Intel Mac Mini replaces Linkplayer
Itâs amazing when a company is the first to innovate a product and is able to maintain a superior product in spite of multiple competitors who arrive able to presumably improve on the original idea. Tivo is an excellent example of thisâ¦their PVR software and hardware offerings are still the easiest and most respected on the market, despite companies with very deep pockets attempting to best them.
So itâs a high water mark Iâm trying to meet putting together a Mac-based HDTV PVR. The mechanics (ATSC tuner, ability to record and playback HDTV, access to other media files, etc) have been available for some time and I had a decent first set-up with my Linkplayer/EyeTV 500 combo. But it was a clunky interface that offered little more than dependable HDTV playback (not a feature to be knocked) and access to networked media files. Playing back other video files (backed-up DVDs in particular) was impossibility for my technically-challenged mind and there was still a lot of hardware stacked under my TV.
So when I read that the new Dual Core Intel Mac Mini would play back HD content smoothly, I just picked one up. Although the price was (a lot) higher than the Linkplayer, Macs hold their value extremely well and I knew I could recoup most of the cost on Ebay if I wasnât enthralled with the performance.
My Miniâs processor is a 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo with 1GB of RAM. It is plugged into my Phillips 32â? LCD HDTV via the Phillips HDMI slot with the help of a DVI-HDMI converter. The audio plugs into my Yamaha receiver via a miniplug-TOSLINK cable and passes Dolby Digital signals without trouble from EyeTV and Appleâs DVD Player. To repeat an oft-used phrase about Macs: It just works.
I still use my EyeTV 500 ATSC receiver to watch, time-shift, and record HDTV (and SD) signals that I receive at no cost with my OTA antennae. It plugs into the Mini via Firewire and has a 500GB External LaCie HD daisy-chained onto its other Firewire port. This offers my tons of storage space.
EyeTV 2.3 also offers a plethora of features that act as a very reasonable replacement for Tivoâ¦Iâm following up with a detailed review of both 2.3 and itâs controversial newer brother 2.3.1 that will expand on these advantages.
* 2/2007 Update: The Mini’s video didn’t originally fit exactly onto the Phillip’s screen…I detailed my fix in this subsequent post.