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I often get asked about my Media Centre. Mostly because it is simple... and not :-)

Little bits

Television

Samsung 46" side lit LED LCD TV - very low power

This TV is very nice. It has issues such as: not as good side viewing as my old TEAC plazma; dark screens cause the LEDs to go off, which looks odd on movie titles. But in general this is a beautiful screen, crisp colours, and great for everything we use on it.

The TV has USB drive input and an Ethernet connection that supports (FUPS ? XXX?) - but the TV requires video to be provided in a very strict format and resolution, which I can't provide. It is odd that the TV will play a variety of files off USB but not off the ethernet connection. So I don't use this feature yet. It is a shame, as my DroboShare has support for it, and it does allow me to at least look at my pictures.

Amplifier

I use a 1995 surround sound (Dolby) amplifier that I bought brand new back then. It has had a few speakers, but still runs great. All I really need (although often I have been tempted to buy a new one).

The HUB

Mac Mini Core 2 1.6GHz

The hub of the system is a Mac Mini Intel Core 2 1.6GHz made in 2006. It has 1GB of RAM and 160GB hard disk. It also has an Infrared receiver and Mac remote along with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. I believe the IR remote is key to a good system, but to allow management (rename of files, ripping etc) you also need a good mouse and keyboard, but you may be able to save money and use a wired mouse & keyboard.

What does it do ?

Non-software specific tasks that the Mac, Amp and TV do are as follows:

Some Technical Issues

Storage

A quick note on storage - I used to use local disk, then an attached USB, now I use a Drobo and DroboShare to allow for some level of protection and simpler network access. It also allows me to store the drives and units in a cupboard in another room to reduce noise.

Remote access to the network, even wireless (802.11G) for HD movies is fine. Mutliple users can be an issue, but Ethernet never has a problem.

Software

Boxee

I have lots of good things to say about Boxee, it is simply an excellent tool. Here is a short list:

I do have an issue with Boxee apps. Why do I need a dedicated Boxee app to watch something like Geek brief TV - when I used to use Mrio, I would just enter the RSS URL, same with iTunes - why can't I just add feeds like that on Boxee?

Plexx

I no longe ruse Plexx.

Front row

Front row is a good start, but Boxee has everything Front Row has and 100 times more, so I generally don't use it - except Apple Trailers, which seem to be broken in Boxee.

Handbrake

Best tool to rip DVDs and more recently to transcode movies from other formats (used to use Quicktime, but Handbrake now seems to be better).

Tips:

iTunes

I avoided iTunes for so long, but now (last 2 years) I have taken the plunge to manage iTunes completely on my Media Centre. Used to manage music, rip CDs and even manage the files on our iPods and iPhones.

Software error:

Can't locate object method "endform" via package "CGI" at /data/scott.dd.com.au/wiki/modules/search.pl line 15.

For help, please send mail to the webmaster (webmaster@dd.com.au), giving this error message and the time and date of the error.