Recently, I had an idea. Part of this idea was spurred by our most recent electric bill, which was predictably higher than usual due the air conditioner running. But another part of this idea was a yearning for elegance and flexibility.
The idea, quite simply, is to replace our current HTPC with a Mac Mini. Yes, the same HTPC that I have been fiddling around with for the past 8 months. Why would I want to get rid of it so quickly?
Well, the Windows HTPC experience has hardly been problem-free. And as much as I enjoy a technical challenge, after awhile, the challenge becomes more of a nuisance. So while I am hardly abandoning Windows altogether, I think it might be time to start looking for a more streamlined alternative.
The setup using a Mac would be essentially as follows:
– use a baseline Mac Mini for the computer ($600)
– upgrade the hard drive to a 320 GB, 7200 RPM drive ($80)
– upgrade the memory to 4 GB ($50)
– purchase the eyeTV Hybrid USB ATSC-tuner to capture digital TV ($150)
– purchase a 1 TB hard drive to use in my spare external enclosure as a Time Machine backup location for both the Mac Mini itself as well as my wife’s new MacBook ($90)
So the total cost for such a project would be around $970. Certainly not a cheap upgrade. But if I am able to scrounge up enough funds (mostly from selling other computer components), then I’d like to give it a go.
The benefits to using a Mac Mini are:
– it uses much less electrical power than our current HTPC
– recorded TV can be streamed across the network to other Macs (especially my wife’s MacBook)
– stability issues with our ATSC tuner require regular maintenance
– an always-on, networked Time Machine backup location will save lots of headaches from potential data loss
– the cross compatibility of files in Front Row and iTunes will allow for the transfer of media files among computers and iPods.
Right now, this project is little more than a pipe-dream. But should the necessary funds become available, I would certainly be glad to tackle the challange of building and configuring a working Mac-based HTPC solution.