Buy a Mac Mini? Dell Zino HD? Alternatives?

GeForceX

Supreme [H]ardness
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Mar 19, 2003
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I'm helping my dad out with this decision -- there is a decent Mac Mini (2010) being offered for $600:

2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo
4 GB RAM
500 GB 5400 RPM HD
NVIDIA GeForce 320M
8X DVD Burner

Then there is also the Dell Zino HD for $500:

2.3 GHz Athlon II Dual Core
4 GB RAM
1 TB 7200 RM HD
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330
Blu-ray / DVD Burner

However I doubt their ability to power 1080p movies or even high quality flash-based videos (i.e. Hulu). Someone tell me that I'm wrong, please.

Are there ready-built alternatives to these choices? Or should I build one for my dad? The thing is... he's very picky about how the case looks. He wants a case that is as small and pretty as the Mac Mini.

Any ideas? Thanks.
 

ghostee

Limp Gawd
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Oct 28, 2008
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What is he going to use it for?

The Mac Mini supports hardware acceleration of H264 video, so it should play 1080p videos without an issue. Not sure about the Zino but it might too.

If looks are important, it's hard to beat the Mac Mini, and it's what I would choose if I had $600 to spend.

If his usage is just playing back ripped media, look into a nettop and XBMC Live (linux based). You should be able to get a set up like that for half the price of the Mac Mini, although it won't look quite as pretty.
 

GeForceX

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Not so much for burning or using ripped media but being able to watch movies either via DVD / Blu-ray, presentations for guests, and also internet browsing in the living room.
 

KnishofDeath

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Not so much for burning or using ripped media but being able to watch movies either via DVD / Blu-ray, presentations for guests, and also internet browsing in the living room.

Mac Mini does not support blu ray.
 

GeForceX

Supreme [H]ardness
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You're right, it does not.

If my dad wants to watch Blu-ray on the Mac Mini -- is it possible to swap out the 8X DVD already in there?
 

adi

Limp Gawd
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Aug 1, 2002
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399
You could swap it out (I believe they are still somewhat standard), but there is no OSX blu-ray software that I know of, so you would have to do playback from Windows.
 

Abula

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Last edited:

GeForceX

Supreme [H]ardness
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I guess the Mac Mini is out of the game since the OS does not natively support Blu-ray.

Abula, that would be nice but the case is for servers -- we planned on having a DVD/Blu-ray drive.
 

Abula

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CrimandEvil

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:(, let me check for small case with slim blu ray slot. Btw do you need a PC or can you get by a media streamer, like duneplayers, should play 99% of the formats and you can order it with blu ray player also, they use sigma chips and are fanless in most cases.

Dune HD Smart B1 Media player with Blu-Ray Disk
HDI Dune HD Max Blu-Ray player w/3.5 SATA

Streamers only work when they are $199 or less, otherwise he can build one for lesser then what you suggested that will do 100% of everything he wants.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151222
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136769
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157228
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811154091
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148326

All that for $289, if he uses XBMC (which I don't personally suggest) then thay's free; if he goes with Windows 7 it'll still be as expensive as the first streamer you suggested.
 

kac77

2[H]4U
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For those prices I would build the damn thing in a heart beat. Building your own should cost you no more than 300. If you've got 500 to spend that's a kick ass system right there. You're talking discrete, with RAID on OS and Media drives... easy.
 

CrimandEvil

Dick with a heart of gold
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Ok my interest is peaked.... why no XBMC?

I don't like it on a personal level and wouldn't suggest but I also won't ignore it either.

Each time I try it out I like the improvements made but it's still nowhere near as good as SageTv was (with a good skin) or 7MC with Media Browser (especially when you customize it as I have).

Bookmarking and emulators are the only things I wish I could get in 7MC.
http://lifehacker.com/5634515/how-t...c-media-center-across-every-room-in-the-house
http://lifehacker.com/5523672/turn-your-xbmc-media-center-into-a-video-game-console
 

kac77

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I don't like it on a personal level and wouldn't suggest but I also won't ignore it either.

Each time I try it out I like the improvements made but it's still nowhere near as good as SageTv was (with a good skin) or 7MC with Media Browser (especially when you customize it as I have).

Bookmarking and emulators are the only things I wish I could get in 7MC.
http://lifehacker.com/5634515/how-t...c-media-center-across-every-room-in-the-house
http://lifehacker.com/5523672/turn-your-xbmc-media-center-into-a-video-game-console

Hmm well there's no arguing with personal taste. Whatever works for ya I suppose. I use XBMC and haven't had any problems with it. I really like the fact that you can get it up and running in a very small amount of time. The plugins add quite a bit to it. In terms of 7MC i thought the setup with a tuner was laborious and clunky. To each his own. All of them are worthy really.
 

CrimandEvil

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Yup which is why I won't shy away from suggesting it. It has it's merits and I wish I could like it enough to personally use but it feels too "PC centric" for me, like I should be using a mouse and keyboard with it. What I like about 7MC + MB is that it feels like I'm using a Tivo like device (I don't use a tuner anymore, thinking of adding one again though). It just has a better "feel" to it.

I should say I have the same problem with SageTV and it's default skin; changing to a different one really helped me use it when that's what I ran with. Media Portal had the same "PC centric" feel (but much lesser) too until I switched skins to something more functional.

7MC isn't for everyone, mine is heavily modded thanks to Media Studio to fit my needs. :)

I just wish I could get something equal too those two plugins I linked.
 

kac77

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I just wish I could get something equal too those two plugins I linked.

You know you reminded me I needed to finish that project.. so far so good... updating game library (which will take forever). There is one thing that I will say about the "PC feel" of it. A good skin like Neon goes a long way. I was using the Android remote... it works quite well...but I want the damn tactile feel of some buttons (real ones). So I'm going to get a real remote.
 

kac77

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NOT BAD.... so I finished the config for Gens.... Got my Xbox360 controller working.... since it's on Linux I ended up using qjoystick, but it works and it's reliable. So I can't complain. Not bad at all. I can also use the Controller as my remote.... that's not permanent since I have the Android controller... but it's nice to know that works too.
 

CrimandEvil

Dick with a heart of gold
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Messages
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I wish I could get a larger scaled remote app for my Nook (running Gingerbread). I'm using MyRemote for mine (very nice app for my phone with 7MC) but it doesn't scale up to the resolution of the Nook.

I was wanting to go back using my 360 controller but the stupid receiver seems to be dead. Thanks alos MS for going "proprietary" for your wireless controllers. When I did use it back in the day (with Media Portal and a 360 skin) I loved it! I had the buttons customize for media playback, etc. Loved it. :)
 
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