Plex Media Centre

I am still evaluating a Mac mini under the TV and decided to give Plex a go.

Plex bridges the gap between your Mac and your home theater, doing so with a visually appealing user interface that provides instant access to your media. Plex can play a wide range of video, audio and photo formats as well as online streaming audio and video. The real power of Plex is found in its library features: Organize your media into versatile libraries, automatically retrieve metadata from the Internet, and display your libraries using one of the visually stunning skins.

One way I have heard it described is, Front Row on steroids!

To get the most from it though I do need a much faster internet connection, one day soon I hope.

It installed fine and I immediately installed BBC iPlayer. Hoping to get more done with it over the next few weeks.

Mac mini Entertainment Centre

I have managed to borrow a Mac mini, one of the new ones, and I have connected it up to my HD TV using an HDMI cable.

After realising that I needed to change the audio output from the built in speakers to the HDMI output I was very impressed with how well it looked and worked.

I haven’t put any content on the Mac mini so far, just streaming content from my home iMac across our 802.11n wireless network.

The first thing I tried was EyeTV, using EyeTV 3 on both computers I was easily able to stream recordings from the iMac to the Mac mini. I was quite impressed with the picture quality, even though it is SD television. There was no buffering or stuttering which impressed me.

I then tried Front Row and browsed my shared photographs, which looked lovely on the big 40″ HD TV.

I then was able to browse my iMac iTunes Library from the Mac mini and was again impressed, though it made me realise I need to be better at playlists. Then I tried to stream some HD iTunes content from my iMac to the TV and fingers crossed, was it going to work?

Yes, worked really well.

Very impressed.

I may have to get one for myself.

Still thinking…

Still thinking if I should get the new Mac mini. Yes it meets my needs for a media centre (well apart from the lack of Blu Ray) however it is not cheap!

My hesitancy is based on how much I think I would use it.

Yes I could use it to play video content, iTunes content, recordings from EyeTV, DVDs.

Yes I could use it to play audio files, music and podcasts.

Yes I could use it to access web content, especially Flash based video web content.

However I currently do most of that via the iMac and the newly acquired iPad.

So would I use it?

Don’t know for sure.

Oh, new Mac mini

Oh well pleased to see Apple have released a new Mac mini. Not only is there a new form factor there is also faster graphics and key feature for me is the HDMI port.

I will now be able to connect the Mac mini to my HDTV. I should then be able to play HD content from iTunes. Of course at the moment in the UK this only means HD TV Shows. HD Films are only available to rent at the moment on the Apple TV or the iPad. I do wonder if that will change now with this new Mac mini?

It is now a lot more expensive than it was before so that is one downside.

Key question I need to ask is, does the superior functionality of the Mac mini justify the increased cost over an Apple TV?

Should I wait for the rumoured new Apple TV which is rumoured to cost less than a $100?

So going to wait at this time.

Apple rumored to be readying Mac mini with HDMI

Engadget reports that Apple may be ready to launch a new Mac mini with HDMI.

A Mac mini with HDMI. Makes sense, right? Well, it hasn’t to Apple so far, but it looks like it just might be ready to change its tune. That’s according to AppleInsider, at least, which has it from “two people familiar with the matter” that prototypes of a Mac mini with an HDMI port have been seen making the rounds in the usual inner circles.

Back in March 2008 (two years ago) there were rumours that Apple were going to kill the Mac mini. Back then I said:

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 looking to get a new TV when the Freeview HD models become more widely available. At the time I did consider getting an Apple TV over putting a Mac mini under the TV; as the Apple TV did have HDMI and as well as buying HD TV shows from the UK iTunes Store, you could rent HD movies for use ONLY on the Apple TV. If there is a new Mac mini with HDMI and you can rent HD movies on the new Mac mini then I may get one over an Apple TV.