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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.

So I says to him, I said “Get your own monkey!”

Show Links
HDTV & Home Theater Podcast
Apple Mac Mini
La Cie
El Gato
Media Central

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There are 12 comments on MacCast 04.14.2006 – Mac Mini Home Theater Special:

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  1. Gary | Apr 14 2006 - 03:33

    I’m only getting 1:18 from your site and iTunes. It looks like it should be about 50 mins or so but I’m not getting it. I’ll try again later, until then I have nothing cool to listen to.

  2. maccast | Apr 14 2006 - 03:32

    Yeah. I continue to have issues with Libsyn. The issue seems to be limited to just one server. I have a support call in with them. For now you can just keep clicking the link until you get the full file.

  3. Dave | Apr 14 2006 - 06:32

    Hi Adam,

    I’m a big fan of the show.

    I was very interested to listen to this episode as I have invested a lot of time figuring out a media streaming solution for my home theatre. Much like your guest, I purchased a Mac Mini and attempted to integrate it with my equipment, but I found enough short comings that I abandoned the idea. I was frustrated that this wasn’t as cool as I thought it would have been.

    Here’s the solution I discovered that is arguable the most perfect media server you could ask for: Xbox with Media Center. It can stream ripped DVDs from your Mac/PC over a network. It fully supports surround sound. It can read your itunes folder and play your itunes library (but not music purchased from the itunes store). It has a visualizer that blows away any itunes visualzier (remember – its a box meant for graphics!). It can tune into internet radio stations. It can even go out to the net and find the cover art of a DVD that you have stored on your server. It can even read your Replay TV library. There is just so much that it does that I can’t list it all here.

    The tools for ripping DVDs and music that are compatible with XBMC are the same ones your guest mentioned (Mac the Ripper, FFmpeg, iTunes, etc), and there are lots on PC too (which I must say I have found to be superior).

    I purchased my XBMC online for $190 (or you could hack the xbox you already have yourself for less than $100). Your guest mentioned spending about $900 on the Mini he bought. I would put the XBox up against the Mini (or any Mac) for a home theater any day and it would be a better solution.

    I’m a huge mac fan, but as much as I would like to see a Mac in my living room, this is just 1000% better. Until Apple really makes a machine meant to do this, I would stay away.

  4. Mark | Apr 15 2006 - 05:28

    I’d like to see a “recipe” type list of all the goodies in this project. Anyone have that posted anywhere?

  5. Jason | Apr 15 2006 - 08:40

    With regard to using the Mac mini as a DVP/PVR, I think the phrase “your mileage may vary” is completely appropriate.

    Not everyone will select the same hardware/software solutions for use in the Mac mini DVR. Not everyone will configure things the same. Some will *need* to record tv, whereas others just want their DVD collections available.

    Some will have great results; some won’t. And of course, some people are more picky than others and may not be satisfied, whereas other will be quite happy.

    Your mileage may vary.

    (I’m not an Xbox owner – and won’t be – so the mini is much better for me that a piece of hardware I’d never touch.)

    Here’s a recent review of the Intel Mac mini. http://reviews.designtechnica.com/review3531.html It may or may not help. It doesn’t get into serious techie detail about the setup of a Mac mini DVR, but it covers the topic generically and lists other benefits to using the mini.


    P.S. It’s important to note that Apple didn’t intend the mini to be a DVR. It’s a byproduct of creative geekery and good hardware. It works, but it’s certainly not perfect… yet.

  6. Dave | Apr 15 2006 - 04:30

    You can find out the list of features XBMC has here:


  7. James | Apr 16 2006 - 08:32

    I may be being stupid but.. this guy said he was running avi/divx files through his networked dvd player to watch them. when his mac is connected to his tv why doesnt he just play the files driectly without the ‘middleman’?

  8. Ara Derderian | Apr 17 2006 - 11:39

    Hi James,

    I wasn’t clear enough on the podcast. My networked DVD player is in my bedroom and connected to my LCD. The Mini is in my home theater connected to my DLP. That’s why I want a video server. I want to be able to watch my video anywhere in the house as long as I have a network connection.


  9. Steve | Apr 18 2006 - 01:55

    Hi Adam, love the show have taken to listening to the podcasts rather than the radio, all we need now is daily Maccasts. On the issue of overscan I have the Mac Mini plugged into a Panasonic 42″ Plasma, there is an option in the display sys prefs to switch off overscan, this then fits the screen size and the menu’s and dock are clearly seen.
    Second point being the resoultion of the iTunes iPod files, even on a 29″ CRT these look pretty average especially the darker areas. Great show and a great insight on how to use the Mac Mini has a media centre.

  10. Kurt | Apr 20 2006 - 11:47

    Hi Adam,

    Why are you talking about getting a macmini for your home theater network. You said you have TiVo now. Aren’t you using the home network with it? I have been using it for two years now. It is great, linking with itunes, and Iphoto for slideshows and music. Isn’t this all the mac mini is going to do for now?

    Just interested in your reasoning.

  11. maccast | Apr 21 2006 - 09:33

    Ah yes. My TiVo is netwroked and it works fine, but it can’t play DVDs or video from iTunes, etc. The Tivo will be integrated too just for different functions. Plus FrontRows interface is much cooler than TiVOs ;)

  12. Darrall Cutting | May 02 2006 - 06:31

    Ara didn’t say what brand of networked DVD player he uses. I have a Buffalo LinkTheater which works great most of the time. However I haven’t worked out how to use it with streaming video as opposed to playing files. I also found the supplied LinkTheater software worked well Mac OSX 10.4.3 and then failed completely after I upgraded to 10.4.4. It took several months before Buffalo issued an update which now works fine on 10.4.4. Very frustrating. Now I am not game to upgrade to the later OSX versions for fear the player will become inert metal again! However I’m currently happy with the player, despite the fact it won’t yet play the H264 compression codec….maybe a firmware upgrade soon?