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success!

Posted by SpiceWare, in DVR Project 03 January 2013 · 1,148 views

The mini's working just fine with the HDMI to Component Video adaptor:
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Before I plugged everything together I made sure to set up my mini for Screen Sharing. I did this as the HDMI to Component converter supports 1080p, but my TV only supports 1080i, and I expected the Mac to default to the "best resolution" it's been told about - which it did. By remoting in I was able to change Display Preferences:
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The Underscan setting is very important for CRT and projection based TVs as they're normally set so that the picture goes beyond the edges of the screen (known as overscan). While fine for television shows, it causes problems with computers as import information (like the menu bar) can end up offscreen. Adjusting underscan lets you compensate for the TV's overscan.
My DirecTV box worked just fine when I plugged it into the 2nd HDMI port of the convert box. I was a little surprised that it kept the "allowed resolutions" I'd previously set for my HDTV (it supports 480i, 480p and 1080i) and didn't auto adjust it's settings when I switched from using Component Video to HDMI.


Streaming from Syfy's website works as well, though it did take a little bit to get the audio1 to work correctly:
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And yes, I can full-screen the streaming video. The picture quality was decent, though the audio is "just" stereo (and I remember being quite excited when stereo TV first showed up in the 80s).
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I've also installed AirServer and can now use the mini to wirelessly show things from my iPad and iPhone - it's just like using AirPlay on the Apple TV. I've tried it out with videos, photos and games.
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I did discover that EyeTV 3 is not happy if it's displaying video and the HDMI box is switched to the DirecTV box - EyeTV ended up crashing in the middle of recording tonight's episode of The Big Bang Theory. Luckily my DirecTV box was tuned to that channel so I was able to rewind its live tv buffer and watch the entire episode. I'll just have to make sure to close any TV windows before switching over to the DirecTV box - and I'll only be doing that for another couple weeks, so it's just a short-term concern.


1the audio was initially being routed to the mini's built in speaker instead of going through the HDMI cable to the surround sound receiver. I found this post over at Apple's Discussions, about creating an Aggregate Device, so I ran Audio MIDI Setup (in the OS X Utilities folder) and set one up.
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I then made sure the Aggregate Device was selected in Sound Preferences. It didn't work right away, but it did after I rebooted the mini.
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I don't know if you could use it, but I bought Air Video.
It streams most any video format, auto transcoding, from your computer to your iDevice. Like say I download an avi or mkv video, I can plug the iPhone or iPad into the tv and stream the program on my computer to my tv thru my iDevice. With the dock connector to HDMI it streams HD too, but I have only gone to 720p HD and it looked great on the living room 47 inch.
I have a dock connector to composite and another to component, but they can only display 480 (lame because component can do 1080).
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Hadn't heard of Air Video, looks interesting. The EyeTV 3 software will transcode live and recorded TV for the iDevices, which they can access via the EyeTV app. I've watched a number of shows in bed using it on my iPad. The live TV quality isn't the best, though they sell a USB device, turbo.264HD, that's supposed to improve that.

There's an option in EyeTV 3 to automatically convert recorded shows to .264 (from MPEG2) as soon as the recording has finished. I've set that and the quality of recorded shows is excellent on the iDevices, though it does take quite some time for the conversion to run (and I even upped the mini to the quad core 2.6 GHz i7).

I have used iDevices on TVs, projectors and so on via the dock connector. Works well, but in the instance the mini's already hooked up to the TV so there's no point in using an iDevice to display it on a TV.
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I was surprised to discover that the streaming video from TV Land looks significantly better than that channel does on DirecTV.
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Went to show off AirServer yesterday and was behaving poorly. Checked out the Activity Monitor and realized I'd used up all of the mini's 4 GB of RAM, thus it was bogged down paging memory in and out of the swap file.

My AMEX started it's new billing cycle, so I've ordered 16 GB for the mini. I don't know if I'll actually need that much, but I often exceed the 8 GB in my MacBook Pro - I'd add more to it, but it's already at the max of what it supports.
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Well the Aggregate Device has issues. Periodically the Clock Source will change from HDMI to Built-in Ouput. When that happens, the sound for the browsers and video games once again comes out of the Mac mini.

Once that happens, the Audio MIDI Seutp program is a bit flakey in that while you can select HDMI as the Clock Source, it doesn't "stick" - if you close and reopen the setup program the Clock Source often stays on Built-in Output.

After going around and around a few times, the change will finally stick. I haven't figured out why the Clock Source changes yet, nor why changing it doesn't always stick.

The mini's 3.5mm headphone jack also includes digital out:

The headphone/line out port accommodates digital optical audio output, analog audio output with a 24-bit, 44.1-192 kHz D/A converter, digital audio output up to 24-bit stereo and 44.1-192 kHz sampling rate and supporting encoded digital audio output (AC3 and DTS). For analog headphone / line output, use a standard audio cable with 3.5mm metal plug. For digital audio, you can use Apple iPhone headset with microphone or a standard TOSLINK cable with a TOSLINK mini-plug adapter.

Since I no longer have the DirecTV box connected, I'm thinking about picking up a TOSLINK mini-plug adapter and moving the optical audio connection from the HDMI box to the mini.
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