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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have searched for the answer but I havent found anything so if this is already answered, I apologize up front.


I just bought a new HD LCD TV (Sharp Aquas 10K:1 ratio). All my gear for the TV is still for the only 4:3 tube tvs. I am coming to the 21st century of technology.



So I am looking at putting in some sort of Media Center computer connected to one of the inputs of the TV. I want to rip my DVDs (that I own - I am not going to pirate anything) into MPEG4 stream/DivX/avi/something. So I can play back any movie I want whenever I want. Also all those series of TV shows that I buy, I want to do the same thing. For the MC PC, I want to do either a Mac (which I am very PRO mac) or I would consider Linux. Not Winblows. So what do you recommend for two things. What type of setup do you recommnd for the Mac to be. I am lookin at a MacMini. Buw what about remotes, and the whole 9 yards? second question is what format should I rip the DVDs into that I will get great quality on the 46" but not take 100gigs each? Ok, maybe I went over board with the 100gigs, but I dont want a movies taking 10gigs either.


So what are your recommendations?

thanks from the n00b...
 

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1) Any currently sold Mac, including the 1.66 GHz Core Duo Mac mini, will play 1080i HD video (both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4/H.264).


2) Ripping - MacTheRipper to rip and Handbrake to convert to H.264 - provides good quality, small files and should be compatible with the new AppleTV in case you decide to go that route.


3) Remotes - I love my Harmony 688. Properly emulates the Apple Remote, but you have to teach it the commands.


4) If you can find an EyeTV 500, buy it. Best high-def over-the-air and ClearQAM recording device out there.


5) For storage, a NewerTech ministack v2 .
 

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Welcome to the forum, sboss. You'll probably hear a lot of folks suggesting a Mac Mini. Unless you have a use for the iMac's display, it's not worth the additional cost. And a Mac Pro may not be a waste in terms of power, but it's big and expensive. So a Mac Mini sounds good; I'd recommend the fastest version, especially if you're doing a lot of transcoding, since that will eat lots of processor time, whatever machine you buy. Try transcoding a small file to H.264 in single-pass and multi-pass--you know, run through the options--and see what looks best relative to how much time it takes to encode.


The other part will be storage. Storage is a pain; an expensive, energy-sucking pain. Think about what video files you'll want to have immediate access to. Everything? Just TV shows? Just a few TV shows? The more you want immediate access, the more complicated it gets. If you want to have access to as much as possible, you could buy a used G4 tower to use as a file server and stick as many drives into it as you can fit (and optionally add some external Firewire drives) and connect it via ethernet to your network. The obvious benefit to this is that everything could be just a click or two away. Cost is in buying a server (or NAS RAID, etc.) and drives, having a quiet place to hide the server, things like that. If you only want to access a few at a time, you could expand your storage by using external enclosures and/or swappable drives. This brings potential cost savings, but you also have to find which file is on which drive, etc. Either way, you want to back up your data somehow so that if a drive fails, all your hard work in transcoding files isn't lost.


So I think the quick answer is, it depends what your goal is and how much you're willing to invest. You don't mention HDTV recordings/playback except in the title. Is that part of the equation? I don't mean to dissuade you. With the relative file sizes of uncompressed audio (maybe 40-60MB per song on average?) to current hard drives ($.25-$35/GB on a good day), storing and serving an audio collection is quite manageable. It's not the same with video--we really need another exponential step up in storage. It can be done, but it'll take some work.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazlo /forum/post/0


1) Any currently sold Mac, including the 1.66 GHz Core Duo Mac mini, will play 1080i HD video (both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4/H.264).

Does that include .TS files, e.g., captured via MDP-130?

Looking forward, can it handle similarly high-bitrate HD H.264?


Thanks.


Btw Sboss,

You mentioned HDTV in your title, but said nothing about it in your post. You do realize that DVDs (not HD-DVDs) are not high-def?

As for space, ordinary DVDs (again, not HD-DVDs) never exceed 8.5 GB per disk, and may not use all of that. I've ripped about 100 now--movie only, without further compression--and they average about 5 GB (YMMV).


I'm in the same boat. Seems safer to wait for the mini to be updated to C2D.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for everyone that responded so quickly!! and I apologize for starting to talk HDTV and then dropping it. I was posting via work and got sidetracker with a coworkers questions.


I currently have DirecTV/TiVO without HD. I just bought a HDTV. So I want to get HDTV/PVR (that doesnt suck). I have two options. DirecTV/PVR (the PVR sucks for the HD stuff) or Comcast/PVR. Or I can go with Comcast and roll my own PVR. There are only a handful of TV shows out there that I watch. Most are not on iTunes so I can even just buy them. I want to be able to record the tv shows or HDTV shows (some now are in HD) and play them back via my (newly will be acquired) MacMini.


Does the MacMini need to be the PVR? nope but would be nice to have a single box.


Do I want to store the tv shows via the PVR, the ripped from dvd movies/tv shows, etc on the Mini? yes (or maybe a networked storage device that the mini uses).


How would yall do this? remember I an not a n00bie when it comes to computers just HDTV/computer controlled tvs. I did hack up the tivo for large drives and turn functions on. so not a completely clueless n00bie.


thanks!!

sboss
 

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Quote:
I have searched for the answer but I haven't found anything so if this is already answered, I apologize up front
Quote:
How would yall do this?

sboss, welcome to the forum and there's no need to apologize; however, realize that your inquiries and demands are nothing special--been discussed for years here. We've covered all this ground many, many times over--and how we do exactly what you're interested in is the raison d'etre of this place.


External storage--been discussed to death on previous threads. I disagree gently with my forum colleague druber in that storage is most certainly NOT an expensive energy-sucking pain. Storage has never been easier or more affordable to implement than it is now. It is dirt cheap. Of all the Mac home theater things that you'll have to embrace as a newbie--adding 500GB or 1TB of quiet inexpensive storage, which is more than enough to get you up and running, will be one of the easiest and least painful of tasks--you'll likely have much more pain 1) trying to properly connect to your display, 2) setting up a workable way to control your mini from the couch, and 3) figuring out how best to record your HD shows and rip and import your dvds. (I'm not saying these tasks are necessarily a pain either--in fact, for many of us, the reason we're using Macs and OS X is because this isn't a pain. I'm just putting "storage" in the the total context of things: it's really a piece of cake, essentially plug and play. You have to walk before you run--where druber is on stronger ground is in getting you to think down the road. When you are already an advanced user, when you already have your mini, THEN storage becomes a slightly more complicated issue with 3-4TB of content that you need to manage.


Ripping dvds, storing them on hard drives, compressing and transcoding, also covered in depth. How many dvds are we talking about? That'll influence storage...


As far as your DVR options, and the mini recording and playing them back, the real discriminator for you will be which specific shows you're interested in? There are some types of programming that you won't be able to record 1) over firewire and your Comcast STB or 2) with EyeTV devices. So what do you watch and how often do you watch? That'll influence the best DVR solution for you. There's little meaningful Mac-related DirecTV integration, most of us rely on cable--better video quality, many more recording options, firewire, EyeTV, etc. Also, covered in depth already. Where you physically store all this content is also a non-issue--I never keep that much stuff "on" the mini or Macbook, those are the two Macs I actually have hooked up to HDTVs. All my content is either on an external or spread out and accessible on the network, connected to other Macs.


If you hacked your Tivos yourself, I think you'll find working within OS X much easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/0


sboss, welcome to the forum and there's no need to apologize; however, realize that your inquiries and demands are nothing special--been discussed for years here. We've covered all this ground many, many times over--and how we do exactly what you're interested in is the raison d'etre of this place.

the apology was more of mixing questions/title so they dont match.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/0


External storage--been discussed to death on previous

threads.

I am not worried about storage. I have some and I can build out NAS storage pretty easy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/0


you'll likely have much more pain 1) trying to properly connect to

your display,

I was hoping that the DVI->HDMI cable would work. I have heard rumors of such things working.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/0


2) setting up a workable way to control your mini from the couch,

I was looking at using the default Apple Remote for the remote (until I get tired of it and upgrade) And for actual KVM/RemotePC/etc type stuff there is a program called Desktop Transporter

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/0


3) figuring out how best to record your HD shows

this is a big question (HD and non-HD).

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/0


rip and import your dvds.

I have done this before so this is not a big worry.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/0


As far as your DVR options, and the mini recording and playing them back, the real discriminator for you will be which specific shows you're interested in? There are some types of programming that you won't be able to record 1) over firewire and your Comcast STB or 2) with EyeTV devices. So what do you watch and how often do you watch?

I watch tv shows like NCIS, House, Grey'a Attonmy, Desperate Housewives, and other similar shows. I do watch a little USA/TNT/TBS/FX/BBC America/SciFi. The occasional Science Channel/Discovery/Military/etc channel.


chefklc said:
That'll influence the best DVR solution for you. There's little meaningful Mac-related DirecTV integration, most of us rely on cable--better video quality, many more recording options, firewire, EyeTV, etc. Also, covered in depth already. Where you physically store all this content is also a non-issue--I never keep that much stuff "on" the mini or Macbook, those are the two Macs I actually have hooked up to HDTVs. All my content is either on an external or spread out and accessible on the network, connected to other Macs.[/UOTE]


I am willing to drop DirecTV for Comcast. I already have Internet via Comcast so it is not a big deal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/0


If you hacked your Tivos yourself, I think you'll find working within OS X much easier.

Mac OS X is way easier than anything else. it just plain ass works.



thanks

scott
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sboss /forum/post/0


I was hoping that the DVI->HDMI cable would work. I have heard rumors of such things working.

I just got my mini and Plasma all hooked up a few weeks ago, still working out the kinks, but it's all working.


I found that using DVI-HDMI does in fact work the best and gives a better PQ than VGA cable. However, the one issue that I've found is that the overscan affects the visbility of the docker and the menu bar, so some tweaking via SwitchResX might be necessary depending on your display.


The LCD TV might make that work better, however DVI-HDMI for me is the best video solution.
 

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OK, Scott, a few things:


The Apple remote won't be enough for you to control everything--you'll need at least a mouse and/or a laptop with VNC to supplement. I'm not familiar with Desktop Transporter but if it functions at all like VNC and if it lets you on the desktop, then you should be fine. The Apple remote is good when you're within apps or if you're content within Front Row, it isn't meant to help much outside of that.


DVI-HDMI cables work just fine--with certain displays, with others they can be problematic. This is almost always a display side/display manufacturer issue. Unless you tap into another Mac user with your exact model, you won't really know what you're up against until you try--then you can peruse all the existing threads which deal with overscan and using third party apps to try to deal with it--by far the most vexing issue initially.


Recording those network shows in HD--no problem, you have several different ways to do it, OTA, QAM via Comcast, so read over any of the El Gato, Miglia and EyeTV discussions. If you want to try it without an add-on device, check into the really long recording over firewire thread for info about VirtualDVHS and the FirewireSDK. I'm a Comcast guy and I went with the two EyeTV500 approach.


Those other channels are going to be a little different, there isn't one add-on device which can record both digital cable and QAM high def simultaneously. On Comcast most of your other favorite channels aren't in HD, some are in the analog tier, some are digital only and encrypted, TNT-HD and DiscoveryHD usually aren't "in the clear" and fall in the encrypted digital tier as well...that means multiple tuners or recording methods. Depending on which STB you get from Comcast, and how they set flags locally, it also means you many not be able to record some of these.


How you play back your dvd rips will also be an issue, I know you've done it before but there are some special Mac and Front Row issues you'll want to investigate, see especially the thread on DVD Assist.


Good luck...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/0


The Apple remote won't be enough for you to control everything--you'll need at least a mouse and/or a laptop with VNC to supplement. I'm not familiar with Desktop Transporter but if it functions at all like VNC and if it lets you on the desktop, then you should be fine. The Apple remote is good when you're within apps or if you're content within Front Row, it isn't meant to help much outside of that.

DT is like Apple Remote Desktop, or Terminal Services on windows (the console version). Sorta like VNC but better quality and less ghosting. It is shareware (~$30) but well worth it. I use it when I "repair" friends/familys macs. I fire up the app on their machine, then go over to my MBP and control everything from whereever I place my butt. I rebuilt my brothers mac doing that. but that is a different story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/0


DVI-HDMI cables work just fine--with certain displays, with others they can be problematic. This is almost always a display side/display manufacturer issue. Unless you tap into another Mac user with your exact model, you won't really know what you're up against until you try--then you can peruse all the existing threads which deal with overscan and using third party apps to try to deal with it--by far the most vexing issue initially.

I have read in other threads about others placing either a G5 Mac (tower) or a MBP on a DVI->HDMI cable with my exact model TV. And it worked well. I know I am talking about the Mini but I am guessing/taking for granite that it will be fine. That will bite me the in the butt (taking something for granite).


Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/0


Recording those network shows in HD--no problem, you have several different ways to do it, OTA, QAM via Comcast, so read over any of the El Gato, Miglia and EyeTV discussions. If you want to try it without an add-on device, check into the really long recording over firewire thread for info about VirtualDVHS and the FirewireSDK. I'm a Comcast guy and I went with the two EyeTV500 approach.


Those other channels are going to be a little different, there isn't one add-on device which can record both digital cable and QAM high def simultaneously. On Comcast most of your other favorite channels aren't in HD, some are in the analog tier, some are digital only and encrypted, TNT-HD and DiscoveryHD usually aren't "in the clear" and fall in the encrypted digital tier as well...that means multiple tuners or recording methods. Depending on which STB you get from Comcast, and how they set flags locally, it also means you many not be able to record some of these.

I am in the atlanta region but on an old ATTBI ring so anytime they can screw us they do. I know most of the channels that I watch over the basic broadcast ones will probably be encrypted and probably not HD. I can live with that. I will see what I can do. I will look into the EyeTVs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/0


How you play back your dvd rips will also be an issue, I know you've done it before but there are some special Mac and Front Row issues you'll want to investigate, see especially the thread on DVD Assist.


Good luck...

I have played back several of the rips on my MBP with frontrow on the plane (I travel some for work). It is nice to sit there with the remote watching full screen movies and people are amazed that there is a portable dvd player that big.


chefklc, thanks for all your help!! (thank all of you). You have been very helpful!


scott
 
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