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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thinking ahead, when I decorate me bedroom I'd like to replace the TV etc.

Pretty much set on a SONY Bravia 32" and as they can also be a PC minitor I aim to make full advantage!

I'm thinking Mac Mini for the looks & size factor, but a few questions from a non-Mac'er!

Can it be networked etc seamlessly with Microsoft machines? Is it any good? Can I record TV to it? Anything else Is should know?

All opinions appreciated!
 

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Don't know the answers to your questions, but why a MAC? You going for the physical looks? If so, plenty of really nice looking small cases out there in PC form.
 

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Is it good? It's a Mac, of course it's good [;)] but wait for the Core 2 Duo. Yes it will network with Windows computers. I think you can only record off live TV with an iTV attached to it. The only disadvantage to the Mini, may be the price.
 

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Just switched to a 20" iMac myself (Core Duo one) having been a PC user. Aprehensive at first but its just far better in every single way. Its better designed, has a better user interface, theres no real virus risk and its stable. I won't be going back!?You can get TV interfaces for it so should be able to record off the TV. And in my flat we have Windows laptops and the iMac networked no probs
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mac Mini initially for the looks etc. Anybody got a link to small PCs? I have searched but couldn't finad any!
 

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i'm still using my G4 some four years on (was my dads for 3 years before that) and its as fast as the day i got it.? How many Windows owners can say that i wonder ?? "Once you go mac you'll not go back".? ?Its just easier and more usier friendly.??
 

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Though if your looking at it running your plasma, I would have to say that I think windows MCE would be a much better choice. OSX doesnt really have any dedicated software for media performance along the same lines and although it possible to get things like tv listings running on the mac, it isnt straight forward.

I have a MCE PC in the living room that I built for about ?300 and using a mac as well and the PC is much better for a media system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
We have a MCE PC downstairs as the main PC, but I thought they were only available as big stacker units. Might explore that route. Is it really that difficult to build your own PC?
 

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Not at all, if you can play with lego you can build a pc.

Personally, I used an antec aria case as it would allow me to fit in three hard drives as well as using full size pci cards. But this is likely to be a little bit big for what your wanting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Right, think you've started me on something here!

Are there any good forims for beginners like me?

My criteria is:

  • Small unit
  • Good connectivity (BT, Firewire, USB, Wi-Fi etc)
  • DVD Writer (1 drive is ok)
  • Min 500Gb
  • Record TV
  • Very, very quiet!

I'm a bit behind with the graphics & sound etc though!

Thanks for your help so far!
 

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www.thegreenbutton.com is a forum dedicated to windows MCE and is generally very helpful to the newcomer. The thing with choosing the components yourself is that you can spec what you need and how mcuh you want ot spend on a unit.

Remember you dont need anything mega powerful for a media PC so you can get away with using a cheap processor and memory. Im currently running a UNDERclocked socket 939 Athlon X2 3800. Because its underclocked, it means that the temperatures dont tend to rise and so Ive used smart fan so that the processor fan doesnt even come on unless the processor gets above 50 degrees. The thing that generates the most noise in my is the PSU fan which stops it from being a totally silent system. Im currently looking into seeing how hard it is to put a quieter fan into the PSU.
 

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Not at all, if you can play with lego you can build a pc.
I would agree, it used to be the best way years ago and its not tricky - just need a list of components and plug them all in basically. Though these days Dell machines are so cheap that the economics of it make less sense if its not something niche, like a small form factor item. If small and neat is what you are after check out the Dell XPS range - small case and good specs. Alternatively building yourself will give you access to a wide range of very small cases - I have a PC in the garage thats about 5 years old, and its tabout 30cm square and 15cm high.?
I disagree that Macs can't match Windows MCE though. The iLife thing does a similar job - i.e., using the supplied remote you can access a full screen interface for DVDs, iTunes, Movies and Images. Having said that I have not tried to rig it up for digital TV yet
 

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I think you need an iTV for digital TV on a Mac, although I think the Hauppage ones may work too. HP do some pretty quiet small form factor PCs, but probably not small enough for an MCE PC.

iLife is a very good media package, and is more than capable in competing against MCE. I reckon my MacBook Pro will give most a run for their money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Looked at a HP MCE PC today as it happens.

Very small, seemed good to me. I have a Sky Box, so its more a case of recording that to the PC!
 

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Mac?OSX is absolutely the way to go. Leopard coming out in Q1 2007 will feature a vector scalable GUI so even when you plug in a 65" HD display it will render sharp graphics irrespective of resolution. In virtually every aspect Apple have been 1st to market with the technologies that MS tries to reproduce five years later. Quicktime has implemented H.264 encoding for almost 18months while windows is still stuck in the 80's with it's proprietary formats. MCE has pretty much been dead in the water since it was launched because MS can't deliver the end-to-end solution. About the only thing that OSX doesn't include 'out of the box' is a PVR, but that's because they're in the process of rolling out the wireless iTV film/TV distribution strategy which once again will change the way we watch TV. And given that I'm the director in charge of BBC Broadcast, this isn't just idle speculation, we're on the verge of another revolution. In the meantime I would have a look at things like the Elgato EyeTV stuff and similar. At the BBC we still have to suffer windows for a lot of playout automation stuff because of cost-cutting decision, but Macs are heavily used in production, and HD editing is gradually moving to Apple Final Cut Pro and totally changing the concept of delivery and workflow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
thegreenbutton is unaccessible at the moment!

still have trouble seeing if Sky TV can be recorded to the PC/Mac from my box
 

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If you are interested in small form factor PC's, try the Shuttle range - I have built lots of these - they are very nice little machines - www.shuttle.com or direct to the product listing:
http://eu.shuttle.com/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-3/

I normally get them as 'bare bones' cases, which include a motherboard, you then add your choice of Processor, RAM, Hard Drive, Optical Drive. Generally, they have Firewire and lots of USB Ports, along with SPDIF Optical, one PCI and one PCIe / AGP, and have onboard LAN, Audio, Graphics.

Al
 

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Is it standard sky or sky plus?

It should be straight forward though as I currently have my NTL Cable TV box going through my MCE. You use an analogue tuner card like the Hauppauge 100MCE and then just connect the set top box to the tuner card.
 
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