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The Mac mini Media Server

Article Index

The Mac mini has the right footprint and I/O capabilities to be turned into a nice little media server. It costs a little more to do it right but it's well worth it, especially compared to sub-par turnkey systems like the Media Link "entertainment receiver" from ADS Technologies.

Plus, if you create your own media server you won't have to settle for a horrible remote control, poor menu structures and generally pokey performance. Here's our experience using a Mac mini at the hub of our media center.

The list of equipment we used includes the following:
Samsung HLN507 DLP TV
Samsung STR-165 HD Tuner
Harmony 768 Remote ( Logitech )
Denon Stereo Receiver
Denon DVM-1805 DVD Player
Mac mini, 512 MB ram, 80 GB internal disk
Maxtor 120G external storage ( Firewire )
iSight Camera ( Firewire )
IOGear wireless keyboard and mouse

The Mac mini comes standard with a DVI port for connecting to a video display. An adapter is also provided that converts the DVI interface into a RGB connection. The HLN507 has a single DVI port. The DVI port will give you the best picture because you are staying in an all-digital domain. Most of our viewing is watching network broadcasts so we used the DVI port to connect the HD tuner.

Using the RGB connection the Mac mini correctly recognized the TV's native resolution of 1280 x 720. The TV has a small amount of over scan, but nothing that would inhibit the functionality of the system. Overall the TV makes a great monitor for the Mac mini.

The keyboard and mouse are connected using a USB connection. You can order a Bluetooth option ($50) and Bluetooth keyboard and mouse ($99) from Apple, but it is much cheaper to buy a third party wireless keyboard and mouse.

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