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Friday, July 14, 2006

Mini Media Center

I have a friend who was recently looking for a system to easily allow his wife and young children to access videos and music in the living room. Over several weeks during breaks at work we discussed the various options: Microsoft media center, MythTV, and Apple's FrontRow.

His goals were relatively simple and did not require full DVR capabilities. He wanted to be able to play his music collection stored in iTunes on a windows PC in another part of the house through his whole house sound system powered by an amp in the basement. Most of the music was from his large CD collection, but recently he had taken to buying music from the iTunes store since his purchase of an ipod. Also on the list was the desire to watch home video's taken with the family's digital camera, which like most camera's output mpeg video. Finally, given the kids' (ages 4 and 2.5) ability to damage DVDs he wanted to be able to store movies on the hard drive and watch them on TV.

After much discussion and a trip to the local Apple store to check out front row first hand he decided to buy a new Intel based Mac Mini. I have gotten a steady stream of questions about how to do this or that. In the coming weeks I will attempt to capture the issues and their solutions in these pages.

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