So here we go: my well-overdue review of my Mac Mini entertainment center. A quick refresher: I bought a Mac Mini, the cheapest one ($599) that had baseline RAM, storage, no keyboard or mouse etc. My plan was to plug it into the nice TV and use Boxee, among other things, to contribute to my general entertainment.
The Mini showed up quickly but I was stuck without the right cables or my keyboard and mouse so I spent a very frustrating night just looking at the box. While I was working on picking up the cables (comes with DVI to mini-DVI but I needed a DVI to HDMI for my TV connection) and the keyboard (more on that in a moment), I got some extra RAM (and had it put in by a very talented and gentle friend) and an external hard drive and those piece rounded out the specs I wanted without spending $$$ via Apple.
So, I really wanted a keyboard with an integrated mouse. I borrowed a wireless keyboard and mouse from a friend for a few days but that confirmed my thoughts: sitting on the couch, there’s not a good surface for a mouse. So I did my research an ultimately ordered a “Logitech DiNovo Edge” (perhaps the only product ever created for a Mac that is actually less than the Windows version of the same product). I’ve been extremely happy with it: the keyboard has a good tactile feel, the mouse has a scroll element built-in (takes some getting used to but still awesome) and it has all the keyboard short cuts of a regular Mac keyboard. And best of all, it’s less expensive than the wireless keyboard and mouse the Apple Store sells. It, more than any other one piece of the project, has made this a success since it allows me to be sitting/lying wherever I want and still use the keyboard and mouse without issue.
And I’m very happy to say that I have been using the Mini a lot. I have friends over pretty often and we frequently watch YouTube or other Internet videos, TV, movies, etc. with Boxee. While planning our upcoming trip to Vegas we sat around in the living room and did our trip research on my TV. I got a video camera for my birthday recently and those videos have been replayed often via the Mini. Has it replaced cable? No, though I do watch less of it. The big issue now is all the talk of Time Warner Cable increasing fees for downloads- which obviously is not awesome timing for me. But if it weren’t for sports and my evil, suck-ass two year contract with Direct TV I would quite likely either abandon or cut way back on my cable TV.
So check back… I’ll post “soon” and I think I’ll talk more about Boxee, the fantastic open-source application which is the foundation on which all my network entertainment is built. And in other news I’m heading to Vegas in July (woot!) and I’m enjoying watching the Hurricanes make a run at the post-season (SO STRESSFUL!). Happy May, folks!