View Full Version : Mac as HTPC

29th March 2004, 04:34 PM
Does anyone use their Mac as a HTPC (Home enTertainment PC) exclusively - that is, a Mac dedicated for MP3 audio, CD, DVD and DivX playback in a living-room setting. Perhaps even for retro emulation, eg. SNES or PSX console emulators. A Mac carputer would be even better! In terms of hardware, something such as a Cube or Powerbook with S-video out would be ideal - but a lot of later G3 and 4 machines would also be quite capable for this task.

What software do you use for this, best codecs for video playback, how does the Mac OS translate onto a large TV/projection screen, any recommendations for TV-out video cards - list em all!

Perhaps we could write up an article once a few ideas are down!


29th March 2004, 05:08 PM
Back at home, I use my LC630 almost exclusively as a "Media Centre" type machine, which is basically another phrase for HTPC. The specs of it are the following:

Mac LC630 DOS Compatible
52 megs of RAM
250 meg HD (gonna upgrade when i get some money, preferably to say...a 40 gig...video takes up a lot of space)
8x internal CD-ROM
Apple Video System, providing Composite Stereo AV and S-Video inputs
DOS Compatible card, providing Windows compatibility
10BaseT Apple CommSlot Ethernet card

On it, i run the following software:

Mac OS 8.1
MpegDec (http://members.aol.com/xanathus/mpegdec/)
Apple Video Player
and various games and stuff

I have an Apple Presentation System, which lets me connect my LC630 to a TV via Composite or S-Video, and with a standard minijack to RCA patch cable, i connect it to the stereo. As for HTPC uses, i use it for the following:

Downloading photos from my digicam (even though my digicam uses USB, i can still connect it up through the Composite Video out cable that comes with it, open a picture on the camera, and take a screenshot of it on the Mac, and then convert it to JPEG and stuff in GraphicConverter. It can play audio CDs, it can play mp3s via MpegDec, i can hook up DVD players, VCRs and stuff to the Video System, to capture video or for just playthrough. I can also just use it as a normal Mac, to play games and stuff, as well as burn CDs and surf the internet, all on the TV. Its a neat system.

29th March 2004, 06:39 PM
I use my iBook for:
DVD's - watch movies in the bedroom, in the living room, on the train, bus, TAFE etc.
Music - same as above regarding places.
Games - same as above regarding places
Education (TAFE) - some excellent tools
Duplication - Toast
Networked - not wireless yet.
Astronomy - Controlls a telescope as well as recording the view from a CCD camera.
Weather station, receive NOAA Satellite signals via a decoder box bringing me full Satellite pictures of Eastern Aust.
Web Page creation - not a good one though, the user that is (Me)
I connect to external monitors as much as possible for a few reasons. The LCD on the 12inch iBook is not the greatest. I prefer the bigger screens if I have them around me. Saves the LCD as I usually have it turned all the way down unless I am using extended desktop, not mirrored.
Chatting - user Proteus for that, holds more stable connections with MSN, which most mates are using - so unfortunate that they still use Windoesn't.
Use it to design graphics with Photoshop for either TAFE, mates, etc...am looking to get into Grfx Desgn but no one wants me, alot like the rest of the things I do in life.

I use the iBook for everything, linux is on the server to offer a more stable and secure environment, the Winblows box...Box is the key word, as in XBOX, that's all it is used for, games, it is not on the network. why would you open up that hole? its a standalone machine, completely used for gaming.

Steve's iBook:
It has 386MB RAM, its a G3 900Mhz (I got it just before the G4's came out - was not happy about that) this is the replacement, as the first one had dead pixels which I argued about, being that it did not give me an image I wanted considering I used it for graphical work, as well as the main issue, Astronomy...hmmm, whats that red star? or it not a star...5 mins later, hmmm, what's that star? oh, its that dead pixel again.

I finally got it replaced. By chance (Apple lied - and I will tell you why) Apple went ahead and backed up my drive, or tried to. What they did was hook up an external firewire drive to backup. Apparently the firewire port did not work. then they asked me if I had a firewire device to try. I said no, but later (while waiting for a replacement iBook with a "working" fiwi port, I went to mates place, with an iSight. hmmm, its working, plugged in his fiwi HDD, hmmm, worked.

Apple lied to get me another iBook. Now I am not complaining at all, I am happy they did lie. But after they told me that, I still had the machine unti the new one arrived. Which it did 4 working days later. Mine was dropped off, and the new one was picked up. taken home and the HDD contents was replaced.

What a hassle. but persistance paid once again and I got what I wanted, a working screen.


29th March 2004, 08:11 PM
Originally posted by bYrd@Mar 29 2004, 04:34 PM
HTPC (Home enTertainment PC)
Home Theater PC.

For I am the acronym nazi!!!


Out of interest, has anyone had a go at getting MythTV workign on Linux PPC?


30th March 2004, 11:00 AM
Not sure if anyone else has been there but there is in fact a Mac specific HTPC site with some good forums, I remember going there about a year ago after finding the link on xlr8yourmac.com, if someone can find the link or remembers the site that would be great.

31st March 2004, 06:20 PM
i've got a real basic app that i started to be an interface for media on osx, something that could be navigated with my 17 button remote

my g3 wasn't fast enough so i stopped

your best bet would be mythTV or something and a lot or patching/compiling

thats if u want a real HTPC, otherwise use mplayer osx http://mplayerosx.sf.net/ vlc http://www.videolan.org/ itunes

also ffmpegx http://homepage.mac.com/major4/ for encoding video


1st April 2004, 12:15 PM
Originally posted by LCGuy@Mar 29 2004, 06:08 PM
Back at home, I use my LC630 almost exclusively as a "Media Centre" type machine, which is basically another phrase for HTPC. <snip>
This sounds like drag racing a stock T-Model, but you are to be commended for your determination&#33;

1st April 2004, 12:22 PM
My eMac sits in the study, but this is off the lounge via a double door. My Sony TRV355 D8 camera doubles as an analogue bridge and connects to the media rack in the lounge via long RCA ended extension cables.

The line out goes to the stereo (in the study, behind where I sit at the desk) and the line in is fed via an old TEAC A-108 cassette deck (the long dead tape drive removed, the audio board held pemanently in record mode) as a switch between mic and line level, as well as providing some nice, retro, latency-free analogue metering.

All of this multi-direction AV feeding is switched by the modified deck, the stereo, the camera and an AV switchbox on the TV rack.

The missus hates it, I quote, "Why can&#39;t we have a _normal_ stereo like everybody else?&#33;" ;)

1st April 2004, 01:08 PM
Originally posted by stevejay@Apr 1 2004, 12:15 PM
This sounds like drag racing a stock T-Model, but you are to be commended for your determination&#33;
Lol...in my opinion its nothing like drag racing a Model T, because the machine doesn&#39;t get "destroyed" like what those drag racers do to classic cars. Its exactly the way it was when it left the factory...just a little....faster&#33; :) And its anything but stock...the only stock parts left in it are the case, power supply, fan, floppy drive and hard drive. It used to have a 6 gig, but the 6 gig died. :( As for my reason of giving it this use, well i heard about these "Media Centre" PCs that are sold over in the US, and i thought, "I bet i could do that with one of my 68ks, and some other stuff i have laying around at home", and so i did. :D Works great&#33;

4th April 2004, 09:17 PM

Thats a pic of the setup back at home. Small TV i know, but my parents don&#39;t care about TVs...as long as it works its fine. Ah well.