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Brandon

Tom,

I enjoyed reading about your setup! Good to have another post on how the Mac mini is so perfect in a Home Theater setting.

I did have a few questions - What is your stereo system and are you happy with its performance?

Does AirMouse have a specific profile for an HTPC frontend like Plex? If it does not, you should try HippoRemote. I recently reviewed it on my site (after purchasing it) and it has a Plex profile which is very handy.

Also, where did you get your entertainment center? I like the size and its slick, techy look. I have a 47" HDTV and I think it would work well in an entertainment similar to yours.

Thanks again for your article - Good luck with your setup!

Brandon (minihtpc.info)

Tom Karlo

The stereo is a 600 series Onkyo, it must be at least 4-5 years old (I bought it off Craigslist.) It's a little short on optical inputs and doesn't have HDMI switching. I have an Onkyo 605 as well on another setup, for $430 (last year) it adds good HDMI switching and conversion of other sources into HDMI.

So far I have to admit I'm not using any remote, generally. I don't even tend to use Plex or Frontrow - it's so easy to use my Mighty Mouse that I tend to still use things like a computer. If I get some time to automate the transfer of new video content into Plex I guess I'll use a remote more.

One of the biggest problems so far that I can't solve easily is that Time Warner LA just doesn't seem to do a very good job in my area on bandwidth. On a weekday evening it regularly drops below 768 kpbs, which means that streaming off Hulu and other relatively high-quality sources usually stops working.

Viren

I am interested in a similar setup but would also like to allow my mac clients (MacBook Air & MBP) to access the media over the network. I would like to use Picasa and iTunes on my clients.

Have you had any luck with sharing the data over the network? I'm have a terrible time using an SMB share from a Windows Home Server now.

Viren

zack worrell

Nice explanation for setting up a Mac mini for a media sever. I currently use an AppleTV and hate it. This Christmas i am buying a new TV so I'm looking for some good ideas on how to change the set up. You never mentioned a wireless keyboard choice. Is the Logitech diNovo Mini one to consider? I also see that their are some external Blu-Ray drives for PC's. Does Apple support these too. Finally what is a good interface to use to bring in other standard s-video or RCA video signals into the mini? I know a tower would be easy to do this just by adding cards, but as you pointed out the low power consumption, size, and noise of the mini make it most
suitable.

Thanks for the article.

zack

Tom Karlo

@Viren: the problem may be that iTunes in particular isn't really designed to share media off a network file share. The better option is to turn on the music library sharing feature on the Home Theater PC and use that to access the music from the remote clients. Alternately, you could use rsync on a periodic basis to keep the client's libraries synchronized with a central library.

@zack I like the Apple wireless keyboard. I've used it for work for years and it's great, I'm using the same one for my home media setup now.

There are blu-ray drives for Mac, but no way (that I know of) to play a movie with using a Windows install under bootcamp or the like.

Elgato has very well-reviewed USB products for bringing in and compressing analog video signals - try the EyeTV250.

baksharp

Hi Tom,
Very informative article.
Enjoyed reading every minute of it.
Appreciate your single page Amazon link showing all the items with their pics on 1 page.
I am also considering a similar setup and am close to buying the new mac mini 2gb/4gb just released in OCT 2009 with wireless keyboard and the magic mouse.
I like your setup. Simple, yet very practical!.
thanks for sharing,
baksharp.

Steverino

There are YouTube videoes by mattarrr showing the Logitech diNovo Mini being used with a Mac Mini Media Center. An all in one keyboard and mouse control in a small form factor. He also has tips for gamers and has a Drobo setup either for backup or for holding video.

Tom Karlo

I've started using Plex more and more. It's got a bit of a learning curve versus FrontRow, but once you get it working it does the best job of cataloging your movies and television shows.

Tom Karlo

Okay, so one issue I've run into: I'm now out of TOSLINK inputs on the back of the receiver. Common problem.

irlpub

Hi-

Great article. I've been wanting to do this switch and after lots of research, your piece was the most comprehensive I found. I'm pretty sure I want to run everything with a Mac Mini. Forgive the novice in me, but I'm not quite sure at what the overkill point is on tech specs. (I'm not a gamer.)

How beneficial is it to exceed the minimum recs established by Boxee (1ghz) or Plex (1.6ghz)? is 2 ghz going to be better? 2.25ghz? 2.53ghz? Also, what about memory? Boxee recommends 512mb; Plex 1gb. Does 2gb make things better for your application of the Mini? 4gb? 8gb? Finally, it does seem better to opt for a newer Mini with the Nvidia GeForce 9400, no? Thanks!

Tom Karlo

Hey Trevor.

Well, the thing with the MacMini is you don't have that many choices of speed if you're buying a new one (or even any recent one - I don't recommend buying one that's older than the current design as they made material improvements this year.)

They're all fine, but I have a base model and yes, I can tell sometimes that it's struggling with upsizing video and decompressing - Hulu is particularly a problem at times. I'm pretty sure my Mini has the nvidia card, I'd definitely recommend that given that the primary thing you're going to do with this device is watch video.

I actually am not a heavy Boxee user, I guess I should try it again. I use Plex and Hulu for 90% of stuff.

You can't buy a Mini these days with less than 2GB of memory, nor would I recommend running OSX with less than that. It works fine with 1GB but replacing the memory in a Mini is not that easy, so you're probably going to stick with whatever you start with.

Tom

cameraboys

You have set up a nice system there and not so expensive also. Reading this great post I have found so many new and useful information about your manifesto, which I have not known before. I am so glad that I have bookmarked this website because I see that it is full of various and attractive information about everything. Thanks one more time for this publication, it was really interesting to read it.

peterrossy

I wanted to comment this paragraph:
Keyboard and mouse - any cheap USB units will do, these are just for initial setup and convenience when making changes. I happen to already own the Apple wireless keyboard and mighty mouse, which I bought for my home office, but they’re not necessary.
Keyboard and mouse are to expensive so it's cheaper to buy essay than to type it.

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