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my mac mini media center

since i posted yesterday about my wonderful new over-the-air hdtv antenna, i thought people might be interested in what it’s hooked up to.

namely, my recently assembled mac mini media center.

first, the relevant equipment:

» a Philips 23PF5320 23-Inch Flat Panel Widescreen LCD TV, which i’ve had for a number of years. positives: it’s a great picture, it’s just the right size for our apartment, and it has a vga pc port. negatives: it’s older, it doesn’t have a digital tuner, and it only has dvi, not hdmi.

» a 1.83ghz core 2 duo mac mini with a combo drive, which we purchased recently. i chose to get a mac mini rather than an apple tv because i wanted to be able to watch internet video content (hulu, and the like). positives: came with leopard, just works perfectly with no hassle, no viruses to worry about. negatives: although it has a dvi port, it doesn’t play nice with the dvi port on the tv, so it’s hooked up via vga.

» elgato eyetv hybrid, which is both the digital tuner that the tv lacks, and a dvr to record shows. positives: perfect picture, easy to use software, easy installation. negatives: none.

» philips fr994 receiver, which i’ve had for i think 8 years or so. positives: new enough to have digital audio inputs, wide variety of other inputs, programmable display. negatives: so old that there’s no video inputs or controls, only audio.

i can’t tell you how perfectly all this works together. the hookups are: mac mini vga to tv vga port, mac mini audio out to digital port on receiver, elgato eyetv hybrid usb stick plugged into the back of the mac mini, antenna coax lead screwed into the hybrid. i get broadcast tv, dvr, and internet video all in 1080i hd and 5.1 surround sound, and the only monthly fee i have is the internet access from the cable company. i don’t care about cable channels, so i don’t pay for them and i don’t feel i’m missing out.

i’ve ripped all of my cds, so i don’t need to use the cd player anymore. everything’s in itunes on the mac. and if i did need to play a cd, i’d just stick it into the mac mini and play it. same with the dvd player. we have a vhs player/dvd recorder that we used to dub a lot of kirk’s old tapes, but there’s no need now. just stick the dvd into the mini and play it.

if i choose to get cable somewhere down the road, the hybrid can work with the cable channels, with or without a cable box.

at some point i may want to get an all-in-one remote like the logitech harmony one, but for now i’m good with the remote for the receiver + keyboard and mouse.

i think i’m covered on entertainment for the forseeable future.

2 Comments

  1. Neal

    Hi,

    Thanks for sharing this valuable info on your video set-up. I’m definitely going to incorporate a similiar setup! I was wondering if you had a recommendation on what cables to use to ‘reverse’ feed your mac to your HDTV ? I see that EyeTV allows you to wirelessly receive the TV signal, however, I’m wondering what the best wiring is in order to ‘reverse’ the flow of video (playback from computer to HDTV) -most important to me is receiving the best picture available through these connections….

    Posted on 23-Aug-08 at 11:16 pm | Permalink
  2. hi neal,

    the mac mini only has one “video out”, so my hdtv is connected to that via the tv’s vga port, using a standard vga cable and with the dvi/vga adapter that came with the mini on the other end.

    all 1080p hdtvs work perfectly with the mini, because that’s a native resolution on the mini. with 720p/1080i hdtvs, the mini is sensitive when it comes to a digital signal — some hdtvs work fine when connected via dvi/hdmi, and others don’t.

    my 1080i hdtv doesn’t work with the mini when connected via dvi, hence the vga connection. i’d google your hdtv’s model number to see if it works well with the mini.

    a good resource for all this is:

    http://www.123macmini.com

    hope that helps.

    Posted on 24-Aug-08 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

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