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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 10:11 AM   #1
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help: do i want an Apple TV or a Mac Mini?

Hi,

I have an iMac and Airport Extreme base station upstairs in the den. Downstairs in the rec room I have a 46" LCD HDTV.

I'd like three things.

1. I'd like to rent movies from iTMS (can't in Canada); and buy/rent American TV shows from iTMS (can't in Canada)

2. I'd like to be able to watch video files in the rec room that are on my iMac. (Currently I burn them to a DVD and watch them on my DIVX-capable DVD player, but the image quality ain't great.)

3. I'd like to be able to browse the web from my rec room

Trying to decide if I want an Apple TV or something else (like a Mac Mini). Here's my thinking:

Apple TV, PROs: awesome interface, HDMI out, can stream video files from my iMac or a hard drive on my Airport Extreme base station.

Apple TV, CONs: no movie rentals in Canada yet, no American TV shows in iTunes store in Canada yet, have to convert DIVX files to Apple TV compatible format, cannot browse the web with it

Mac Mini, PROs: can use Front Row to watch video files, can use Safari to browse the web in my rec room

Mac Mini, CONs: more expensive, no HDTV and 5.1 audio out

So my questions are:

Q1. is there any chance that Apple TV will provide me with access to the Safari web browser any time soon?

Q2. is the video output on a Mac Mini to my 46" LCD good enough; or is it crap compared to the HDMI out on Apple TV?

Q3. will iTunes store sell America TV shows in Canada soon?

Q4. will iTunes store rent movies in Canada soon?

Q5. will Apple TV support DIVX files soon?

Q6. if I buy an Apple TV will I regret getting the 40Gig version?

Q7. if I buy an Apple TV will I regret it because there's going to be a new PVR version of Apple TV next year?

ANY HELP OR OPINIONS ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED! THANKS,

slegge
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 10:21 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boxlight View Post
Hi,

Mac Mini, CONs: more expensive, no HDTV and 5.1 audio out

slegge
These "CONs" aren't accurate. The Mini does have a mini TOSlink s/pdif digital audio out port so all you have to do is plug into a digital in on your receiver and you have 5.1 surround. This is what I do, it works great. The Mini has DVI-D output which all you need to connect to an HDTV with HDMI in is buy a DVI to HDMI cable, they aren't that expensive. This is what I do, it works great.

As for the rest of your questions they are pretty much speculative so to base any buying decisions on that would not really be advisable. Buy for what the products are now. Who knows what either of them will be in the future.

I am very biased on this issue, I will say from the start. To me the Mini is the way to go, much greater flexibility for what you can do with it; internet, games, Garage Band, etc. Plus with Apple TV you are restricted to file types that iTunes supports, so no TS_video files for example.

The picture output from the Mini to my HD Toshiba is great and I know of many others who feel the same. If you are really interested in using a Mini for a mutlimedia server go 123Macmini.com - A Mac Mini User Community there you will find a host of information and people's real world experiences with using the Mini for what you are considering.

Good luck and have fun.

Last edited by screature; Mar 20th, 2008 at 10:32 AM.
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 10:28 AM   #3
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Thanks screature, very helpful!

Do you think the Mac Mini's DVI out will give me as good an HD picture quality as the HDMI (or component video) out on the Apple TV?

I'm thinking specifically about 720p (or future 1080p) movies that I might eventually rent from iTMS.

Also, if I look for a second hand Mac Mini, what is the minimum video hardware I should settle for?

Thanks again.
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 10:29 AM   #4
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No contest. Get the Mini. The AppleTV is like a computer with a serious lobotomy. The ATV is too 'closed system' for my tastes. The only way an ATV is worth anything is if you plan to do ALL your media through iTunes. Otherwise, in the immortal words of Dire Straits (if out of context) it is 'money for nothing'. The Mini can do everything the ATV can do and so much more.

Just my $0.02Cdn...

YMMV
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 10:41 AM   #5
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Thanks rgray,

What about the picture quality issue? Apple TV is touted as a home theatre device so my perception is its HDMI and digital audio out will be superior for hidef movies than the Mac Mini's "home computer" oriented output technology.

Opinions?
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 10:43 AM   #6
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I just went through this process.

I had my daughter's Mini connected to my tv while she was away over March Break. Worked great, although it isn't the best for surfing the web - unless you magnify the fonts, etc much larger.
Still, as others have pointed out, it works very well.
And yes, I went from mini-DV to DVI from the Mini and connected it to a DVI to HDMI cable. Very crisp picture.

When she came back from holidays, she took her Mini back.

I bought an Apple TV. Why? I couldn't afford the extra cash.

I set up an American account, and I love it! Yes, everything has to stream from iTunes, but that's not a big deal for me. I still love it! I'm renting movies, watching american shows we don't get here, watching podcasts, listening to my music, etc. through the ATV. Very pleased with the purchase.

So ... I'm guessing it doesn't help you much, lol ... if you can afford it, the Mini is probably the better way (don't forget the wireless keyboard and mouse). But, you wont be disappointed with the ATV (as long as you set up a US account)
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 10:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boxlight View Post
Thanks screature, very helpful!

Also, if I look for a second hand Mac Mini, what is the minimum video hardware I should settle for?

Thanks again.
Not sure what you are asking here, could you elaborate? Do you mean on the Mini?
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 10:52 AM   #8
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I'll add another vote for the mini. I went through the same decision process a while back and went with a mini and don't regret it at all. Having used Apple tv's on a few occasions since then I love having the mini in my setup all that much more. The apple tv is too limiting for my needs.
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 10:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boxlight View Post
Thanks rgray,

What about the picture quality issue? Apple TV is touted as a home theatre device so my perception is its HDMI and digital audio out will be superior for hidef movies than the Mac Mini's "home computer" oriented output technology.

Opinions?
No, actually "computer" outputs are higher in resolution (generally speaking) than TVs. With the advent of 1080p for TVs they are catching up to monitors. The mini will have every bit as good a picture as the Apple TV
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 11:12 AM   #10
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I forgot to mention above one thing that is important to me. I already own a pile of DVDs. The 'frequent fliers' are ripped, but there are a lot of others that I don't watch often enough to bother ripping. Why is this important? Because you can't stick a DVD into an ATV! You can in a Mini. Seems to me this is a huge oversight - Steve's way or no way!

Sometimes media entertainment is group web surfing - no way with an ATV. Sometimes you want to keep up with email while being entertained - no way with an ATV.

With a Mini type setup one can run, say, an F1 race and have the live timing on the same screen - similar for other sporting events. Can't do that on an ATV.

You can hook up EyeTV to a Mini, but as far as I know and I am prepared to be corrected, this can't be done on an ATV - there is lots of stuff on regular TV that I want to watch..... once.... but would never bother to buy. Easy on a Mini.

A Mini can be controlled from my MBA by VNC - a super remote of sorts which far exceeds the ATV's remote....

Another $0.02Cdn.....
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