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post #1 of 3 Old 02-18-2007, 06:45 PM - Thread Starter
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I have been doing lots of reading, searching and talking to ppl trying to school myself on my needs and still have questions.

These are my goals:
1:Have a nice HDTV 37-42 (looking at the Westinghouse LVM37W3)
2:Nice surround sound system for DVD movies
3:Able to listen to my music on the same sound system
4:Be able to store/listen/view all my music, pics, and some video/DVD's on a Mac Mini
5: A DVR via the mini eyetv or miglia
6:Play a PS3 or XBOX360 if I get one
7:Not be outdated in 6months
8: Spend around $2-2,500

These are my questions:
If I do the miglia setup do go from the coax from the wall to Comcast box to the miglia box to mac mini box to the TV?

What cables to use. Do I use DVI from the mini to the TV. What about audio? Should I just use HDMI? I realize I will probably need to a amplifier for the DVI signal to travel that far, would I need one for HDMI?

Could I use the DVD player from the mac to play all my DVD's and see the video's at full 1080p? (as soon as I get the mini Apple will come out with a blue ray optical drive, just my luck)

Am I going to have 30 remotes??

Thanks for any help/wisdom

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post #2 of 3 Old 02-23-2007, 01:25 PM
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Yep, that's a good stack of questions. Most are already answered in some fashion in this forum, and I won't go deal-hunting. But if that Westy is ~$1200 and you spend $800 on a Mac Mini setup (which is unrealistically conservative for the hard drive space needed to record high-def streams), your budget's already done. As for not being outdated, you'll just have to start sending letters to companies and politely invite them not to release any new products.

Before you lay that credit card, I'd do some prioritizing around what you need most immediately, what your money can buy, and what won't quickly be outdated. Based on that, I'd say TV/stereo is the place to start. Enjoy HDTV, maybe try the cable company's HD DVR box. Home Theatre Ina Box setups look appealing, and they're easy to buy, but $500 won't likely bowl you over with quality.

Not trying to dissuade you from buying a Mac, but with just a Core Duo and no HD-DVD/Blu-Ray, it seems like the weak link in the chain. And in general, buying an entire setup at once makes it real easy to forget something important or buy something you think you need, then find another simpler solution that works just as well or even better. But that's just my two cents.
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post #3 of 3 Old 02-23-2007, 07:28 PM
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My first comment would be to wait for Leopard - which should be out in the next couple of months. There's some evidence that Blu-Ray and HD-DVD support will be included in that OS.

I've been playing around with a Mac as a HTPC as well, in my case I'm kicking the tires by setting up my MacBook (that I use for work) until I decide to lay out my own hard earned cash. I think most of my experience with the MacBook will be relatively applicable to a possible MacMini experience.

I'm using DVI out of the MacBook - 6' cable is no problem (of course). I think you are limited to about 5m without a high tech (active) extension.

I have a EyeTV500 that I bought a while back, with mixed results. When watching video live, it doesn't seem to be as smooth as my HDTivo or HD DirecTV box. I would describe the video as "slightly" jerky. I also have some pretty strong evidence that the reception (sensitivity) of the EyeTV 500 tuner may be a little lacking as well.

For audio, I have a long run to my surround receiver, which is more applicable to coax (SP/DIF) than the optical out available on the Macs. I go optical out of the MacBook (through the 1/8" headphone jack that is dual purpose), and then immediately convert that to a coaxial (SP/DIF) output with an adapter. I use RG-59 (with adapters) for the 30' run to the receiver. The sound seems to work okay, but I haven't watched any surround sound material yet, so I'm not sure if I'm getting full 5.1 or not. If not, it's a software issue.

The Mac does a fine job with my music and photos, so be prepared to be pretty happy with that. The Mac plays all my MPEG2 and MPEG4 video files as well (SD & HD), but I get no surround sound through QuickTime (a known bug). I am attempting next to use VLC for surround encoded MPEG2, but I haven't got that far yet.

As far as playing my legally ripped DVD collection, I haven't got that working with surround sound yet either.

My last comment is that even though the Mac is as user friendly as a computer can get in my opinion - that you will likely be doing a lot of "tweaking" on the system to get what you want. You may find yourself spending more time tweaking than really enjoying it, but that could be just me. I also seem to have too many occurances where I press the Apple remote and don't get the result I want. It may be that I just don't have a good line of sight to the front of the Mac, which is behind some glass. Or it could be that FrontRow isn't as robust as I'd like it to be.

I'm personally still on the fence as far as the Mac HTPC goes with the current hardware. I've ordered an AppleTV, but am prepared to be disapointed. What I'd REALLY like is for the AppleTV to improve upon Front Row, make it a little more reliable, and play just about any "legitimate" video that I throw at it, with full surround sound. If QuickTime can play it, I'd like the AppleTV to play it with surround.

Again, I'd be tempted to buy your TV, hook up a "free" HD-DVR from the cable company, and enjoy that basic system for 2-3 months while waiting for Leopard to be released.

I hate all this downtime in between drafts...(unidentified Lions loyalist '2004)
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