mac mini htpc
Well I finally did it, I pulled the trigger on a computer to "build" a home theater personal computer (htpc). After a ton of research I finally decided to go with the Apple Mac Mini, comes with Leopard, remote, front row, etc. Reason is I want the family to have a really easy to use music, photo, and video viewer. I also plan to throw a giant usb 2 external drive on it then get some sort of pvr solution for it like that from Miglia or El Gato.
I looked at buying or building a computer from scratch and throwing something on it, the front runner was Windows Media Center. But i've been running a very unstable xp box for years and as a result I've been pushed to Ubuntu Linux which is a fantastic desktop solution for me. Anyhow all the virus/trojans one can get so easy on windows is a challenge let alone how often one has to reinstall the os. I think windows mce was a bit more than my family needed although I will keep an eye out when the vista version is released but then again we are an iTunes house with lot's of iPods so thats a problem.
I also looked at free windows solutions like Media Portal and yahoo's free solution, problem is they have to run on XP, so that was out. I then looked at Linux MythTV, KnopMyth but I'm still fairly new to Linux and was not confident I could yet administer the box when needed. Linux GeexBox was also looked at but it did not seem to do everything I wanted it to plus again my lack of Linux skills did not make it a good fit for us.
From the initial reports AppleTV is just not a good fit for me as I don't live in a huge multi room house and I don't mind having a visible computer next to my TV. It also appears that it's a bit hampered and wifi for video gives me the jitters.
Which brings me the Apple Mini, it just so happened I had a phat Apple gift card sitting around that I never used. I've seen Front Row and hacks that extend it and was very impressed with it's simple interface. We'll see how good the infrared remote is but there are 3rd party radio frequency providers if not. I'll blog about my progress when I get the new machine.