State of My Mac Mini HTPC
It’s been a while since I last posted and that’s actually a good thing. While I’ve had some additions to my Mac HTPC enviornment (that I’ll be posting about shortly), mostly I’ve been enjoying the most valueable asset any set-up can offer: stability. I still remember stumbling through temporary fixes like Core Audio when trying to squeeze all the functionality I wanted from my Mac Mini.
So I’m especially grateful when I enjoy rock-solid performance from my Mini. Currently, I’m still living off the Holy trinity of Plex, EyeTV, and Remote Buddy. My old Mini finally started to give up the ghost around Christmas, so I bought a new Mini (specifically, the Mac Mini MC815LL/A).
This was a long time coming: I’d upgraded the processor myself on the old Mini, along with installing a new hard drive – I’d pushed it well past its limits and it had earned the life it now has surfing the internet and checking email for an elderly couple in Colorado.
And the new Mini was light years beyond the old machine in performance stats. It chews up tasks I didn’t even try on my old Mini – mainly, transcoding EyeTV live streams for my iPhone/iPad while watching other HD programming via EyeTV or Plex. I can also run iCam in the background for my home security system (again, full write-up coming soon!). Plus, I’ve saved so much money cutting the satellite/cable cord, that absorbing the cost was much easier.
After experimenting with a compact 5.1 receiver (Yamaha YMC-500BL) and Klipsch surround speakers, I ran back to my all-in-one soundbar (Yamaha YSP-800) which provides really great sound, I learned. And it removed the grip of wires and speakers involved in the other set-up.
I also consolidated all of my external storage into one device (the ProBox 4 Bay Hard Drive Enclosure), turning three sets of cords into one – which is always a great thing.
Otherwise, everything is rock solid. I flirted with OSXBMC for a minute due to its ability to play Amazon Prime videos, smooth EyeTV library integration, and the ability to customize home screen shortcuts. But instability in every version I tried combined with difficulty replicating the remote shortcuts I’m used to in Plex sent me running back to Plex.
…and that’s Plex/Eight, incidentally. While I love lots about Plex/Nine, it has creates serious holes in my personal HTPC workflow that I’ll be detailing shortly. But Eight is still killing it for me in the area I care most about: stability.