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Mini vs Apple TV
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steve_stewart69
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 6:28 am    Post subject: Mini vs Apple TV Reply with quote

Hi all

There seems to be quite a few similar sort of posts on this subject already but I'm hoping someone can address my particular query.

My wife and I have rather a large collection of DVD's which we're looking to clear from the living room to free up some space.

Currently any DVD's we watch are played through my Xbox 360 upscaled to HD on our Samsung HDTV.

Would either of the Mini or AppleTV be able to accomodate this? The thought is then to pick up an external HD drive to hook up to our solution and to start ripping DVD's so that we don't have hunt for the DVD once we've moved these from the living room. I realise the AppleTV unit doesn't have a DVD drive however we have a Windoze PC which we could use?

If anyone has thoughts on this or can point to any links of similar projects it would greatly appreciated as my original concept needs some finer details working out!!

My first thought is towards the Mini as this would give the added options for email and surfing although this isn't a requirement.

Whilst I'm not totally new to Macs it has been some years since a last owned one....sorry 'bout that Wink

TIA,

Steve
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Ben Tex
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unless you want to depend on streaming from another system, I vote for the Mac mini. You just have more and less expensive storage options. You also have the ability to play more formats (like Video TS folders and DivX out of the box). You would have to hack the Apple TV to do this.
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TonyMontana
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recently scrapped the Apple TV. I purchased a second Mini for the HTPC setup. With screen sharing I have no need for a keyboard or mouse. From my office I do all updates, maintenance, settings ect. The wife LOVES not having to switch inputs, juggle 5 remotes ect. I think the mini is the way to go after spending 5 months hacking, changing all my movies to different formats, and fiddling with the ATV.
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johnzy9493
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:22 pm    Post subject: Same goal, what I did Reply with quote

Funny, my girlfriend and I had the same issue -- tall towers of DVDs, wanted to get them out of our living room and make them easy to play.

Go with a mini for sure!

I've had a ton of fun working on the project so it dragged out over a couple months, but here's the short of it:

1. Buy your mini. I got a refurb for less than $500.

2. Set up a ripping/encoding workflow for the DVDs you own. If you had as many as I did, multiple machines helps. I had the mini and my macbook both ripping with mactheripper and encoding with handbrake. I used an external usb drive to shuttle files between machines when needed. This took a looooooooong time. (I encoded on the 'apple tv' setting for handbrake, it seemed a fair quality/file-size compromise.)

3. Plan for hard-drive space. You can't have too much. I put a 250 GB in the mini (up from stock 80) and attached a 500 GB Iomega drive (same form-factor as mini) via firewire... they filled up fast. Think terabytes, not gigabytes, for the future. Far as I can tell, USB 2.0 is adequate, firewire not necessary.

4. Figure out how you're going to play video from the mini to your TV. This can vary widely depending on what TV you have, whether you have an A/V receiver, etc. I settled on a DVI to HDMI cable running to an Xtrememac HDMI switch (also fed my directv hdmi through it) to go to the one HDMI port on my TV.

5. If you think you might use the mini to hit the web or email, consider an apple bluetooth wireless mouse and keyboard. They work great.

6. Finally, consider a logitech harmony remote. Takes a little work to get perfectly set up, but you can control the mini and everything else from a very wife-pleasing remote. I bought the 880 model.

This setup is a thing of beauty once it's in place. Front Row is a great interface.

Also recommend the app Lostify for tweaking meta-tags for movies or TV shows -- tags that iTunes "get info" doesn't let you change. Get cool posters for the pics of your movies at www.impawards.com.

And, think about a good power-strip solution and consider a backup plan. If your drives go south, you have to bust your DVDs out of storage and do the ripping work all over again. Time Machine and a matching big external drive should cover it.

Finally, remember you can launch iTunes from your mini and rent movies just like you can from Apple TV. You don't get the slick interface, but you can pretty much replicate ATV functionality by using iTunes on your mini. You sacrifice the easy renting interface of ATV for the great media center interface for all the stuff you already have. No-brainer. (Don't think you can rent hi-def movies this way, though.)
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daemqn
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 9:34 am    Post subject: Re: Same goal, what I did Reply with quote

johnzy9493 wrote:
You don't get the slick interface, but you can pretty much replicate ATV functionality by using iTunes on your mini. You sacrifice the easy renting interface of ATV for the great media center interface for all the stuff you already have. No-brainer. (Don't think you can rent hi-def movies this way, though.)


pardon me if Im wrong but I saw that today : http://www.tuaw.com/2008/03/31/apple-tv-on-mac/

so I guess its possible unless you have Leopard.
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steve_stewart69
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all

Thanks for the responses and they seem to be pretty unanimous which is good as I was hoping the mini would come out top!!

The option for email and web access is a real boost the more I think about it.

In terms of storage I was considering the Western Digital Mybok 2 Studio Edition 1TB. This should do to start and is preformatted for the mini.

The only question now then is do I wait to see if rumours of a Mini update are true or bite the bullet now???

Does anyone have any thoughts on the likelihood of the update and if so what Apple may be putting under the hood this time?

Thanks again guys....much appreciated.

S
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zanc
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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 8:30 am    Post subject: Re: Same goal, what I did Reply with quote

johnzy9493 wrote:
.

4. Figure out how you're going to play video from the mini to your TV. This can vary widely depending on what TV you have, whether you have an A/V receiver, etc. I settled on a DVI to HDMI cable running to an Xtrememac HDMI switch (also fed my directv hdmi through it) to go to the one HDMI port on my TV.



Any suggestions for setting up the video to drive a TV through DVI-HDMI. I'm trying to connect a Samsung 32" lcd WITH 1366 X 768 Resolution. Standard resolutions offered by the Mini always leave a black border around the image (720p). Please, don't suggest using DisplayConfigX or SwitchResX without telling me the complex setup parameters to use. I've tried and tried and just about to given up on the idea completely.
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gigaguy
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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know I've read this a million times, but why not keep the ripped DVD files and use those? Is it size reduction or compatibility with Front Row?

I only ripped 2 DVDs and they were several gigs. I guess the handbrake reencode is to reduce size. Is the reincode more Front Row friendly? Do you have to put them in the Movie folder?

I use a Mini with 160gb hd hooked to a 46" HDTV. I have an external 260GB hd but may get another too. they are both half full already.
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johnzy9493
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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 1:33 pm    Post subject: file size Reply with quote

The reason most people don't stick with the VIDEO_TS full rips from a program like MacTheRipper is file size. Depending on what type of rip you do (feature only, full disc, etc.) you can be dealing with 4-8 gigs of data.

Say you own 100 movies and want to create a library on your Mini.... that adds up to a ton of storage space. If you plan to add a movie or two every week, you'll be upgrading storage space pretty often. (Plus if you're wisely backing up your files, you need 2x space to have a complete set of emergency copies....)

Using HandBrake, if you're willing to sacrifice some quality, you can get your movies to a gig or so (varies greatly depending on settings, I use the AppleTV preset) in size. So 100 movies, 100 gigs -- better than 400-800 gigs, eh?

Note that Front Row *can* handle Video_TS folders now, so that wouldn't be a reason to encode with HB.

All that said, if you have a lot of movies and have the $$, buying nice, huge hard drives and keeping the full rips is a great way to go... if unaffordable or impractical for most people.
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ESUNintel
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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Both are amazing, I personally prefer AppleTV cause it has an HDMI port (DVI and HDMI are reverse compatible anyways), plus it's a bit easier to buy stuff. If Apple made a Mini with a Blu-ray drive, that would rock, although you can buy one at fastmac.com and in theory it works with the Mini, but the price is crazy if you ask me . Rolling Eyes

...but than again the Mini would allow you to use your computer while watching TV if you get a wireless mouse and keyboard, that would rock.
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Bandit Bill
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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sold the G4 mini that I had hooked up in the living room in favor of this solution.

PS3 and Medialink
http://www.nullriver.com/products/medialink

Perhaps someone can suggest software similar to this that is compatible with the XBox 360 and your PC. I'm sure there is quite a bit available.
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gigaguy
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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Johnzy, I've been researching more since my post.

Is it crazy to add an AppleTV when the source Mac would be my 2.0 Mini stacked right with it at my HDTV. Isn't AppleTV's appeal that you can remotely & wirelessly access a PC's files in another location?

I like the benefit of dowloading iTunes HD movies to the ATV but may not be worth it just for that. I love my Mini more.
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Bandit Bill
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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yup that would be crazy.
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ahillworks
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bandit Bill wrote:
I sold the G4 mini that I had hooked up in the living room in favor of this solution.

PS3 and Medialink
http://www.nullriver.com/products/medialink

Perhaps someone can suggest software similar to this that is compatible with the XBox 360 and your PC. I'm sure there is quite a bit available.


I stream Movies from my Mini using Eye Connect and a Ps3. On the Xbox you may also use Eye Connect as well. Even best part if you where to place all them movies on a External Hard drive just plug it up to the PS3 (Xbox Not Sure) and watch away. Many Options out there. If it was me I would just use the mini and external but since my wife got a ps3 I was like what ever lol.
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Futa_Mill
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bandit Bill wrote:
I sold the G4 mini that I had hooked up in the living room in favor of this solution.

PS3 and Medialink
http://www.nullriver.com/products/medialink

Perhaps someone can suggest software similar to this that is compatible with the XBox 360 and your PC. I'm sure there is quite a bit available.


I use rivet with my XBox 360, and use rivet on my mini to stream my files, it has great options for streaming. That was one of the reasons I bought a 360, and also for gaming, I had used my mac mini with my tv but rez was bad (using tube tv) and I had used a modded xbox with xbmc, but i wanted a more friendly and rez friendly solution so came the 360. At the time I couldn't find software for streaming to PS3 so I wen't with the 360.
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