Mac OS HTPC, any suggestions - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 09-09-2004, 08:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I am looking to see if there are ANY options for a MAC OS based HTPC solution. I prefer the OS for stability and I have other Macs in the house. I have found some things that can decode HDTV for the MAC and a device that can network the mac to the Receiver. But not really a setup like a HTPC.

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post #2 of 11 Old 09-09-2004, 09:02 PM
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Plenty of threads on this in the past. I suggest you use the forum search.

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post #3 of 11 Old 09-09-2004, 10:38 PM
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elgato's eyetv 500 is what you would need to do HDTV and some good processing power.
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post #4 of 11 Old 09-10-2004, 09:51 AM
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Mike, how exactly do you define HTPC? Dvd playblack? HDTV receiver? DVR? Pre/pro?

I did some research into Mac HTPCs recently because I was thinking of switching from Wintel to Mac. To summarize, I found the options limited for my main need of DVD playback. Apple's latest version of Apple DVD Player that comes bundled with OS X will playback DVDs with all the usual functionality and it finally will output digital sound via spdif to a pre/pro for DD/DTS decoding. I don't know how it compares to quality-wise to Windvd, Theatertek, PowerDVD, etc. however, since I haven't had the chance to compare them side to side. Another DVD playback option is Videolan (VLC) an opensource project that can provide analog output of 5.1 as well using the right libs with something like a Delta 410 sound card. This only really an option for a powermac though as you need a PCI slot for the Delta. I don't believe there is any facility for bass management on the mac like there is using the HT drivers for the Delta on wintel. Keep in mind that VLC is using unlicensed technology for its DVD playback, which could be a legal concern. I think you can also use Xine for dvd playback in OS X as well. For OTA DTV and DVR funcationality, the EyeTV solution mentioned above is the way to go. For powerstrip like functionality there is a utility called switchres that should help match the video output to that of a projector or HDTV.

That's about the extent of what I found. Hopefully there are more options as well. In the end I decided to just stick with wintel and perhaps try an HTPC under Linux since I'm getting increasingly frustrated trying to get my dual monitor set-up to work in Windoze.

EDIT: I believe using a Revolution or Sonic Theater sound card in OS X will give you bass management on the Mac, but you still need dvd software that will decode the DD/DTS signal.
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post #5 of 11 Old 09-10-2004, 10:06 AM
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use mplayer?
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post #6 of 11 Old 09-10-2004, 01:17 PM
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VLC and Panther's DVD Player will output 5.1 through the M-audio's sonica USB->optical converter.

I also have the EyeTV 500 (HDTV receiver/PVR) and it works pretty darn well, even on an old clunker like my dual 500 Mhz G4. I'd recommend a G5 though for serious HD playback (especially 1080i).

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post #7 of 11 Old 09-10-2004, 03:41 PM
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While I believed that PCs were once better than Macs (back when OS 9 was around), now with the introduction of OS X, there is simply no comparison. Macs are just amazingly so much better than Windows than is possible to articulate with words.

That being said, since Windows has much much much more market share (and I dont whine about that, Bill Gates sucks as a programmer but is amazing at business. He could probably market bags of human feces and turn a profit - I am all for a free market, so if MS is better at business than Apple, then so be it).

Unfortunately, due to the high level of marketshare that MS has, few programmers bother to port stuff to OS X.

I would suggest that if you could afford it, to build a HTPC around OS X but do research on Linux HTPC apps, which should ALL run on OS X since its built on a Unix BSD core.

Figure out EXACTLY what programs you want, and what you need and then look for OS X/ Linux equivalents. If none are available, then go with the Windows route.

For me, there is no Mac equivalent to DVD Shrink (That works as quickly) and I would literally have spent about 100 more hours ripping DVDs with the crappy Mac software that is available. Windows apps are just better. The OS sucks, but the apps are great :)

A Mac OS X HTPC would be amazing, but unfortunately its twice as much as I could afford right now so I went with a wintel PC.
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post #8 of 11 Old 09-10-2004, 03:50 PM
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Uh, no need to open the flame-baiting floodgates. The pros/cons of Win vs Mac has been posted about at great length...

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post #9 of 11 Old 09-10-2004, 06:05 PM
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As long as you have a receiver, the Mac DVD player is acceptable. You would need some sound card that outputs S/PDIF, into the receiver. DVD Player may not be quite as good as some other software in video quality, but I don't have a problem with it. Bass management would occur on the receiver.

If you have a machine with PCI slots, you could use VLC and do decoding and bass management on the Mac. For that you need something like a Revolution 7.1. I'm not entirely happy with VLC's stability nor its support for multichannel sound. I can believe it would work for some people, but I wouldn't count on it.

I will say that home theater and advanced audio are a bit of a weakness for Macs. It's a surprising weakness I think given the Mac's history and currently directions. I find it OK for my purposes, but I am certainly hoping for improvements in future releases of OS X.
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post #10 of 11 Old 09-11-2004, 12:56 AM
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Is a Mac still the only platform on which one can easily emulate a DVHS? Also, where's Alric? He gets a little religious sometimes, but his posts are usually informative.
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post #11 of 11 Old 09-11-2004, 05:01 PM
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I have just finished putting together a Mac HTPC and am quite happy with it. I am using a Benq 7800 projector w/ an ATI radeon 9000 pro video card. For audio I am using a Revolution 7.1 with digital output to a onkyo 770. I am running the Apple DVD player. I control the whole system with a Home Electronics TIRA 2.1 IR transceiver. I find iTunes can be a little flakey sometimes in outputting to the Revolution card -- but otherwise everything works as expected.

The problems I encountered were that there was no Mac software for the Tira -- but writing that didn't prove much of a problem. I also wanted a simple ripping/playing solution. Ripping DVD's with Mac the Ripper works well for me -- but I wanted to be able to double click and play them without writing scripts for each movie -- but writing software to do that wasn't much of a problem either. The finder presents a nice interface for selecting movies, and the onkyo remote control has so many buttons that I can program and control all of the things that I want to control remotely. Also I found that I could get very good control of the quality of the video output using the System Color Calibration.

The only thing that I don't seem to have is software to filter the output of the dvd player that the PC people seem to have (if I am understanding some of the threads in this forum correctly). On the otherhand -- I haven't found any reason to want more control of the output than I have already. On the whole, I think that the mac is a great platform for digital media, and it seems to only be getting better.

Just my opinion though.

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