mac mini on a 32″ hdtv? anyone done it?

Question by ryan m: mac mini on a 32″ hdtv? anyone done it?
thinking of buying a mac mini and hooking it up to my 32″ tv…… has anyone done this? does it work? how does it look? any useful websites?

Best answer:

Answer by Cars & Computers
The Mac Mini is a popular item for Home Theater applications – but there are a few things to keep in mind:

(1) The Mac mini matters – You need to have an Intel version of the Mac Mini. This is because the G4 in the original Mac mini does not have the processing power to display full-screen HDTV. Therefore you want the Core Duo (not solo) model. If it’s in your budget, splurge for the fastest process but you will have more costs (see below).

(2) RAM matters – There are two factors that will impact your ability to playback high res video fast on an Intel Mac mini – the hard drive _speed_ and the system RAM. I strongly recommend maxing out the RAM on the Mac mini. I buy my RAM from Crucial and a 2 MB kit is ~$ 350 right now.

(3) Hard Drive speed matters – The short answer is that it would be best to have a 10,000 RPM drive so the Mac mini can read the video files fast. 7,200 RPM (more common and less expensive) will do fine. The one that comes with the Mac mini si 5,400 RPM and I don’t like it. My personal choice is to use an External RAID called the Terastation from Buffalo Tech. This may be overkill and can be added later. Why it is cool is that it gives far more capacity to the Mac mini (1 TB = 1024 GB) and it is RAID 5 which means the hard drives constantly backup each other so even if a drive fails, you do not loose data! This is important for iTunes purchases and large libraries that take weeks to rip from source media.

(4) Elgato matters – If you want to be able to record broadcast TV TiVO style then Elgato is your new best friend. My choice is the Eye TV Hybrid but they keep coming out with new cool stuff so do some research on their website.

(5) The screen matters – You specifically mention 32″ HDTV which means you are running 720p which is totally fine at that screen size. The only things to keep in mind are the connectors (Mac mini has a DVI out so you need a TV with DVI in or an HDMI-to-DVI connector available at many places – probably Radio Shack) and the screen quality. Now there are plenty of places to determine screen quality on the Web and new TVs come out every day. I look for Brightness and LCD response time but your eye will be the best judge. For what it is worth, Wal-Mart – my least favorite store in the world – Has a great deal on a 32″ Sanyo.

(6) The Remote Matters – The Intel Mac minis come with a remote control and Apple’s Frontrow software for A/V purposes. The remote is great (simple) and the software looks awesome too! Now the Eye TV Hybrid has software that works with the Apple Remote as well. If you have other AV components you want to control with one remote, Logitech’s Harmony remote line are the gold standard but will cost you. I did not go this route.

(7) iTV might matter – January 9th, 2007 is Apple’s annual Mac World Expo. In September 2006, Steve Jobs announced that at Mac World ’07 Apple would be releasing the iTV, a $ 250 device that some are calling an “iPod for your TV” (though it doesn’t have a hard drive and is not a computer). I wouldn’t make any major investments this close to the announcement.

(8) A couple resources – I have put in the references a couple links to good resources. Use them!

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