I’m going to turn my Mac Mini into a media centre computer. This may come as something of a surprise, considering I only bought it less than 2 years ago and upgraded its memory as recently as December last year, but lately it’s been used less and less. This isn’t likely to change when Hari and I move in together this summer – I prefer using my MacBook as it’s more powerful and versatile (thanks to its Intel processor) and Hari’s computer is now hugely improved, so she’ll be using that. Consequently, I’ll essentially have a spare computer, so I might as well do something with it and this seemed like a good idea.
It’s also a great thing to blog about, so I’ll be devoting a few entries over the next few weeks to it.
Here’s what I need to do to turn my Mac Mini from a normal computer into a computer that can also act as a media centre:
- Install media centre software Most new Macs come with Front Row, however mine was bought before this was standard so I’ll need some proper software. I’ve bought MediaCentral (it came with the TubeStick, see below) so I’ll be reviewing this in a later entry.
- Add a TV tuner A media centre is a bit useless if you can’t watch TV with it. Sure, it’ll be plugged into a TV which has a TV tuner, but this is Britain in 2007 so it must be a DVB-T tuner capable of receiving Freeview. It also must be able to take input from an external aerial through a coaxial cable since I live in Bradford where the TV reception is lousy and a decent roof-mounted aerial is a must. For this, I’ve bought the TubeStick from Equinux, which I’ll be reviewing soon.
- Add a TV output adaptor My Mac outputs DVI, and optionally VGA with an adaptor. New TVs support DVI, either natively or with an HDMI adaptor, but the TV I’ll probably be using just has a SCART socket, so I’ll need some way of converting the DVI signal to SCART. Apple sell a DVI to composite video adaptor which gets me halfway there – a composite to SCART adaptor is all I’ll hopefully need to complete the link.
- Add a remote control My Mac also doesn’t have the Apple Remote (and even if it did I’d like more than 5 buttons preferably) so I’ll need a remote, and some way of allowing the Mac to receive its signals. Infra-red would be the obvious one here but the Mac is also Bluetooth equipped.
That’s the basic stuff. I may go further and add a Griffin FireWave, thus providing surround sound – I already have a currently redundant Creative system which got given to me by a former housemate – and I’ll need at least one extra USB 2 hub since the Mac only has 2 built-in. I’ll let you know how I progress, and review the two parts that I already have in the next couple of weeks or so.
Also, if you have any questions to ask, post them here and I’ll answer them soon. I already have an answer to ‘Why didn’t you just buy an Apple TV?’ and a couple of other related ones but please post away 🙂 .