Design Your Quasi-Futuristic Mac-Centric HES Here

dcqdcq
Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Caveat Lector: I'm a newbie to all this high-tech home entertainment junk. My wife and I have been relatively poor, struggling students since we met, and have made due with basic cable and an aging, second-hand 32-inch TV. But we're finally both free to indulge our geekist tendencies (within financial reason). That said...



I'm getting excited about the long-awaited digital convergence in Home Entertainment Systems. I really think it's going to happen in the next year or two. So now's the time to start designing. I'm gunning for something clustering around the mini.



Bear in mind, I have very little idea how all this stuff works. (Part of the point of this thread is to start learning.) My idea is that this will be feasible by next spring. (Please correct me if my crack is too strong.)



Start with a mini powered by a 2.0 GHz 970GX

SuperDrive on iSteroids (HD-DVD/BVD/DL DVD-R/RW/CD-R/RW)

onboard ATI 9800-ish video card w/128MB VRAM

160 GB 7200 HDD (Apple realizes the error of its ways)

external 500GB HDD slice connected via FW800

23- or perhaps even a 30-inch Cinema Display (HDMI?, whatever-the-frick-that-is). Would the 23-inch provide a bigger widescreen than our current 32-inch standard TV? I'm sure the 30 would...

eyeTV 500 or equivalent HD PVR solution

5.1 speakers (brands? wtf is 7.1? and can a mini handle this out of the box?)

Airport Express linked to speakers out on the patio (really, why not since we've got to have a wireless network anyway?).

iSight 2, with an iChat AV that can make phone calls and handle *all* types of chat

Some kind of voice recognition software that actually works well for both navigating the Finder and composing in basic programs (Mail, Entourage, Word, text boxes in Safari, etc.).

and it would all be finished off by some really well-designed, elegant Bluetooth remote control that could handle iTunes, DVD Player, and mouse functions.



Questions remaining:

How could I hook up a PlayStation3 to this (i.e., a second video/audio source)? And what about our trusty ole Sony VCR?

And since my wife and I have a few hundred tapes from our college daze that we can't affordably get digital--how do you get a decent tape deck hooked up as a second audio source?



Also, can someone just in plain english explain once and for all HDTV. How are the channels delivered? If ch 7 is ABC, and they start going off on "HD this and that" but don't really explain anything, if I get an HDTV and turn to ch 7, will it be in HD, or is there a separate HD ABC? How does this work with cable companies and their delivery (both traditional and digital)?



Can someone com up with something better/more affordable/more realistic/etc.? I'm positive you can, so go for it.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by DCQ

    Caveat Lector: I'm a newbie to all this high-tech home entertainment junk. My wife and I have been relatively poor, struggling students since we met, and have made due with basic cable and an aging, second-hand 32-inch TV. But we're finally both free to indulge our geekist tendencies (within financial reason). That said...



    I'm getting excited about the long-awaited digital convergence in Home Entertainment Systems. I really think it's going to happen in the next year or two. So now's the time to start designing. I'm gunning for something clustering around the mini.



    Bear in mind, I have very little idea how all this stuff works. (Part of the point of this thread is to start learning.) My idea is that this will be feasible by next spring. (Please correct me if my crack is too strong.)



    Start with a mini powered by a 2.0 GHz 970GX

    SuperDrive on iSteroids (HD-DVD/BVD/DL DVD-R/RW/CD-R/RW)

    onboard ATI 9800-ish video card w/128MB VRAM

    160 GB 7200 HDD (Apple realizes the error of its ways)

    external 500GB HDD slice connected via FW800

    23- or perhaps even a 30-inch Cinema Display (HDMI?, whatever-the-frick-that-is). Would the 23-inch provide a bigger widescreen than our current 32-inch standard TV? I'm sure the 30 would...

    eyeTV 500 or equivalent HD PVR solution

    5.1 speakers (brands? wtf is 7.1? and can a mini handle this out of the box?)

    Airport Express linked to speakers out on the patio (really, why not since we've got to have a wireless network anyway?).

    iSight 2, with an iChat AV that can make phone calls and handle *all* types of chat

    Some kind of voice recognition software that actually works well for both navigating the Finder and composing in basic programs (Mail, Entourage, Word, text boxes in Safari, etc.).

    and it would all be finished off by some really well-designed, elegant Bluetooth remote control that could handle iTunes, DVD Player, and mouse functions.



    Questions remaining:

    How could I hook up a PlayStation3 to this (i.e., a second video/audio source)? And what about our trusty ole Sony VCR?

    And since my wife and I have a few hundred tapes from our college daze that we can't affordably get digital--how do you get a decent tape deck hooked up as a second audio source?



    Also, can someone just in plain english explain once and for all HDTV. How are the channels delivered? If ch 7 is ABC, and they start going off on "HD this and that" but don't really explain anything, if I get an HDTV and turn to ch 7, will it be in HD, or is there a separate HD ABC? How does this work with cable companies and their delivery (both traditional and digital)?



    Can someone com up with something better/more affordable/more realistic/etc.? I'm positive you can, so go for it.




    mate, you checked out the new iMac g5 updates?
  • Reply 2 of 17
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    You have many questions, my young padawan. Patience will reward you both in terms of rapidly dropping prices, an emerging apple strategy, and more vision on HDTV.



    First you must understand HDTV



    School yourself in the difference between

    1280x720p (720p)

    1280x720i (720i)

    1920x1080i (1080i)

    1920x1080p (1080p)



    Then look at your favourite channels and how you get them (cable, satellite, what will they likely be broadcasting in the next few years... 720p, 1080i, 1080p??



    Second you must understand multi-channel surround sound



    dolby digital 5.1

    dolby digital EX

    dts surround 5.1

    dts ...something or other.. next gen

    7.1 surround sound



    currently only DVDs really support dolby digital 5.1 and dts surround 5.1

    with regard to 7.1, i am too a padawan and learning about this 8 channels of sound



    Third you must understand connection jargon

    HDMI -- this is supposed to be digital audio+video signal

    DVI -- this is DVI-I and DVI-D digital video signal

    Component video -- this is good but HDMI and DVI are better in some regards

    SVHS - old, forget about it



    ....more later...







    (sorry if i sound like a wanker, just that i've been thinking along the lines of what you be talking about)
  • Reply 3 of 17
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,259member
    For me it's about





    Set Top Box



    Cell Processor running Quicktime on top.

    160GB SATA hd

    Full Support for iLife.

    HDMI ports and Component Video

    802.11n Wireless

    Gigabit

    SATA port on back for more storage



    $699
  • Reply 4 of 17
    splinemodelsplinemodel Posts: 7,311member
    As long as it can record Champions League games, I'm fine.
  • Reply 5 of 17
    Here here hmurchison. Set top Apple is my prayer every night.
  • Reply 6 of 17
    cubistcubist Posts: 954member
    Wal-Mart has a switchbox for about $30 which selects 4 inputs of composite video and stereo audio. Sure, it's old tech, but it meets a pressing need. And padawan, don't be too sure on that PS3 either - the revo looks like it may be a lot better.
  • Reply 7 of 17
    gene cleangene clean Posts: 3,481member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Splinemodel

    As long as it can record Champions League games, I'm fine.



  • Reply 8 of 17
    cubistcubist Posts: 954member
    Oh, and I have a requirement I'd like to throw in. There should be DVD Record functionality and Audio CD record functionality.



    None of the current DVD recorders have audio CD record functionality. Why not? When I ask that, I get blank stares - and questions like, why would you want to do that? would you record from? Sheesh! Where do they get these salespeople? I hate to go into electronics stores anymore.
  • Reply 9 of 17
    webavatarwebavatar Posts: 55member
    iHome High-End:



    3.0ghz dual-core G5 running stripped down version of OS-X Tiger

    Slot-loading Superdrive for CD/DVD/HD-DVD/DL-DVD

    Superdrive Burns CD/DVD/HD-DVD/DL-DVD

    Built in TiVO capabilities with 250GB 7200rpm drive

    Built in Airport Extreme Base Station

    External ports for HDMI & Component video

    External ports for syncing with PS3/PSP/Xbox2/DS etc.

    Speaker Outputs for DD5.1 & DTS speaker systems

    56k Modem & Gigabit Ethernet card for direct cable/dsl connection

    iTunes-on-demand for instantly downloading music

    iFlix-on-demand for instantly downloading movies

    iTV-on-demand for instantly downloading TV shows

    iCast-on-demand with extensive library of podcasts

    iPlay-on-demand for instantly downloading PC & Console games

    iSurf for booking instant travel plans & other pre-programmed websites

    Built-in Sirius satellite radio receiver

    Built-in Memory Card reader for digital-camera hookup

    Bluetooth 2.0 for syncing with PDA/Phone/iPod

    4 USB 2.0 & 4 Firewire 800 ports for external storage & other devices

    ATI Radeon 9650 w/256mb RAM & 2 DVI's for secondary monitors

    Optical & Coaxial Digital Audio Inputs/Outputs for DD5.1/DTS

    Built in Auto-Updating AntiVirus & Firewall

    On-Screen Programming Guide



    Widgets that appear instantly over the tv screen to:

    \t1) Burn CD/DVD/HD-DVD/DL-DVD

    \t2) Playback DVD/CD/HD-DVD/DL-DVD

    \t3) Playback Streaming AV From Desktop

    \t4) Record & Playback DV from DVR



    Touchscreen LCD Remote w/widgets & Now Playing



    Total Price: $2,999.99



    iHome Middle-End:



    3.0ghz G5 running stripped down version of OS-X Tiger

    Slot-loading Superdrive for CD/DVD/DL-DVD/HD-DVD

    Superdrive burns CD-RW/DVD-RW/DL-DVD

    Built in TiVO capabilities with 200GB 7200rpm drive

    Built in Airport Extreme Base Station

    External ports for HDMI & Component video

    Speaker Outputs for DD5.1 & DTS speaker systems

    56k Modem & Gigabit Ethernet card for direct cable/dsl connection

    iTunes-on-demand for instantly downloading music

    iFlix-on-demand for instantly downloading movies

    iTV-on-demand for instantly downloading TV shows

    iCast-on-demand with extensive library of podcasts

    iSurf for booking instant travel plans & other pre-programmed website

    Built-in Sirius satellite radio receiver

    Built-in Memory Card reader for digital-camera hookup

    Bluetooth 2.0 for syncing with PDA/Phone/iPod

    2 USB 2.0 & 2 Firewire 800 ports for external storage & other devices

    ATI Radeon 9600 w/128mb RAM w/ 1 DVI for secondary monitor

    Optical & Coaxial Digital Audio Inputs/Outputs for DD5.1/DTS

    Built in Auto-Updating AntiVirus & Firewall

    On-Screen Programming Guide



    Widgets that appear instantly over the tv screen to:

    \t1) Burn CD/DVD/DL-DVD

    \t2) Playback CD/DVD/DL-DVD/HD-DVD

    \t3) Playback Streaming AV From Desktop

    \t4) Record & Playback DV from DVR



    Full Function Remote



    Total Price: $1,999.99



    iHome Low-End:



    2.5ghz G5 running stripped down version of OS-X Tiger

    Slot-loading Superdrive for CD/DVD/DL-DVD

    Superdrive burns CD/DVD

    Built in TiVO capabilities with 160GB 5400rpm drive

    Built in Airport Extreme Base Station

    Built-in Memory Card reader for digital-camera hookup

    External ports for HDMI & Component video

    Speaker Outputs for DD5.1 & DTS speaker systems

    ATI Radeon 9600 w/64mb RAM

    Optical & Coaxial Digital Audio Inputs/Outputs for DD5.1/DTS

    On-Screen Programming Guide



    Widgets that appear instantly over the tv screen to:

    \t1) Burn CD/DVD

    \t2) Playback CD/DVD/DL-DVD

    \t3) Playback Streaming AV From Desktop

    \t4) Record & Playback DV from DVR



    Full Function Remote



    Total Price: $999.99
  • Reply 10 of 17
    dcqdcq Posts: 349member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by sunilraman

    mate, you checked out the new iMac g5 updates?



    They are very nice. Apple went farther than I expected. Very nice indeed.



    However, two nagatives:



    a) 20-inch screen max (I was thinking 23 would probably be on the small side for TV and movie watching in the living room)



    b) shiny white plastic (looks nice on a desktop or countertop; not so nice to watch movies on)



    Brialliant updates...just not what I need for this.
  • Reply 11 of 17
    dcqdcq Posts: 349member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by sunilraman

    You have many questions, my young padawan. Patience will reward you both in terms of rapidly dropping prices, an emerging apple strategy, and more vision on HDTV.



    First you must understand HDTV



    School yourself in the difference between

    1280x720p (720p)

    1280x720i (720i)

    1920x1080i (1080i)

    1920x1080p (1080p)



    Then look at your favourite channels and how you get them (cable, satellite, what will they likely be broadcasting in the next few years... 720p, 1080i, 1080p??




    ugh...erg...brain...melting...midichlorians...conf used...



    Quote:

    Second you must understand multi-channel surround sound



    dolby digital 5.1

    dolby digital EX

    dts surround 5.1

    dts ...something or other.. next gen

    7.1 surround sound



    currently only DVDs really support dolby digital 5.1 and dts surround 5.1

    with regard to 7.1, i am too a padawan and learning about this 8 channels of sound




    brain...hemorraging...need...chicken...soup...



    Quote:

    Third you must understand connection jargon

    HDMI -- this is supposed to be digital audio+video signal

    DVI -- this is DVI-I and DVI-D digital video signal

    Component video -- this is good but HDMI and DVI are better in some regards

    SVHS - old, forget about it



    ....more later...







    (sorry if i sound like a wanker, just that i've been thinking along the lines of what you be talking about)




    I think I've got this last part (although I didn't know HDMI included audio; that's cool).



    Is there any good, decent, beginner-type website(s) for newbies like me who get an aneurysm everytime competing-but-similar formats of HDTV and surround sound are mentioned?



    Also, I've heard people mention something about needing a G5 to do something or other with HD. Encode? (why would you need/want to do that?) Decode? (Could it possibly take that much processing power?) Intercode? (That's not a word...but it could be for all I know.)



    I feel like Neo on the surgical table in the Nebuchadnezzar with Morpheus saying "Rest, Neo. The answers are coming." (Sorry to break with the star wars motif there.)
  • Reply 12 of 17
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by DCQ

    .........

    Is there any good, decent, beginner-type website(s) for newbies like me who get an aneurysm everytime competing-but-similar formats of HDTV and surround sound are mentioned?



    Also, I've heard people mention something about needing a G5 to do something or other with HD. Encode? (why would you need/want to do that?) Decode? (Could it possibly take that much processing power?) Intercode? (That's not a word...but it could be for all I know.)



    I feel like Neo on the surgical table in the Nebuchadnezzar with Morpheus saying "Rest, Neo. The answers are coming." (Sorry to break with the star wars motif there.)




    hey, the matrix reference is even better, and says it perfectly. one step at a time. everbody falls on the first jump



    what you must understand, is that the home theater arena is based on rules. some can be bent, others can be broken.



    let's start with why you need a G5. you WILL need a G5 to DECODE 720p HDTV. you WILL need a dual-2ghz-g5 to DECODE 1080p and 1080i HDTV



    next, go to wikipedia and download as much as your brain can handle "hi. i'm Tank. i'll be your operator..."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDTV



    you are right, iMac g5 20" is sweet but won't fit the bill quite yet. hence the "quasi-futuristic HES" we are responding to... the "iHome" doesn't quite yet exist in any real form....
  • Reply 13 of 17
    tkntkn Posts: 224member
    Frankly I would just buy Sonos, add in Quicktime video distribution, a digital audio out and call it a day and pretty much everyone would be happy.
  • Reply 14 of 17
    dcqdcq Posts: 349member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by webavatar

    iHome High-End:



    [snip]







    Interesting. But I don't understand why you would have some of the services only open to the high-end iHomes. Wouldn't it make more sense to just change the hardware to differentiate between high and low systems and let all purchasers buy from those iStores?



    Also, why bother about a "stripped down version of OS X? More investment for Apple to remove stuff? I can see how this makes sense to M$ to pull stunts like this, but they have money to burn (and do...in large quantities).
  • Reply 15 of 17
    dcqdcq Posts: 349member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by sunilraman

    let's start with why you need a G5. you WILL need a G5 to DECODE 720p HDTV. you WILL need a dual-2ghz-g5 to DECODE 1080p and 1080i HDTV









    OK. That makes my little projected mini-based system with a 2.0GHz 970GX moot, doesn't it?



    Since a 970MP probably won't ever find its way into anything other than an ingeniously cooled PMac, we're probably looking at a few years (2-4) down the road before the mini has the processing power of a dual 2.0 GHz G5.



    ...Unless of course video cards start shipping with on-board HDTV decoders. (Do any have them now?) Still, even if that starts to happen, it'll be a while before they're standard on cards cheap enough to throw into a mini.



    Also, thanks for the wiki link sunrailman. I had no idea this HDTV adoption was being mandated by law. Very interesting.



    So in 2 years, the transition is supposed to be legally complete, but won't. Even so, it will probably be much more widespread than now. The power of a mini will be much greater, HD-DVDs and/or BVDs will be the norm, LCD costs will be down even farther... Imagine a 30-inch monster for $1299.



    Spring 2007 looks like convergence time to me.
  • Reply 16 of 17
    rolorolo Posts: 686member
    Fearing the wrath of the thread police, I looked around for some place to post this and found this thread. Hope it's appropriate.



    The unPC



    I'm getting the idea that computers for consumers are pass? and that something else is about to take the place of them. You could say that the Mac mini and the Xbox 360 are examples of the unPC but they're just standard PCs in disguise. What I'm thinking of is more like an appliance that's as easy to use as a phone or TV. PCs and even Macs are too complicated for most people to use effectively. Trash a preference file and type some commands into Terminal? Puh-lease! Run Disk Utility and repair permissions before and after every system update? R U Nutz?



    Computers, or at least this unPC I'm speaking of, should be smart enough to repair themselves, update themselves, and protect themselves. Consumers should simply be able to do what they want without the computer getting in the way.



    Threre are lots of cool things you can do on a Mac and you have a great deal of freedom to work the way you want to in an environment of your choosing. There are loads of annoyances, though, and some obstacles to doing even cooler stuff.



    There's a whopping big hole, a gap, between the computer and the TV. We've been hearing about convergence for years and haven't really seen any of it happen. Years ago, Steve Jobs said we use a Mac to turn our brains on and a TV to turn them off. He seemed to be against the idea of convergence. That was then. Times have changed.



    Imagine a box, sold by Apple, that would essentially be a Mac but imagine that fact that it's a Mac being irrelevant. Imagine a box hooked up to your TV, your stereo, and your Internet service. It has a wireless keyboard and mouse. Imaginary capabilities:



    It comes with an operating system and a suite of software that automatically upgrades itself, self-repairs, self-indexes, and self-protects. You never have to physically add software but can buy add-on software online that self-installs and automatically updates itself.



    With this box connected to the Internet and your home entertainment system, you can:



    ¥ Buy or rent music, store, play on stereo

    ¥ Buy or rent movies, play on TV

    ¥ Burn CDs and DVDs

    ¥ Edit photos and video, print, view, store

    ¥ Surf the Web, email

    ¥ Write letters and do home finances

    ¥ Check the weather, stock market, etc.

    ¥ Access dictionary, encyclopedia

    ¥ Manage contacts, calendars

    ¥ Syncronize phone, PDA, iPod, etc.



    IOW, you can do just about anything you can do on a Mac except this would be a consumer device, simpler to use, and no maintenance needed. You'd be able to forget about the idea of Mac vs. PC or compatibility because all of the necessary apps are included. It's strictly for the home and for the home entertainment system. You'd use a better, higher definition TV with it but a regular TV would work for most functions.



    This imaginary unPC could also be low cost like the Mac mini. Having HDTV playback capability need only add $20 to the cost of the unit and with time and volume, not even that.



    Just a few tweaks to the OS and Apple could have this unPC available for Christmas. Just a thought.
  • Reply 17 of 17
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by DCQ

    ......

    5.1 speakers (brands? wtf is 7.1? and can a mini handle this out of the box?)

    ......




    DCQ - some info for youu



    5.1 means 6 discrete sound channels. the 0.1 is always the "subwoofer" (deep bass) channel.



    5.1 is left, right, center, rear left, rear right, deep-bass.



    7.1 is 8 discrete sound channels, IIRC

    left, right, center, left surround, right surround, rear left surround, rear right surround, deep-bass.



    i think 7.1 is a bit of overkill... but believe it or not my dad had one setup 10 years ago with laserdiscs and dolby pro logic Yamaha amp driving those 8 discrete channels of sound ... but it was analog surround, not dolby digital, dolby digital ex or DTS, or whatever, it was original dolby pro logic spec...



    the Mac mini cannot really handle surround sound out of the box, in the sense that it has no clean digital output but the latest iMac g5s can. they have an optical digital out... you run this pure digital optical signal into something like a logitech Z-5500 that's THX-certified!



    http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/pr...CONTENTID=9486



    sweet



    DTS 24/96 is f8cking awesome on DVDs, better than dolby digital IMO...



    i tried starting off explaining surround sound but i'm just really really jazzed about the iMac g5 supporting digital optical out and this new logitech Z-5500 5.1 thingy...
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