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  • Using a Mac Mini as an HTPC

    http://www.apple.com/macmini/

    So the new Mac Mini seems to be a pretty stout little rig! I'm a little disappointed that it doesn't have an optical drive, and I'm hearing mixed things about support for blu-ray movies even using an external drive. I have also not been able to confirm whether or not it can output uncompressed DTS-HD/Dobly TrueHD audio.

    I do, however, really like it's looks, it's size, efficiency, etc. Plus, I think OS X Lion would be a good match for a living room setup. What are your thoughts? Does the new Mac Mini make a good HTPC, or should I just stick with my Boxee Box (which I love).
    "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

  • #2
    Re: Using a Mac Mini as an HTPC

    Yes, you definitely can. Quite a few people have since the minis were first introduced.

    Personally, I think it's a of a waste of good cash. At $600, you could outfit two HTPCs (like the one in my living room). Or build a very sweet HTPC that could be a center masterpiece in your cabinet.

    In the end, what you looking for in a HTPC? A theater-like experience? Laid back on the couch? What type of media will you be playing?
    |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
    TG World of Tanks Clan Executive Officer
    Former 9th & 13th

    Pronounciation: Eh-Cree-Oh Ah-Nay-Ess
    Still can't say it? Call me Acorn then. -.-





    SSDs I Own: Kingston HyperX 3K (240 GB), Samsung 840 Pro (256 GB), Samsung 840 EVO (250 GB), Samsung 840 x 2 (120 GB), Plextor M5S (120 GB), OCZ Vertex (30 GB)

    TG Primer and Rules

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    • #3
      Re: Using a Mac Mini as an HTPC

      I have pretty much built every known HTPC type solution known to man and tried them all.

      With the Mac Mini you might want to consider removing the top part of the case to allow ventilation, they tend to get REALLY hot and I have had several of them self-destruct due to thermal issues at work. Although at work I use approximately 40 of them reinstalled with CentOS and acting as IDS/Snort sensors.

      I think what Acreo asked is the most important; what type of experience are you looking for?

      My current, and to date most favorite solution, is to check in all my media content into iTunes on a computer downstairs in my office and then using $99 AppleTV devices throughout the house to gain access to the iTunes content as well as Netflix.
      Diplomacy is the art of saying "good doggie" while looking for a bigger stick.

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      • #4
        Re: Using a Mac Mini as an HTPC

        Basically what I'm thinking of, is a quasi-replacement for my Boxee Box. Basically, something small and sleek, but with the extra perk of being a pretty slick computer, as well. From what I can tell so far, however, it doesn't seem like the Mac Mini's even quite as capable as my boxee, when it comes to sound output. No blu-ray's a bummer, too. I do kinda like OS X lion for tv purposes, though.
        "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

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        • #5
          Re: Using a Mac Mini as an HTPC

          You could always build one with a BR drive and throw OS X Lion on there yourself.

          Okay, here's the question: is this more for media playing or as a computer with very big screen?

          I ask because if you're looking to basically have a slick rig (I guess gaming and such) with the big TV as a monitor, then just about anything you can build will do fine. However, if the primary purpose is to serve up movies and media for you and guests, then actually thinking about presentation, style, quiet and efficient components, a nice QWERTY remote (like the Boxee one or the Lenovo presentation one), a nice comfy couch, and a nice selection of movies and shows.

          You can easily get some very nice HTPC/media center cases that are great looking, sleek, and sexy. OSX Lion is just a fancier interface, you could easily get something fancy and nice looking from XBMC installed on top of Windows. Or you could go for a nice install of Ubuntu Ultimate and then install XBMC on top of that. That way, you get the 3D desktop stuff, a fancy (if busy) GUI, customization, and a rather unique wow factor most non-geeks (and geeks alike) will stare at and play with for hours on end.
          |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
          TG World of Tanks Clan Executive Officer
          Former 9th & 13th

          Pronounciation: Eh-Cree-Oh Ah-Nay-Ess
          Still can't say it? Call me Acorn then. -.-





          SSDs I Own: Kingston HyperX 3K (240 GB), Samsung 840 Pro (256 GB), Samsung 840 EVO (250 GB), Samsung 840 x 2 (120 GB), Plextor M5S (120 GB), OCZ Vertex (30 GB)

          TG Primer and Rules

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          • #6
            Re: Using a Mac Mini as an HTPC

            Originally posted by Acreo Aeneas View Post
            However, if the primary purpose is to serve up movies and media for you and guests, then actually thinking about presentation, style, quiet and efficient components, a nice QWERTY remote (like the Boxee one or the Lenovo presentation one), a nice comfy couch, and a nice selection of movies and shows.
            Bingo! That's exactly what I'm visualizing.

            Originally posted by Acreo Aeneas View Post
            Or you could go for a nice install of Ubuntu Ultimate and then install XBMC on top of that. That way, you get the 3D desktop stuff, a fancy (if busy) GUI, customization, and a rather unique wow factor most non-geeks (and geeks alike) will stare at and play with for hours on end.
            Great idea! Have you seen any cases that even compare to the Mac Mini? Most that I've seen just kind of look like plain computers, but in compact form. Really boring. I want something that meshes with my entertainment center, and doesn't detract from it too much...otherwise, I'd just use my old computer as an HTPC.
            "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

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            • #7
              Re: Using a Mac Mini as an HTPC

              Originally posted by War.mongeR1 View Post
              Bingo! That's exactly what I'm visualizing.

              Great idea! Have you seen any cases that even compare to the Mac Mini? Most that I've seen just kind of look like plain computers, but in compact form. Really boring. I want something that meshes with my entertainment center, and doesn't detract from it too much...otherwise, I'd just use my old computer as an HTPC.
              *eyes twinkle*

              Oh, yeah, I got cases, some of my favorites. Rather good list. Some of them could fill different roles (like a receiver-mask, old school radio, etc):

              Receiver-ish looks. I saw these a while back and thought "wow, if I had one of these instead and had guests over, they'd be like "where's the computer?". :D

              http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811204037

              http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811204031

              http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811204036

              http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811129054
              - this one is probably my favorite of the reciever-ish ones. It completely looks the part and I almost had used it for my current HTPC. Was even planning on putting it above my dad's current receiver. He'd be dumbfounded for a few minutes thinking I bought him a new receiver though.

              Old School Radio - I don't have any old furniture, but have friends and older friends who do. Would be awesome to have this in plain sight and have the cables hidden. People would scratching their heads and wondering if you had some magical TV from the future!

              http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811204036

              Minimalist - To a sort of extreme. I was thinking when I moved out and was living on my own, I'd have this set up in a book case with my other black non-descript volumes. Would-be theives might overlook it as a book and it would be another "in plain sight" setup.

              http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811163117

              http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811112303
              - this one is a bit glossy. I throw it in here since it's pretty minimalist in the front area. If you had some sweetly paneled cabinets, and could flush-fit this baby in there, it would make a awesome home theater setup.

              http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811163088
              - just caught my eye, never saw it before on NE. Too bad the rest of it is mostly black. Maybe a coat of pearlescent white paint might do the trick. Even some other modding so the rest of the shell is flush with the glossy front and back bezels.
              |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
              TG World of Tanks Clan Executive Officer
              Former 9th & 13th

              Pronounciation: Eh-Cree-Oh Ah-Nay-Ess
              Still can't say it? Call me Acorn then. -.-





              SSDs I Own: Kingston HyperX 3K (240 GB), Samsung 840 Pro (256 GB), Samsung 840 EVO (250 GB), Samsung 840 x 2 (120 GB), Plextor M5S (120 GB), OCZ Vertex (30 GB)

              TG Primer and Rules

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