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post #1 of 25 Old 01-11-2012, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Apologies for another newb thread if this has been answered, I looked but did not find the information to answer my questions.

I'm about to cut the cable cord and am looking at my options. I have inherited a Mac mini (believe its a 2007 model, definitely C2D, not sure of exact speed though) and have the cables I need coming from Monoprice tomorrow to hook to the HDTV/Receiver.

So I figure I'll need an antenna, but I'm confused about what I'd need for DVR/PVR capabilities. Looking at the elgato stuff, I have no idea what the main differences are between them. Can someone explain what the difference is between the One and the Hybrid? And am I correct in understanding that I then connect one of these to the Mac mini + antenna, and the EyeTV3 software then records programs to the Mac mini HDD? Is the 2007 Mac Mini powerful enough to record and playback OTA HD signals?

Thanks for any help.
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post #2 of 25 Old 01-11-2012, 11:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Khoram View Post

I have inherited a Mac mini (believe its a 2007 model, definitely C2D, not sure of exact speed though).

Go into the Apple menu (top left) and select "About this Mac"
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Originally Posted by Khoram View Post

Can someone explain what the difference is between the One and the Hybrid?

The Hybrid will also work in areas where you don''t get OTA digital TV, using then analog channels.
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And am I correct in understanding that I then connect one of these to the Mac mini + antenna, and the EyeTV3 software then records programs to the Mac mini HDD?

Yes
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Is the 2007 Mac Mini powerful enough to record and playback OTA HD signals?

Record, yes, playback possibly not in full screen HD (1920x1080p@60Hz). Depends on the CPU frequency and video card.
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post #3 of 25 Old 01-12-2012, 06:53 AM
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So I figure I'll need an antenna, but I'm confused about what I'd need for DVR/PVR capabilities

There's a whole forum here at AVS that does nothing but talk about local HDTV reception, there's A LOT of antenna talk in there, best to read up on what that's like where you live, where the towers are, your line of sight to them, how far away they are, etc and then get a model antenna that's best for your area. You getting good OTA reception has little or nothing to do with which particular El Gato tuner you choose. Like geeji already said, both of the models you're considering can record high def over the air, so get whichever one suits your budget. (Me, personally, I wouldn't buy a USB stick tuner that relies on bus power and instead spend a little more to get the Homerun because overall it's a less problematic and more solid device. But, what you want to record is something called ATSC, so feel free to experiment with any tuner that lists ATSC in its specifications.)

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am I correct in understanding that I then connect one of these to the Mac mini + antenna, and the EyeTV3 software then records programs to the Mac mini HDD?

You can also record to some other drive, like an external, beside the internal drive of the Mini.

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Is the 2007 Mac Mini powerful enough to record and playback OTA HD signals?

Record, yes, playback possibly not in full screen HD (1920x1080p@60Hz). Depends on the CPU frequency and video card.

I'll be a little more specific than geeji here: even if your HDTV is an older 720p set and not a newer 1080p model, with either 2007 mini you won't get perfect playback of 1080i content because of two factors which you can't overcome: 1) neither the 1.83 nor the 2.0 C2D CPU is powerful enough to use EyeTV's best deinterlace setting, so you'll have to drop down to the second best setting, called motion adaptive, which noticeably compromises playback and 2) the GMA 950 was also terribly underpowered even for 2007, now it's a dinosaur.

But, since you're getting that mini for free, it wouldn't hurt to get started anyway, see how you like the setup, and that experience will help you decide whether upgrading to a more capable Mac HTPC is for you. Anything you record now with that Mini will be in perfect shape, recording ATSC isn't intensive at all. Once you decide you do like the notion of a Mac HTPC, though, your best bet may be to sell that Mini, and apply the proceeds toward something newer.
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post #4 of 25 Old 01-12-2012, 07:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Excellent advice, both of you, thank you very much.

That's a shame about the 2007 mini being underpowered; I doubt I'm going to be satisfied with a less than optimal HD experience. Time to start looking at alternatives, I think.
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post #5 of 25 Old 01-12-2012, 11:33 PM
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I doubt I'm going to be satisfied with a less than optimal HD experience. Time to start looking at alternatives, I think.

Well, HD is overvalued, even if you have 20/20 eyesight, unless you have a LARGE screen, close to you.
I have a VPL-VW100 projector with a 9' (diagonal) 16/9 screen, and I do enjoy HD a lot.
But a "regular" 42" TV screen is barely enough to see the difference with non-HD digital programs.
What size is your screen, and how far away do you look at it ?
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post #6 of 25 Old 01-13-2012, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
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we have a 42" panny plasma that we sit about 5-6' away from. We've watched nothing but HD stations on cable for a couple years now, so we don't want to get anything less than that. The difference is noticeable even on a 42" screen (at least I notice). Now if you mean the difference between 1080i/p and 720p, that you're probably right about. Can a 1.5 GHz C2D Mac Mini work as a 720p HTPC?
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post #7 of 25 Old 01-13-2012, 10:42 AM
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Can a 1.5 GHz C2D Mac Mini work as a 720p HTPC?

There was no 1.5 C2D model...
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post #8 of 25 Old 01-14-2012, 04:53 PM
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Great thread for me, thanks. I'm in the middle of renovating the house and running cables for distributed A/V, etc., so I'm much more accepting of less than stellar playback for right now (and no cable here either).

I too have an old Mac mini I'd like to set up as a DVR using Elgato's software (currently just using the Lite version with a USB stick) on my laptop. Recently I put an antenna on the roof for DOTA reception (very happy with that now thanks to reading a lot in the local forum for it and asking questions--this forum is great!).

I still need to get some of the wires run (and some other projects finished--like getting a fully working kitchen) before I can test all of this, but I'll be watching this thread.
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post #9 of 25 Old 01-14-2012, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by chefklc View Post

There was no 1.5 C2D model...

Right, but as I said, it is a 2007 model. Now that I have it set up, it is a 2.0 GHz C2D with 2 GB RAM.

I have it connected to my receiver and I've installed Plex, XBMC, and Kylo and been futzing around all day with it.

Some things work great - Kylo + spreety.com and Hulu, etc, work great. I have not had much luck streaming local content via Plex or XBMC from my Win7 machine. Plex on the Mac will play some things, then the audio decoder will throw an error on something else, and afterward the sound will be gone from the Mac completely (no system sounds, and things that previously played fine will no longer play audio) and the only solution is to reboot the Mac.

Also, a really annoying problem I've run into is that if the Mac goes to sleep, I can't get it to show video afterwards - have to hard power down and back on. So I turned off sleep and let it sit for a long time - came back (Mac shouldn't be asleep), still couldn't get any video out. So frustrating.

I also received my HDHomeRun dual tuner today. Can't seem to get it to work very good with the Mac (via XBMC) - picture was unwatchable. About to try again using Plex. I also tried it recording to my Win7 desktop, then played through the XBox 360 as a Windows Media Center extender, and sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not. This is really frustrating. So far at the end of an entire day spent trying different things, I don't think I'm close to cutting the cable cord...
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post #10 of 25 Old 01-14-2012, 11:05 PM
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Have you done a clean install of Lion 10.7.2 ?
Sometimes, when one inherits a machine, it has some "history"...
And what resolution are you playing back ? (Monitor Control Panel selection).
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post #11 of 25 Old 01-15-2012, 07:00 AM
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This is really frustrating. So far at the end of an entire day spent trying different things, I don't think I'm close to cutting the cable cord..

You expected to be able to jump in, start doing very advanced things with a Mac and OS that you (presumably) don't have any experience with, and use various home theater software applications (EyeTV, Plex and XBMC) that have always been somewhat tricky and buggy on their own, that haven't necessarily been designed to work well together, shake that all up and get something smooth on the first day?

Is that about it?

Start by how you're connecting to your plasma, what's its model # and native resolution, then how you're connecting to your AVR. How exactly, which cables, ports, adaptors, etc. It can take a long time for a new home theater user just to connect his Mac to his TV properly. With certain TVs, get used to being frustrated. And if you're not hooked up to the TV properly, nothing else is gonna work out.

Leave streaming content from your Windows PC out of the equation, that's a whole other potentially complicated problem to solve later. Don't "watch" EyeTV through a front end, watch it through EyeTV first. Later, after you know a little more about what you're doing, you can try to play back EyeTV recordings via a front end.

Just aim to make a proper connection to your plasma, at its native res, watch and record from the HD Homerun with EyeTV running on your mini, within the EyeTV app, then try to set up either XBMC or Plex properly with your display and play some local media back, media you can vouch for because you ripped it not bogus downloaded content. And be more specific, you should reveal which versions of software and apps you're running because just saying Plex or XBMC doesn't help. There are very specific settings options when it comes to video and audio within each front end that may help or hinder you--and those change with every release, beta and nightly.
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post #12 of 25 Old 01-15-2012, 10:37 PM - Thread Starter
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No, I didn't expect to have everything set up perfectly after 1 day; as I said, I had a lot of frustration and am not close to cutting the cable cord yet. That's all.

The frustration was with stuttering when watching OTA channels via XBMC on the Mac Mini - the quality was not as good as when I had it hooked up through Windows Media Center on my PC. However, I recorded the first playoff game yesterday through WMC and was watching the recording, all was well for an hour or so, then the image cut out altogether. I think it may have to do with my antenna placement.

I have no problem with proper connections, etc. The mac is connected to my receiver fine and I can stream movies from my PC via Plex, XBMC, and StreamToMe just fine. The main problem I'm having with the Mac right now is that if I turn the TV off but leave the Mac on or asleep, when I come back and turn the TV on again the video signal from the Mac doesn't show.

I haven't bought EyeTV yet because I don't know that I want to spend ~$100 for a piece of software when I may have something else that works for free instead. I am leaning toward installing Win7 on the mini if I can just resolve the video signal problem.
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post #13 of 25 Old 01-15-2012, 10:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geeji View Post

Have you done a clean install of Lion 10.7.2 ?
Sometimes, when one inherits a machine, it has some "history"...
And what resolution are you playing back ? (Monitor Control Panel selection).

I'm running at the "1080p" setting, with overscan checked off.
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post #14 of 25 Old 01-16-2012, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
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So I resolved the video signal loss issue by connecting the HDMI from the Mac to the TV instead of the receiver. So now I just need to decide if I want to buy EyeTV for a PVR solution.
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post #15 of 25 Old 01-16-2012, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by chefklc View Post

1) neither the 1.83 nor the 2.0 C2D CPU is powerful enough to use EyeTV's best deinterlace setting, so you'll have to drop down to the second best setting, called motion adaptive, which noticeably compromises playback and 2) the GMA 950 was also terribly underpowered even for 2007, now it's a dinosaur.

That's interesting. My old 2.0 C2D Mini was repurposed to a (an?) HTPC when I built my theater and I use an eyeTV Hybrid. I have no complaints about picture quality (antenna reception is my biggest problem), but I suppose I should look into this more.

The nice thing about the Mini is that it seems to hold its value really well, so if I wanted to replace it I could still sell it for a few hundred bucks, which is more than half what I paid for it in the first place.

But for all intents and purposes, it serves my HTPC needs well and even with the terrible GMA950, has no problem with the 1080p content I've played.
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post #16 of 25 Old 01-17-2012, 06:43 AM
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The nice thing about the Mini is that it seems to hold its value really well, so if I wanted to replace it I could still sell it for a few hundred bucks, which is more than half what I paid for it in the first place.

Agreed, Laminar, minis retain their value insanely well, which makes it less painful to trade up to a newer machine, especially since the base 2011 model is often available as a $519 refurb.

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I have no complaints about picture quality...but I suppose I should look into this more...But for all intents and purposes, it serves my HTPC needs well and even with the terrible GMA950, has no problem with the 1080p content I've played.

There could be a couple of reasons for this, you either 1) still watch on a smallish 720p display, 2) haven't played back real 1080p content yet, as in a MakeMKV blu-ray rip, or 3) you perhaps haven't become as critical a viewer yet as you could be. The problem with looking for flaws, is that once you recognize them, you always see them, so if you're happy, stay happy.

But, I spent a lot of years scrutinizing EyeTV with just slightly underpowered Minis/Macbooks, a 2.0 C2D GMA950 and then a 2.0 C2D X3100, and if you're watching 1080i OTA HD within EyeTV on its 2nd-best "motion adaptive" setting, you should be seeing flaws--look for jerkiness following the arc of a football being thrown downfield during a CBS NFL game. The 2007 mini just doesn't have enough guts for excellent EyeTV high def playback in the US because it can't run at the best EyeTV deinterlace setting. You could get around this to a certain extent by playing EyeTV recordings back within XBMC or Plex, but it wasn't really until the 2.0 C2D with the 9400M that things smoothed out.

But, there is something relatively simple and inexpensive that both you and Khoram can do to radically improve your home theater experience with a GMA950 mini: add a $25 Broadcom Crystal HD card, which XBMC and Plex support.
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post #17 of 25 Old 01-17-2012, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by chefklc View Post

But, there is something relatively simple and inexpensive that both you and Khoram can do to radically improve your home theater experience with a GMA950 mini: add a $25 Broadcom Crystal HD card, which XBMC and Plex support.

Awesome, thanks for the tip! I'll look into that.
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post #18 of 25 Old 01-17-2012, 09:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc View Post

There could be a couple of reasons for this, you either 1) still watch on a smallish 720p display, 2) haven't played back real 1080p content yet, as in a MakeMKV blu-ray rip, or 3) you perhaps haven't become as critical a viewer yet as you could be.

1. can't be it:



2. Is a possibility and 3. is a definitely. I have a couple MakeMKV rips, but I haven't played them in the theater yet, as my Blu-Ray capable computer is upstairs and I just recently got around to running ethernet to the theater, streaming and VNC over wi-fi wasn't ideal. I will have to give it a shot and see what happens, but 1080p YouTube content and 1080p downloaded trailers play without issue (to my untrained eye, of course).
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post #19 of 25 Old 01-18-2012, 09:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Ouch you weren't kidding about the need for the Broadcom chip; I installed Win7 via Bootcamp and set up WMC for the Mac Mini with the HDHomeRun tuner, and the local HD channels broadcasting in 1080i are unwatchable (the ones in 720p are fine). Broadcom chip ordered.
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post #20 of 25 Old 02-21-2012, 02:15 PM
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Ok I have a mac mini first gen with intel and the GMA950 graphic card 1.66 core duo processor. I also have eye tv 500 witch came well after the mac mini. When I bough the mac I was told that it would play HD and it did but like crap. Before I figured it out Comp Usa was gone and so was the lune that sold it to me. So here are the questions

1 If I upgraded to this processor 2.33 GHZ T7600 SL9SD core 2 would this help?

2 Is this a stand a lone card or does this work with the GMA950 Broadcom Crystal HD card, which XBMC and Plex support.From I understand it does not work with eye TV or Front Row?
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post #21 of 25 Old 02-21-2012, 02:52 PM
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the new cpu will definitely help (I did this to a friend's mac mini and it was a huge improvement).
As for the Crystal HD, it is not supported by EyeTV or Front Row but works very well with XBMC/Plex. So adding one will not help your EyeTV playback.

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post #22 of 25 Old 02-21-2012, 03:08 PM
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So adding one will not help your EyeTV playback.

Not of live TV, but what about EyeTV recordings played back by XBMC? There was an issue with XBMCEyetvParser and 1080i recordings a few years ago, no idea where that stands with current updates, but even if it still existed you could always convert all your high def EyeTV recordings to H.264 and then XBMC running on that old mini with a Broadcom card should play those back perfectly...plus bluray rips plus whatever else you throw at it. If a first gen Apple TV can, that mini can, really not a bad upgrade for $20.
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post #23 of 25 Old 02-22-2012, 07:05 PM
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First off I would like to thank you gentleman for the reply. Before I start I would like to say my head is hard and sometimes it needs to be soften up a little so if I ask the same question in a different way It means I don’t understand.Question time

1 This is what I believe to be true Eye Tv 3 software is junk and all it is good for is programing.

2 With this set up I can not watch live tv witch is all right because I don”t care for sports any more. The dump and chase in hockey just destroyed the game. Plus I don’t care to listen to millionaires bitch.

3 Will the Eye TV software do the converting to H.264 or do I need something els. What kind of pitcher PQ. will I get after the converting

4 Now this really blows my mind. I don’t understand that Crystal HD is supported by XBMC/Plex but not Front Row /Eye Tv. Who makes this decision Apple or Crystal
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post #24 of 25 Old 02-22-2012, 07:49 PM
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EyeTV has a built-in export function, it will even add the file to iTunes if you want, but if you add the Broadcom Crystal HD card to your mini and use XBMC for playback of your EyeTV recordings, you don't need to convert them, I bet it'll play your toughest 1080i recordings just fine...I don't have a mini but I do have an aTV1 with one running Crystalbuntu and the XBMC Eden beta...it has no problem with my EyeTV recordings as is.

In order to take advantage of this card you have to run a different OS on the device.

Use of this card, in place of the wireless card in a mini isn't sanctioned by Apple, requires a different OS to be loaded onto the machine, it's a hack that the developers of XBMC are able to take advantage of using various open source software, so it has nothing to do with Apple or Front Row or proprietary EyeTV software.
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post #25 of 25 Old 02-23-2012, 04:00 AM
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http://www.anandtech.com/show/2898

This is a good explanation of the Broadcom card and XBMC skrface.
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