Mac Mini in HandIs there anything the Mac Mini can’t do?

A few years ago, I purchased a Mac Mini with the “Intel Core Solo” processor.  It initially served as my “Carputer” — a project inspired by mp3car.com which gave me GPS, mp3 playback, video and internet capabilities in my car.  It was a bit of a pain, but it worked well enough and I was very proud of it… Then Garmin released a $200 GPS unit which essentially did everything my Mac was doing in a much smaller package and without scary electrical wiring requirements.  At that point, the Mac Mini came into the house…

It Just Worked

I’d been playing with Windows home theater pc’s (HTPC) for years before Microsoft made it mainstream with their Windows Media Center Editions.  However, even with Microsoft’s blessing, I still had a hard time getting the machine to do exactly what I wanted.  I’d tried all sorts of video and audio cards, but there was alway something that I couldn’t dial in just right.  How hard could it be to connect an HDTV and an optical audio cable to a receiver?

The best thing about the Mac Mini was that it just worked.  Plugging an HDTV into the Mac would automatically change the screen resolution to 1280 x 720 — a perfect match for the HDTV.  An inexpensive audio-out adapter could output digital audio directly to the receiver for Dolby Digital or PCM audio.  The original Mac Mini served me well, but as more and more HD content became available, the core solo processor began to show its age.  Apple was overdue for a Mac Mini refresh, and as soon as they announced the latest revision, I was sold.  The nVidia graphics chipset combined with TWO video out options (mini dvi and mini display port) made this a slam dunk for me.  The revitalized hardware inspired me to revisit my home theater setup as well as launch this site.  I hope people will come to learn as well as share ideas of what worked for them, and lessons they learned that we should avoid.