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Will the mini easily replace my current PIII setup?

 
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greg
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 12:09 pm    Post subject: Will the mini easily replace my current PIII setup? Reply with quote

I have an older Dell Pentium III 900Mhz that I use mainly for surfing, email, some office apps and moving video from a minidv cam to DVDs.
Will the 1.42 mini with superdrive and 1GB memory be able to replace it?
My main concern is the video burning. On my Dell I had to purchase a Pinnacle Card and an additional dedicated 120GB 7200rpm drive to burn videos. I'm just not convinced that I can get away with transferring/editing my home videos with a single 80GB 4200rpm drive.
Would something like a minimate with an additional 7200rpm drive help?
Are there any reviews out there that detail setups like this? (i.e. examples of using a minidv cam with a mac mini to burn home movies, etc.). I'd just like to know how well it worked or whether I should be looking at another Apple machine. Thanks.
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devo
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the Mac mini will be better than your PIII setup and will include some good software with iMovie and iDVD. I'm not sure about the miniMate but you can use any kind of external firewire drive if you need more storage. If video is your main goal you might want to check out the iMac or the entry-level G5 tower. If you do decide on the Mac mini make sure you upgrade max out the memory!
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greg
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Video transfer/editing is not my primary use for the machine but it has to work. My wife would kill me if I switched to a mac and couldn't copy our home movies off of the digicam to DVD. We do this a couple times a month and it is still dodgy with the buggy Pinnacle software and capture card problems on the PIII. We couldn't even copy videos until we bought the second 7200rpm hard drive to "stage" the video as it was being copied from the digicam. Maybe these aren't issues with macs but I have to work with what I know thus far.

I would buy a mini today if I could resolve the video issue in my mind. I'm sure that it is more than capable in all other respects since I don't use my PC for gaming or production graphics work.
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ahh
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 2:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Will the mini easily replace my current PIII setup? Reply with quote

greg wrote:
I have an older Dell Pentium III 900Mhz that I use mainly for surfing, email, some office apps and moving video from a minidv cam to DVDs.
Will the 1.42 mini with superdrive and 1GB memory be able to replace it?
My main concern is the video burning. On my Dell I had to purchase a Pinnacle Card and an additional dedicated 120GB 7200rpm drive to burn videos. I'm just not convinced that I can get away with transferring/editing my home videos with a single 80GB 4200rpm drive.
Would something like a minimate with an additional 7200rpm drive help?
Are there any reviews out there that detail setups like this? (i.e. examples of using a minidv cam with a mac mini to burn home movies, etc.). I'd just like to know how well it worked or whether I should be looking at another Apple machine. Thanks.


First instinct, is no, it won't do what your PC does. After doing some research on this "Pinnacle Card" I see its a TV tuner card with inputs. That correct? Mac mini has no such ports. Mac mini has usb and firewire, so if you minidv cam comes with a usb or firewire cord/hookup it would work.

As far as performance. The mini will definately out perform your P3. As far as space. 80 gigs is a lot. DVD's are around 4.5 gigs so unless you are talking huge video files and doing hella compression you should have enough space.

Bottom line, performance wise it will take care of what you need to do. (Might need to do a RAM upgrade. Do it yourself, it's tons cheaper.) Compatability wise, you need to check if you can hook your minidv cam to the mac mini.

Hope this helps man.
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bani
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

when editing DV, 80gb is super limiting. especially when it's loaded up with an OS and software already. video capture can eat that space in almost no time flat.

the mini has only 1 firewire port though, so if you have an external drive then your DV capture device is going to have to fight with it for bandwidth. its likely to get ugly with dropped frames etc during capture.

i/o is going to be the bottleneck here.

wait for the next rev mac mini maybe...
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ahh
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never done any DV editing but running through 80gb in "no time flat" seems a bit extreme. For example, an 80gb DVR records *up to* 80 hours of mpeg4. Lets say 40 hours to be safe. Please correct me if I'm wrong or misunderstanding this. Let's take a mac mini with an 80gb hard drive and the OS and all those applications taking up all that space. How much space do all your applications take up? Lets say 10Gb. So that leaves you ruffly 35 hours worth of data storage, or 70GB. 70GB is a lot of space for video capture in my book. Not enough space? Whats wrong with a USB 2.0 external harddrive? Is the bandwith large enough to support the requirements of DV editing or capture? I honestly don't know. But if it is, then you won't need to share your firewire port bandwidth. This is all of course assuming he can connect his DV cam thru firewire.

Like I said bani, I've never done any DV editing or capturing. I'm excited to hear if you could shed some more light on it for me. I have eyeballed a few capture cards and have wanted to build my own pvr for a while now.
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greg
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My video camera is a Sony DCR PC350 which has firewire and USB support. On the PC the big holdup was that I originally only had a single drive that shared space with the OS, etc. I had problems trying to burn movies. According to Pinnacle the single drive wasn't fast enough. I eventually bought a second high-speed dedicated drive just for burning videos. I love the simplicity, form factor and cost of the mini. I've considered the imac as well but thought I'd run into the same issue since it only has a single drive and I'm not crazy about the integrated monitor since I already have a very nice Nokia that I'd like to keep. I really don't want to spend $$$ on a powermac just to burn the occasional home movie. Seems wasteful.
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bani
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ahh wrote:
I've never done any DV editing but running through 80gb in "no time flat" seems a bit extreme. For example, an 80gb DVR records *up to* 80 hours of mpeg4. Lets say 40 hours to be safe. Please correct me if I'm wrong or misunderstanding this.


happy to correct your misunderstanding:

DV is unompressed video, 216mbytes/minute. This requires a sustained, constant, minimum of 3.6mbyte/sec. If you drop below that for even a fraction of a second, you drop frames. It sounds low, but a lot of drives can't handle this due to seek times and thermal recalibration, etc.

plus most people doing serious DV editing want uncompressed video so they can do per-frame editing and avoid generational loss. compressing on the fly to mpeg4 defeats both of these requirements. if you don't care (or are ignorant) about video quality then i suppose one might go that route. me? when i'm making DVD I want the highest possible quality -- so capturing to mpeg4 for editing is right out.
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ahh
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply bani. Definately understand now.

Seeing greg's post about usb and firewire support, what would you recomend for him then? External usb/firewire drive or internal upgrade, or stick with you original idea of waiting for next revision. I agree with greg, it seems a bit of a waste to purchase a powermac to take care of one task. Perhaps for a business but not the home user.
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bani
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

greg, my suggestion would be to take your dvcam and a couple blank dvd-rw to the local apple store and see if they will let you try it out.

i suspect you will find the mini's internal drive underpowered for this, and as i said you sure don't want an external firewire drive fighting for bandwidth with your dvcam. you might be able to get away with a 7200rpm drive on one of the usb2 ports, but that will require juggling a usb hub on top of everything else. and the mini might not be up to the task of juggling all the i/o at once. it's certainly no speed demon.

from what i have been able to determine (from reading various video editing magazine reviews, and from dvds i've watched that were mastered with idvd), apple's mpeg video encoder used in idvd is not terribly great either (but then, it's not intended for professional work). it may or may not give better quality results than what you're using now. that's something you should evaluate as well.
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greg
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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suspect you are right about the limiting speed of the drive in this case. As much as I would like to make "the switch" I think I'm going to hold off for now until I see clear evidence that it works or we see future revisions to the platform. Thanks to everyone for their advice/comments.
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syaman
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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2005 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, my take is that the mini's relatively slow internal drive might cause some synchronization problems when doing editing. This is based on observations of a colleague's experience editing long iMovie projects on her iBook G4 - which also uses a 4200RPM 2.5" hard drive like the Mac mini.

But this is nothing that using an external Firewire-based hard drive (3.5" 7200RPM 8MB cacheand the works) wouldn't solve. Simply connect the Firewire-based harddrive to the Mac mini, and daisy-chain the DV cam to the Firewire harddrive in order to capture video from the DV cam into the Firewire harddrive. This setup, which I also have on my PowerMac G4, does not result in any "bandwidth issues" or dropped frames. DV streams require 3.6MB/sec whereas Firewire has 400Mbits/sec (~50MB/sec), so I don't believe bandwidth saturation will be an issue.

In summary,
mac mini <---->Firewire hard drive <----> DV camera

all without the need for a hub.

Please do not be tempted to use USB2 hard drive instead as it is significantly slower than Firewire on OS X (unless Tiger's changed this). Also, you don't get to daisy-chain on USB2. Very Happy
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