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pmad 02-05-2010 12:36 PM

Media Center Question
 
I'm pretty much a noob at this, so some of my questions may be pretty basic sorry.

Here is what I want to do:

I simply want to be able to rip all of my kids' DVD's to some sort of hard drive device that will allow my kids to use something like Front Row to watch their movies without getting the DVD's out and making them look like someone ate a PB&J on them. It needs to be accessible with a remote and have a decent amount of storage.

I know how to rip, so that's not an issue. I just need help on knowing what hardware I need and how to hook it to the TV.

Getting new TV, so I will buy based on what I need to do this.

If it matters, I have an iMac and an AirPort Extreme

What's my best option? Apple TV? Mac mini? Something else?

Once that is determined, if I wanted the ability to record from TV, what would I need to do. (this is very low on priority list, but was just wondering).

For the record, I really have no interest downloading movies or renting via iTunes or NetFlix etc.

Thanks.

Sparkee 02-05-2010 05:59 PM

I like the Apple TVs. In my set up I watch movies but mostly use it to manage old TV sitcoms ripped from DVDs. I stream my content mostly because it will not fit even on a 160GB ATV. Even then if your content would fit on an ATV you should keep another copy on another drive since you can not recover files off the ATV and they can easily be lost if it needs Restoring. Now with my set up playcount syncing between devices is important so I stream from my laptop to my 2 ATVs which is also syncing 3 iPods.

If you are considering setting up a PVR you should look at the Mac Mini, which can still work as a full computer as well as a media player streaming from a "Shared Library" such as iTunes on the iMac. Playcounts do not sync to libraries when played on a shared media player. I beleive the Mac Mini would make a great media center with one of Elgato's TV tuners. The only reason I haven't gone this route is it is difficult to "sync" content from 2 different iTunes set ups which would disrupt my playcounts. I need a portable computer since I usually spend 4-5 days a week on the road.

Another thing I like about the Apple system is adding AirPort Expresses and an iPod touch or iPhone with Remote to the setup. The Express will let you send audio to stereos around the house via WiFi. Between my 2 Expresses and 2 ATVs I can have audio playing in any combination of 4 rooms on top of where my MacBook Pro is using their Airtunes technology. Remote is an App for the touch or iPhone you can use to control any iTunes or ATV in your system via your WiFi network. This means I can control iTunes on my computer in the computer room any where in the house including my garage where I can play music from an Express connected to a radio.

There is many other options out there but I find sticking with Apple does create an environment where you can expand on your entertainment setup to many different devices around the house while maintaining a certain amount of control over playback history.

Renting movies off the ATV may not be tops on our list but I think you'll find it quite handy once you have it.


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