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Hey Steve, I need you to create a Mac MiniTV!

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Carlo Medina, Feb 4, 2008.

  1. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Well-Known Member

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    Since Expo came and went with MB Air beig the main hardware enhancement and AppleTV only getting a software bump, but no hardware change, I realized that what I'm really jonesing for is something between a Mac Mini and an AppleTV.

    Here's what I want to do: have a server for all of my music (over 50GB in AAC320, but I'd be interested in ripping them with ALAC which would triple the size) and maybe some movies (mostly home-made movies as I buy DVDs/BDs and have no interest in the pseudo-hi-def that AppleTV offers).

    On the surface it seems like either AppleTV or a Mac Mini should suffice. Here's where each falls short in what I want:

    AppleTV lacks:
    1. External HD compatibility, without having to hack it.
    2. true 1920x1080 support (even if downloaded Apple content maxes out at 720p).
    3. Keyboard/Mouse support to make menu navigation and reorganization of files easier.

    Mac Mini lacks:
    1. HDMI output (yes I know I can do a DVI-HDMI cable)
    2. Optical audio output (so I can go all digital and get 5.1 support to my receiver)
    3. More refined Front Row - there are options available on the AppleTV Front Row that aren't in the Mac Mini Front Row.

    I don't really care which way Apple chooses to go, and money's not too much of an object in either case. I'm willing to pay $600-$800 for the Mini since it also doubles as a computer.

    So Steve, here's a willing customer, just give me what I want and you can have my money! [​IMG]
     
  2. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Well-Known Member

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    I use a Mini as an HTPC:
    2) It most certainly does have an optical audio output (to my knowledge all currently shipping Macs do, in the form of a digital/analog combo minijack.) It passes 5.1 to your receiver from the Apple DVD Player, Elgato's EyeTV, etc. What would be nice is an additional audio out on the front for headphones, etc.

    3) Is strictly a software issue.

    1) As you said, crossover cable works fine. What's missing, isn't HDMI, it's HDCP (which could work over DVI just as well). Because there is no HDCP, Apple can't get studio approval for its 720P rentals for Macs -- they are only available on AppleTV.

    Personally I would like a souped up HTPC Mini -- there are three missing things:

    1) Enough horse power to flawlessly play all 1080P H.264 material.
    2) Video card that supports dual link DVI (for 30" Apple Ciname Displays, etc.)
    3) FireWire 800 port in addition to the FW 400 port.

    A larger form factor to accommodate all this, plus maybe a 3.5" 1TB internal drive will be more than welcome, just so long as it stays quiet.

    Ted
     
  3. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Well-Known Member

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    Any idea how to convert that optical audio out to a receiver? It's not a traditional coax or optical out, so I'm confused. I read the Mini manual and it does claim to be an optical out, but I can't find a conversion cable for it in the Mac store...
     
  4. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Well-Known Member

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    Yes you do need a little adapter plug. I got one along with a standard optical TOSlink cable from the Apple Store & one from J&R. Maybe even Rat Shack has it.

    I'll bet Amazon does as well.

    P.S. I have one more strong wish for a Mini improvement: 802.11N Also updated Apple Cinema Displays -- way overdue for a refresh.
     
  5. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Well-Known Member

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    Well if I go with a Mini, I guess I'll have to find one of those cables.

    Those other changes you propose would be nice but I'm afraid they'll increase the price of the Mini too much. I don't know how much it takes to do 1080p HD, I think the processor is fine, and probably the 1GB of RAM, but it might take a dedicated GPU as well and that always adds quite a bit to the cost. If the new Mini could do true 1080p HD, I'd be willing to forego the ability to do dual-link DVI...I think that would be unreasonable for something in the $600-$800 range.

    Firewire 800 should be doable for a minimum cost. And they should consider adding HDCP [oh goodness did I just write that?!?!?] so that they can bring iTunes rentals to the Mini.
     
  6. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Well-Known Member

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    I agree, absolutely that if all Minis had those features they would cost too much -- this should just be the high end model or an entirely new machine -- call it the Mac Maxi. They should absolutely keep the low end Mini at $599 and hopefully even lower it to $499 to attract switchers.

    The Maxi on the other hand could be well above $1000. The 1080P, good GPU & dual link DVI does more than just make this an attractive machine to HTPC users -- it makes it attractive to gamers as well. There may not be enough of one group or the other in the Mac universe, but combine them, and you have a viable model/market.
     
  7. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Laptops don't have optical out [​IMG] I've connected my MBP to my TV and stereo. It's a fun thing, but too much bother for anything but rare use.
     
  8. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Well-Known Member

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    The ONLY current Mac lacking optical audio is the MacBook Air.
     
  9. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Well-Known Member
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  10. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Well-Known Member

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    Many thanks Cameron!

    Well I'm going to hold my breath and hope for an updated Mini soon. According to Macrumors buying guide it's approaching the end of an average life cycle [based on previous times between updates]. I'm just hoping they bump up the HD, CPU (which are generally given) and RAM. The current Minis only come with 1GB of RAM. I have 2GB of my Macbook Pro's RAM around (bought 4GB from OWC) but I'd invalidate the warranty by opening up a Mini and replacing the RAM (not that it stopped me from replacing the hard drive on my Macbook Pro, talk about surgery!).

    I did know that the Mini lacks HDCP and therefore won't do iTunes rentals but I really wasn't in that market anyway. If a new Mini were to come out in the next month or two, even without an HDMI upgrade, I think I'll pull the trigger. HDMI to DVI has, in my experience, performed well, and now that I know how to get optical out of it, I think the Mini will fit my bill since it will allow me to use external HDs. It'll probably be a better web browser than an AppleTV [​IMG]
     
  11. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    As a college friend would, I'll be dipped! I never knew that about my MBP. I use the headphone minijack for speakers all the time, but I had no idea that it could serve as a digital audio output. Thanks [​IMG]
     

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