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Showing off a Mac mini media center

minicenterThis weekend I had some time to kill before going to catch a movie, so I dropped by a friend's house to show him some videos, which were all funny movies off the net, stuff like Wonder Showzen and that one of Chris Pirillo talking about eating his nuts. Unfortunately, I had left the DVD burns of these vids at work. Burning more wasn't an option, because I discovered this less than an hour before leaving. What to do? Well I wrapped up my Mac mini, the AV adapter (for output to a TV), a mini-plug to stereo RCA cable, an old blueberry puck mouse from my ancient G3 tower, and took them on the road in my laptop case. Setup took about 5 minutes, and the reaction was priceless.

First, my friend and his fiancé had never glimpsed a Mac mini. They were impressed. "That's a computer?" I had taken the form factor for granted. When I plugged the system into his massive (but old) standard-def big-screen TV, it looked beautiful. I've used the mini on a TV before, but nothing over 30 inches. This was over 4 feet diagonally, and the menus were legible, the dock looked great— just wonderful. The only problem: no remote. My friend  asked me if they made a remote. Instead of launching into a typical Mac fanboy rant about ATI this, iMac that, I just said yes, and let his imagination wander. Without a keyboard, I wasn't able to enter fullscreen mode in VLC, but nonetheless the videos looked great. Even WMV's with atrocious blockiness looked nice given the downsampling of the signal.

So my point: a Mac mini media center will be a hit, and I know at least two people who now want one. The total cost of this rig was less than $600! If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend turning a mini into a sort of video jukebox. Next time I'll be sure to install FrontRow or something like it, and really show them some Mac style. Has anyone else had a chance to rock the house like this?
 

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