As stated in Part 1 of this Mac Mini HTPS series where I evaluated different Media Center and HTPC software options my choice was to go with MediaPortal, an excellent open source and free software for turning your Windows PC into a living room digital media master. In other words, we need to load the Mac MIni with some kind of Microsoft OS software. Fortunately, the engineers at Apple has anticipated this and made this very easy to do as long as you have access to a Windows XP (or VIsta or Windows 7 beta) installation CD.
Any version is fine as MediaPortal supports more or less any post XP SP2 version Windows. Personally, I chose Windows XP SP3 as it is very stable and currently provides the best performance for the Mini hardware. Also, once the software has been installed and configured according to this guide, the OS itself will in practice be invisible anyway so there is little benefit from the nice but resource heavier Vista or Windows 7.
Software: Windows XP installation CD/DVD, Apple OS X Leopard Installation DVD (for installing Windows XP drivers for Mac Mini hardware)
Hardware: Intel Mac Mini 2nd or 3rd generation (runs well on 1.83 GHz Core Duo), a USB TV tuner supported by MediaPortal
Other: Internet connection, some patience and a couple of hours of time to spare
Following my post on The Meaning of Life, I’ve finally been able structured my research and experience on how to really enjoy a long life and healthy life. Simply, balance is one of the keywords here. You can not only get too little of something you love, you can actually get too much of it as well. Just take a look at nature and how it works, it all about long term balance from a big picture perspective. A a few years ago a wise man, my father, told me that “too much sun makes a desert” – not immediately grasping how right he was. He was really pinpointing the importance of having balance in life. The opposite would be that too much rain causes a flood. But together they create the most beautiful nature there is. Life is complex and does not consist of single opposites alone. On the other hand, it does not have to be that complicated either.
This made me passionate about researching this area more in-depth, i.e. how to best follow nature’s most central law. I’ve spent hundreds of hours of reading, thinking, discussing and actually practicing the areas below and now feel confident in bucketing the ingredients to a long, healthy and balanced life into four simple sections:
In my 6+ years journey towards the ultimate Home Theatre PC (aka HTPC) I’ve been trying out several hardware configurations. A couple of years ago I realized that the Intel based Apple Mac Mini was really the best choice despite its disputed limited (internal) expansion options. I have not been able to find such a great combination of extreme silence, power efficiency, small form factor, looks, i.e. family acceptance factor, and competitive price from any other manufacturer. And I was not even an Apple fan at that time.
With the release of the upgraded Mac Mini in March 2009, I felt I had to once again upgrade our living room hardware for future HD compatibility now that Apple finally upgraded the video card – and thought I’d share my experiences with you at the same time.
My first decision was on user interface software and OS, would I dare to go with OS X or still stick to the option of a Boot Camped Windows XP with the excellent open source HTPC software Mediaportal? (there are still no direct benefits from Vista, including MCE, for standard European digital cable DVB-C broadcasts as Microsoft does not support this yet.) So I did my Mac research as I would really like to see some fruity alternatives. My options with summaries below.