I’m very excited about the changes to the computers in the house recently. The wires are moving off the floor and computers are going in and out of the computer room.
One Mac Mini was moved into the bedroom to make video files from TiVo and VCR tapes. It’s a new one and unfortunately they only work with digital TVs (none of mine) and I had to resort to dragging in a computer monitor to put on the floor. This really bugs me. Now though, I have run coax cable from the bedroom to the kitchen and computer room and move the computer. The new Mac OS 10.6 should arrive on Friday and this little gem is the only box to get the upgrade. It’s been working great at transcode DVDs to AppleTV and iPhone formats. The VCRs can move with the Mac Mini too. Clears up a lot of clutter.
The cable used to run along the floor and stop in the guest bathroom. Now it goes through the walls and runs down the hallway (still visible) to the kitchen TV. We’ve been using the AppleTV a lot and it only spits out digital, which is very expensive to move around the house. VCR, DVD, and TV all work fine over the coax. The new wire cleans up the signal a lot and we want AppleTV in the kitchen without spending $200 to do it.
So, I checked an older Mac Mini that I wasn’t sure of, one that can output analog composite video, and discovered that it works fine. Better than fine since it can play on any of my TVs. With the proper cable that is. Which will come in on Friday too. This Mini was 10.4 and is upgraded to 10.5. It’s flakiness came from a possible botched upgrade from 512 meg to 2 gig. Seems like the upgrade was successful. This little gem will go in the kitchen TV. I need to run an Ethernet wire to this spot, but the wireless is ok.
Running the wires along the wall is annoying, but the attic is just too hot, cramped, and awful it’s worth it. The drop in the kitchen works for both the kitchen and living room. That’s very handy. This wires most of the house; kitchen, living room, master bedroom, and one bedroom (computer room). Though I still need coax and Ethernet to the bathrooms and a bedroom. And the “server closet” in one bedroom might need to move to the garage or hall closet.
I’m really hoping for new Macs in September or October. Not so much to get a new one, but to get a current one on clearance for $200-400 less. Maybe, a 24″ with 4 gig and a dedicated video card. The Minis are fine and I love my overheating upgraded Cube, but I would really would like to have transcoding take 1/3 of the time and to have at least one powerful machine. For a long time I wanted a Mac tower, but I just don’t have enough work to make up the $2200+ price tag. This box would replace the Cube as the desktop machine and I could use it as a spare web browser. It will output S Video to a TV, a very handy ability.
A little separate note on cutting off the cable..
The antenna works well and money spent on cable has gone to buying cheap movies and TV series at Walmart. The AppleTV has been a gem, but only because we rip the DVDs we buy and transcode them for it. All the shows are in one enormous list. Purchasing though Apple is ok, but they have not obtained new episodes and shows for everything and rental fees and terms are outrageous compared to Hastings, and downloads take hours or days through standard DSL. There are cheaper boxes that do the same thing, but without iTunes, and I would have chosen one of those if I were doing this again. The Mini going in the kitchen is saving transcoding time and space and $200+ worth of hardware. It’s outrageous how expensive it is to push a component video signal 50′ vs coax.