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.