Mac Newb - Mac Mini / Apple TV questions - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 04-28-2008, 01:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi guys;

I recently purchased an HDTV a few months ago (JVC HD-56FC97). Unfortunately there's no VGA input, and the HDMI input doesn't seem to play nice with a PC I had planned on using with it.

I like the Apple TV for the fact that it has native HDMI out.
I like the Mac Mini because it seems to have more horsepower.

What I want to accomplish:

Video connection via HDMI
Audio connection via HDMI, or RCA (no optical-in on my current receiver)
Most of my content is MKV with h264 video and ac3 audio. I'd like to be able to play MKV natively, as well as xvid in avi containers.
720p playback is a requirement, 1080p playback would be preferred.

I'm not averse to "hacking" things as necessary to get the Apple TV to play the formats I want.

I've done a lot of searching (Here, + google, + etc.) and I've seen many conflicting reports. Some say that the Apple TV will play 720p without breaking a sweat, and can play 1080p but not perfectly.

What is the return policy at the apple store? If I buy a Mac Mini, but the DVI still doesn't play nicely with my HDMI on the TV can I return it?

I'd prefer the Apple TV (if it works) due to native HDMI support, but could go for a mini if it would do what I needed it to do better.

I'm also 100% new to Mac, but the form factor of these two units cannot be disputed.

Thanks
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post #2 of 10 Old 04-28-2008, 04:18 PM
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I'll jump in with some help.

The apple store has a good return policy, but you pay a 10% restocking fee. I don't know if that applies to everything, or just computers, so I would ask in the store.

The mini doesn't have an HDMI audio out. I have mine connected to multiple tv's via different video methods, but the audio method is always the same - minijack to stereo rca cable adaptor.

I am using 4 mini's right now for various entertainment related things - they are currently connected to:

42" LCD Olevia - connected via VGA / RCA cables (but I have had this one hooked up via HDMI cable using a DVI-HDMI adaptor from Radio Shack and it worked great, but using the VGA port frees up the HDMI port).

32" Insignia HDTV - hooked up via S-Video. This TV doesn't have HDMI, just component, for HD input. I have an external adapter for conversion to component but it's not worth the trouble for this TV.

24" LCD computer monitors (2) - hooked up via DVI interface

All of the systems work great. Most of the standard recommendations apply - install all updates, install perian, remote buddy is a great tool for minimizing your remotes, etc. I don't know what you are going to use for control, but my main mini system works great with the Harmony remotes.

Gotta run, but I hope this helps for a start.
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post #3 of 10 Old 04-30-2008, 04:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply.

If using the Mini I would go Audio-RCA to my receiver, until I upgrade that.

I've checked and the 10% restocking fee applies to both the Mac Mini and the Apple TV. I wonder if anyone else carries the Mini or ATV that wouldn't have a restocking fee?

Has anyone here had experience playing 720p/1080p content on either the Mini or the ATV? Specifically in a MKV container?
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post #4 of 10 Old 04-30-2008, 06:25 AM
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I'm going to be eaten alive by the "mini brigade" in this forum area for saying this, but oh well...

Just a quick line to save you some potential headaches-- the mini doesn't play nicely with many a/v receivers (I can only speak firsthand about Onkyo incompatibility), and you may discover a huge overscan problem between the mini and the display.

If you're not adverse to hacking the aTV, I'd say go that route. In my humble opinion, it's far less work than a trial-and-error mini setup.

As far as restocking fees, don't forget that Amazon sells Apple.

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post #5 of 10 Old 04-30-2008, 06:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the heads up. I'm not against hacking the Apple TV, and the aTV would be the preferred solution for me (easiest connectivity with HDMI)

Future Shop has the aTV but only from their web store, so I'll have to check out their return policy.

Another option I've been told to consider is a PS3.
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post #6 of 10 Old 04-30-2008, 09:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwspen View Post

Thanks for the heads up. I'm not against hacking the Apple TV, and the aTV would be the preferred solution for me (easiest connectivity with HDMI)

Future Shop has the aTV but only from their web store, so I'll have to check out their return policy.

Another option I've been told to consider is a PS3.

You can get HDMI video from a Mini easily and cheaply with a HDMI-DVI adapter. Audio is another story. 5.1 audio requires optical output to a receiver and some tweaking of settings on the Mini. RCA audio out will give you 2-channel only.

The main thing you should consider is whether you plan to use to device to do computer tasks using your TV as a giant monitor---web browsing, email, running other applications. If yes, you need a Mini.
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post #7 of 10 Old 04-30-2008, 09:42 AM
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No fanatics here, just someone with a bunch of mini's. I figure when you have 8 or 9 of them laying around, there isn't much need to buy an aTV.

As to your other question, I know that I can play 720 mkv files with perian installed on a core duo 1.66. Haven't tried on a core solo but I might just to see.
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post #8 of 10 Old 04-30-2008, 09:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan_R View Post

Just a quick line to save you some potential headaches-- the mini doesn't play nicely with many a/v receivers (I can only speak firsthand about Onkyo incompatibility), and you may discover a huge overscan problem between the mini and the display.

Not trying to eat you alive , but my mini works great with my Onkyo TX-SR705, an optical cable for audio, and a DVI-HDMI cable for video. The overscan on my Sony WEGA is handled by SwitchResX, which required a few configuration attempts and reboots but now works like a champ.
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post #9 of 10 Old 04-30-2008, 08:39 PM
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I have a mac mini (intel) running my Samsung 46" lcd and my Onkyo 804 with no problems. Just so you know the mac mini stereo plug is also an optical out with a $2 adaptor for an optical cable so you can get dolby 5.1 out of the mac mini. I also stream all of my content from the mac mini to an apple TV that is on another bigscreen, but if you have several mac minis you can set one up as the server and stream it to any of the others. THis works very well in my opinion and there are pretty good apps available if you want to convert your DVD library, save it to a HD and let QT stream it to all of your mac minis or appleTV.
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post #10 of 10 Old 05-02-2008, 12:42 PM - Thread Starter
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There's a few things I think that may pose an issue.

a) Right now a PC Video card (DVI Out) to my TV (HDMI In) only works if the TV is on the required input when the computer boots. Then if I switch TV input away and then back, I have no picture until a reboot of the PC. I'd like to "try before I buy" to ensure that this works OK with a Mini. This is one of the reasons I'd lean towards an Apple TV.

b) Playback. From what I can tell the Mini can do 720p fine. What's the 1080p prognosis?

Bottom line: I'm looking to have a unit with a USB HDD attached. I'd like to be able to download to this HDD from said unit, or a networked PC. From this HDD I'd like to be able to directly play my media. Mostly xvid/divx AVI, or MKV with 264/ac3 content.
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