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Apple Desktops Discussion of Apple's desktop machines including Mac Pro, iMac, Power Mac, and mini

iMac - Media Center and Workstation (external LCD and external optical sound)


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iGudi

 
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Hi everyone!

As I'm about to run XBMC (Media Center) on my iMac, I have some questions that I hope you can help me out with. First let me explain my situation:

I wan't to connect my LCD television to my iMac thru the Mini Displayport to DVI. I then want to run the Media Center in one of my space. This way, I'll be able to use the iMac, but also see my Media Center on my LCD.

Now the tricky question... What about the sound?

I plan on using a Jack -> Optical converter, so i can stream digital sound - this is no problem. But is it somehow possible to use both the internal speakers and at the same time "reserve" the Audio out for the space running my Media Center.

If so, I would be able to use the iMac for normal usage - but at the same time watch a movie on my LCD in the living room having the "correct audio" both places...

The tricky part is the sound... Hope someone knows the answer?

Thanks!
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iGudi

 
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I guess I would have to start the movie from the iMac - unless it's possible to have 2 keyboard... if one of them can be locked to the space...

Though i don't think that would be possible...
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iGudi

 
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These are the converters I'll be using

For DVI:
Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter - Apple Store (Danmark)

For Audio:
Monster iTV Fibre Optic Cable for Apple TV - Apple Store (Danmark)
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fletch33

 
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1. i highly recommend Plex over XBMC. i have tried them all and Plex gets better everyday with an amazing amount of content.

2. you can only have either the sound going out or staying on the iMac and plugging the cable in is what controls this. it is 100% impossible to even have the internal iMac speakers work unless there is nothing plugged into audio out. this is a hardware setup and not software so it can not be manipulated since the iMac senses the audio in jack and sends all sound out and turns off the iMac speakers. this can be a pain the butt for your setup since you will have to manually reach back and plug and unplug your cable. having the toslink optical sound out cable makes it worse since you cant just pull it and let it drop but should put the cover on it.

there is a work around to being able to switch between your stereo out and your iMac speakers without having to unplug it but its gonna cost ya. details here.

3. not sure about shipping to wherever you are but you may find this optical cable a lot cheaper and they have them longer. i bought the 12 foot and it works great.

another thing that may bother you and it did me (switched to a mini) is that you can not turn off the iMac screen while watching a movie on your LCD TV and my iMac was located next to my LCD TV and i wanted a dark room sometimes for a movie. my only solution was to cover it with a towel. i googled and read forever on this subject and there are some suggestions out there but a towel was the only real way to get it out completely dark. if you turn down the brightness you affect the LCD TV picture and if your Media Center has a "Black out other monitor" option then it goes black but not off so you still see that glow.

anyway hope that helps

"i believe louisiana is the pelican state"
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iGudi

 
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Hi fletch33

Thank you for the reply, it was really helpfull...

Over time I will buy a mini - but as a start, I had hoped the iMac project would work.

I really don't like the "cannot turn of monitor" part - not that the iMac is in the same room, but thats really annoying. I make the screen go to sleep everytime i leave my office, so i guess that will "turn of the lcd" aswell?

Thanks again
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fletch33

 
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the iMac will work great for you. i used it for years like that and just unplugged the audio cable when needed. i recently sold it and switched to a Mini though is why i mentioned it. i am much happier with the Mini as my Media Center but i also really only use it for that since i have several other macs in the house.

also you might want to check out the EyeTV it is a great addition to your setup

also if you get any of the Harmony Universal Remotes for as low as $59 US then you can sit back and control all your devices including your XBMC/Plex from one remote. this is the best and the Logitech software usually finds all the codes for you online including replacing the Apple Remote.

have fun

"i believe louisiana is the pelican state"
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iGudi

 
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I'm gonna give it a shot.

I use my PS3 as Media Center today - and I'm actually pretty happy about it. There are some cons though: high power comsumption, not as userfriendly (girfriend usable), and not as usable as the mini would be for browsing etc.

Anyway, could clarify if I'm able or not, to make my screen goto sleep without the LCD will "turn off" aswell?
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fletch33

 
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if the iMac display sleeps then the LCD sleeps as well

"i believe louisiana is the pelican state"
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iGudi

 
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So, i finally got my cables.... The optical cable is running, and the DVI->HDMI is running aswell... Now I simply need to get my spaces running propperly, help!

I've 2 spaces, that means i get 4 when i turn on the LCD. The thing is, I'm unable to drag XBMC to the LCD, and get it into fullscreen right away. I'm unable to select the LCD in my spaces, so i can't say "XMBC must start in space 2".... It's turn on my monitor.

Only way to get it running fullscreen, is to drag a "none 1920x1080" onto the LCD, and within the program set the propper resolution, this way it's start in fullscreen on the LCD.

Help...?

.............................................
I've been told, that the only way to get a "propper scaled image" is by using VGA. The quality should be the same... The text is "scattered" but in fullscreen things looks fime - this shouldnt be a problem with VGA... Can anyone confirm this?
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iGudi

 
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Forgot to mention that my monitor is 1900x1200 and my LCD 1920x1080

I can't dublicate the screens, as my monitor will change to 1920x1080
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fletch33

 
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not sure what you mean by 2 spaces?

VGA would be taking a digital signal and making it analog so no you will not get the same quality per say but with the modern LCD's capabilities it sometimes is hard to see the difference. i know on cheaper or older LCD's the difference from VGA to DVI is very noticeable but not so much on some newer LCD's. i always go DVI or HDMI to be sure i am getting the best picture possible.

i would run everything in space #1 and run extended desktop where the LCD 1920x1080 is the extended monitor and the smaller one is the one for your dock etc... then open XBMC on the 1920 and go full screen. if you keep it this way when you shut it down then it should open back up full screen on that 1920 the next time. this way you always have your smaller monitor to surf, email, etc... without effecting the movie or whatever you are watching.

also thought i would mention again that having tried all the major media managers i found Plex to be the superior choice

"i believe louisiana is the pelican state"
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iGudi

 
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Hi fletch33

I've tried to fool around with plex now, it's seems more "mac'ish" but also a bit unstable - anyway i'll give it a go.

I've hooked up my PS3 remote, with "Buddy Remote", and it's works like a charm. The remote do turn off, and I'm having some problems getting it to reconnect.

I'm working on to "lock the remove to plex"... and not the active window

There's no option in plex for auto adjust frame rate, right?

Do you use "overscan" on or off in your display settings?

Thanks
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iGudi

 
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I've keept overscan off, and set my Samsung to "Just Scan"...
Seems to be the way to go about it

I'll go continue the fine tuning
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iGudi

 
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btw. in plex you can select "black monitor" and i turns of my iMac screen... I'll just go and look for a shortcut, so i can bind it to the remote control

Update:
With this Apple Script, you can start Plex and make it active with your Remote Control...

tell application "System Events"
tell application "Plex" to activate
end tell

I'm trying to make a key bind for the monitor to turn off, but I'm unable to bind the key correct... any help? The command should be like this:
"assign the Plex.ToggleDisplayBlanking command to a key in the keymap."
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my89_928gt

 
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This is just what I'm looking to do with my iMac. My TV is accross the room with the imac behind the sofa. So, if the imac screen stays on should not be a big deal. Along video cable will be needed and optical cable.
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