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Mac Mini vs. Media Center 325

Posted by Zonk
from the ding-ding dept.
An anonymous reader writes "C|Net is pitting the new Intel Core Duo Mac Mini against Microsoft Media Center. The first round of the fight concludes: 'The Mac Mini automatically recognised the LCD TV we're using, and the third-party tuner was similarly straightforward to set up. Compared to the hours we've spent coaxing similar results out of a Microsoft Media Center system, the Mini is definitely ahead so far.'"
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Mac Mini vs. Media Center

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  • So true... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GweeDo (127172) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:30AM (#14891166) Homepage
    "Nothing to see here, please move along".

    Why in the world are they trying to compare a full blown PVR/Media Center (Windows Media Center) to a computer with a remote (Mac Mini)? Don't get me wrong, the Mini is a cool device and it it had PVR abilities I would happily buy one, but it doesn't. For the most part these are very different devices.
    • Re:So true... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Golias (176380) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:34AM (#14891197)
      Why in the world are they trying to compare a full blown PVR/Media Center (Windows Media Center) to a computer with a remote (Mac Mini)?

      Because with a simple Firewire break-out box, that's exactly what a lot of people are using their minis for. Next question.
      • Re:So true... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hackstraw (262471) *
        Next question.

        When is Apple going to either stop making Quicktime suck or enable it to play all of the codecs out there?

        It just took me 2 computers and "Divx Doctor" to watch a low quality fight video off of video.google.com, that is ridiculous.

         
        • When is Apple going to either stop making Quicktime suck or enable it to play all of the codecs out there?

          It just took me 2 computers and "Divx Doctor" to watch a low quality fight video off of video.google.com, that is ridiculous.

          Yes, in so many ways ...

          (Burn baby burn, Karma Inferno!)

        • When is Apple going to either stop making Quicktime suck or enable it to play all of the codecs out there?

          Do you (or does anyone) know the nature of the obstacles to any third party doing this? Certainly plug-ins for Quicktime exist, Apple sells an MPEG-2 one. Is there a publicly known interface, or has Apple not published it? If there is a known interface, seems like one could create a generic wrapper and wrap each codec with it to make it Quicktime compatible.
          • There are lots of third party codecs for Quicktime, just as there are for WMP. The original poster just had to go to the DivX site and download it. I have it, works great.
        • Re:So true... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Golias (176380) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:36PM (#14891806)
          When is Apple going to either stop making Quicktime suck or enable it to play all of the codecs out there?

          It just took me 2 computers and "Divx Doctor" to watch a low quality fight video off of video.google.com, that is ridiculous.


          Why didn't you just download the 3rd-party divx codec for Quicktime?

          For that matter, why didn't you just use VLC? That app plays pretty much everything.

          Sounds like you were making things tougher on yourself than you had to.
          • by Phil Urich (841393) on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:14PM (#14892127) Journal
            Grandparent: When is Apple going to either stop making Quicktime suck or enable it to play all of the codecs out there? It just took me 2 computers and "Divx Doctor" to watch a low quality fight video off of video.google.com, that is ridiculous.

            Parent: Why didn't you just download the 3rd-party divx codec for Quicktime? For that matter, why didn't you just use VLC? That app plays pretty much everything. Sounds like you were making things tougher on yourself than you had to.


            Firstly VLC does things certain ways, and has some various failings of its own that I'm not going to bother going into in detail, but the fact remains that not everyone wants to use VLC. Furthermore, he was talking about how bad Quicktime was, so using VLC doesn't exactly solve that problem ;) No, really, for a company priding itself on multimedia, Apple is pretty bad with handling any formats that they haven't come up with themselves (for the most part, at least, I don't mean this as a blanket statement). I have one friend who's quite a computer geek himself but uses a Mac almost exclusively, and he actually has to worry about trying to get things to play occasionally; this is quite foreign to me!

            I'm not sure about Grandparent, but I would suspect that he might very well have tried a 3rd-party DivX codec and it just didn't work for one reason or another; don't blame him, ou seem to be acting under the assumption that it's always fun and games in Mac-land. Maybe it is for you, but the Mac OSes have their flaws and quirks, just like any other OS, and believe me, Quicktime is just one big potential frustration waiting to happen (not that I'm defending, say, WMP, although at least Microsoft is surprisingly nice enough in that case to leave mplayer2.exe which earns them alot of points in my books).
          • Re:So true... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Cadallin (863437) on Friday March 10, 2006 @08:51PM (#14895942)
            Seriously, I don't understand all of this pissing and moaning. Since Flip4mac came out, I've been able to play 99% of media files with no problem whatsoever. Although I prefer VLC for most everything and only use Quicktime player for a couple of formats. So maybe that explains my superior experience :)
    • Why in the world are they trying to compare a full blown PVR/Media Center (Windows Media Center) to a computer with a remote (Mac Mini)? Don't get me wrong, the Mini is a cool device and it it had PVR abilities I would happily buy one, but it doesn't. For the most part these are very different devices.

      Because the Mini can become a PVR with a usb video tuner....
    • Re:So true... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tpgp (48001) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:49AM (#14891350) Homepage
      Hmmmn, I agree with you that this is a non-story, but:

      Why in the world are they trying to compare a full blown PVR/Media Center (Windows Media Center) to a computer with a remote (Mac Mini)?

      should read:

      Why in the world are they trying to compare a software suite (Windows Media Center) to a computer with a remote (Mac Mini)?

      The article makes its bias clear with:

      Unlike our experiences with most Windows PCs, you won't have to turn up the volume to mask the sound of the small jet plane taking off inside.

      They're not comparing, they're reviewing the mac-mini and writing about memories of media centre PCs.

      I think to most people (including MS) it's pretty clear that Apple is going to create a better media experience. However, the three way battle for the lounge room is not being fought on a single front. The real competitors for the Mac Mini are the Xbox 360 & PS3, not Media Centre.
      • Re:So true... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Amouth (879122)
        that was the shortest "WE LOVE OUR MINI" blog like post ment to impersonate news i have ever seen.

        i like the mac mini and would love to own one.. but i have a nice xpc set up with an ATI 9600pro and i never had any issues with connecting it to any monitor/tv/hdtv
        and Media center is nice.. it is easy enough for my wife to use it..

        Sure front row for the mini rocks .. and integrates well with the video ipod it IS an Apple product what do you expect.

        i can't belive that crap like this makes it to the front page
      • think to most people (including MS) it's pretty clear that Apple is going to create a better media experience. However, the three way battle for the lounge room is not being fought on a single front. The real competitors for the Mac Mini are the Xbox 360 & PS3, not Media Centre.

        All well and good except at the moment ummm MS wins, by a lot. For one it actually has an integrated interface for acting as PVR, (and HP for example bundles an iTunes connector in).

        The real iss ue with the article is they seem t
      • The real competitors for the Mac Mini are the Xbox 360 & PS3, not Media Centre.

        As much as I like my Core Duo Mac Mini, and as rabid of a Mac Fanboy that I am, I fail to see how the Mac Mini competes with the PS3 or XBox 360. The Mac Mini is a general purpose computer that isn't really all that great for games. The PS/XBox are game machines. Yes, you can play DVDs on both, but that's really a stretch because there are lots of ways to play DVDs.

        WTF?
      • I think to most people (including MS) it's pretty clear that Apple is going to create a better media experience. However, the three way battle for the lounge room is not being fought on a single front. The real competitors for the Mac Mini are the Xbox 360 & PS3, not Media Centre.

        Apple still wins this fight though because of the video store and other media integration. What happens when Apple hooks front row into an HD version of the video store? Game over, man.

        You can get media into the 360 and proba
      • Re:So true... (Score:3, Insightful)

        Why in the world are they trying to compare a software suite (Windows Media Center) to a computer with a remote (Mac Mini)?

        Front row? Mini is a computer *and* a software suite, so the comparison is apt on that level. As to hardware comparisons...MS brings that on itself by not taking a more active role in what hardware its OS runs on, particularly for not-so-standard PC tasks like home theater.

        Admittedly, the article was completely biased, but the comparison between mini and MS HTPC needs to be made, si

      • One more thing... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SuperKendall (25149) *
        Why in the world are they trying to compare a software suite (Windows Media Center) to a computer with a remote (Mac Mini)?

        But the key is that that remote is in fact the front end to a software suite - each section of FrontRow makes use of different Apple software on the backend. iTunes, iPhoto, DVDPlayer.app and Quicktime are all invoked by FrontRow.

        So it doesn't make a lot of sense when you reword it further to say:

        "Why in the world are they trying to compare a software suite (Windows Media Center) to a
    • Not only that, but the thing just looks like a big advertisement for the Mac Mini. There are overall two sentences about Windows MCE in the entire 'article':

      However, compared to the hair-pulling ceremonies we've held getting Window Media Center PCs to display anything at all on a TV, the Mac has delivered a nasty right-hook to Microsoft's fighter.

      And:

      Compared to the hours we've spent coaxing similar results out of a Microsoft Media Center system, the Mini is definitely ahead so far.

      These guys have a serious
    • by kylef (196302) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:09PM (#14891525)
      Why in the world are they trying to compare a full blown PVR/Media Center (Windows Media Center) to a computer with a remote (Mac Mini)?

      This is one of the worst head-to-head comparison articles I have ever seen. In fact, it isn't a comparison article at all, it's more of a blurb about using the Mini as a PVR.

      Nowhere in the article do they cite what Media Center hardware they're comparing against. Similarly, they describe absolutely no objective tests with side-by-side results (a la Tom's Hardware). Yet they complain about *specific* MCE PC problems like spending "hours" to display "anything" on a TV and "jet plane" fan noise, both of which are very hardware-specific and have nothing to do with Windows MCE itself. This whole article reeks of fanboi-ism.

    • I agree, I would REALLY like a Mac Mini as PVR, but I don't think it is usable for me.

      I have been searching for info about it's PVR features, but I haven't found any.

      It seems to lack two things:
      I want to be able to record two channels at one time and I guess that can be solved by two USB tuners.
      I want TV schedules so it can record series without me having to specify recording times. And I doubt that it will be possible to get TV schedules for Scandinavia.

      I have a Media Center right now and with the rollup p
  • Afterwards: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:31AM (#14891173)
    We pit a toy poodle against a box full of kittens. WHO WILL EMERGE VICTORIOUS?
  • by 8127972 (73495) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:35AM (#14891200)
    ..... So far in part one, all this article says is stuff we already know (the Mac is easier to set up and use blah blah blah).

    Perhaps a more complete review will change my opinion.
  • mythtv (Score:5, Informative)

    by willieray (855003) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:35AM (#14891210)
    I find that neither has anything on mythtv. open source and the latest version has firewire capture and channel changing from my SA3250HD. Check it out if you haven't yet. http://mythtv.org/ [mythtv.org]
  • Where's the insight? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kaellenn (540133) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:36AM (#14891219) Homepage
    Several paragraphs to lead us to one conclusion: the mac mini recognized the LCD TV, the Media Center PC didn't.

    There...I just saved thousands of slashdot readers from reading that poor excuse for an article. They may as well have ended it by saying, "we're just trying to cheese you into visiting our web site over and over."
    • by javaxman (705658) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:56PM (#14891960) Journal
      Several paragraphs to lead us to one conclusion: the mac mini recognized the LCD TV, the Media Center PC didn't.

      I hate to shine a light on your cynicisim, but... that's a pretty big deal, isn't it ???

      I mean, if something is a "Media Center" which is meant to live in your living room and plug into your TV... shouldn't it be able to, I dunno... display an image on a TV ??

      I've read a lot of articles on PVRs and Media Center computers, and honestly, this is the first time I've even heard of someone having a hard time getting a TV picture. Is the LCD TV they're using a little strange or something ? Maybe, it sounds like the resolution is a little odd... but all the same, it's a TV, shouldn't a SDTV signal 'just work' ?

      I mean, WTF, if Joe and Jane NonTechie pick up a Media Center at the mall, take it home, plug it in and get no picture, guess what? That's a product return right there, folks. This may not be a great article, but it provides three important bits of info:

      1) the Apple product displays a picture on their TV while the Microsoft product failed to do even that
      2) the Apple product doesn't include a TV tuner, but a third party product works beautifully to fill that need
      3) Windows Media Center is not capable of formatting video for the iPod.

      Frankly, (2) above isn't news to anyone who's been reading up on this stuff, and (3) may not be *terribily* important unless you're slightly tech challenged ( i.e. won't think to use iTunes or something other than a Microsoft product to re-encode video ) and you own a video-capable iPod... admittedly maybe a small number of people. But (1) is a big deal, it seems, and (2) and (3) mean that (1) isn't the only bit of information in the article... which is by their own admission "part 1", because CNET is nothing if not about breaking up otherwise useful information into as many page views as possible.

      On the other hand, you're right, it's not a *great* article... this should maybe be posted to slashdot when all parts are complete or, or maybe there's a better comparison somewhere. Still, it ( sadly ) is better than a lot of other articles that get linked to the front page...

    • SeveWHEEEEEEraphs to leaWHEEEEEEne conclusWHEEEEEEEecognizeWHEEEEECDWHEEEEdiaWHEEEEdW HEEEE.

      WHAT DID YOU SAY? I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE FAN NOISE OF MY MEDIA PC!

    • by demonbug (309515) on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:45PM (#14893129) Journal
      It was worse than that. They basically said, "The mac mini recognized our LCD TV right away, but this one time when we were trying out a Media Center PC we had trouble setting it up (it may or may not have been the same TV, it might have been four years ago, we really don't want to bother you with details or specifics), so obviously the Mini is far superior to Media Center"

      They were basically comparing a mac mini to vague recollections of media center PCs they've tried in the past, with no effort whatsoever to compare features or make any meaningful analysis. This was an ad for mac minis, no more and no less (which is not to say the Mini wouldn't have come out ahead in an actual comparison, but this article is completely useless as far as providing information goes).
  • by Balthisar (649688) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:38AM (#14891243) Homepage
    My hacked, Xbox that is. I'm a Mac owner, and a proud one at at. I tell most people I know that ask for advice to get a Mac (they're not computer geeks, or they'd not be asking me for advice, you see). I was seriously consider an Intel Mini core duo to replace my QuickSilver, but I think I'll wait and see what the new PowerMac replacement has to offer first.

    So despite all of that, my hacked Xbox with XBMC is bounds and bound beyond what the Mini can do. *Maybe* the only advantage I can see for the Mini is a local PVR connection. Poor me is relegated to using a five-tuner Knoppmyth box on the backend and using xbmcmythtv on the Xbox. Okay, maybe the Mini can do HD; that's not a concern for me (yet).
    • I've got XBMC running too. Cool things that It can do.

      Grab music from a share
      Grab streaming music
      Grab video from a share
      Play Tivo recorded programsif you have a tivo with HMO or a hacked directv tivo
      Play emulators
      Play your XBOX games


      I never use the regular XBOX console. I find my self playing mostly old NES and N64 games on the XBOX.
      I don't own a Mac Mini. However, I don't see why you can not do the same and maybe more with the Mini's extra memory, CPU and Firewire/USB2 capabilities.
    • My hacked, Xbox that is.

      Thank you for reporting this DMCA violation. Federal marshals will arrive at your premises shortly.

      Resistance is futile,

      William H. Gates, III
    • So for you, with your leet hacking skills, a modded Xbox is best.

      For the rest of the world, a Mac Mini that just works when you plug it into your TV is best. That "rest of the world" demographic is what the C-net article is targeting. :)
  • I don't get it... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:41AM (#14891263)
    I just don't understand where CNet is running into challenges. The process for hooking up my HDTV to my ATI RADEON:

    1)Attach component adapter to DVI port.
    2)Plug in TV.
    3)Change channel on TV to component input.

    How could they f*** that up? Mind you, things used to be a real chore about 10 years ago. I haven't run into a modern driver suite, that doesn't "just work".

    I won't even touch the gross genealizations about an entire market of computers made in the first paragraph.
    • Re:I don't get it... (Score:4, Informative)

      by jchapman16 (300859) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:50AM (#14891358) Homepage
      At least one f***up is that the ATI Radeon's DVI to Component adapter will not display DVD movies at a resolution higher than 640x480 (although all other video content is fine at HD resolutions). So if you want to use your Media Center PC to play DVDs and not change have to change the resolution beforehand, you'll need to ditch that useless component adapter from ATI. Of course, it's not like the mini has component out either; the best option for both is a direct DVI connection between computer and HDTV.
      • Re:I don't get it... (Score:3, Informative)

        by InsaneGeek (175763)
        You can thank the lovely dvd licensors for that, they are contractularly bound to now allow anything with macrovision output rez higher than 480p out. What one can do is run it through something else to remove the encoding and then you can uprez it to your hearts content.
    • I won't even touch the gross genealizations about an entire market of computers made in the first paragraph.

      I would but I can't because IS is installing another critical Windows patch and my computer will reboot in 15se...

    • by Shawn Parr (712602) <parr.shawnparr@com> on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:22PM (#14891668) Homepage Journal
      I can't speak for your ATi experience, but about a year ago I helped someone attempt to setup a machine with a pretty modern Nvidia card hook up to an HDTV for a display in a gallery. We had the latest drivers, and he even downloaded extra software to tweak timings.

      We eventually just gave up and used an LCD monitor. We couldn't get any reasonable timings to work, either the resolution was way too low, or the text was too blurry to read. It was a nightmare. We spent several hours on it. Painful.

    • Worked the same for me, except I had to play with the resolutions a bit. I wound up with 1024 x 768 and it looks damn good. Had no issues whatsoever getting my card to recognize my TV (Sony 4210)

  • Every site raves about the ease of Media Center setup.
    This guys claim that it takes hours to install is pure bull crap.

    • Since when didn't Windows take a rediculously long time to install?

      I've never seen a good explanation of why that is, so my guess is that the Windows installer either doesn't know how to, or can't enable DMA for IDE devices, so it runs everything in that dog slow (and CPU intensive) PIO mode.

      Maybe someone with a fast SCSI cd-drive & HD can compare notes.
    • by CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:01PM (#14891457) Journal
      Disclaimer: I use MS Media Center with my old XBox and new XBox360 working as extenders to other TVs

      Have to agree with parent, I built my own media center using spare parts. Once the OS was installed I think it took me about 5 minutes plug-in the cables from my satellite and to walk through the wizard and everything was working perfectly. I was hoping to see a nice detailed comparison, but this was pretty bad ;-) They barely even mentioned the media center ;-) The whole artice was about the mini (remote, ipod, will they get all kinds of AWSOME content now that Jobs is on Disney's board, etc) ;-) Here is every reference to the MSMCE in the "review":

      Microsoft has been desperate to claim the living-room as its trophy wife, but a series of attempts to nail the Media Center concept have largely failed.

      We've decided to pit Microsoft's Media Center offerings against Apple's new Intel Core Duo Mac Mini.

      However, compared to the hair-pulling ceremonies we've held getting Window Media Center PCs to display anything at all on a TV, the Mac has delivered a nasty right-hook to Microsoft's fighter.

      Microsoft Media Center can't export video in an iPod format.

      Ding DING! We've reached the end of round one, and the Microsoft Media Center is already panting in the corner of the ring.

      Compared to the hours we've spent coaxing similar results out of a Microsoft Media Center system, the Mini is definitely ahead so far.

      I'd really have been interested in seeing the pros of the Mini, but this horrible puff piece just made me lose my interest.

  • Plug and Play (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:46AM (#14891313) Homepage Journal
    True plug and play features are what makes the Mac a wonderful machine. Gaining basic functionality without software drivers is why many of us buy a mac.

    Of course the drawback is that devices that are not supported are nearly impossible to make work. And sometimes advanced features are sometimes not supported. And one sometimes needs to buy more expensive peripherals.

    In spite of this, I always had better luck with the SCSI devices than any plug and play hack on the PC. Even now, iLife does a better job recognizing cameras and video and memory card, with no additional drivers, than anything else I have used. I would be surprised if the Mini required anything special to become a media center.

    When talking about a media center, remember this. The PC has alwsy been about craming in as much as possible because adding stuff, no matter what anyone says, has always been a pain. Recall the hours spend figuring out the slave and master drives? Sure they were easy to install, just often impossible to get runing. OTOH, the mac has always including fast external busses so one could add what one needed. The busses were even chained so new hardware would not need to be added to connect new devices. This is not saying one is better than another, but I prefer upgrading a DVD drive by simply plugging it into the firewire port than having to muck around the inside and setting pins and installing new drivers.

    • true plug and play features are what makes the Mac a wonderful machine. Gaining basic functionality without software drivers is why many of us buy a mac.

      Macs have software drivers. Otherwise, why would there be this [driverguide.com]? Just because they're setup transparently for most Apple and the standards-compliant non-Apple devices doesn't change the basic fact.

      In spite of this, I always had better luck with the SCSI devices than any plug and play hack on the PC. Even now, iLife does a better job recognizing cameras and v
  • try try try (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:46AM (#14891314) Homepage Journal
    Is it just me, or has Microsoft been pushing Media Center really really hard lately? Mainly through box makers like Gateway and Dell? It seems that none of their strategies to monopolize the living room seem to be panning out, so now they're just doing a Dresden-style bombing of the market, pushing harder and harder and louder and louder until someone out there eventually decides to buy Media Center.

    The bottom line is that most consumers just don't want a computer in their living room. They want consumer electronics that "just work," like TV's and VCR's and DVD players and surround sound amplifiers. At the end of the day when they plop down in front of the tube, they don't want to have to contend with worms and viruses and email and crashes and software installation/uninstallation and all of the other headaches that go with a typical PC (the availability of better OS's notwithstanding) -- they just want to switch it on and veg out!
    • An aquaintance of mine bought a Media Center PC since it looked really nice in the store, but has not to date been able to set it up as a media center. It is basically a virus hive for his teen daughter.
      I know us nerds can figure out how to make a PC like that work, but does anyone have any experience where a typical user successfully installed one of those beasts?
    • Re:try try try (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mblase (200735) on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:27PM (#14892266)
      The bottom line is that most consumers just don't want a computer in their living room.

      Perhaps, but they do want:
      - their MP3s on their stereo
      - their movie downloads on their living room TV
      - their photo slideshows on a large screen

      No, nobody wants to use a computer from the living room couch -- but likewise, they don't really want their media on their computer desk, either. The trick is bridging the two as effortlessly as possible.
  • Relativity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SeeMyNuts! (955740) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:47AM (#14891320)

    Windows is for people who value their time and Linux isn't.

    Okay, we know that isn't quite right.

    Mac OS is for people who value their time and Windows isn't.

    That is more honest.

    I've spent about as much time fighting with Windows as I have with Linux, Solaris, *BSD, etc. The difference is that Microsoft's marketing is so brilliant that most people simply don't realize it. For every annoyance in GNOME, for example, there is one in Windows (e.g., registry corruption!). In this article's case, it was getting devices to work well. Other times it has been device conflicts. Yet other times it is applications stepping on each other. And so forth.

    This is one reason companies like Apple, Sun, and IBM still have viable business models, because they reduce complexity where it counts for many people.

    • Re:Relativity (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ZombieRoboNinja (905329) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:32PM (#14891769)
      This may not be representative of most users' experiences, but here's how my Adventure with OSs (tm) went:

      To get my Windows desktop on my new wireless network, I plugged a PCI wireless card, followed the instructions on the driver install CD, and it worked.

      To get the same box onto my wireless network via Ubuntu, I tried the built-in network wizard thing and it didn't recognize my card. I spent a couple hours messing around with ndis wrappers and online faqs and console commands I didn't understand, and although eventually I got the system to recognize the card, it STILL won't go online. (We're not talking about some esoteric card, either; it's a Linksys 802.11g PCI card connecting to a Linksys router with "excellent" signal reception.) So now, I have a pretty, stable, and fast OS that's utterly useless because I can't get it on the internet. And since I can't find a way to change the default OS on the boot-selector thingy, I have to sit in front of my computer every time it boots, waiting for that five-second time window where I can scroll down to Windows and load that instead.

      To get my Powerbook on the wireless network, I turned it on.
      • by freeweed (309734) on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:04PM (#14892028)
        To get my dual-booting laptop on my wireless network, I bought a wireless card that I knew had at least half-decent Linux support. It was some low-end SMC model, with a Prism 2 chipset.

        I started with Windows. Following the CD install to the letter, I ended up having to install/re-install/reboots about 5 times just to get the card recognized. Then, the stupid software that came with the card would never find any WAPs, even though Netstumbler did. Windows sometimes found the WAP sitting 2 feet next to the laptop, sometimes it didn't. Eventually I managed to guess the right settings to use (entirely different than the manual said, incidentally) and 3 hours later my laptop was on my wireless network.

        My basic Knoppix-to-hard drive install of Linux, on the same laptop: I plugged in the wireless card and heard the system speaker make a little 'beep'. I fired up a browser and was surfing the web within 10 seconds. Looking into logs, the card was recognized, the Prism2 driver was loaded, and the wireless interface was brought up, all automatically.

        Needless to say, this laptop spends most of its time in Linux when I want to go wireless. IT JUST WORKS.

        Oh, and "I can't find a way to change the default OS on the boot-selector thingy"? You'll have to learn how, if you want a multi-boot machine. There's just no way around this. It isn't a Windows problem, it isn't a Linux problem, and it certainly isn't something that Apple can help you out with. It's just part of a multi-OS booting system. It's pretty straightforward, incidentally - just find a FAQ on Grub or LILO, depending on which one you've got.
      • Re:Relativity (Score:3, Insightful)

        by derF024 (36585) *
        To get my Windows desktop on my new wireless network, I plugged a PCI wireless card, followed the instructions on the driver install CD, and it worked.

        To get the same box onto my wireless network via Ubuntu, I tried the built-in network wizard thing and it didn't recognize my card. I spent a couple hours messing around with ndis wrappers and online faqs and console commands I didn't understand, and although eventually I got the system to recognize the card, it STILL won't go online. (We're not talking about
    • Re:Relativity (Score:3, Interesting)

      by smoker2 (750216)

      Windows is for people who value their time and Linux isn't.

      It's precisely because I do value my time that I use linux over windows.

      No fighting with virus infections, no Genuine Advantage hassle with a genuine registered version of XP, no spyware/malware/direct_to_the_stored_creditcard_ba ckdoors.

      Plus I get to set it up how I want it, I can script repetitive tasks, there is a meaningful command line environment, it updates itself regularly in the background without needing a reboot etc etc.

      Linux is fully n

  • Question.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How is the Mac Mini going to compete against the UMPC platform unveiled yesterday? The UMPC is supposed to start at $600, and Otto Berkes said you can select the components carefully and get one down to $500. The Mac Mini's pricing starts at $600, and it's still mostly useless without a display. I think this is why Jobs was so resigned at his Mac Mini press conference a week ago, not to mention that it was his chip-buddy Intel who co-developed the UMPC spec.
    • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:09PM (#14891521)
      The UMPC competition is like a cliff diving competition that takes place over a dry lake. The way to win the compeition is not to enter. Microsoft failed that first test...

      Instead Apple sill just sit back and sell iBooks, since if the device is big enough to need a bag you might as well just have a laptop. The tablet PC tought us all this lesson pretty well (as the tablet form has been doing for years) but only Apple seems to learn.

      The mini itself has no competition in that it's a computer that can work without seeming like a computer. You could for example set it up to auto-boot, auto-login and run FrontRow and then just use the remote. Obviosuly for some adminsitration tasks you'll need to se a mouse and keyboard but those can all be done remotiley via VNC and the built in desktop sharing. So you could put a mini in the living room and never hook a keyboard up to it.
  • by Prairiewest (719875) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:54AM (#14891396) Homepage
    Apple probably intends iTunes to eventually usurp terrestrial and satellite TV.
    Personally, I'll continue to use satellite, thank you.

    One of our local internet providers broadcasts television content over high-speed (ADSL). We tried it out for a while, but switched back to satellite due to lack of good movie selection. However, I am also happy of the switch back for another reason: the constant flow of bits (actually megabits!) over our connection noticably degraded our internet experience.

    I've been watching all of the talk lately about two-tiered internet and the rise of more and more content of ever-increasing size being sent across the net, and it makes me wonder when it will plateau. (I know, I know... it won't) If content providers keep pushing for internet video-on-demand and if more consumers switch to getting their movies and also regular TV programming from the internet, we are going to fill up those big bandwidth pipes. (Yes, again I know: the ISPs will just do traffic shaping and/or charge us more for premium service)

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:55AM (#14891411)
    We at Microsoft never give up. Just wait and buy our next product.
  • Who Cares? KnoppMyth (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drewzhrodague (606182) <drew@@@zhrodague...net> on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:58AM (#14891431) Homepage Journal
    The Mini is a really cool idea. I haven't seen any of the hardware that WMC is running on. Personally, I use KnoppMyth [mysettopbox.tv], which is alarmingly functional, as far as PVRs go. I am not so into Windows solutions, due to the FUD: How often do I have to reboot WMCE? Will it record my shows? Do I have to have a 500+ Ghz machine to run it on? Will DRM cripple my ability to watch NetFlix DVDs? With an open-source solution, I know that I can do what I want with my hardware, and in this case, means watch Star Trek whenever I want.
  • by 4doorGL (591467) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:02PM (#14891469) Homepage
    For multiple-Mac owners like myself, the best features of the new Mini are being overlooked every time.

    Yeah, it's faster. Cool.
    Yeah, it's the same size. More Cool
    Front Row w/Bonjour? Native HD output? Awesome!!

    Being able to access the media on my non-Mac Mini systems (15" PB G4 and soon 20" iMac) is great news to me. Especially now that Apple is offering a "subscription" to the Daily Show and Colbert Report, which I'm sure will spread to other shows soon. Now I can download them to one of my systems in the office and watch them in the front room on my HDTV. Neat.
    • Personally for me I like the mini because finally I can have a dedicated box to centralize my media on. My music collection was the big fat elephant on my primary Mac box. Now with the mini I can get all the media into one place at last, that is dedicated to always being on and serving media (via iTunes sharing). My other boxes are either laptops which spend the time they are not in use sleeping, so cannot be used as a server or my Powermac which is a development computer and thus I would not always want
  • Grain of salt... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PFI_Optix (936301) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:08PM (#14891518) Journal
    TFA isn't a review, a comparison, or anything resembling a thorough consideration. They're comparing a single experience without any apparent research.

    A few telling quotes:

    Noisy PCs with fans blaring don't really appeal to many of us...Unlike our experiences with most Windows PCs, you won't have to turn up the volume to mask the sound of the small jet plane taking off inside.

    Near-silent PCs are easy to build and readily available; there are companies who specialize in HTPCs that produce VERY little sound. My homemade unit produces very little noise. It's not the PC's fault they don't recognize the difference between a desktop system and a HTPC.

    That said, the Mini probably is quieter than even most of those PCs; it hasn't been a priority for PC manufacturers.

    the last thing you want to do when you get home is run a spyware removal tool and edit the registry before you can get Shrek to play.

    The mantra of Mac zealots, neither of these things are regular events. I haven't edited my registry in well over a year, and spyware detection is easily automated and generally unnecessary--especially on a dedicated media PC protected by a firewall. ...the hair-pulling ceremonies we've held getting Window Media Center PCs to display anything at all on a TV...Compared to the hours we've spent coaxing similar results out of a Microsoft Media Center system, the Mini is definitely ahead so far.

    Oddly enough, I've never had a problem with any of this at all. It's rather telling that they neither link to articles regarding their problems with MCE nor go into detail on the problems with the process in this article.

    If they're going to declare one product a winner over another, they need to actually show us the duel. Let us see the process for evaluating both products. Let us see how they selected a particular model of PC that is similar to the Mini in form factor, then discuss volume level. Demonstrate the setup process and discuss the pros and cons for each system. If one peripheral product is problematic, try another brand to determine whether it's a shortcoming of the OS or a problem with the product itself. Then delve into the functionality of both products; how does each one handle different tasks? What does FrontRow do that MCE doesn't, and vice versa?

    This article needs a lot less fanboyism to be taken seriously.
  • Yeah, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mad Ogre (564694)
    Which one can play FEAR and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas?
  • The dilema (Score:5, Insightful)

    by el_womble (779715) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:10PM (#14891536) Homepage
    I don't have an issue with MPCs not shipping with a TV tuner card. As I see it there are 4 competing standards:

    Analog
    DVB-T
    DVB-C
    DVB-S

    Of those, the only ones that would actually justify a £500 (I'm thinking signal quality and channel choice) box are DVB-C and DVB-S, but they rely on a CAM, which are almost impossible to source legally. The only feasable options are take the decompressed signal direct from the supplied decoder (limiting you to recording the channel your watching) or accept that Freeview is the only digital content you can actually PVR. This makes the BYO PVR a non starter.

    Thats why I'm not suprised that Apple don't ship their minis with a tuner. The market is now so fragmented, that the only way they could provide a quality product is by buddying up with a supplier in each market. Expensive and anti-competitive: not good business.

    I also think this makes comparing a Media Centre PC to a Mini fair game. So what if its got a built it tuner? It's not a feature so much as a bolt on. The only thing people can really do with this technology is watch downloaded content, DVDs and created content with a granny friendly interface, which is exactly what an XBox with modchip and XBMC can do for £100. OK, its not as quiet, or as small as the Mac, but its also £400 cheaper AND it plays XBox games!

    This is why I'm so suprised that the 360 is so backwards when it comes to getting music from a Media Centre PC! If I could stream DivX/Xvid/H.264 from any network resource with little or no configuration or soldering I'd be very tempted by a 360. As it is, I see no reason to upgrade from my modded XBox (better graphics... meh).
    • Analog
      DVB-T
      DVB-C
      DVB-S


      You missed one - ITMS.

      Why do I need any of those standards when I can hook up a high speed connection and just download what I want?

      That is Apple's plan. Sure it's not a full replacement right now, but in a year or two with more content and HD content in particular...
  • by dbc001 (541033) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:10PM (#14891539)
    In my mp3 collection, I have 18,000 songs in ~3,000 albums. It took Media Center more than 24 hours to add the first 1500 albums into it's database. Of course at that point I cancelled the operation. What kind of crappy Media Center takes that long just to build a song database? Ampache [ampache.org] does it in less than 2 hours.
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:15PM (#14891589) Homepage Journal
    I've been running MCE flawlessly for almost a year now, and it generally works great for me. But the ugliness of Microsoft's usual suspects is starting to rear its ugly face: MCE doesn't scale well.

    I'm on the verge of trying MythTV for the 5th time in a year over just 2 basic problems with MCE: the more stuff I save, the slower things go. More memory and processor speed have done little to combat this problem, and the broad is getting frustrated with having to wait between clicks.

    The other problem is also performance related: accessing data stored over the network is terribly slow and inefficient. It likely has to do with my bad WiFi router performance combined with Window's overall inefficiency in handling large files over a network.

    I'm a big pro-MCE guy, and my home media network is MUCH larger than most people would care to use (I combine not just video and audio but financial market clips and personal video clips as well). For now, MCE is working, but it is quickly becoming unusable just because I can no longer scale it beyond the current amount of data I'm storing.

    Anyone use MythTV or the Mac Mini to store terabytes of video and audio, successfully?
    • I love my MythTV, although it is not without its share of bugs. I store the shows and music on a 160Gb drive and have never had any problems with filesizes or number of files. Apparently the filesystem that the MythTV data is on plays a large role in determining how well it scales with lots of data. I use ext3 and it has worked well.

      Your home media networking sounds complex, and that's something that MythTV does pretty well. The MythTV backend (which records programs and manages the database) can run on
    • by figleaf (672550) on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:06PM (#14892048) Homepage
      My network was slow when I have a 802.11g router.
      Even though connection speed was reported as 54Mbps I was only able to get much less than 6Mbps (with WPA enabled). I had the same issues as you did when watching videos remotely. It was very jerky.
      I just moved to a 802.11a router (with WPA2 to boot) since then the slowness has completely disappered.
  • Bollocks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ramble (940291)
    "Microsoft Media Center can't export video in an iPod format." Since when has Apple been able to export to any MS PMC device? This article reeks of Apple-ness.

    I personally owna media centre, 30 mins searching for the newest drivers and finding a mpeg decoder and it's up and running. Interface has never stuttered and it handles a library of 70+ programmes (~1.8GB/hr) and 2GB of music, not to mention my pictures and such. Microsoft Media Centre really is better than a slow computer with a fancy iTunes front

    • Re:Bollocks (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nsayer (86181)
      Since when has Apple been able to export to any MS PMC device?

      Since when has anyone wanted to?

      Certainly compared to the number of folks who would want to go the other way.

    • Re:Bollocks (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hattig (47930)
      Why? Because most people with video capable portable players have iPods? Yes, the article sucks massive zedonk choad and is clearly biased, but that was a reasonable assumption.

      30 minutes searching for drivers sucks - no CE system should need that. Having to get an MPEG decoder sucks, wasn't one built in? Sucks. Only 2GB of music?

      And I'm sure that a Core Duo at 1.66GHz is a 'slow computer'. It handles 1080p, it is fast enough for the task. Is it ideal? Not on its own - too small a hard drive (although exter
  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:40PM (#14891843)
    Makes it more unsightly than a Windows box. You have to add a hard drive -- external because the internals have OSX on it. There's one device.

    Then you need a TV Tuner -- external.

    Then you need to be able to pass the sound to a reciever perhaps -- more external devices.

    After all is said and done.... sad to say, but Microsoft's Media Center is more suitable for a DVR solution. However, if you're just using it to browse movies (you already have digitally stored) or music, then the Mac Mini may be a good choice, since Front Row is really nice. But for recording TV (As I do now), the MCE solution is far, far better. And it's unfortunate because I'd much rather have a mac on my TV :)
  • by Griffinart (957548) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:40PM (#14891849)
    please, it doesn't take hours to get a tuner set up on MCE. You "may" need to install a driver for your TV, but, I haven't had to yet. The only valid comment is that the mini is quieter. Of course, you can also get a MCE machine that's quiet as well. Of course, what they haven't mentioned is that the amount of disk space on the mini isn't anywhere near enough to be a useful PRV. While they seem content with just popping on USB and firewire devices, they seem to ignore the kind of rats nest and clutter that would create. My MCE is contained in a single shuttle box. That includes two TV tuners and 400GB of disk space of which 100 is dedicated to Music and Video files I already have. That would be two USB Tuners, and at least one USB/Firewire external hard drive and all the external powercords and cables associated with them, just for the PVR capability I have in a single box that is 7.87" x 7.28" x 12.2" and quiet enough for the living room. In my case, I don't even have the media center in the living room. It's in the kitchen and used as a normal PC and in the living room my X-Box 360 acts as a media Center Extender giving me full access to all my videos, music, recorded TV and live TV without the clutter of having the PC there. Sorry, the mini might be a fun media center project for some, but it's nowhere near as good as a media center PC.
  • by Gyorg_Lavode (520114) on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:00PM (#14893272)
    I think apple is missing a huge point. The Mac mini needs to be able to stream content. Or at least provide iTunes purchased content to other non-mac devices. I don't buy iTunes songs because I can't play them on my xbox. The only thing keeping me from signing up to The Daily Show is a method for me to play it on my TV. Hell, I'd even take an appliance. Something like a Windows Media Extender would work as long as it has digital video and surround sound audio out. But I don't like fans in my entertainment center. (The xbox fan is loud enough already.) And I want the mini to be my desktop PC back in my office.

    This always riles me up. iTunes and apple are such great products except they miss fundamental point. Like the Register article said, (paraphrased), "Apple doesn't necessarily do hard things. They just do easy, obvious things that others don't want to do. Things like providing an mp3 player with simple controls and a music store with simple pricing." But they don't seem to be willing to provide a data stream usable on other devices reguardless of if you buy their software or hardware. The fact of the matter is I am not going to open WMP to play windows files, iTunes to play Apple files and Winamp to play Ogg files on my TV. I am going to have a single, unified user interface and anything that can't supply data to that UI, I am not going to purchase.

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