It’s Monday, so it’s time for part one of the Mac Mini Media Centre project entries – the requirements. In other words, what I actually want the thing to do.
Essentially I am converting a desktop computer for use as a set-top box plugged into a TV. So, instead of using a keyboard and mouse to control it, I’ll be using a remote control and instead of a computer monitor I’ll be using a TV. But the Mac Mini was designed as a desktop computer so some adaptations are necessary.
The core requirements, i.e. the ones that the media centre must absolutely be capable of are as follows:
- Can be connected to a TV rather than a computer monitor
- Can be controlled by a remote control
- Can be operated effectively from a distance
The last one is a software requirement – user interfaces on computers are designed on the basis that the user is probably no more than 1-2 feet away. Whereas I’m likely to be 2-3 metres away from a TV screen, so naturally the interface has to be readable from a distance. A standard computer user interface, especially one designed around a mouse and keyboard, is no use here.
The next set of requirements is the ‘important’ set – features I want the box to be able to do. It should be able to do most if not all of these:
- Play DVDs
- Play music from CDs and iTunes
- Play media stored on the hard drive
- Receive digital television broadcasts
And finally the ‘nice to haves’:
- Play media from other computers on a network
- Play podcasts (audio and video)
- Play media from sites like BBC iPlayer
- Be able to record television broadcasts and then be able to play them back
The purpose of the media centre is that it will be a box in my room which handles the majority of my media, whether I want to listen to music, watch something on TV or a DVD, or watch something I’ve previously downloaded. It’ll be connected to a TV screen and my stereo system, and can be controlled using a remote control.
So that’s what I want it to do. Now I just have to make it work.
Next week: hardware