Mac Mini Media Center - Still in Beta

Okay, I splurged. I ordered a Mac Mini with 2.26 GHz CPU and a 160GB Hard Disk from Amazon - it was a bit cheaper there than from the Apple store. I also ordered a 500GB 2.5” hard disk, an EyeTV Hybrid and a Mac-compatible wireless keyboard.

The idea was to replace a Panasonic harddisk-recorder and a cable receiver, both of which do not offer HDMI connectivity, and add lots of functionality (useful or not).

The connection to our Panasonic 42” Plasma is via the standard DVI adapter that came in the packaging and a DVI to HDMI cable from ebay (for less than 9€, including shipping!).

The first thing I did was buy a replacement hard disk, as the 160GB that came with the unit would hold the operating system and about 12 movie-length recordings -- not what I had in mind. I followed a couple of the really excellent instructions on the Web for replacing the hard disk in the iMac, which is a bit of an iffy situation from a warranty standpoint. While lots of people argue that if the HD in the unit wasn’t to be replaced by the owner, Apple would have had to mark the case with “no user servicable parts inside.”

To be honest, though, even if that is the legal situation - I guarantee Apple will make a stink about it should I ever have to send the unit in within the 24 month warranty period. After doing the “operation”, I have to admit - I would, too, if I were Apple. The replacement really isn’t for someone with even a touch of fear of what is required... there are a couple of screws that are tough to (re-) position. What really cost me time was re-attaching the Wifi (or was it Bluetooth?) antenna connector to the mainboard - what a job for very small hands! It is difficult, because while you can position the connector relatively well using an angled tweezers (luckily, I have one), that tool doesn’t give you enough pressure to make it click in place.

In any case, the iMac now has a 500GB HD built in, which was really a good decision.

Installing the OS and the EyeTV software for the receiver is - as usual - a snap. I also put Skype on it (incredible: my age-old Logitech Notebook Pro USB Webcam runs without a driver!) as well as iTunes, of course. I’ve also moved my iTunes library from my iMac in the basement office to the MMM.

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