New Mac mini (possibly)

Nearly a year ago I mentioned rumours about a possible new Mac mini.

Then I said.

So it is looking like that we may well see a new faster, better Mac mini.

I do like the Mac mini, it works well as a little Mac for testing and trying things out as well as introducing people to the Mac. I also have used it in the past as a server for various web services and for limited use it works really well – probably would not be too happy if it was a production server.

I did try it as a TV computer, in other words connected to my TV, but I never really used it, in the main as it was an old G4 PPC model and was rather slow for recording and capturing video from an EyeTV USB device. The newer Intel models have the advantage of remote control and faster processors and graphics better suited to video.

I am interested to see where Apple goes with a new model and I may just have to get one.

This week we have seen pictures and video surface on the rumour sites, however similar things were said a year ago.

Yes I would like to get a new one to be a media server under my TV, but will we see a new one. We are going to just have to wait and see.

Mac mini is dead, well possibly not, okay no it isn’t…

Rumours of the death of the Mac mini have been greatly exaggerated as various rumour sites backpedal on their missives of doom on the Mac mini.

Mac mini

Applesinsider say:

Last Memorial Day, AppleInsider cited sources in reporting that it appeared to be the end of the line for the itsy-bitsy Mac, which had seen limited adoption and an uncertain role during the first 24 months on the market.

They then say

For the first time in nearly a year, however, people familiar with the matter tell AppleInsider there’s new life in the Mac mini department, where a small team of engineers have recently been tasked with gutting the diminutive desktop and applying fresh internals.

So it is looking like that we may well see a new faster, better Mac mini.

I do like the Mac mini, it works well as a little Mac for testing and trying things out as well as introducing people to the Mac. I also have used it in the past as a server for various web services and for limited use it works really well – probably would not be too happy if it was a production server.

I did try it as a TV computer, in other words connected to my TV, but I never really used it, in the main as it was an old G4 PPC model and was rather slow for recording and capturing video from an EyeTV USB device. The newer Intel models have the advantage of remote control and faster processors and graphics better suited to video.

I am interested to see where Apple goes with a new model and I may just have to get one.

Ouch, it’s hot!

After not using it for a while, I decided that I would move my Mac mini from under the TV and move it to another room and use it as a web server.

I never really got round to using it as a TV computer, or media centre or anything really. An old CRT television is never much cop for showing a computer screen so was always using VNC to control it and if I am doing that I might as well use the laptop I am using to control the mini to do my computer stuff.

As a media centre it failed, as the Mac mini could not cope with the streams that the USB EyeTV device provided. The EyeTV relied on the mini for encoding and could it do it, no, not very well.

I also found that I rarely watched TV which I wanted to pause if I got interrupted, for things I did care about I had already recorded it already on the iMac and was watching it through the EyeHome.

However after I moved it I realised I must have turned the Airport off, so I connected it back to the 802.11n Airport Extreme by ethernet and VNC’d back in.

Now here’s my advice, if you leave a Mac mini on top of an 802.11n Airport Extreme, be aware that both will get too hot to handle! The Mac mini’s fans were going like they were going to take off.

It’s incredible how hot the 802.11n Airport Extreme gets, what does it do which means it get’s so hot?

Well the Mac mini is now in a cooler place acting as a temporary web server.

Hmm, would the EyeTV 410 make a difference?

On my  G4 Mac mini which I am using as a media centre under my television I have an EyeTV USB Freeview device for watching, pausing, rewinding and of course recording live television. I have been having a few issues with the quality of the recordings and viewing live television in terms of interference, but also when watching if a live TV window is open. I suspect that part of the problem is the speed of the G4 which is rather slow for a Mac and it only has 512MB of RAM.

I am wondering if I use the EyeTV 410 which is connected to my iMac whether that would make a difference? Whereas the EyeTV USB device is dependent a lot on the Mac for processing the video, the Firewire 410 device has a hardware encoder which in theory takes a lot of the load of video processing off the Mac.

I might give it a go and see how it works out, but will leave it till later as the iMac is going to record the final episode of Robin Hood tonight on BBC One.

Slow, very slow

I have mentioned before the ability of the EyeTV application to export TV recordings in a format which then allows it to be viewed via an iPod touch or an iPhone. It exports in a Quicktime H.264 format, the quality is excellent, and file sizes small, so it is quick to stream/download over an 802.11g  wireless network.

One thing which does let the whole process down is the speed of conversion. On my Intel iMac it is slow, a one hour show takes under an hour. However  on my 1.5GHz G4 Mac mini, it takes  forever.

A two hour recording I made last night which finished at 10.30pm was still been exported this morning at 9.30am! Eleven hours into the conversion process and it was about half way done!

As you might expect I have now turned of the wifi access function of EyeTV on the Mac mini.

Elgato do make a device that in theory makes things faster, the elgato turbo.264, an external USB device which according to the blurb…

Turbo.264 rapidly converts and drops videos into iTunes, ready to synch with your iPod, iPhone, Apple TV or Sony PSP. And even better, Turbo.264 does all the heavy lifting. While the hard work of video encoding is in progress, you can continue to work or play on your Mac.

Turbo.264 also accelerates the H.264 (MPEG-4) export command of popular Macintosh video applications, including EyeTV’s Wi-Fi Access feature. 

I have read mixed reviews, but it certainly does look interesting.