Mac Mini or AppleTV?

I have seen post all over the place about the AppleTV. Usually with the post there is someone that post a comment about getting a Mac Mini for a little more than the AppleTV. For some cases I agree. The Mac Mini is going to offer a better experience with more options. Even with the AppleTV you still have to have your Mac in the other room on and running iTunes. So below I’m going to break this up into two groups.

A Mac Mini is great for people that only want to use one TV as their media setup. Usually the Mac Mini isn’t your only Mac you have. You have a storage Mac and the Mac Mini pulls the data from that or it is possible to add storage drive to the Mini. What the Mac Mini offers is web browsing, chat, videos, music, and recordings. There are other things it offers but those 5 things are the most common. The number 1 thing is the Mac Mini can be setup as a DVR. This is not possible with AppleTV, yet. Like the Mac mini I setup for my girlfriend it is on a single TV in an apartment. Setting up a Mac Mini to your TV can range from easy to difficult. If you want the DVR functionality than it takes it to the difficult category. I use eyeTV but it does integrate with frontrow. But people that are talking about using the Mac Mini are the type of people that can solve problems with making it work with their TV.

What AppleTV provides is complete coverage that’s easy to setup. You have an iMac in your office and buy AppleTV for the family room. The iMac stores the data and the AppleTV pulls from it. There is some configuring in iTunes but connecting AppleTV to your TV is easy. My parents could hook it up. The problem with AppleTV is it only can pull from iTunes. So if you want a new show you have to go to the office download it and send it to appleTV. Not great but still fairly easy. The positive part about it is you can add multiple appleTVs in your house. Put one in the family room, put one in the bedroom, and put one in the bathroom. At $300 you can buy about 3 for the price you can for a Mac Mini and DVR hardware.

With all that said I wouldn’t recommend either option. I know it’s hard but I would wait. While the Mac Mini fits my needs more than AppleTV, it still isn’t great. Without a DVR option that integrates into any media center app it’s not a all in one solution. The appleTV has it’s drawbacks too. With AppleTV you have to select what you want to sync with it. With my 80GB iTunes library I will only be able to sync a half of my media with AppleTV. The reason for that is AppleTV only has a 40GB hard drive. I remember when 40GB hard drives were cool about 4 years ago.

Just remember this is coming from a primarily Windows Media Center guy. But so far Mac hasn’t shown me anything that can compete. And believe me I have tried to make my Mac Mini the great media center.

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