In this article, I am going to Frett Board take you through the steps of building a Mac Media Center. Since Apple announced the Mac Mini, everyone has been talking about building a Mac Media Center and using a Mac Mini to do it with. Which Mac Should You Get? There are many Macs on the market, and you need to consider who you will use your Mac Media Center to decide on which Mac will suit your needs the best.
The Mac Mini
The Mac Mini seems the obvious solution for a Mac Media Center. Its small design and low noise and heat make it a great candidate to fit in with your existing mix of stylish audio equipment. The Mini is a great little device; it has a nice processor, a DVD drive, some hard drive space, and enough ports to plug it into all the additional equipment you need. The last thing you need is a big ugly tower case with noisy fans to sit next to your TV and destroy whatever audio fidelity you are trying to enjoy. And the Mac Mini has some sex appeal too.
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The iMac is also a good candidate for a Mac Media Center, although its appeal is slightly different from the Mac Mini. In a limited space environment, the iMac can serve a dual purpose. It can be used as a desktop machine by day and be switched to a Mac Media Center by night. The iMac comes in various sizes, from 17″ to 24″, so you have a few options depending on the space you have available and where you want to put it. The iMac comes standard with just about everything you need to use as a Mac Media Center.
The Rest of the Mac Pac
The Mac Pro, iBook, and Mac Book Pro aren’t really as versatile as the Mac Mini and iMac but can be used as a Mac Media Center. The 17″ Mac Book Pro would make a nice mobile entertainment system, but not a dedicated media center. Using a Mac Pro as a Mac Media Center is insane. It’s a little like using a crowbar to open a can of beans. For the rest of the article, you’ll need some hardware to go with the Mac Media CenterFor; I will use a Mac Mini as an example. I have a Mac Mini and have built a media center with it, so using my first-hand experience will hopefully be a little more accurate than speculating on what is possible if you have . You will need a couple of things to get your Mac Mini up and running as a Mac Media Center. Some of these devices are Apple devices, and some are generic devices. Some work well, and some are just a disaster.
Remotes for your Mac Media CenterThe first device you will need to begin hunting for is remote. After all, what good is a Mac Media Center without a remote that the family can fight about? There is the infamous Apple remote which comes with most Mac minis and iMacs.It’s a small remote, but it works well. It comes in typical mac style. It’s tiny, does everything you need it to do, and has no fancy features. All in all, it only has 6 buttons that allow you to control the entire Mac Media Center.
There are also several generic remotes available. Logitech has many remotes, some of which work well with Mac, and some that are PC only. I have a Microsoft keyboard and remote and have been unable to get them going on the Mac. I would advise using the Mac remotely. It is small, and with half a dozen buttons, it is actually quite easy to use. FOR INSTANCE, my DVD player’s remote has 47 buttons, most of which I have never used, and I don’t have the slightest inclination to find out how they work. You’ll also need a keyboard for your Mac Media Center EditionOf course; there are those times you need to input some data into the screen, like in iTunes for instance, you might need to punch in your password when purchasing content.No one wants to keep jumping off the couch to press a button, I mean we barely find the energy to get up for another beer.
Apple has a nice Bluetooth keyboard that you can use from your couch. It looks like a normal Apple keyboard, yet it has no cables and fits a couple of batteries at the back. This is a must for your media center. You need a keyboard from time to time, and having to crawl out from under a warm blanket in the middle of winter can spoil the mood. Of course, Logitech and a few others have keyboards that would work just as well. But pairing an Apple Bluetooth keyboard with the built-in blue tooth in a Mac Mini is easier than making toast. Add some storage to your Mac Media CenterIf you have ever spoken
to anyone about a media center for digital media; the word storage would have popped up many times. At best, the Mac Mini will only have an 80GB hard drive, and when you are downloading movies, TV shows, music, adding your own CD’s and dumping your digital pictures, you can devour disk space rather rapidly. So before you know it, you’ll be hunting for a storage device of sorts. Now you have a couple of options as far as storage is concerned.