best way to connect to tv - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 02-18-2012, 04:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Please forgive me if this is already here somewhere I did a search but could not find anything.

What is the best way to connect a Mac Mini to a television to use it as an HTPC? Should I use an HDMI adapter on the mini? Is there a good place (here or somewhere else) that explains the basics of HTPC using a mini like what software to use, how to connect, etc.?

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post #2 of 15 Old 02-18-2012, 05:19 AM
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Hooking a mini up to an HDTV, in most cases, is like connecting to any other display, you look at what connection options you have, pick one, plug it in, and try to get your desktop to look right at the native resolution of the display.

I have no idea what adaptor you need because you didn't say which specific model mini you have. Mine is a 2011, so it has an HDMI port, I just used a $5 HDMI cable, my 46" TV is 1080p, the two connected perfectly first time out. If you're using an older mini and/or an older TV you may have to finagle a bit.

So, which mini are we talking about? Then, there is the AVR issue--do you want audio and/or video to go to the TV first or into an AVR first and then to the TV?

Once you get your desktop displayed on the TV properly, and decide how you want to deal with audio, you can start playing around with movies, various software players, etc. It's really not that hard but you do have to crawl a bit before you walk and build up some hands on experience. There's no shortcut or guide. You try to do things, ask questions when you get stuck, and move on to more advanced things.
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post #3 of 15 Old 02-18-2012, 10:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Sorry for the lack of info, the mini I'm thinking about using is Late 2009 server so no dvd/cd drive built in, and no hdmi port, not worried about a AVR at this point, just going directly to the new hdtv (about 2 months old). I figured I'd be attaching an external blu-ray drive to the mini in order to rip Blu-Ray and Dvd disks.

Sounds like I just need to get the mini hooked up to the TV and play around with it from there.
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post #4 of 15 Old 02-18-2012, 11:12 AM
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that model mini has mini-DVI and mini-Displayport, problem is I think that was one of those early Mac models that did not support audio over miniDP, prompting all sorts of third party adaptors to "combine" the miniDP video with audio from optical into an HDMI out, with varying results. So doublecheck that before purchasing anything, especially if your HDTV does not have an optical input.
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post #5 of 15 Old 02-19-2012, 05:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the information, from what I can find the late 2009 mini does not support audio through the mini display so I am going to need something like this ? And a program like Plex?

Any have any other suggestions?

thanks again.
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post #6 of 15 Old 02-19-2012, 06:02 AM
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That's exactly the kind of adaptor I was describing previously, experiences with them have been decidedly mixed, and personally I wouldn't go that route.

In the long run I think you're better off making a direct connection to your HDTV for video and then connecting the optical out of your mini into something else with an optical input for better sound: some powered speakers, an inexpensive AVR w/ two small bookshelf speakers or a soundbar will give you much better audio than listening through your HDTV speakers.

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And a program like Plex?

I've preferred XBMC for a good while now, but lots of people use and like Plex. Play around with Front Row as well, see how often you come up against its limitations and that will help you appreciate what you're able to do in XBMC or Plex.

Using a Mini as an HTPC isn't like connecting an Apple TV, you'll have to invest time and effort and pay your dues. Odds are, though, that whenever you hit a bump in the road someone here has already figured it out years ago, so just ask.
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post #7 of 15 Old 02-19-2012, 06:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcrocker View Post

... I figured I'd be attaching an external blu-ray drive to the mini in order to rip Blu-Ray and Dvd disks.

Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I do not believe there is any software that will allow you to rip Blu-ray 's on a Mac. I guess you could run boot camp and then use one of the PC programs to rip your discs.
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post #8 of 15 Old 02-19-2012, 06:29 AM
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You've been able to rip blurays on Macs in OS X with MakeMKV since the summer of 2009.
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post #9 of 15 Old 02-19-2012, 02:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Any recommendations on an external blu-ray drive that will work with a late 2009 mini? Need something to rip dvd / blu-ray disks to the hard drive.

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post #10 of 15 Old 02-19-2012, 02:13 PM
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For connecting your Mini to your HDTV, I would just use the display port/DVI and get an adapter (DVI/HDMI) to connect the video. Then use a separate connection for the audio directly the TV. If your TV as a toslink input, that would be golden, otherwise use use the L/R composite inputs. It's not like you're going to tell a difference of analog or digital stereo sound. If you ever decide to hook up to an AVR or something to give your 5.1 or more audio, then I would look into toslink adapter. Using the HDMI 1.3 connection just gives you one cable, but nothing more in your situation because the Mini you have does NOT support HD audio.

You can get all the adapters mentioned above at Monoprice on the cheap; probably only cost in the $3 to $5 for each piece, maybe cheaper.

I have a late 2009 Mac Mini, non-server. When I first got it, I temporarily hooked it up to a Vizio 32" HDTV, thus I speak from experience:

These pictures show the connections out of the Mini.


In case you're not able to tell, on the Mini, from top to bottom, power, mini-display port, 3.5mm auido. The audio cable is a 3.5mm to dual RCA/composite.

Luckily for you, more than likely, your TV will be able to detect that you've connected a Mac Mini and will set it to a proper native resolution, and will be really close to filling the whole screen. You may have to play with over scanning; I did. Things get more interesting, to say it nicely, when you're trying to use older home theater equipment.
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post #11 of 15 Old 02-19-2012, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Any recommendations on an external blu-ray drive that will work with a late 2009 mini?

Stick whatever LG drive that's on sale at Newegg, like this:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16827136241

in a 5.25" external enclosure like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Vantec-NST-530.../dp/B0019884K0

and off you go.
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post #12 of 15 Old 02-20-2012, 05:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Related question on this, a co-worker of mine told me he did not think it was possible to rip some blu-ray disk because of some kind of copy protection? Is that still the case?

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post #13 of 15 Old 02-20-2012, 05:56 AM
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post #14 of 15 Old 02-20-2012, 11:50 AM
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yes, BR have DRM. Plus, to do direct disc play back, you need to pass the HDCP handshake between the HDTV and player. Since you're talking rips, not an issue.

MakeMKV can rip quite a few movies. Although, some movies may not rip, but in time, someone will figure out and update in time.

If you're that worried about it, I think, if you run AnyDVD HD in bootcamp, you should be able to do the rip.
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post #15 of 15 Old 02-21-2012, 05:32 AM
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This is a bit of rehash, but it may clear up what I talked about hooking up the TV the Mini. Unfortunately for me, my 55" HDTV went out in the home theater, so I hook up my Mac Mini HTPC to a Vizio 32" HDTV (VX32L) with no AVR setup.





This took me about twenty minutes to disconnect from my other HDTV, connect to this one, and adjust all my video and audio settings. Granted, it helps I've done this before on this TV.

The only thing that is different from my previous post, I'm running Windows 7. The hook ups are exactly the same. In this setup, I'm using a MDP-DVI, which goes into a DVI-HDMI adapter.

In my experience, OSX did a good job of detecting the TV being used. I just went into the display settings and turned off overscan. If it doesn't fill the screen to your liking, you may want to try out SwitchResX (make sure to read up on it). In Windows7, the NVidia control settings make it easy to get the resolution to fill screen, almost perfectly; too bad I couldn't find a overscan off feature.

Audio setup is pretty straight forward. Just make sure to set it up as analog and stereo speakers. The same will apply for any and all media players such as Plex.
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