my television. The quality if “pretty good”.

    I seems to me that it would not take a lot of work to make the Apple TV a LOT better product. I don’t understand why they save whole movies to the hard drive and stream the movies that can fit. Couldn’t they place the first 15 to 30 minutes of a movie (depending on the number of movies on your hard drive) and then stream the remainder of the movie to Apple TV while the first 15 to 30 minutes are playing. I think this would make for a faster and more responsive Apple TV.

    Keep Up the Good Work and Happy Thanksgiving,

    Paul

  2. Gus Caravalho | Nov 20 2008 - 11:22

    Thanks for the great show, Adam! I just dove into my Mac Mini home theater set up a few months ago and I’ve found a few solutions that you didn’t mention in your podcast.

    First, I use a Logitech USB-dongled wireless keyboard to navigate around the computer. Initially, when I plugged the dongle into the USB port in the back of the Mini, I could only use the keyboard and mouse from about five feet away, which was way too close to be comfortable. But as luck would have it, I was using this model:
    http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/keyboards/keyboard_mice_combos/devices/158&cl=US,EN
    and it comes with a little USB extender (I guess that’s what I’d call it). So I ran its cord out from the back of the Mini, so that dongle was facing out into the room, towards me on the couch, and that made all the difference. The mouse is a bit of a pain though (I use it on my thigh). It’s weird not having a desk to put it on. I hadn’t given any thought to it when I was getting everything together. So I’m looking into this keyboard, but we’ll see: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823126044

    Second, you didn’t mention the media center software Plex (http://elan.plexapp.com/). It’s amazing. The media directory structure that is required for it to work properly was a little tricky (for me, at least), but once I got it, oh man. It pulls information from IMDB and theTVDB to display while you’re selecting what to watch. Quite a crowd pleaser.

    Lastly, I just wanted to mention that companies are still making external drives in the same form factor as the Mini, though they were a bit tricky to find. I have an Iomega (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822186083). My stack of my Mini, the Iomega external drive, and my AirPort base station looks super slick.

    I was just flailing around in the beginning with this stuff and, as always, your podcast helped me immensely. Thanks again.

  3. Greg | Nov 21 2008 - 04:22

    GREAT show Adam. Enjoyed every minute of it.

  4. iConJohn | Nov 23 2008 - 02:32

    Last summer I decided to pick up a refurbished ?TV 160G for $239 rather that spend double on a Mac Mini. My content is 100% derived from Eye TV over the air TV. Just started using the Turbo USB to compress on my G5 but I do have problems on most exports to the ?TV setting. Elgato website promises a fix but it hasn’t happened. Most of my content is HDTV from PBS and it compresses till the end when it eventually fails. Solution is to export in hi quality iPod setting, but if it is great quality show like Nature, I compress to ?TV without using the Turbo and that works fine but takes longer.
    Best!

  5. James L | Nov 23 2008 - 07:35

    I have a MacBook Pro and I do hook it up with my Plasma TV in our basement from time to time. My solution for the keyboard/mouse when I am sitting on my couch is the Bluetooth DiNovo Mini Keyboard. This thing is awesome because it combines a mouse and a keyboard in a small package that I can leave on my coffee table next to my remotes. Also this has an USB dongle as well to use it with other devices such as my Xbox 360.

    Love the Show,

    James Liu
    Salt Lake City, UT

  6. Stephen Goss | Nov 27 2008 - 09:57

    Just listened to this Mac Mini HTPC podcast – great information. I have a MAC based system (iMac with Drobo for filestore and 3 Apple TV’s as clients and 2 airtunes setups for audio) plus an MCE system for TV recording (Quad digital tuner PC with 3 XB360 extenders). And I felt the inforamtion given on the use of powerline networking as a suitable way of wiring all the sources together was not accurate.

    I use a 200MBPS Devolo based poweline system with an N wireless setup, all video goes via the wired system and I regularly have 3 clients streaming video (inc HD) across the network with 100% reliability and no packet loss or issues. These AV network devices support QOS for video and are really a superb way of setting up a wired home network with tout the disruption of chasing in CAT 6 everywhere!!!

    sTeVE
    UK

  7. Diego | Dec 05 2008 - 06:12

    Just listened (late) to this great podcast. Something I didn’t hear mentioned was how to access iTunes purchased or rented movies from the Front Row interface. I’ve seen it done on the iTV. Is there a way to do this?

    Thanks,

    Diego

  8. Melinda | Dec 07 2008 - 04:59

    Your interview with Ara came at a perfect time, as I am (finally) getting my HT items together. Since the original air date, I’ve gone back and re-listened to this show multiple times :) Both of you had tons of great info.

    Especially thankful for the info on Monoprice cables! I just placed an order for a DVI-DVI and mini optical-toslink cable for my MacMini>Living Room TV, a HDMI-HDMI for my AppleTV>Bedroom TV and a network cable for the HDHomeRun>MacMini. With shipping, came to $21.00! less than a single inexpensive HDMI or DVI cable would be locally.

    now have:
    Apple TV
    MacMini
    HD HomeRun
    Extermal HD (one dedicated to the Mini, backing up to my main backup HD)
    Cables
    Mac the Ripper & Handbrake

    still need:
    EyeTV3
    2nd HD to be the Mini’s dedicated backup drive
    Time to get all configured/understand the best approach to making it work
    Time to rip everything :0

    thanks for the great info yet again!

  9. Interested | Dec 19 2008 - 04:51

    I don’t use mac products never been interested, why should I chose a mac over other products such as an IBM? I had an ipod once does that even count? I was surprised it was like owning a saturn the only way you could get there products is through their stores which leaves little room for discounts, I know things have been changing but why are they a better choice now?

  10. jflower04 | Feb 24 2009 - 08:39

    I have read several forums about people experiencing issues with the resolution coming out of the Mac Mini and what HD LCD TVs support. I would like to connect the Mac Mini to a 52″ Samsung LCD TV using a DVI to HDMI connector.

    The best configuration I can find is to use DisplayConfigX to configure the Mac to display 1920 x 1080 @60hz, which is the native resolution for the Samsung LN52A550. However I have read several people having trouble with this solution and I have to wonder; this the best way?

    Perhaps there is a certain TV I can purchase that will work with the Mac Mini Resolutions out of the box through DVI?

    Any insight would be much appreciated.

  11. Mark Cummings | Mar 10 2009 - 08:32

    hi Adam,

    really liked your show on the Mac Mini – Media Centre. I am finally in a position to purchase a Mac Mini – Media Centre, but unfortunately the new model is out and the video connections have changed to mini DVI and mini Display port. Is there any chance you can re-visit the subject. in particular what are the digital audio and digital video connection options.

    It appears as though Apple Store here in Australia are no longer selling the mini TOS to TOS fibre cable. I checked the US Apple Store and they don’t show it either, so where can I get one of these.

    For the video it appears as though the mini DVI to DVI is used with an additional DVI to HDMI cable. although this seems a bit kludgy, can you confirm if this will work.

    It seems to me as though Apple really don’t want anyone to use the Mac Mini as a Media Centre becuase if they did, they would be selling the cables as well, and have one set up in the Apple Store. they even plead ignorance to the fact that the AirTunes Express has a mini TOS connection option, but they can’t or won’t tell you where to get a fibre cable to fit. C’Mon Apple, pull your head out of the sand.

    great show,

    Mark