PDA

View Full Version : Mac Mini as HTPC



ChrisG
23rd August 2010, 10:44 PM
For a couple of months now I have been using my Mac Mini (new design) as a HTPC. I have been experimenting with different ways of organizing and viewing my multimedia. From installing Windows 7 under Boot Camp to running Media Browser inside Windows Media Center to running XBMC and Boxee.

I really would like to use just the Mac OS as my primary platform with my HTPC but have a few issues that are stopping me from doing so. I have a couple of TV Tuners which I really like using in Windows Media Center (PlayTv - PS3 Accessory and Elgato EyeTV Hybrid). I really like the EyeTV software but am not sure if it is compatible with multiple third party tv tuners.

I also have a Logitech DiNovo Mini keyboard which I would really like to use with the Mac OS but some of the buttons don't work (play/pause) etc.

I was also looking at using Front Row as my central media hub and creating reference files using iFlicks to grab all the meta-data or just using Plex.

I was just after all your personal experiences on what works best.

Thanks in advance.

asgr8
23rd August 2010, 11:35 PM
Plex rules. i have been using it for a year now and its just great. Plex 9 is coming soon and its coming with more quality features. Give plex a go, you wont be disappointed.

ChrisG
23rd August 2010, 11:38 PM
Thanks for the tip asgr8. Will check it out now. What would be the best software for third party tv tuners that is like windows media center (or is there a way to run W7MC smoothly in the Mac OS?) and is compatible with my tv tuners

asgr8
23rd August 2010, 11:41 PM
I never tried it with any TV tuner. I used eyetv for a while but i am not sure if you can use 3rd party tv tuner with eyetv software. I don't think W7MC can run smoothly on Mac os. Its better if you stick to One OS and that OS application for optimum performance.

ChrisG
23rd August 2010, 11:47 PM
Thanks for the advice, I really want to stick to the Mac OS and not have to go in to Windows 7 as it defeats the purpose of having a Mac, but is there any equivelant software for Mac that has the same live tv functions as Windows Media Center and is compatible with third party drivers.

I am also connecting my Mac Mini via HDMI and can't adjust the volume, the volume icon has a stop sign on top and the volume icon on the task pane is greyed out and the adjustable bar is un-movable.

Thanks in advance.

asgr8
24th August 2010, 12:02 AM
I cant help you with Live TV thing. I dont think there is any software for Mac like that, i might be wrong.

When you say connecting HDMI with Mac. Do you have the new Mac mini with HDMI output or old one with mini display port one ?

If its old one then you also need to run another cable for audio.

ChrisG
24th August 2010, 12:16 AM
Thanks anyway. I have the new one with the built in HDMI port.

sobie2000
24th August 2010, 09:20 AM
Hi, I have a dedicated Win 7 box and a mac mini running eyetv. I use xbmc on the win7 box which can be started within the media centre front end, and plex on the mini.

Both solutions run fine but both have negatives. There s no perfect solution imo.

The win7 media centre is the closest to being perfect. What I dont like is you cant edit recordings within Win7MC like you can in eyetv, and there is no eyetv equivalent iphone app for win7MC.

What I dont like about the mac solution is there is less integration with the software - I have to use a mouse or trackpad to navigate around eyetv and switch between plex and eyetv. I hate frontrow and have uninstalled it.

I basically run 2 boxes, the mac mini in one room for plex and eyetv running in the backgroudn to allow the ipad and iphones to access the tuner wirelessly, and the win7 box in the other room for xbmc and tv recording.

If there was an iphone app for win7mc I wouldnt use the mac mini.

I dont know anything about 3d party tuners and eyetv

Balthazar
24th August 2010, 09:35 AM
Cant help you with your incompatibility issues but her is my setup in case you get anything from it:

Hardware:
- Mac mini (late 2009 non HDMI )
- 4x 1TB Western Digital MyBooks (1 for TV Shows, 1 for Movies, other two as backups)
- Eye TV Hybrid TV Tuner
- iPhone (with hippo remote) as the controller/remote

Software:
- Mac OS 10.6.whatever Snow Leopard
- Eye TV (for PVR and live tv) using Ice TV as the EPG
- Boxee for playback and media organisation of my .mp4/.avi/.divx etc.. collection
- Handbrake to "backup" my DVD collection

Work flawlessly, Hippo Remote is an essential tool but if you dont have an iPhone i recommend the magic trackpad in combination with a wireless BT apple keyboard.

ChrisG
24th August 2010, 11:00 AM
Thanks guys for posting your experience with using the Mac Mini. Do you think it would be possible to run Parallels with Win 7 and have it only run Windows Media Center? Do you think it would slow everything else down if I did that?

Sorry if I keep mentioning Windows Media Center but it is such great software, I just don't want to sell my PlayTV and get an apple compatible twin tuner (eyetv diversity) as it is so expensive.

Balthazar
24th August 2010, 11:03 AM
On your model it should be ok (maybe up your ram to 8GB)

decryption
24th August 2010, 11:04 AM
Thanks guys for posting your experience with using the Mac Mini. Do you think it would be possible to run Parallels with Win 7 and have it only run Windows Media Center? Do you think it would slow everything else down if I did that?

Sorry if I keep mentioning Windows Media Center but it is such great software, I just don't want to sell my PlayTV and get an apple compatible twin tuner (eyetv diversity) as it is so expensive.

If you're going to do that, just buy a Dell Zino. Way cheaper.

ChrisG
24th August 2010, 11:09 AM
On your model it should be ok (maybe up your ram to 8GB)

LOL, I only have 2GB of RAM - the baseline Mac Mini. Will that still be ok? Also, which virtualisation software would you recommend. Parallels or VM Ware?


If you're going to do that, just buy a Dell Zino. Way cheaper.

I originally had a bulky Windows HTPC but wanted something simple and clean so I bought the new Mac Mini. It is just software that is the problem.

decryption
24th August 2010, 11:17 AM
I originally had a bulky Windows HTPC but wanted something simple and clean so I bought the new Mac Mini. It is just software that is the problem.

Then erase Mac OS X and use Windows only :)

timetorelax
24th August 2010, 11:24 AM
Hi ChrisG

I bought the new 2010 mac mini (upgraded to 4GB memory) to run Win7 64bit MCE fulltime, using an external USB 1TB drive and USB twin tuner. My main reason's for using MCE is I use 2 Xbox360's as MCE extenders in 2 other rooms PLUS the mini is sooooo quiet and energy efficient as its on 24hrs/day.

I find "most" of the time it works fine BUT I have to restart the MCE software every day - otherwise liveTV stutters quite badly.

Balthazar
24th August 2010, 11:27 AM
LOL, I only have 2GB of RAM - the baseline Mac Mini. Will that still be ok? Also, which virtualisation software would you recommend. Parallels or VM Ware?

I use VM Ware and it runs great on a MBP with 4GB Ram. RAM is so cheap i would always recommend putting as much in as you can afford (Although my mini has only 2 and it runs just fine - even with Boxee playing, Eye TV exporting and handbrake ripping - i dont notice any slow downs)

ChrisG
25th August 2010, 08:25 PM
I have managed to install Parallels Desktop v5 on my Mac Mini and the menus in Windows Media Center run smoothly. However when I play the HD Sample video in the video library video playback is slow.

Also, when you try and play the recorded tv sample the video playback is jerky.

Is there any way to improve the video playback in Windows Media Center?

ChrisG
26th August 2010, 10:55 PM
I think I am going to give up on video playback in virtual machines and just use windows 7 natively under boot camp, unless anyone else has any suggestions that might help. To make the experience of the Windows 7 side nicer does anyone know of a Snow Leopard theme for Windows 7 that looks exactly like Snow Leopard on Windows 7?

NathR32
26th August 2010, 11:05 PM
To make the experience of the Windows 7 side nicer does anyone know of a Snow Leopard theme for Windows 7 that looks exactly like Snow Leopard on Windows 7?

http://forums.mactalk.com.au/56/90886-snow-transformation-pack-closet-apple-fanboy.html

rpjallan
27th August 2010, 12:29 AM
I have a Mac Mini with EyeTV Diversity. I just use Front Row with PyeTV. Works great for me. I don't know why you'd want to fuck around with Windoze on a Mac...

eron
27th August 2010, 02:51 AM
Some might want to wait to see what the possible new Apple TV might bring.

mitty
27th August 2010, 08:45 AM
I run a Mac Mini with EyeTV with dual tuners, works beautifully. Only annoying thing is I'd really like to use a remote and it just seems really annoyingly difficult to set one up to work properly. In the end I use a Wireless Apple Keyboard and now the magic touchpad to control the Mac Mini from the couch. We also have our 46" LCD plugged in and a 24" LCD so we can watch TV on the 46" and use the 24" to actual do PC type tasks. The Mac Mini (even though it's only 2.0ghz, one of the early 2009 models) handles it all beautifully with 4GB of RAM.

I have toyed with switching to Win 7 in Bootcamp. There is no doubt that the MCE experience is far superior to EyeTV or even anything else really, as it's all integrated plus if you have an MCE remote it just works.

If someone can point me to a foolproof and simple way to get an actual remote working under EyeTV/Plex etc that makes things easily controllable (eg simple way to change channels and fast forward/rewind/pause live tv) I'd really appreciate that.

The Apple Remote is fine for itunes but it's just crap for EyeTV IMHO.

forno
27th August 2010, 08:48 AM
I run a Mac Mini with EyeTV with dual tuners, works beautifully. Only annoying thing is I'd really like to use a remote and it just seems really annoyingly difficult to set one up to work properly. In the end I use a Wireless Apple Keyboard and now the magic touchpad to control the Mac Mini from the couch. We also have our 46" LCD plugged in and a 24" LCD so we can watch TV on the 46" and use the 24" to actual do PC type tasks. The Mac Mini (even though it's only 2.0ghz, one of the early 2009 models) handles it all beautifully with 4GB of RAM.

I have toyed with switching to Win 7 in Bootcamp. There is no doubt that the MCE experience is far superior to EyeTV or even anything else really, as it's all integrated plus if you have an MCE remote it just works.

If someone can point me to a foolproof and simple way to get an actual remote working under EyeTV/Plex etc that makes things easily controllable (eg simple way to change channels and fast forward/rewind/pause live tv) I'd really appreciate that.

The Apple Remote is fine for itunes but it's just crap for EyeTV IMHO.

Have you tried using Logitech TouchMouse?

Balthazar
27th August 2010, 09:05 AM
If someone can point me to a foolproof and simple way to get an actual remote working under EyeTV/Plex etc that makes things easily controllable (eg simple way to change channels and fast forward/rewind/pause live tv) I'd really appreciate that.

Hippo Remote (http://hipporemote.com/) for iPhone is excellent in my opinion.

rpjallan
27th August 2010, 09:55 AM
Hippo Remote (http://hipporemote.com/) for iPhone is excellent in my opinion.

I'll give that a try too...

daimoh
30th August 2010, 04:55 PM
Reading this thread has brought tears to my eyes and I think may even have caused chest pains ;)

I have a HTPC set up with an early 09 Mac Mini running OS X. It's the 2.0GHz one, with 4Gb RAM.

I also have 2 x dual tuner HD HomeRun network-addressable digital HD tuners (Watch Digital TV over your network - Home (http://www.hdhomerun.com.au)) which are, incidentally, just awesome.

Those tuners are addressed/read by an Ubuntu box, which is running a 0.22 build of MythTV (MythTV, Open Source DVR (http://www.mythtv.org/)). It sits in the attic and writes all the recorded shows to a DNS-323 NAS box with 2 x 1.5TB Seagate HDDs in it (D-Link ShareCenter? 2-Bay Network Storage (http://www.dlink.com.au/products/?pid=666))

The Mini is in the Lounge Room, connected to a Time Capsule AirPort (is that the right name?) over a 5GHz 802.11n Wifi Network. Yes, I can even watch streamed HD recorded shows over WiFi. The mini runs a "frontend" build of MythTv, which obviously connects to the Linux backend. I expect that you could run a combined frontend/backend on the mini - I have never tried though. You can get pre-compiled binaries for MythTV which seem to work.

I control it, and all my other equipment with a Sony Remote Commander - 8-in-1 Universal Remote Control - Multi Brand (product number ELSONYRMVL600) which can still be found here and there (I got it for $35 from some deal-a-day type site). This remote talks to "Remote Buddy", which is software and cost.. er.. $30 or something (can't remember), but it lets me do 99% of what I need to do.

I also have the Logitech DiNovo mini keyboard, for times when I need to do something out of the ordinary.

All of this sounds really scary, but even my wife can navigate the system and set her recordings, and even play back the netball games and desperate housewives shows. So the WAF (wife acceptance factor) is quite high.

Having said all that, Myth is a little "unstable" and can crash on occasion. The wife knows how to reboot things, but it usually only happens once or twice a month. Apart from that, you get the really powerful PVR type functionality from Myth, all running on a silent tiny box sitting under the TV, operated with a "normal" remote control.

If you install Windows on a mac you'll get struck down by lightening. You might even get syphilis too.

scottyh
30th August 2010, 08:56 PM
Plex 9 is due for release any day now and it will revolutionise the way we run our media centres. I love the iOS integration ...

Exclusive Hands-On With Plex/Nine For Mac OS X & Plex App For iOS Devices (http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/08/30/exclusive-hands-on-with-plex-nine-for-mac-os-x-and-plex-app-for-ios-devices/)

Reubania
30th August 2010, 09:57 PM
Plex 9 is due for release any day now and it will revolutionise the way we run our media centres. I love the iOS integration ...

Exclusive Hands-On With Plex/Nine For Mac OS X & Plex App For iOS Devices (http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/08/30/exclusive-hands-on-with-plex-nine-for-mac-os-x-and-plex-app-for-ios-devices/)


I know! I've been anticipating it's release!!! I do like Plex, but find it a little confusing to configure...and all this using my keyboard! I haven't invested in a Harmony remote, but with Plex 9 coming out as an iPhone app, this should be a lot less hassle! BRING IT ON!!!

Balthazar
31st August 2010, 07:45 AM
I loved Plex but my only issue with it was if it was in full screen mode it would not allow alt-tab into eyetv or any other apps as the plex window is always on top.

I hope they fix this for this release.


Plex 9 is due for release any day now and it will revolutionise the way we run our media centres. I love the iOS integration ...

Exclusive Hands-On With Plex/Nine For Mac OS X & Plex App For iOS Devices (http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/08/30/exclusive-hands-on-with-plex-nine-for-mac-os-x-and-plex-app-for-ios-devices/)

How about the Guy in this video? what a total douche!

Reubania
31st August 2010, 08:45 AM
I loved Plex but my only issue with it was if it was in full screen mode it would not allow alt-tab into eyetv or any other apps as the plex window is always on top.

I hope they fix this for this release.



How about the Guy in this video? what a total douche!


Agree with not being able to alt-Tab. It was rather annoying.

And yes, WHAT A DOUCHE BAG!!! He utterly cringeworthy (too try hard)

fother
31st August 2010, 09:43 AM
I know! I've been anticipating it's release!!! I do like Plex, but find it a little confusing to configure...and all this using my keyboard! I haven't invested in a Harmony remote, but with Plex 9 coming out as an iPhone app, this should be a lot less hassle! BRING IT ON!!!

You know that PlayMote is a plex remote iphone app already though, right?

Works brilliantly (and for boxee, XBMC, too). Was called PlexMote before, changed in an update. I find the combination of that and TouchPad - or any other mouse app - on my iphone is all I need to control Plex/itunes etc etc.

(More involved file management I do by screen sharing onto my imac)

But yeah, looking forward to some of the additions in Plex 9 :D

Reubania
31st August 2010, 10:34 AM
No, I've been blissfully unaware of any remotes apps for the iPhone out there. After seeing a few being paid and used by my ex, it really turned me off searching for apps that doubled as a "PC" mouse/remote.

But with Plex 9 iOS app, I think this solve all my woes (I haven't used Plex much based on the under-utilised keyboard shortcuts, and not wanting to fork out the cash for another physical remote to add to my growing collection).

bljpoad
31st August 2010, 11:00 AM
Plexures (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/plexures/id368086486?mt=8) is another plex remote app that is reasonably good. Free too.