Media center suggestions?

Blog | May. 12, 2009

I want a network-accessible drive and a way to comfortably play back movies on my TV.

The more I think about it, I’d like to get a dedicated Mac Mini to hook up to the TV and have that be my media center, since it plays YouTube and Netflix and iTunes and also works as a PC to boot (no pun intended). It doesn’t play Blu-Ray, but I can always get a drive that does when they come out. Sorry PS3. It was down to you and the Xbox as a gaming machine, and since the Mac beats both of you at media playback, and I already begrudgingly have an Xbox, I don’t feel a strong desire to buy a PS3 to collect dust along with it.

An IT friend suggested building a PC with ~six(!) RAIDed drives rather than buy an NAS, which would be ideal, except you can’t put six drives into a Mini and I’m not going to have a big grey tower with fans constantly buzzing as a viable replacement. The drawback to the Mini is that it doesn’t have much storage on its own, so I’m back to my original NAS problem; but if I’m always going to have a PC running, I may as well just get a couple of Firewire 800 drives and connect them into the Mac Mini.

That’s the best idea I came up with. I wonder what other people have done?

Comments

3 Responses to “Media center suggestions?”

  1. Brie says:

    I have one of these connected to my TV —

    http://www.popcornhour.com/onlinestore/index.php?pluginoption=catalog&task=info&item_id=5&main_id=0&category_id=

    It has a 500 GB HD and I also have a cheap PC that it can stream from remotely over my home network. Works pretty well and it’s small so it fits in the entertainment center.

    Another solution I’ve been toying with is a modded (original) xbox running XBMC Media Center, but I just haven’t spent any time to actually work on getting one set-up.

  2. Tim says:

    Thanks for the info, Brie!

    I checked out the Popcorn Media player and with the extra stuff it can do, I think it’s definitely down to that and the Mini. Either way, I’m going to check out XBMC and compare it against Boxee and see what I like.

    Also, smart of you to try and run XMBC on the Xbox. Running anything other than the OS it comes with is a step in the right direction. 😉

  3. SuperHappyFunTimeRoundEye says:

    XBMC is a bit of a chore to get running but once everything is set it’s great, but after playing ith it so the past few months now I want Boxee, which means I’ll most likely be picking up a Apple TV.