Use a Mac Mini as a HTPC?

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs' started by Ronald Epstein, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    I have always like the idea of being able to sit on my couch and browse
    the Internet on my 65" display.

    I have toyed around with the idea of buying an HTPC. However, I own a
    very expensive Tivo (that I love), and an Oppo Blu-ray player that excels
    in loading and playback.

    There is no need for me to buy a full HTPC that will record TV shows or
    play back Blu-rays. Just don't need it.

    However, I could certainly use a device that would allow me to surf the
    Internet, download and use applications (including office products) and
    share/play videos across my network.

    Since I am a Mac user, I figured that perhaps, a Mac Mini would be the
    perfect product.

    From my understanding, it has an HDMI output for audio and video.

    With a wireless keyboard and trackpad, I could surf the Internet, work on
    Office applications and play videos.

    Just wondering what you guys think of going this route.

    One last question...

    On a plasma display, where IR is always a concern, do you think this is
    a bad idea since the operating system would have static images on screen
    for long periods of time.
  2. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator

    Mar 4, 2001
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    One Loudoun, Ashburn, VA
    Real Name:
    David Fischer
    Sounds like a great idea. IR seems to be overblown as a concern with plasma from recent years. Especially if you're not leaving a static computer desktop on screen all day. And this isn't a dedicated Mac screen, so you'll have lots of other content. For a cheaper try, I wonder if an iPad + appleTV + airplay would give you on screen browser? Also, for playing videos...if you mean YouTube, have you tried using your TiVo with the iPad app? It's not as smooth as a computer, but lacking a computer on a monitor, it's nice.If you've got a spare mac, plug it in and try it out :)
  3. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
    HW Reviewer

    Jul 4, 2012
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    Chicago-ish/NW Indiana
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    The issue with Ipad...

    It uses apps you have to pay to use(Spotify and HuluPlus, mainly). And you have zero direct access to ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox(unless you download the apps* to the Ipad).

    As for IR, I use my Hitachi P50X901(which I have two of them) all the time. One via a dedicated Lenovo IdeaCentre and the other via an Ipad, HP DV7 or Acer 7735.

    My plasma are much older and I just set them on "some channel**" on Directv for about 10 minutes if I was doing static images. Never had to use "wipe".

    *The apps of some of the networks aren't as full featured as the website via your computer...whether Safari or IE/Firefox/Google/Opera

    **Something without a ticker at the no news or ESPN.
  4. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer

    May 9, 2002
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    Since 2006
    Real Name:
    Cameron Yee
    I have a Mac Mini attached to my plasma and use it as an HTPC for EyeTV DVR, music playback and video streaming, with the added convenience of web browsing when using the home office computer isn't critical. However, given current technology options – streaming services, tablets, etc. – I don't know if I would go that dedicated route again. Put another way, if the Mac Mini went belly up I would not immediately replace it, but consider other options that would fulfill the same tasks.
  5. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast

    Jun 28, 1999
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    Central Arkansas
    Real Name:
    I've been thinking about doing this in the spring. Does anyone know how well the entry level 2014 mini fares as a dedicated HTPC running Plex?

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