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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently decided to go with a Mac-Mini as the central-brain of my HTPC configuration, and I was immediately halted in the process of getting things working by my inability to properly output video from the Mac-Mini such that it's even visible on my 50" Plasma TV (Panasonic TH-50PHW3).


Neither of my A/V Receivers (Denon AVR-3805 & Denon AVR-2805) have HDMI inputs, but both of them have component video inputs for HD content, so I purchased the DVI-to-Component cable linked below to use for outputting video from my Mac-Mini to the Denon:
http://sewelldirect.com/DVI-to-Compo...-Cable-6ft.asp


Needless to say, nothing I've tried has been effective in my Mac-Mini being displayed on my Plasma TV??


Any thoughts?
 

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Why didn't you respond to your previous thread:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1044270


As I intimated in that thread, I think your plan is flawed if you're counting on sending the mini video through an AVR and out to two different displays, especially if those displays have different resolutions. It's usually not a good idea to try to go through an AVR anyway, and certainly not via component cables from a Mac. You'll be lucky enough to make a direct VGA connection from mini to that older plasma, assuming your model has VGA and no digital inputs. And you'll probably need a VGA to component transcoder, not a cheap cable like that one you linked to, if you have any hope of succeeding via component. Something like this:

http://www.digitalconnection.com/Pro...Video/9a60.asp


Best of luck. Start with a direct mini to plasma connection first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sorry for not responding back to the previous thread you'd mentioned...I actually did begin writing out a response, but it was a lengthy thread which required yet another lengthy response, and I just haven't had the time to do so yet...

Quote:
I think your plan is flawed if you're counting on sending the mini video through an AVR and out to two different displays, especially if those displays have different resolutions

How then is this such an easy thing to do with other A/V equipment like my TiVo's (HD & Series 2), as well as with my Sony 400-disc DVD Player? Why would the mini have an issue here if these other devices don't?


Do you think a VGA to component transcoder might work, or is this something that you're suggesting might work only if I plan on connecting my mini directly to my TV's VGA port? I don't even think that be a possibility anyhow, because my speakers are built into the ceiling on my living room and I believe the only way to get sound into them - or out of them, depending on your perspective - would be to run the audio through the receiver..


Can you think of no way that I can output video from my Mini's DVI port into my receiver's Component-in port (as a means of maintaining HD-quality video)?
 

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How then is this such an easy thing to do with other A/V equipment like my TiVo's (HD & Series 2), as well as with my Sony 400-disc DVD Player? Why would the mini have an issue here if these other devices don't?

Because connecting computers to displays has its own legacy and industry standards, they connect over VGA and DVI, and a computer is a much more universal and complicated device than a "mere" consumer electronic device--sometimes this sophistication works in favor of a computer, sometimes it doesn't, and 1) connecting to "televisions" and 2) getting a properly sized desktop resolution are two of those things that often isn't anywhere near as easy as it should be. When computers hook up to a display there is two way communication, polling and data exchange going on--rather than the dumb, plug in those RCA or components cables of that dvd changer into anything and it'll play. It's only recently that we've even thought of a computer serving in that CE world of audio/video--and sure, you're gonna say, well my Tivo is a computer, right? And it is, but it's a computer that's more narrowly focused, stripped down and designed to make connections over certain broad and long-time standards--usually analog via RCA or component--whereas computers, and especially Macs, have their own history of connecting over analog--it's just that "their" analog is a different standard, VGA. And that brings up the different colorspace issue, i.e. having to transcode from the colorspace of computers (RGB) to the colorspace that most CE devices and TVs expect (YPbPr.)


The "Tivo" equivalent in this case might be the Apple TV--it's designed to connect to widescreen TVs, it has component built-in--and many use it to connect to their older HDTVs (without an HDMI, DVI or VGA input) instead of a Mac just for that reason.


Add in a 2nd layer of complication: that Macs by design are inherently more disadvantaged than Windows PCs when it comes to graphics cards options and tweaking drivers to accommodate component--we don't have the choice, access or options. In your case with the mini, if you want to run OS X, you're limited by what Apple allows the GMA950 to do.


Then add in a 3rd layer of complication: Manufacturers of HDTVs share blame for this--their ability to recognize, properly connect to and share EDID with computers leaves a lot to be desired. It's a two way street--and manufacturers of high def TVs have also been relatively slow to evolve.

Quote:
Do you think a VGA to component transcoder might work, or is this something that you're suggesting might work only if I plan on connecting my mini directly to my TV's VGA port?

I think you should try going straight VGA to VGA first, see if you can get your desktop to appear at the native res of that plasma, which is 1366x768. That'll tell you if your new mini can function as an extender, directly connected to your HDTV, which is how almost all of us do things. Even this isn't guaranteed, given the fickle nature and limitations of some older HDTVs, and you may be in for a lot of pain (via SwitchResX or DisplayConfigX) merely trying to make this connection.


Based on what happens--then, yes, you might consider a VGA to component transcoder--and some people have had success going through an AVR with one. You'll have to tap into whatever knowledge base there is out there of fellow Denon users because going through an AVR adds yet another layer of complication--that's your fourth--you might not be able to get "1366x768" through, and once it is through, when you switch away to a different video source and then back, your Mac might not be able to "see" and regain sync with your HDTV at that previous timing or resolution again. Some folks who have to deal with this--going through an HDMI switching AVR--eventually find success with something called the Gefen DVI Detective--it holds that certain resolution and timing in memory so the Mac thinks it's still connected.


But--at some point you have to ask yourself is spending more money to try to force these solutions into prescribed notions really worth it long term? And is the hassle configuring it worth it when there are much easier ways, albeit with different equipment and approach.


I think you're in a tough spot: you're trying to drop a new concept--home theater PC--into older, limited equipment you currently have that wasn't designed to "just work together" the way you're currently envisioning. And not only that, if I read your other post correctly, you're trying to integrate it into a "whole house delivery system" that you've already set up and that relies mostly on an older, more out of date, analog "consumer electronics" way of thinking. Those Denon AVRs are expensive, you have A LOT of money tied up in them, and they're wonderful for sound and switching audio--but they're not digital video switchers. They're just old enough (4 years or so) just to have been behind the oncoming digital and high def wave--and AVR manufacturers are traditionally slow to evolve anyway. You're paying that price now as technology, especially video technology, swiftly moved forward.

Quote:
my speakers are built into the ceiling on my living room and I believe the only way to get sound into them - or out of them, depending on your perspective - would be to run the audio through the receiver.

right, I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know, but most of us run optical audio from a Mac to an AVR--it's just that our HDTV, AVR and Mac are in relatively close proximity to each other. I think the more common "whole house" strategy around here is to prioritize Macs first, to have multiple Macs and aTVs on a gigabit network, with some carefully chosen wireless devices, everything networked and sharing content. If you want to set up more than one main listening/viewing area--have an HDTV, AVR and speakers set up in each area, with a Mac or aTV directly connected to each HDTV and optical audio going to each AVR. An Airport Express and self-powered speakers can get music to secondary locations, a laptop or an aTV in a bedroom can pull video when necessary.


This strategy allows you to offload as much to the Mac HTPC as you want AND still keep the more traditional CE devices connected to your AVR and HDTV--parallel delivery paths if you will, rather than integrated. One foot in the old, one foot in the new.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You've more than thoroughly made your point...I screwed!


Not that this is a realistic option (at least as long as all us americans are in a recession and are trying to save some dough), but for the sake of the hypothetical if I were planning on upgrading some of my equipment (such as my 50" Plasma & one...or both...of my Denon receivers), can you offer some suggestions that I might want to consider when shopping for a new 50" plasma and multi-zone receivers with multiple HDMI inputs - perhaps something that won't break the bank like this one ??


Is there a kick-a$$ $1,500-$2,000 plasma, and a $1,500+/- receiver that would allow me to do everything I've sought out to do?


Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated... Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
...and on a bit of a side note...seeing as how you seem to be one of the more knowledgeable and most helpful people I've come across on this board, I don't supposed you might be willing to weigh in on this thread I'd posted the other day which has thus far been completely neglected?


Thanks!
 

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you're on your own with that, I'm an "inside the home" home theater guy...but, getting back to your situation, let's recap what you have been able to achieve with your current stuff:


For instance, leaving audio aside for the moment, how did hooking your Mac mini directly up to your plasma over VGA go? What resolutions were you offered going VGA to VGA, and how does your desktop look?


And what about your aTV--what happened when you connected it over component into your Denon AVR down in the basement--i.e. have you determined that an aTV would work within the requirements of your current distribution system, and were you able to send video out through it?


With the aTV connected down there, and your iTunes preference set to look for external speakers--can you find your aTV as a remote speaker--and using either your iPhone with the new remote app or your Macbook Pro--can you play something and hear your music up in the living room?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

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how did hooking your Mac mini directly up to your plasma over VGA go? What resolutions were you offered going VGA to VGA, and how does your desktop look?

I've not yet tried doing this...My current setup basically consists of my 50" plasma TV in my living room with absolutely no other A/V equipment in sight in that room whatsoever...As such, I've been reluctant to connect anything to the TV in that room...Very anti-fung-shui (if you know what I mean).


I used to have the massive A/V system mounted in a multi-cabinet shelf system located directly below my TV, but in the end, that kind of a configuration always comes off as showy in my opinion...I'd rather have a clean simply system (at least to the untrained-eye), with a NORAD style A/V system hiding in the closet in the other room

Quote:
And what about your aTV--what happened when you connected it over component into your Denon AVR down in the basement--i.e. have you determined that an aTV would work within the requirements of your current distribution system, and were you able to send video out through it?

I was easily able to incorporate my aTV into my current AV system by simply attaching it via component to one of my Denon Receivers...This was simple and painless, and I've been able to enjoy the aTV in 1080i resolution on my 50" plasma in my living room...

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With the aTV connected down there, and your iTunes preference set to look for external speakers--can you find your aTV as a remote speaker

Not really sure what you mean by this....

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and using either your iPhone with the new remote app or your Macbook Pro--can you play something and hear your music up in the living room?

The new remote.app that I downloaded from the iTunes AppStore works beautifully to control my aTV...though I wish it had the ability to control regular old up/down/left/right/menu functions, which it seems to be lacking...this means that I can't use it to browse through anything other than the content I currently own (i.e. I can't use it to browse through rentals, or to see what new movies, music, podcasts, youtube videos, etc...are available via the aTV...for that I still have to use the UniversalRemote MX-850 RF remote...)


As far as the Mac-Mini...I think you've more or less helped me realize that its a pointless stuggle to try to get it to fit into and work fluidly with my current system...seeing as how most of my receivers and my TV are both quite old, and were certainly not made with any HTPC connectivity in mind....


I consider it a work in progress though, and maybe one day, an upgrade in some of my A/V components might warrant reattempting to incorporate the mini...that is, unless you think I shouldn't quit now, and that it might somehow still be possible to make it work?


Thoughts? Suggestions? Advice?
 

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Quote:
I've not yet tried doing this...
Quote:
I've been reluctant to connect anything to the TV in that room...Very anti-fung-shui (if you know what I mean)

You still should, though, initially. It'll help you to know the resolution options the mini offers you with your plasma--and what your desktop looks like on it in terms of underscan/overscan--before you try the VGA to component transcoder. You'll also get a hint of whether third party software like SwitchResX will be necessary--then you can make a slightly more informed decision whether to keep going with your experiment. So,

1) connect directly, note resolutions and overscan;

2) then swap in the VGA to component transcoder--see what happens;

3) then take the mini and transcoder down to the basement and connect it to your AVR--see what happens;

4) if you manage to get it through the AVR by using the transcoder--then switch away to a different video source--and back to the mini. Does your mini re-recognize that it's connected to a display?


Each of those steps can be problematic--you just won't know until you try them. And don't think that merely upgrading to an HDMI-switching AVR and an HDTV with HDMI in solves all this--it doesn't--you STILL might have to use SwitchResX and still might have to buy additional hardware (like the DVI Detective) to pass the mini through.


I think part of your problem is you just jumped right into trying to connect your headless mini right to the component in of your AVR, which was guaranteed failure.

Quote:
I was easily able to incorporate my aTV into my current AV system by simply attaching it via component to one of my Denon Receivers...This was simple and painless, and I've been able to enjoy the aTV in 1080i resolution on my 50" plasma in my living room...

so this is great news--that gets you at least part of the way to your ideal system, but a substantial part--you can play back everything that fits within the iTunes ecosystem. And that's before you consider hacking your aTV...

Quote:
As far as the Mac-Mini...I think you've more or less helped me realize that its a pointless stuggle to try to get it to fit into and work fluidly with my current system...seeing as how most of my receivers and my TV are both quite old, and were certainly not made with any HTPC connectivity in mind...

that wasn't my intent, it's not pointless, it's just that you were choosing to go down a difficult road and I sensed you didn't know what you were up against. And I think most of us here understand the appeal of the NORAD "tuck as much as you can out of sight" approach--many of us like pristine quiet, have the WAF to consider and have servers and storage and plenty of stuff artfully concealed. Obviously, the big advantage of the mini for you, if you should somehow manage to get it to function within your current parameters, is that you'd be able to completely control it remotely unlike the aTV. If you're not prepared to overhaul equipment or alter your approach, meaning you'd really like to keep the same NORAD stack down in the basement for a few more years, you probably should go through the pain and expense of incorporating the mini. And we'll feel for you.
 

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I have a similar situation. I have a system with a component video matrix switch that feeds all my hd sources from a main media closet to all my displays throughout the house. I have a mac mini and was faced with this issue almost a year ago. Up to the current I have yet to find an acceptable solution. As you have found there just does not seem to be very many affordable DVI to component HD converters. My (unfortunate) final solution was to convert the DVI to HDMI and pass it through my Pioneer VSX84 reciever that feeds only the main viewing zone. Even that doesn't work super consistant. I often have to go into the Mac Mini's display properties and reset the resolution cause it defaults to some off resolution. So in a long roundabout way I agree that you should hook directly to the display, it would tend to have a lot fewer issues. And by the way I am in the av install industry and am always looking for solutions to this problem. I have tried different converters but have found none yet. Others like this, http://www.lenexpo-electronics.com/A...r-p-17454.html

are out there but I am unable to try them all out. Good luck and if you can hookup DVI-HDMI versus DVI-VGA but I don't think that display has HDMI. It would look a lot better.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/14272071


Why didn't you respond to your previous thread:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1044270


As I intimated in that thread, I think your plan is flawed if you're counting on sending the mini video through an AVR and out to two different displays, especially if those displays have different resolutions. It's usually not a good idea to try to go through an AVR anyway, and certainly not via component cables from a Mac. You'll be lucky enough to make a direct VGA connection from mini to that older plasma, assuming your model has VGA and no digital inputs. And you'll probably need a VGA to component transcoder, not a cheap cable like that one you linked to, if you have any hope of succeeding via component. Something like this:

http://www.digitalconnection.com/Pro...Video/9a60.asp


Best of luck. Start with a direct mini to plasma connection first.

Thanks, I've been looking for a device like that for a long time (without spending many hundreds) to connect my iMac G5 (offers s-video or vga out only) to my HD-ready (component only) RPTV for a long time now! I've only seen really fancy converter settop boxes that cost a small fortune before this, so it's just what I've been looking for!
 
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