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Mac Mini Home Theater

Making the Mac Mini the Centerpiece of your Home Theater

Pandora on AppleTV via XBMC

Pandora on AppleTV via XBMC


I’m less than a week into my JailBroken AppleTV (black), but thanks to an active hacker community, I think we can continue to expect great things for Apple’s latest hobby.

Tonight I installed the Pandora plugin for XBMC onto my AppleTV — “install” might be a little misleading. More accurately, I copied a folder into a directory in my already jailbroken AppleTV. If you can handle a few basic command line tasks like file copy or ftp, you should be good to go.

In any case, I can now stream Pandora music from my AppleTV without having to initiate the audio from a desktop computer or my iPhone.

Steps to Reproduce:
1) Download the script.xbmc.pandora from http://www.sharefile.org/showfile-3606/scriptxbmcpandora.zip
2) Unzip the zip file and copy the script.xbmc.pandora folder into your computer
3) FTP or scp the folder to your AppleTV
/private/var/stash/Applications/XBMC.frappliance/XBMCData/XBMCHome/addons/.

scp -r script.xbmc.pandora root@APPLE.TV.IPADDRESS:/private/var/stash/Applications/XBMC.frappliance/XBMCData/XBMCHome/addons/.

References:
http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?t=70471&page=34
http://github.com/PromyLOPh/pianobar

The headline pretty much says it all, but the AppleTV just got a whole lot cooler now that it can playback just about any media format!

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Source

I decided to put my money where my mouth was and I put my DirecTV account on hold for 6 months to see how the Mac Mini would do on it’s own. Between EyeTV, iTunes, Netflix, Plex and Boxee, could the Mac Mini deliver enough content that I could cut the $100+/month DirecTV bill for good?

Check out my full review of 6 Months Without DirecTV on lunch.comMac Mini Home Theater.

iPad Ultimate Home Theater RemoteNow that the iPad is upon is, it is time to let it control every aspect of our lives, not to mention our home theater.  There’s a ton of great apps out already that should make the iPad very comfortable in your theater, but what would it take to make it the ULTIMATE Home Theater Remote?

Check out these thoughts on where we’d like to see iPad development go!

http://lunch.com/t/13am

Icon for Remote Buddy

Icon for Remote Buddy

Now that I’ve official suspended my DirecTV account, I’v switched entirely to a diet of EyeTV and Boxee, I’ve found that I have some issues with my remote control usability.  After watching the videos of Remote Buddy on iospirit.com, I decided to give it a spin.  Long story short, I don’t know why I waited.  Remote Buddy essentially solved all my issues and simplified controlling all my applications with one remote.  For my full review, and a lot more detail, check out my review on lunch.com.

EyeTV iPhone App

EyeTV iPhone App

This is a follow-up to my recent review of the Elgato EyeTV 250 device for the Macintosh.  This review will address the iPhone application specifically.  If you want to know my impressions about the device itself, please check out my review.

As far as features are concerned, the EyeTV iPhone app delivers.  It essentially allows you to stream live or recorded tv shows from your Mac directly to your iPhone (via Wifi AND cellular data streams).
The user interface is very clean and simple to navigate.  The first screen gives you four simple options:

  1. Live TV
  2. Recordings
  3. Schedules
  4. Guide

This is one of the best looking and simplest iPhone apps I’ve used so far… if only it worked…

Before I begin to tell you all the things that DIDN’T work for me, I will preface my remarks by saying I am using an iPhone 3g, not the newer 3gs, so it is possible most of these issues are resolved by using the newer hardware.

continue reading…

Elgato EyeTV Software

Elgato EyeTV Software

I picked up the Elgato EyeTV as part of my experiment to see if I could cut out my DirecTV service entirely.  The short answer is… “no”, at least not quite yet.

The Elgato EyeTV 250 is a USB device for the Macintosh that allows you to watch and record TV broadcasts from over-the-air (OTA) or clear QAM (unencrypted digital cable) signals.  Setup was pretty standard fare — plug in USB connector and power outlet, install software, connect antenna or cable source.  I tested the device with both cable and antenna and the results were a bit mixed.  The scanning channels process took quite a while for both sources, but the cable source returned better initial results.  When using a smaller “digital OTA antenna” I wasn’t able to get all of my major network channels (CBS, NBC, ABC, etc).  However, after connecting to a larger antenna which is mounted in the attic, I was able to pull in all the major networks.  While this was great for my Mac Mini media center (which doesn’t really move), it did mean that it wouldn’t be easy to take the USB device as a travel companion and grab TV from different locations while on the road.

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Plex logo

Plex logo

Sorry for the lame headline, but I’m very excited to pass along the latest announcement from the Plex group that Plex is now Snow Leopard compatible!

Highlights:

  • Apple Remote fix
  • 5.1 Audio issues  fixed
  • Several fixes for crashes

You can read all the details here:

http://elan.plexapp.com/2009/10/26/plex-0-8-3-let-it-snow-leopard/

Hulu Desktop Start Screen

Hulu Desktop Start Screen

As more and more television networks start making their content available on-line, the need for a traditional cable or satellite service continues to diminish. Yet one of the biggest obstacles isn’t necessarily the quality of the content, but it’s accessibility from the couch. Hulu.com is great when you’re sitting at a computer, but few people are willing to give up their traditional remote control for a keyboard and mouse on the couch.

Click the link for the full review

Snow Leopard Plex compatibility
Snow Leopard Plex compatibility

Ready to upgrade your Mac Mini Home Theater to latest operating system offering from Apple? Might want to hold of 10.6 Snow Leopard upgrade for just a bit. It appears that there is an issue with Plex and the Apple Remote where any button presses while in Plex continue on to the operating systems’ default behavior. What exactly does this mean? Pressing the Menu button will take you out of Plex and launch Apple’s Front Row application. Additionally, the “up/down” buttons will change the system volume. I’ve been able to verify this on my own system, and I would advise holding off on upgrading until this has been fixed.

The Plex developers are aware of this issue and have even started a Snow Leopard forum so you can submit additional issues or monitor the status of the fixes.

http://forums.plexapp.com/index.php?showforum=44