My multifunctional Mac Mini

The upside of coming home early from New York was that I was able to get over to FedEx and pick up the miracle box that is Mac Mini. After just a day, Mini has weaved its way nicely into the PC/Entertainment mix at The Wisdom Household:

• Mini plugged right in to the DVI input of our HDTV (at full HD res, thank you very much), giving us a 44″ Apple-quality monitor. I loaded up the wife”s pictures from New York into iPhoto, which run as fabulous screen-saver images. Surfing the web at 44″ is also interesting.

• I got an Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and Apple Bluetooth Mouse, which both work flawlessly. After all, you don”t want to have to sit within wired mouse distance from that 44″ screen.

• I also set Mini up with a VNC client, so I can work on it through our laptop without having to use the TV as a monitor when the wife wants to watch Faking It.

• Mini is now hosting the iTunes library and syncing with my iPod (which is now formatted for Mac). Our 250GB external hard drive now lives behind Mini through USB and holds the iTunes files.

• Mini is outputting stereo audio (from a headphone to RCA adapter) to our A/V receiver, so iTunes is also now a home stereo jukebox. If I had a component CD player, I”d be throwing it out today.

• Mini is a high-quality DVD player, but I don”t expect to be using it to play regular commercial DVDs because it doesn”t output digital sound. Our regular progressive scan DVD player will still handle NetFlix duties.

• Mini would do a fine job of editing video and burning to DVD through iDVD if we had a video camera and/or things we wanted to shoot video of. But having HD capabilities in iMovie is a good excuse to buy this, isn”t it?

• Mini, as I suspected/feared, functions quite nicely as a wireless network bridge (all you have to do is ask it to be one!), and I came dangerously close to getting the PlayStation 2 online through it last night. But the intricacies of routing a connection to Sony from the PS2, through the Mini, through the router and through the DSL modem are yet to be resolved. I”ve been able to get a laptop online through it, but not yet the PS2. It”s complicated. And that may be a good thing.

Apart from getting the PS2 to work right (not Mini”s fault, by the way), I only have a few network-related tasks to complete in order to bring Mini fully into the fold.

My plan is to have Mini serve digital content (i.e. Bittorrented audio/video files), but have the PCs upstairs (the new Dell and the old clone – both controlled remotely now using TightVNC) fetch the content. So getting the PCs to dump files somewhere (ideally the 250GB drive) Mini can find them is key.

All in all, Mini ramped up into position quite nicely. It”s amazing how easily Macs can fold in to an existing PC network, how nicely they talk to wireless devices and how well they ride the line between computer and home entertainment.

And I”m only on Day 2.

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