Turn your Mac Mini into a Media Center. Sort of.

Everyone has been trying to figure out how to force the Mac mini to be a media center ever since it was announced. It’s small, and it’s cheap, so it does make sense.

Engadget has put together a preliminary guide to getting your mini set up as your entertainment hub. Though it is just a very basic overview, at least it hints at what is to come.

As of right now, I really don’t see any value in using a setup like this other than pure geek factor. I mean if you look at the list of stuff they are using to make that work, you have the Mac mini for $500, the “spare computer” to use as a file server, all the extra hard drives, the adapters, the EyeTV, the EyeHome, the TV, the Stereo… phew. After you do all that you’re looking at $1,000 – $1,500 easy for a simple setup like that. You could buy a Windows Media Center PC for that much, which would eliminate all those wires and crazy add-ons. Don’t get me wrong, I hate Windows as much as the next guy, but that just seems silly. Or you could buy a TiVo with a lifetime subscription to the guide for less than the price of the Mac Mini alone.

There is also no easy way to control the Mac mini from the couch, unless you are already either in EyeTV or EyeHome. Sure, VNC is nice, but why would I want to get off the couch, go to my office, pick a movie to watch or something, go back to the couch, etc. And if I had a “spare laptop” laying around, I would probably just use that to play movies through the TV instead of using an army of miscellaneous devices strung throughout my living room.

Of course a computer can do things the TiVo can’t, like play DVD’s or ripped movies, listen to music, play games, emulators, surf the web, etc.

But really, since they are using the EyeTV and the EyeHome anyway, you could just plug those into your regular desktop Mac and have basically exactly the same setup as this guide will tell you to do.

Not to put down the idea of the Mac mini as a media center though. I think it will definitely happen, and once someone comes up with a nice front-end interface to loading all of your media that works with one of the remote controls, I think it will be a sweet setup.

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