I-Mac Mini DVR? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 117 Old 01-12-2005, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
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The new I-Mac Mini seems like it might have DVR potential, what with its 1394 and DVI connections. Its also just the right size for sitting next to the TV.

Does anybody have any ideas for whether or not there is software for the Mac that could make this work?
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post #2 of 117 Old 01-12-2005, 11:46 AM
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aren't the only storage options 40 or 80 gb?

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post #3 of 117 Old 01-12-2005, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by chad473
aren't the only storage options 40 or 80 gb?
Yes, but this is only internal. The 1394 connection would allow you to easily add another 400 gigs in a (relatively) small form factor.

Even 80gb would allow for some recording.
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post #4 of 117 Old 01-12-2005, 11:52 AM
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ahh...yeah I wasn't even thinking of chaining out more hard drives. The size definitely would be accomodating. I guess we'll find out after the 22nd, if it ships on time.

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post #5 of 117 Old 01-12-2005, 01:23 PM
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post #6 of 117 Old 01-12-2005, 01:24 PM
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I was thinking the same thing, if the software support is there, that thing could make a nice HTPC... The optional bluetooth mouse and keyboard just ads to the appeal. I'm sure you could pop a bigger drive inside it also if you really wanted to.

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post #7 of 117 Old 01-12-2005, 04:03 PM
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Doesn't the lack of optical audio out from the Mini Mac reduce its appeal in this context? Dont get me wrong, I bought one anyway, but was bummed to see it had only a regular 1/8" out.

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post #8 of 117 Old 01-12-2005, 05:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by anthonymoody
Doesn't the lack of optical audio out from the Mini Mac reduce its appeal in this context? Dont get me wrong, I bought one anyway, but was bummed to see it had only a regular 1/8" out.

TM
http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=...08a4f602d10ed0

Nope.

Of course, after you add the external hard drive, upgraded memory, USB TV capture card, USB optical out, bluetooth and wireless internal cards, bluetooth keyboard and bluetooth mouse, you certainly aren't saving any money.

-B
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post #9 of 117 Old 01-13-2005, 01:28 AM
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And you aren't saving much space once all these drives and audio converters are dangling off the back of the thing.

Apple -- as usual -- gets so many things right and so many things not quite right. This machine is not -- in fact -- cheap for most people. But it's gorgeous.

There is no difference in HDMI cables. If you can see the picture without visible dropouts or sparklies, the cable is working at 100%. No other cable will display a better version of that picture. You're simply wrong if you think there is a better digital cable than one that is already working.
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post #10 of 117 Old 01-13-2005, 03:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by rogo
And you aren't saving much space once all these drives and audio converters are dangling off the back of the thing.

Apple -- as usual -- gets so many things right and so many things not quite right. This machine is not -- in fact -- cheap for most people. But it's gorgeous.
Hmmm, $499, is expensive (ok, a full 1GB of RAM effectively doubles the price)? Generally when you add a bunch of peripherals things get more expensive, right? I'm certainly looking at getting one, just wish they were a little thinner to perfectly fit in a 1RU space. Or you could get GVS to custom build a cool rackmount with removable hard drives and such, but...as you add, the more expensive it gets.

Certainly for something to sit there and record HD all day, with a external drive would be a good small solution--though an old iMac would likely be a bit cheaper (a rack mount case from Marathon brings the price back up to the mini).

I'll need to see if I can play back some HD on one to see what it can do, which would make it worth it--as some have pointed out there's a real video card in there with 32MB of VRAM, so unlike the miniPCs you can likely play HD--they show Halo on the web site. Then again, I already have an extra DVI monitor, and plenty of USB keyboards, and a mouse or two, so it looks like a cool thing to play with--maybe wait for RAM prices to drop a bit and then take it in to have it upgraded.
And, to wish: optical out, Gigabit Enet for swapping those HD files (though FW drive would be just as good, and 1.75" hight, 8.5" square--two side by side in a rack--mount the drives in the back, good to go.

Just remember, elgato will stop production on the 'Broadcast-code-free' eyeTV 500s in April so get your's while you still can.

And, Slashdot talks of mythTV once they have linux running on it.

erik g
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post #11 of 117 Old 01-13-2005, 06:57 AM
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Thinking about replacing a honkingly huge Tv and dvd/vcr combo in the kitchen with this and a widescreen lcd monitor. I have a Wifi Pc network set up currently with a combined terabyte of space and true 802.11g speeds.

I'll lose the VCR (woopie) but gain web surfing, audio and video streaming and counter space.

Thoughts?

Also can macs play .iso files from of my legally owned DVDs?

It's a fine line between clever and stupid...
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post #12 of 117 Old 01-13-2005, 08:03 AM
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Erik g,

According to the review of the EyeTV on the eff site, it does *not* do hardware accelerated playback. All the playback is in software, so the CPU carries the load (and the presence of the graphics card doesn't matter). They actually recommend a dual G5 (or at least a single G5) for playback in the review. OR something like the Roku unit (or a cheap PC). IOW you can capture with EyeTV and a low end Mac, even a G3, but playback with something else.

Re: the price of this thing and its 'value' I can tell you this: I'm a long time PC user who's been very much wanting to switch but couldn't stomach the price of entry for something that amounts to an experiment. I already have a 2 screen set up with my PC, so with a KVM switch I will run both PC and Mini Mac side by side during a transition. If I want to go all Mac (which I suspect) then the path is easy - retire the PC. If I want to stay PC, the path is easy - sell the Mac Mini (how hurt can I possibly get financially?) And if I want to go all Mac and want 'more' Mac, at that point spending the real money on a dual G5 is an easier decision - I know I could find other happy places for the mini.

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post #13 of 117 Old 01-13-2005, 07:03 PM
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I' m pretty sure the Mini Mac does *not* have the horsepower to playback 1080i content. I've got a 1.33 Ghz 12" Powerbook and as an experiment I attached it to my Panasonic PT-AE700U last night via the VGA connector (I don't have a DVI <-> HDMI adapter to connect digitally). I downloaded DisplayConfigX and shortly thereafter had my PB using the projector as a second display at 1280x720.

I then downloaded the 1080i 5 minute clip ot LOTR from the eff.org web-site and tried playing it using both Quicktime and VLC on the PJ. It was dropping at least 20% of the frames. So no go. You'll note that the specs on the 12" PB are very close to the Mini mac (same bus speed, same L2 cache, etc).

Now it is possible that the 1.42 Ghz mini mac which has a slighter faster CPU, plus the fact that it has (I think) a better video chip, and it would only be driving one display instead of two (I hadn't shut-off the internal display on my PB) would get the job done, but I'm doubtful.

I also downloaded a few 720p DivX trailers from http://www.divx.com/hd/ and tried those out. I'd say my PB was able to play at about 95-98% frame rate -- there were definitely dropped frames but it was not as bad.

So, what would I do? Well, I'd like the mini mac because I'm interested in having access to my music and photos in my HT *via iTunes and iPhoto*. So it might be worth it to me to spend the $750 just for that (1.42 Ghz mini mac + $100 superdrive + $50 bluetooth adapter). The EyeTV 500 is also an interesting accessory to add for an additional $300. Esp since it does QAM recording (though I want to see some more comments on how well that works). But what about playing that HD content that the mini mac doesn't have the horsepower for? Well, for $250 you could add the LinkPlayer2 and use that to play all your HD content, as well as handle upscaling of any DVD's you rip to the mac, you get DD decoding, etc.

So, for $750 + $300 + $250 = $1300 you've built yourself a fairly nice Mac based HTPC that has some unique advantages (for Mac users) over a PC based HTPC:

- QAM recording. I've read there are limited QAM recording options in the PC world and they don't work that well.
- iPhoto and iTunes access to your digital pictures/music library
- El Gato software for editing captured content, converting to mpeg4, etc.
- A lot easier to setup/manage than an HTPC (I would hope)

Now that same $1300 could also buy you a fairly nice PC to build either a Windows or Linux based HTPC. But that's going to take a lot more technical savvy than the Mac + EyeTV + LP2 combo.

Thoughts?
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post #14 of 117 Old 01-14-2005, 01:04 AM
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Versus a comparable PC, the iMac Mini is -- indeed -- expensive. It's cuter. It runs MacOS. And it's form factor is certainly interesting for many uses. But it's pricey for the performance and, in particular, the feature set.

There is no difference in HDMI cables. If you can see the picture without visible dropouts or sparklies, the cable is working at 100%. No other cable will display a better version of that picture. You're simply wrong if you think there is a better digital cable than one that is already working.
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post #15 of 117 Old 01-14-2005, 07:25 AM
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No doubt that in life one pays a premium for things one values.

Jaysoffian,
I like your proposed set up. Not familiar with the playback device you suggested. I know the eff article suggested the RoKu device which I think is about the same price as what you quoted. I would do the same in a heartbeat (I'd add a LaCie bigger disk extreme 1.6 TB firewire drive for good measure ;)) except that my cable co encrypts the HD channels I'd want to record most for potential archival purposes :(

For simply time shifting HD shows, the 8000HD is (barely) good enough for me.

TM

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post #16 of 117 Old 01-14-2005, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by anthonymoody
Not familiar with the playback device you suggested.
See the FAQ the I-O DATA Avel LinkPlayer2 on the DVD Player Forum, it's one of the first threads.

j.
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post #17 of 117 Old 01-14-2005, 03:36 PM
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Cool thanks.

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post #18 of 117 Old 01-14-2005, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by rogo
Versus a comparable PC, the iMac Mini is -- indeed -- expensive. It's cuter. It runs MacOS. And it's form factor is certainly interesting for many uses. But it's pricey for the performance and, in particular, the feature set.
I disagree, which I think hard before I disagree with you.

I don't think it makes the prefect HTPC or HD DVR like the poster asked, but I do think there is alot of value.

But I suspect I value the form-factor more than you do. So if you try to find a comparable 6.5x6.5x2.0 PC with the same performance(I'm not talking mhz here, but actual work done) and same features for $500(Yeah I am considering buying the cheap one). It is the same price as a cheap shuttle, but half the size and comes with a combo drive, but no mouse and no keyboard. But when you consider all the software that comes with the Mac Mini there is no comparison.
It is also hard to put a price on the benefits of OS10 over XPsp2.

http://sys.us.shuttle.com/BuyList.aspx?id=1000&type=u

As for playing HDTV on it, I think it depends on whether the Radeon 9200 will support any hardware acceleration, like DXVA(Direct x Video Acceleration). It will be tough if it doesn't. With hardware acceleration it should be easy. That is a good question.

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post #19 of 117 Old 01-14-2005, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by bdraw
As for playing HDTV on it, I think it depends on whether the Radeon 9200 will support any hardware acceleration, like DXVA(Direct x Video Acceleration). It will be tough if it doesn't. With hardware acceleration it should be easy. That is a good question.
Actually it's an easy question. Currently, the Apple DVD Player app is the only app on OS X that uses h/w acceleration for displaying MPEG2 streams. Quicktime does not. VLC does not. Mplayer does not.

I don't expect this to change in Tiger, though I have read that the Apple DVD Player gets a lot better. That doesn't help us as far as displaying HD streams though. So I think that our options are basically:

- Buy a G5
- Wait for Apple to provide us with an app that will play HD streams using h/w acceleration, or wait for them to provide an API for others to write apps that can use h/w acceleration
- Use an external player (such as the I-O DATA AVeL LinkPlayer2).

j.
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post #20 of 117 Old 01-14-2005, 04:37 PM
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bdraw hit on it....

people are trying to compare the Mac Mini (not iMac Mini) to a "comparable" PeeCee (which is at least twice as big).

2 things you have to add value to are:

1) it's form factor. there is already a company in new york that does automobile customization that are going to mount it in a single-DIN spot in the car (or anywhere else you want it) check out this excerpt on the article below

2)The value of the software that's loaded on this thing. you get Mac OS 10.3 & iLife '05 (which in itself is worth at least $300, the computer is just a bonus) but people who have never used this software won't realize it that way. iLife is comprised of iPhoto, iTunes, iMovie (HD editing now supported), iDVD, & Garageband (not one bad application, all are awesome apps)

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Classic Restorations' exclusive Mac Mini Auto designs provide for touch screen or conventional LCD display options. Although the the Mac Mini mounts in a single-DIN slot in dash, Classic Restorations can customize installation to fit under the seat, in the glove box or any other location in the car.

For car enthusiasts, the Mac Mini conjures the potential of having a car like KITT from "Knight Rider," the popular TV program featuring a talking and thinking sleek black TransAm. The Mac Mini supports voice recognition and voice response, allowing for handsfree operation while driving. It also supports Bluetooth, allowing for the use of a wide array of wireless peripherals such as keyboards and cell phones.

Drivers can use the customized Mac Mini Auto to log into home networks to transfer flies, such as your favorite music, video and photos, wirelessly from computers and home media devices directly to the car. The Mac Mini platform supports virtually all home media formats (MP3, DVD, CD, WMA, etc.) and the 40 GB storage allows for onboard selection of thousands of songs. Of course, Mac games can be played on the Mac Mini to provide hours of entertainment for passengers.

Road trips will never be the same for Mac Mini-equipped cars. Users can drive up and log into to any hotspot, as offered at many Starbucks, McDonald's, hotels and other public locations to surf the Web, view e-mail, view webcams, and other useful options.

Mr. Benzaquen explains, "For around the price of mounting an iPod in your car, you get a whole Macintosh computer."
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post #21 of 117 Old 01-15-2005, 04:08 PM
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I' m pretty sure the Mini Mac does *not* have the horsepower to playback 1080i content.
I had recorded content from the EyeTV 500 and I tried playing it back on the Mac Mini at full resolution - verdict? No frame dropping that I could perceive. This was on the faster Mac Mini. I say this is going to be an ideal HD PVR.
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post #22 of 117 Old 01-15-2005, 05:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ad Astera
I had recorded content from the EyeTV 500 and I tried playing it back on the Mac Mini at full resolution - verdict? No frame dropping that I could perceive. This was on the faster Mac Mini. I say this is going to be an ideal HD PVR.

What application was used to play the HD file? How much RAM was installed on the Mac mini 1.42GHz? Thanks.

Regards,
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post #23 of 117 Old 01-15-2005, 07:27 PM
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What application was used to play the HD file? How much RAM was installed on the Mac mini 1.42GHz?
The player app was EyeTV itself. RAM? I'll hazard a guess it was 512 MB. Certainly not 1 GB.
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post #24 of 117 Old 01-16-2005, 01:03 AM
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Was this at MacWorld, or where did you find one to test with?
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post #25 of 117 Old 01-16-2005, 06:22 AM
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That's what I was going to ask...

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post #26 of 117 Old 01-16-2005, 08:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jaysoffian
Actually it's an easy question. Currently, the Apple DVD Player app is the only app on OS X that uses h/w acceleration for displaying MPEG2 streams. Quicktime does not. VLC does not. Mplayer does not.
Why don't you think that the Apple DVD player will play HD? Almost all DVD player software for windows plays HD. After all it is just MPEG2.

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post #27 of 117 Old 01-16-2005, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by bdraw
Why don't you think that the Apple DVD player will play HD?
Unless there is a trick to get it to open arbitrary MPEG2 files, it does not do this. It can play a DVD in the DVD drive or it can open a VIDEO_TS folder.

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post #28 of 117 Old 01-16-2005, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jaysoffian
Actually it's an easy question. Currently, the Apple DVD Player app is the only app on OS X that uses h/w acceleration for displaying MPEG2 streams. Quicktime does not. VLC does not. Mplayer does not.

j.
Wrong. VLC can be set up in its prefs to use h/w acceleration for displaying MPEG2 streams.

prefs->video->openGL


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post #29 of 117 Old 01-16-2005, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jaysoffian
Unless there is a trick to get it to open arbitrary MPEG2 files, it does not do this. It can play a DVD in the DVD drive or it can open a VIDEO_TS folder.

j.
I use VirtualDVSH to open arbitrary MPEG2 files. Convert the tag to .m2t and they play fine.


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post #30 of 117 Old 01-17-2005, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Compromise
Wrong. VLC can be set up in its prefs to use h/w acceleration for displaying MPEG2 streams.

prefs->video->openGL
I don't think that does what you think it does. The Apple DVD Player uses the display hardware to assist with decoding the MPEG2 stream. I don't think that's what VLC is doing when you have it use the openGL driver.

In any case, if you go back through this thread, the question was whether a Mac Mini could display 1080i HD streams w/o dropping frames. Based on my limited testing, I don't believe it can. My 1.33Ghz Powermac G4 cannot. And even my dual 2.0 Ghz G5 uses ~ 80% of both CPU's to do so. And this is testing with VLC, with the openGL output driver. So I'd think if VLC were using something other than the CPU to assist with MPEG2 decoding, the CPU requirements wouldn't be so great.

So instead of declaring someone else as wrong, why don't you make sure you understand exactly what enabling prefs -> video -> openGL does, eh?

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