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

Using a Mac Mini to watch movies on HD TV - what specs?


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sjh23

 
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Hey,

I want to buy my girlfriend a Mac Mini for Christmas but not sure what spec machine to get. It will basically only be used by her to watch films on her 42" HD TV and nothing else really, so I doubt it's worthwhile spending a fortune on a new one just for that so I was looking at picking up an older, secondhand one but I'm not sure what type of spec I'm looking for.

Does anyone have any suggestions?
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cwa107

 
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Assuming the TV is 1080P, the Mac Mini needs to be able to drive a display at a resolution of 1920x1080 or greater. Either of the new models should be fine to do this.

I guess the better question is why a Mac Mini to use as a video output device? In my opinion, there are much better solutions that are a lot less expensive simply to display films.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
Assuming the TV is 1080P, the Mac Mini needs to be able to drive a display at a resolution of 1920x1080 or greater. Either of the new models should be fine to do this.

I guess the better question is why a Mac Mini to use as a video output device? In my opinion, there are much better solutions that are a lot less expensive simply to display films.
Such as a DVD/Blu-ray player?
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Originally Posted by MacDude121 View Post
Such as a DVD/Blu-ray player?
Amongst others... AppleTV, WDTV and a host of other media-centric devices that are designed to work specifically with TVs and are available at a fraction of the cost.

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sjh23

 
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Thanks for the info.

I was looking at media players as well but part of the reason why I was going for a Mac Mini was that she's quite comfortable using them and that she could download stuff directly to the Mac.

From having a look through media players, none of them seemed to offer direct downloads with the exception of downloading from specific services.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjh23 View Post
Thanks for the info.

I was looking at media players as well but part of the reason why I was going for a Mac Mini was that she's quite comfortable using them and that she could download stuff directly to the Mac.

From having a look through media players, none of them seemed to offer direct downloads with the exception of downloading from specific services.
What exactly is she going to be downloading?

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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sjh23

 
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She mainly downloads from a private server so media players with torrent clients aren't much use. We're in Europe so many of the download service providers provided with media players aren't accessible here.

I've been looking at the WD TV Live Hub which seems like a possible option, though the lack of WiFi is an issue.

Ultimately, the lack of direct downloads is an issue of laziness! She had a Mac Mini for it in the past and constantly talks about it which is why I'd prefer to get one, but as you said, it's a more expensive option for something that can be done cheaper.
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I do agree with CWA that if all she is going to do is movies, the Mini might be overkill.

But, If you end up going the used Mini route, do check the specs and be sure it can support the resolution that CWA mentioned, 1920x1080.

I was doing 1080p on my 1.66 Core Duo mini but not at that high a resolution. I will check around and get back to you.

Just checked and even the very first Intel Mini does 1920x1080 but I would go with one a bit newer with a faster CPU and GPU. The very early Minis used stock Intel GMA950 Graphics.

Here is a good place to see the specs. Here is the early mini.

http://www.lowendmac.com/mini/mac-mini-sept-2006.html


This one has the better NVidia GPU chipset and faster CPU. Should work.

http://www.lowendmac.com/mini/mac-mini-march-2009.html
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In the past month i've looked at the Apple TV, Roku (the services this one offers is just amazing at it's price point and even more so with the 20% off they're currently offering -$64 for an HD unit for another couple of days), Tivo, Logitech Revue, Maxie, Sling, several media servers like the WD TV Live, the Boxee Box, and more.

None of them, even in multiple combination, provide the features I have with the computer I have attached to the TV. Once you go HTPC, and want to do something you can't do on one of those boxes, you'll just be frustrated.

If she's looking to stream from primarily a single place she likes and one of those devices will stream from that site, it'll be a good bargain. If not, as much as I like to get folks something as inexpensive as possible that will do the job, the mini you're looking for will probably be the best bet.

I elected to go with Windows instead of a mini for my setup, but I think you should probably be looking for one with at least the nVidia 9400. I'd have to recommend you skip past all the PPC machines and all the older Intel units that have the X3100 graphics.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobtomay View Post
I elected to go with Windows instead of a mini for my setup, but I think you should probably be looking for one with at least the nVidia 9400. I'd have to recommend you skip past all the PPC machines and all the older Intel units that have the X3100 graphics.
Agreed 100%!
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sjh23

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobtomay View Post
I elected to go with Windows instead of a mini for my setup, but I think you should probably be looking for one with at least the nVidia 9400. I'd have to recommend you skip past all the PPC machines and all the older Intel units that have the X3100 graphics.
Well, as a Linux and Windows user, I'd much prefer if she went with one of them but I've long given up on that argument with her. It only involves me getting into trouble!

It really will only be used for movies. Her service provider uses IPTV and comes with built on Spotify so music isn't even a necessity. I'm tending to lean towards the WD TV Live Hub at the moment as the reviews are generally good and the 1TB drive is definitely an appealing point.

Tech prices in Ireland tend to be quite high, even the old PPC models are in the region of $350/$400 for second hand models so price is a factor in it all.
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It has been my experience that the graphics (intel GMA 950) on the early intel minis are capable of driving 1080p at 1920x1080. The problem with these units for HD video is processor power. Upgrading my 1.5GHz solo to a t7200 2.0GHzC2D solved all HD video playback problems. Max out the ram and swap out the processor and you'll have no worries.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by brairden View Post
It has been my experience that the graphics (intel GMA 950) on the early intel minis are capable of driving 1080p at 1920x1080. The problem with these units for HD video is processor power. Upgrading my 1.5GHz solo to a t7200 2.0GHzC2D solved all HD video playback problems. Max out the ram and swap out the processor and you'll have no worries.
That is what I did to my 1.66Ghz Core Duo mini. It did play 1080p fine through my 20" LCD Display but never tried it at 1920x1080. I got a great deal on a C2D 2.16 from a damaged iMac 24" and maxed out the RAM and it quite fast and plays HD video without issue.
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