Pros and cons of a Mac Mini media centre

I decided to turn my Mac Mini into a music server for my living room. Yay me.

The good:

You can use it as an iTunes music server to transmit music to other macs in the house.
You can watch iTunes visualisations on the TV.
You can muck around with digital photos on your TV.
It’s very neat, very quiet and looks great.
It stores more music than an iPod.

The bad:

It can’t handle video. It’s too jerky, even at small sizes.
My TV has a weird resolution so displays VGA input in 4:3 aspect ratio. [Edit: I’ve found a way to make it work in widescreen. Hurrah.]
It really, really, really needs a remote control.
iTunes visualisations get really annoying really quickly.
You feel like a pathetic Mac geek for having a Mac under the telly.

6 thoughts on “Pros and cons of a Mac Mini media centre

  1. tm says:

    Yay! At last the killer app for owning my own home!

    I will be able to purchase a large TV and put my Mac Mini under it so that I don’t feel guilty about having spent about 500 quid on what is essentially a toy that I only use to browse the web and play music, and occasionally look sheepishly at whilst using my horrifyingly powerful PC to have a blast playing half life 2.

    Having said that it has saved my life while my PC has been broke…

  2. Stephen says:

    I think it’s pretty clear that the iMac is Apple’s intended media centre; it has the remote, it can play DVDs properly, and it has a 20″ screen (no TV required). The Mac mini is for people with old PCs who want to try the OS of the gods.

  3. Gary says:

    > At last the killer app for owning my own home!

    Heh. Well, I didn’t buy a computer for use solely as a media centre: I bought the Mini because it was the cheapest way to get my hands on a mac so that I could keep working while my powerbook was getting wallet surgery. And with hindsight that was a smart move, because the supposed 3-week repair took six weeks. Yes, I could have worked on the PC, but all my work stuff – emails, research, feeds etc – is Mac-based, so having a backup mac was a better option.

    Now the ‘book is back, I’d rather put the Mini to work than have it sitting gathering dust.

    Stephen: yeah, you’re right. personally though I think 20″ is too small for a media centre, and the inclusion of a monitor makes it too expensive. I’d rather see a bigger, more powerful Mini with a G5 in it.

    I was doing some work for Windows XP mag a while back and covering various MS media center gubbins, and one of the machines they threw over was designed specifically for the living room. Fantastic (and fantastically overpriced, which has always been the main flaw in MS media center edition. Apparently that’ll change in Vista). I think Apple could do the same thing, better, using the Mini.

  4. David says:

    I’ve been playing with the xbox’s media stuff. Audio and images are quite groovy (although the interface could be tweaked) but its a bit of a shame that you can only do video with media centre.

  5. Gary says:

    Yeah. I can understand Microsoft’s thinking on video, but I still think it’s unnecessary crippling. A 360 would make a great media centre if it wasn’t dependent on having a media center PC.

    And I’m getting very pissed off with the spelling of “centre” as “center” in product names. It’s as if the US hasn’t heard of localisation. Or localization. Bleh.

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