Wow. This is what it's come to. "It hasn't gotten worse! Yayy!"
>It makes almost nothing worse and almost everything better, finally bringing the Mac Mini into the modern age.
So, no, it's not "yayy" because it "hasn't gotten worse", it's "yayy", because "[it makes] almost everything better".
Its OK if you like it. I'm sure lots of people do, but you know damn well significantly more people have had issues with this laptop than normal, so I'm not sure why you're implying otherwise.
The keyboard is by far the worst I've ever used, and I've owned a variety of $200 Wal-Mart black friday laptops and a couple of netbooks, in addition to some high end stuff. I had a friend with an older MBP attempt to show me something using my computer and he could barely type on it without frequent mistakes. Within a minute he was getting frustrated. It just feels terrible. I never thought anything would be worse than typing on a touch-screen but Apple's engineers have accomplished a horrifying miracle. Its like they intentionally tried to design something that's as loud as a mechanical keyboard while still having worse tactile feedback than a $5.00 rubber dome keyboard.
On top of that, its not noticeably faster, after 4.5 years it still maxed out @ 16GB Ram (They fixed this in 2018 but its too late), which is not enough for my use case + it died after 3 months (Not the keyboard, it was a power issue).
This is both the most expensive and the worst computer I've ever owned. The 2013 MBP I'm using now as a loaner while I get my new one fixed is, to quote Steve Jobs "Like getting a glass of ice water in hell." It just works.
I don't hate it, but I wish more of the tools I use took advantage of it.
I think it could be massively improved by shortening it a little on the left to make room for a physical escape key. That's about 95% of my problem with it.
And your post also answers you sibling comment: Ctrl modifier is useful outside of just Emacs.
Try it out. I believe the API changed in the macOS release before Mojave, so they relaunched Karabiner under the name Karabiner Elements. This option is under the "Complex Modifications" tab.
If I was writing a list of tricks for macOS power users to try, this would be my number one. Up there with binding a global show/hide hotkey for iTerm (I use Ctrl-Space, thus CapsLock-Space).
I currently use Karabiner for this as well, but a slightly different configuration.
The two rules I use are:
* R-Cmd + hjkl are arrows (which works great with HHKB but even on native MBP it requires less movement of hand from trackpad or typing hand than the arrow keys)
* Caps solo is Esc while Caps with another key equals Ctrl.
Is there a way to do this in Linux as well? I currently have to use Linux regularly and I rebind Caps to Ctrl however for Vim it isn't ideal. So I'd like to have the same functionality I have with Karabiner on Linux (Xorg / console).
It's not optimal, but I do it because backtick is about the same position as a hardware Escape key. It makes using vim feel ok again.
This option is available from the KE Complex Modifications tab.
Ahh... the good 'ol Scottsman shows his face yet again! Right on time!
Refuting the initial generalization by saying that no "serious" computer users use their Touch Bar because their computers are closed is nearly a textbook example of the fallacy.
I'll compromise. We'll call it the no "serious" computer users fallacy instead of the no serious Scotsman fallacy.
Yup, that's exactly what the HN groupthink would like to believe. What is by definition a small user demographic complains repeatedly/loudly that their problems are the most important, indicative of "everyone", and Apple is doomed because so-and-so bought a Surface Pro/Dell/System76. The hyperbolie is kicked up a notch here, as clearly any $200 Walmart laptop keyboard is better.
As is typical, there's never any data to support the claims and a significant number of counter anecdotes are dismissed absent critical reasoning ("you know damn well...!"). Instead, the echo chamber resonates unabated by logic.
Throw in an out of context Steve quote and you can identify this drivel pretty uniformly. It's usually best to ignore, though at times a response is merited when it's completely off topic and unhelpful (as it is here, the new Mac mini seems awesome regardless of a hater's two year old take on the tbMBP).
I also like the touchbar. The touch-slide volume is a nifty improvement...I use the touchbar for the occasional screengrab...and that's about it. As someone mentioned above, I too would really like a physical Escape key
Just like your comment, this is an anecdotal opinion on the Internet. I didn't read your response and come away with the conclusion that you were attempting to represent it as a peer reviewed white paper, so I'm not sure why you're holding my random Internet comment to the same standard.
My anecdotal evidence is that all of the typical places people go to talk about technology on the Internet(reddit, hacker news, blogs, etc.) seem to have to more complaints about the keyboard on the new MBP than I recall seeing about the old model, which was almost universally hailed as the best laptop on the market.
Included with that anecdotal evidence is my own experience in a company with hundreds of people that use MBPs. There might be other companies where everyone loves them.
It would be really helpful if we could trust Apple to publish accurate, relevant data on the new MBP vs the old one, but they have a history of hiding, denying and/or lying about issues with Apple products.
>The hyperbolie is kicked up a notch here, as clearly any $200 Walmart laptop keyboard is better.
This isn't hyperbole. Its just my opinion and it was presented as such. I've been using computers since the early 90s. I've never used a keyboard that felt worse to me than the MBP. When I say that I don't mean that its one of the worst keyboards I've ever used, I mean that its THE worst keyboard that I have ever used, which is obviously just my opinion.
>Throw in an out of context Steve quote and you can identify this drivel pretty uniformly
This isn't a case where reusing a quote is changing the context of what he meant. I wasn't saying that Steve Jobs agrees with my opinion of the new MBP. This should be pretty obvious. The original context was that Steve Jobs felt one product was so superior to another one that getting the former was like getting a glass of ice water in hell. Its a perfectly relevant quote used in the same way that he did. I just happen to be comparing different products.
>It's usually best to ignore, though at times a response is merited when it's completely off topic and unhelpful (as it is here, the new Mac mini seems awesome regardless of a hater's two year old take on the tbMBP).
1. Its perfectly on-topic to discuss the quality of Apple products in a post about an Apple product. The reputation of their products is pretty valid when people are discussing whether to buy a newer product.
2. I didn't bring up the MBP, someone else did and I responded.
3. Not liking a single Apple product doesn't make me a "hater". I loved my 2013 MBP, I loved all of my iPhones/iPads, and I love MacOS. Apple released a product that I have an issue with. Lots of other people are having the same issue. I'm not sure why you have to react to that like a personal attack.
There's this phenomenon where if lots of people have an issue with something and then a random person buys the product and has a good experience, that person decides to dismiss everyone that has had an issue, pretend its impossible the issue existed, and then act like there must be something wrong with the people that had the issue. I don't really understand that because with any product that sells thousands or millions, its typical for some people to have issues even if most like it. In this case, it just happens to be a product where a slightly larger percentage than normal is having an issue.
The touchbar is so much less functional than the keys it replaces. Some key combinations now require serious acrobatics, and you can’t touch type as easily.
We’re not buying any more macs until it improves.
What kind of work do you / your teammates do? I walked into an Apple store last week prepared to hate the keyboards and touch bars, but was very pleasantly surprised. My ladyfriend wanted to see the Air, but was so taken with the Touch Bar for photo work that she will be buying an MBP instead. While it might not be everyones cup of tea, I think Apple may have figured is demographics correctly on this one.
It could be better - it could require a bit more of pressure to press buttons and could have haptic feedback like the touchpad, but I bet someone is working on that, even if it means extending haptic feedback to the whole chassis (which is not a bad idea anyway).
I don't like the touchbar, I don't like the new keyboard, and I don't like the new ports.
I think there is something wrong if, now two years later, there are still people like me who not only don't see a clear benefit to upgrading, but see it as a net-negative.
Ideally, there should be nearly no one (if anyone) who prefers the previous iteration.
Performance is better across the board (6-core i9 vs 4-core i7, 32GB vs 16GB, faster SSD). It has a larger, pressure-sensitive track pad. The display is better.
I have a slight preference for the old keyboard, but I don't dislike the new one. I could take or leave the TouchBar. I was never a big user of the F keys and IntelliJ, where I spend a lot of my time, has good TouchBar support. I like having Touch ID. I'd prefer to have a real escape key, but the button is still in the same place so I haven't had to retrain my fingers to hit it.
USB-C with a Thunderbolt 3 hub is marginally more convenient than a Thunderbolt 2 hub plus a MagSafe power cord. I do miss MagSafe though.
If drcongo doesn't mean to speak for "Anyone who owns a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar", drcongo should refrain from using those exact words. And you should probably refrain from speaking for drcongo.
It's interesting that you chose the term "sweeping generalization". It almost always carries a negative connotation. In fact, it's considered to be a logical fallacy (see https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFalla...).
> I find it really annoying when someone says something like "everyone likes cats!" and then someone, inevitably, will hop in and reply with "ACTUALLY, I hate cats."
I'm sorry I annoyed you. I find it annoying when someone speaks for me and gets my opinion wrong.
edit: Is it really "inevitable" though? It happens every single time? (just kidding)
> This isn't a mathematics proof.
No, but communicating clearly and honestly is important, even in casual conversations.
Got a new one from my new job, keyboard stuck.
My brother bought a new one, keyboard stuck.
Reality: Apple product breaks sales records.
This is the thing - narrow single issue analysis that doesn't even acknowledge that other factors of consideration even exist, inevitably will result in conclusions with very limited applicability.
But the sides of the function keys are the escape and power keys, so the row itself couldn't go away
I wish the Touch Bar was farther offset, 50-100% taller for a better display area, and that the escape and touch id/power buttons were distinct. I also wish there was a standard way for applications to advertise functions for it (I have some really useful tools that are third party, such as mic mute).
Keeping it optional indefinitely, then, defeats this goal.
I don't see how this thing is practical across the entire Mac line.
I only estimated that they were going for 100% laptop coverage. But I can imagine a future where Apple keyboards have a touch bar option. Though not as important because Macbook touch bar penetration can drive developers to integrate with it, alone.
At which point it's not much different than gestures when it comes to answering your questions. What happens when you use a Logitech mouse on your macOS desktop instead of a Magic Trackpad?
Note that touch bar integration cannot have unique features, so it's never required. The challenge is to get developers to care about it which is the prerequisite for users to care about it.
1. Widespread touchbar adoption
2. Increased sales of Apple keyboards
Actually, I do: They'll raise the price of the cheapest iMac configuration and include the keyboard in the box. After seeing the starting Mac Mini prices, it makes total sense.
Having seen teardowns of a MacBook, I'm pretty sure that one without a touchbar would be more-or-less a completely different computer - different keyboard, yes. To accomplish that, though, you'd need to also make a different housing to accommodate it, and a different motherboard, too, because this stuff's all soldered together as a single unit these days.
And for all that, people would still be griping about the keyboard and the monoport.
They ignored those for the 2018 MBP refresh, probably because the new Macbook Air was coming. I'd bet on the full keyboard MBP getting discontinued now that it's out, or best case having the 2017 hang around while the touchbar models continue to see updates.
The Escape has higher powered CPUs than the Air or MacBook, but I don't think anyone is buying from those three based on horsepower.
I'll be getting a 2018 Mac Mini once they're available for order here, so this machine will see much less use then, just basically if I need to be able to do something while travelling (which isn't that frequent).
How else would you bind ESC?
However, while users are mostly just faced with perhaps-hard choices about how to remap the given keys, the keyboard manufacturer and integrator Apple had many other options. Caps Lock is currently 2U wide on both ISO and ANSI layouts https://i.ytimg.com/vi/3tJagPz-xIw/maxresdefault.jpg , so it could fairly comfortably be split into a 1U Esc and Caps Lock. You could even give Escape the outside position: that's not a big reach, just the mirror-image of the ISO English # key and more convenient than Esc's existing position in both ANSI and ISO, and there's an arguable case for not putting Esc on too much of a hair-trigger position near the home row anyway. Alternatively you could carve a 1U key out from the right of the right Shift, which is pretty uselessly overlong on both ISO and ANSI.
There is nothing wasteful about it when you've been trained that way.
I'm hoping it will be good for 3 more years.
Granted, that's not all of it. He is celebrating that it's gotten better, but he is also specifically celebrating that it hasn't lost many advantages.
Craftily hidden in a footnote for that paragraph.
Similarly with audio... I don't know if this is true with Macs too, but on PC laptops I've often found the mic quality sucks or has interference, and I started using USB inputs.
edit: I'd be curious to see what people are using optical for today (I'm under the impression audio pros mainly use USB interfaces as well)
I have an external DAC/amp, and I had been using optical until I recently upgraded my workstation. Now I am using USB, because the new motherboard doesn't have optical; I assumed USB would be fine, so the lack of optical wasn't something I considered with the purchase.
Unfortunately there's an awful amount of hiss with USB on this DAC. I'm not knowledgeable enough to pinpoint what's causing it, but standard remedies I've found (eliminate ground loop, try ferrite cores, get a usb filter) have not made a difference. It could be the USB interface on the DAC side, I have no idea.
While I don't _need_ an external DAC, I like using one for a few reasons: mine has a low output impedance which is good for some headphones, a convenient switch to toggle between headphone and speaker output, and a big volume knob with really smooth action. I like it. The alternative is to use the motherboard's ports; this motherboard does jack sensing such that the rear line out gets disabled if something is plugged into the front, so switching between headphones and speakers involves plugging/unplugging the headphones all the time. I also don't like adjusting volume through a tray applet.
Optical digital means perfect isolation from the ground plane of the computer. It's that simple. The DAC can do whatever it needs to manage its own noise levels, but you're pretty much guaranteed a huge difference from entirely decoupling the DAC from the computer's ground plane. That electrical interference can do a surprisingly enormous amount of damage to the analog circuitry of the cheap DAC, which itself is probably not very resilient at rejecting any sort of electrical interference.
So it's the DACs fault, but maybe it's fair to say that it's harder to make a good DAC when USB is how the data is being delivered. I'm sure a high end USB DAC doesn't have this issue, but I'm pretty impressed with my cheap offbrand optical DAC that was $11. I'm guessing I would not be so impressed with the $11 USB version.
Optical has the benefit of always being electrically isolated.
You'd be converting from USB to optical, at which point you'd break the ground connection which would be where your hiss is coming from (assuming it's still noiseless when still being used with optical). Then, your concern would be jitter and whether the added conversion is adding lots of jitter to the equation. Your DAC might (or might not) be good at rejecting jitter noise. I've got a Lavry DA10 that's exceptionally good at rejecting jitter (in crystal mode), but that's mastering grade and maybe overkill for you.
It wouldn't add literal noise, but it's also possible for the USB connection to be more jittery than a different computer making the optical connection. That's partly hardware and partly software design (controlling how the data stream is buffered, and associated things that might slightly modulate the audio data clocking). So a change in computer feeding the DAC could also substantially affect the 'sound' of the DAC, as well as the noise issue you observed.
This isn't a huge issue for me, it's just an example of where I'd prefer to use optical. If it ends up bothering me such that I need to fix something, I'll 'fix' the motherboard.
If you used optical before, it can be reasonable to use USB->optical. A lot of USB audio interfaces already have this. I'm not making use of it, but the USB interface I have on my Mini has an optical out.
And it works great over ARC! The TV remote's volume buttons get passed through automatically, and it turns itself off and on along with the TV. I don't even know where the soundbar's own remote is anymore.
Also, I've had compatibility problems with HDMI between my old Mac Mini and my receiver. I don't know how to troubleshoot those sorts of issues. I do know that optical audio always works perfectly with every device I've ever used it with, though.
It doesn't matter that I have my audio preference set to "prefer external audio" because the effing thing decides to switch back and forth between 2 and 30 times on startup, and maybe 80% of the time it settles (properly) on the receiver, and 20% of the time it tries to use the TV speakers, which are off, and of that 20% of the time, at least half of the time I HAVE to power everything down and start all over again. The other half of the time I can go through the menu with the slow-ass on-screen menu, and manually toggle back to receiver.
I just want an effing option that says "never in hell try to use the fucking TV speakers, for the love of god".
I send HDMI to my TV which sends optical to my sound system, and it still works pretty well. Earlier this year I bought a nice sound system with a receiver for the reasons you mentioned, but it added extra lag to my video games, so I returned it. My current sound system also supports ARC but it causes most of the same problems. Decoding those fancy codecs creates lag on every system I've tried, so sticking to LPCM over optical seems to be the only way to enjoy games still.
Isn't that what it was before ? I swear I had previous mac minis with a combo port like that ... why would they not continue that ?
edit: apparently Apple TV doesn't have optical audio either.
This is just a standard annoying thing with Apple though. Their designs are very 'forward looking' in that they don't consider what potential customers already have so much as they do what their own future peripherals are going to need.
Anecdotally: I do have a Mac mini with my receiver, which I replaced this year. But the new receiver not only has USB input, it has wifi and built-in clients for Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, TuneIn, Roon, whatever protocol Windows uses for media sharing whose name I'm utterly blanking on right now, and a dozen or so other services, with Apple Airplay 2 theoretically coming in an update.
Marco made a few million when Tumblr was sold, has a profitable podcast app and is on either the most popular or second most popular Apple related podcast.
I doubt that he’s hurting so much for money that he has to lie to get a loaner Mac Mini.
> I Can’t Believe The Mac Mini Is This Awesome, I Can’t Even Say “Again” Because It Never Was
Sounds like his conclusion is that it's better than it used to be.
If SSD could be upgraded buying a i5/i7 would have offered amazing upgrade paths down the road. This machine misses the mark IMHO but not by much.
Having said that, I’m still going to get one with 512gb ssd, because I just want everything neatly in one box.
Everything I read said to get the 2012 model, not the 2014 one, which was slower, less memory, less everything - way worse. So the last one before this new one definitely did get a lot worse.
I'm now wondering if VCV Rack is sufficiently multicore that it will perform better on more expensive Mac boxes, or whether this little thing has now set the bar for ability to run demanding modular synth software live. That would be really convenient.
Building a PC mothership is certainly cool as hell and I'm not knocking it, but there's something to be said for 'this is my live performance rig, it's stable as a rock and it fits in my pocket. And it's cheap enough that if I'm headlining Coachella with my modular jams, I'll buy a second one and clone it so I have a backup, there onstage ready to be plugged in if there's a problem'.
I'm with Marco on this one. Looks nice. I know what I'm getting with a Mac of this type, and this definitely looks nice to me.
(Assuming you use a typical USB A audio interface rather than something more exotic)
FWIW, I also do electronic music, though just as a hobby.
The only real competition I see for the Mac Mini is the little computers from System76. But they're about the same price.
Are the USB C ports Thunderbolt?
That means that instead of hopelessly compromising thermals and power supply with some power hungry, yet limited GPU (because of the small form factor) you simply buy the CPU and memory that you need. It simplifies the job of keeping it cool.
CPUs are evolving a lot slower these days. This one should last you many years before it becomes a problem. Having upgradeable memory all the way to 64GB means that too is not going to be a problem any time soon. It means that a mac mini should have a serviceable life of 3-5 years or more if you are less of a power user.
Additionally, you plugin an eGPU of your choice and additional storage via USB-C. Better, when improved eGPUs become available, you can sell your old one and buy a new one without having to tear the machine apart. They also don't overtax and compromise your power supply or cooling.
I currently have an imac 5K that is nearly 5 years old now. I maxed it out at the time with all the bells and whistles and it has served me well. So, money well spent despite the shocking price initially.
I'd totally consider spending 3-4K on a setup with a mac mini, decent eGPU + monitor, and external ssd storage (I actually have a Samsung 2TB T5 already). The new imac pro would cost more and deliver less value. What I like about this setup is that it is completely modular and I can replace individual components without having to worry breaking the other components.
I imagine the mac pro next year will also emphasize expansion and upgrades through USB-C rather than internals. Basically the old model without dedicated GPU and upgradable Xeon CPUs + Memory would be exactly the right product right now. Egpus can be replaced easily and with a solid base configuration, a pro machine should have a long productive life.
They do. It's called an iMac and comes free with an excellent monitor.
Now, seriously, unless you plan to do a lot of GPU computing (I don't) the internal Intel graphics are pretty reasonable. I can't see how a 64 gig mini would not be able to be my main machine for 5 years or more. With an updated SSD, my previous mini is a pretty good general purpose computer.
Besides, with Apple you are paying a premium for a dedicated GPU in a macbook, which makes the price of an external eGPU less of an issue. Because if the choice becomes paying 500 euro extra for a mac mini with a last generation laptop grade GPU or spending the same on a eGPU with modest specs (or a bit more on something fancier), that's a lot easier to defend. Especially if you can swap it out once every other year for a new one.
I'm guessing that with the mac pro they may offer some options for a dedicated, non upgradable GPU as well as eGPU options. Most professionals would probably prefer investing in the latter because it provides them performance without much compromise and an easy way to upgrade. E.g. I'm still waiting for Apple to make a move with AR/VR, which they sort of support but which they don't really actively promote currently.
Anyway, the mac mini is not necessarily that interesting for people looking for cheap options. The start configurations are nice if you don't need much but most more serious users are going to want bigger ssds, more cpu, and more memory. That creeps into the mac pro use case already. I'm guessing that in terms of price segment this thing is designed to fill the gap with the mac pro, which will likely have a starting price of around 5K, just like the last one.
I long for a return to the Powermac G5 'basic tower' form factor.
An ITX format video card (~7") should fit into MacMini-sized case (7.7"), not sure about PSU and heat dissipation though.
Also, one nice thing about this eGPU is that it has two Thunderbolt ports, so you can plug a Thunderbolt display like the LG UltraFine 5K directly into it.
It… didn't occur to me that I might be thinking about running such a rig off a Mac Mini. But then it didn't occur to me that a Mac Mini would come out and be in some conditions faster than any other Mac currently made. Interesting times…
I've been very happy with it overall. I have a 4k 28inch monitor and a 30 inch Cinema Display plugged into the GPU, and the eGPU enclosure has a sata port + ethernet port. There are some gotchas, eGPU.io is a great resource.
Also, bootcamp with windows 10 works with my eGPU, but required some work. If you want more info, let me know.
There are actually plenty of nice looking small form factor PC cases that can house a full GPU
I'd actually say this is one area of the custom PC market that's well served by nice design.
- be possible (while SFF devices like Hades Canyon et al. with e.g. Kaby Lake-G manage to do just fine without breaking thermals and noise)
- still be immensely useful for many/at least better than current integrated Intel (which is a significant step backwards with the dropping of Iris)
b) You assume to have USB-C/TB3 instead, when there's no argument against having both.
And for anyone really not needing it and arguing about the unneccessary cost - just restrict it to the more expensive SKU, done.
The NUC8 with comparable specs (sans 6 core CPU) comes at under half the price! If you needed the 6 cores sure but given most workloads other than encoding don't - it's questionable. Even then the 6C processor doesn't cost enough to make up for the difference.
I was astonished, actually; I had assumed Windows would be better than macOS as a TV computer, other than integration with Apple services (Apple Music, my kids photos as screensaver).
Nothing could be further from the truth. It's a shitshow. 100% of Windows media players are garbage (VLC included, and there is no Movist). They can't play high-bitrate video without stuttering (on way better hardware), they show some ungodly mishmash of scaled UI and tiny unreadable UI on a 4K TV, for each player you install (about 10, so far, for me) you have to google for an hour to make sure they aren't malware (and of course almost all of them nominally are, trying to install all sorts of insane adware shit during the install phase, although that is par for the course on Windows)...
It's been 2 months and I saw the new Mac Mini and despite the 200%+ markup on storage I couldn't help but think Hmmm....
My TV also has at its disposal Xbox (OK but not great), PS4 (pretty shit), iOS (Apple TV, pretty shit), and Nintendo Switch (has no TV computer features at all, basically).
So what OSes are you talking about? Linux?? Android?
I use an Apple TV 4K. For non-netflix/hulu/primevideo stuff, it streams off a Synology NAS (using Plex or VLC for Apple TV)
edit: it's funny how your experience pretty much mirrors mine almost 10 years ago. A Mac guy outfitting a machine for a home media center. I was used to Mac media stuff always being behind on codec support and performance so I bought some HP PC. It never worked right, always had to mess around with audio outputs (HDMI audio output worked maybe once) and codec stuff kept breaking since either Windows or the Nvidia drivers hated trying to do hardware acceleration and you just got a green screen. We mostly ended up plugging in our MacBooks...
For some reason Plex wouldn't see half of my video library. I eventually tracked it down to Plex not liking the filenames of certain TV shows.
My TV shows are named Show Name - Episode Name.
Plex wanted them to be ShowName.s0x.e0x.
I'm not going to go through and rename all of my files. Plex should just work from the metadata like iTunes does. That's what metadata is for.
A lot of people were super annoyed coming from WinAmp. They organized their library by filename and the metadata was often a mess. They also wanted to treat iPods as USB drive and drop files on there.
Plex is even different in that it only looks at the filename and pulls metadata from the Internet.
Nope. Had no idea. And no idea why I should, since iTunes has no problem with it. I'm not going to spend six hours sorting 4GB of files because Plex can't read metadata that iTunes can.
We're running the Plex app on an AppleTV (4th gen, not 4K), and it all works really well. The only issue is that it loses connection to the server maybe once every month or two, but I think that's related to my really crappy modem.
edit: Plex server is running on the 2012 Mac mini "Server" edition. Quad-core, baby!
For me, using Plex is an utter and complete nightmare. Anything with transcoding and library reindexing is a no-go. I've tried to be happy with it at least 6 times, and each try was an unmitigated disaster. I just want a thing to play files from storage.
The absolute best setup I've found is Infuse (https://firecore.com/infuse) with Plex as the backend. Infuse will ALWAYS request the raw video/audio stream and does all the decoding on the Apple TV, so your Plex machine can be very modest (it's never transcoding, after all).
You can also forego Plex and just have Infuse index all the content, but I've found that it's nice to have a single Plex backend that can be shared amongst multiple Apple TVs, iPads, etc.
Transcoding is obviously a last resort, but I've used it on rare occasions for streaming live and recorded TV from home to the Plex app on my iPhone and it works reasonably well. For my home theater stuff I absolutely don't want any transcoding at all, and Plex is generally smart enough to figure out what formats my playback device is able to decode on its own. When I first got a Chromecast Ultra, I had to fiddle with some XML config files in Plex because Plex was only aware of the non-4k Chromecast and thus would try to transcode 4k content, but I believe that Plex resolved that issue fairly quickly.
I've also tried running Plex server on my Win7 HTPC with the volume mounted over CIFS, but I had various issues with that; for one, having to reindex the volume means I have to either wait 15 minutes to watch something I just procured, or manually login and force a refresh which is annoying when I just want to browse files. It's been awhile, but I have tried a number of approaches (including Plex server on OS X) and none of them were satisfactory. Furthermore, I could never figure out why any of it was preferable to simply having a media player read files from a network store and play them. I don't care about "album art" type stuff; I don't download/store/play hollywood movies or music, so those features would be irrelevant even if I cared about them in general.
The one nice thing about Plex is I now have a few friends sharing their libraries with me over the internet. It's a cool feature, but I'm only using it from the client side, and I typically forget to even consult their libraries before paying to rent content.
As for Plex wanting to transcode things, I mentioned having some issues with my Chromecast Ultra, but even that wasn't too bad. There should definitely be an option to not transcode video at all and let my playback device tell me that if it really can't decode the file. As far as I could tell, that option doesn't exist.
I haven't had any issues with library refreshing with Plex on my iMac and movies shared over SMB from my Linux file server. Plex seems to watch the shares and do small incremental refreshes for new content very quickly.
> I don't care about "album art" type stuff; I don't download/store/play hollywood movies or music, so those features would be irrelevant even if I cared about them in general.
That's definitely valid. Wouldn't basically any playback device that supports DLNA (and can decode your files) work fine for that? For me, the library features are pretty important. I had done a lot of work getting Kodi on my Raspberry Pi setup how I liked it, then I switched to Plex which is just as good or better but with a lot less work and maintenance.
My main criteria is being able to use everything from the couch, using a single remote, and no keyboards. I was close to that with the SageTV boxes, but Google bought SageTV and it started becoming obsolete, and there was never really a good Netflix integration anyway.
I find the trouble with all PC-based stuff is switching between things and inconsistency between apps. Netflix on PC doesn't have a good way to do keyboard-based control, so remotes don't work well -- you pretty much need a mouse-style pointer. Plex works GREAT but the keyboard works differently than it does when you're using YouTube, and there's not a great way to switch. There's also all kinds of dumb problems getting multi-channel audio working with Netflix since they require some type of certified system or something.
A couple years ago I gave up on PCs and bought an Nvidia Shield, and it's basically the perfect device for me. AndroidTV is a great launcher, it supports everything I use (Plex, Netflix, Youtube, Weather, Baby cam monitor) and everything works with a single remote (I use a Logitech Harmony to control it + the TV + audio). No compatibility, rights or audio issues. And bonus: it is a Google Cast device, and also works with an OTA tuner (Silicondust HDHomerun -- though I never actually use that anymore). My TV never changes inputs: it's basically just a dumb display for the Shield, which now does 100% of content playback in my house.
It costs maybe a bit more than a nice MiniITX HTPC build, but just works (whereas an HTPC will take hours of time to get it working semi-properly).
Man I was pissed when Google bought and killed SageTV. It was probably the best DVR out there. Flexible in all the ways you'd want it to be. High Wife Approval Factor (MythTV was a disaster)
I guess they open sourced it a few years ago, but our family has moved on to just renting comcasts DVR. It's actually not that bad.
... That being said, the way we consume media has changed considerably since the days of SageTV. Youtube has almost completely taken over my TV watching time.
I did spend some time trying to get the SageTV backend working with Plex, but scheduling required an awkward web app (not wife friendly) and I could never get it naming everything in a way that made it easy to navigate with Plex. Around this time, my cable company also turned off their unencrypted QAM channels so I could no longer tune them, and that was really the nail in the coffin for me. I don't pick up enough OTA channels to make it worthwhile.
When Plex released their PVR thing, since I had the gear I set it up, but honestly, I just never watch it.
Although recently I’ve been using my Apple TV more, I like the interface better. Still use the shield for anything I want in proper 4K with original audio.
You assumed correctly circa ten years ago. Unfortunately the best solution bar none was killed by Microsoft: Windows Media Center Edition. It had a killer ten foot interface and actually supported CableCard digital TV tuners. I can only assume it wasn't a big revenue maker and that the support calls were pretty high. Not to mention it never had more than lukewarm reception from cable companies which didn't appreciate the competition for set top tuner boxes.
These days if you really want to roll your own you can buy an HD Home Run  and let it stream to you. It doesn't install any malware but I haven't seen the UI so no clue if it's beautiful or absolute crap. Since it can stream via DLNA that probably depends on the device you stream to as much as anything. I punted and used Youtube TV which I'm about to cancel since hurricane season is over. Like the old song says "500 channels and nothing's on."
All of the video files reside on a local windows machine and a cheap storage VPS on the cloud(located in NL). Both of the machines run plex server and auto transcode all content to an MP4 container ( HEVC for 4k content ). I force plex on the xbox to direct play all content and it usually works pretty well.
Eh? I use VLC and Media Player Classic HD on a few different machines, including a rather old i5 that only had spinning disks, and I've never had any issue with high bitrate video.
I wonder if it's something specific to your setup?
Will give it a shot.
Downside is... 99% of raspberry pi cases are really ugly :(
Personally, I switch to an Intel NUC with a fanless akasa case, and aside from the occasional Lodi crash it works relatively well.
Am I the only one though that uses the Pi with a (Synology) NAS with MySQL (MariaDB) to store the Kodi data, and my NAS (NFS) for the content? you can pick up where you left off from your Pi, to your laptop, or Phone.
I know...it's like Plex in architecture.
As for the remote, CEC will let you control Kodi from your TV's remote. Or if you have seperate audio, like a soundbar or AV receiver, a harmony remote will do.
- Amazon FireTV remote (connects via Bluetooth)
- Logitech F710 (if you also run RetroPie, connects via USB)
https://retropie.org.uk/ is a great emulation system for several vintage consoles (80's-early 2000's).
I like the flexibility of having them separate (upgrade separately, keep in separate rooms, etc), and having a unified “10 foot” UI I can control with a remote to access Plex, Netflix, etc.
You could easily get a 2 or 4 bay NAS + HDDs + Shield/Roku/AppleTV for less than the $800 base price of the new Mac Mini. Unless there’s a reason you need Mac OS I wouldn’t get the Mac Mini.
If you’ve already got the Dell I’d consider just using it as a server and getting a Nvidia Shield as the client.
I'm not sure if Linux would make for a play-for-play better home theatre OS than MacOS, but it would certainly be both better than Windows, and better value than a Mac.
A dedicated 10-foot UI would maybe work better, but as a low-cost low-effort solution, this works great. I got the PC for free (somebody was throwing it out at work) and the keyboard plus a DP to HDMI cable was $35 total. It plays 1080p x265 just fine.
"Get peace of mind knowing your files are backed up securely
in the cloud. Backup your Mac or PC just $5/month."
And use their GUI program on MacOS and sync that remote NAS storage folder.
Can vlc scrape Metadata and download art? Can I browse my catalog through vlc? Does it work with my remote? How hard is it to get to the next episode when watching a season?
Vlc is great, but it's just a player.
> Can I browse my catalog through vlc?
> Does it work with my remote?
if you got a remote that connects to your pc, yes.
there are quite a few of these around, especially if you buy a microserver or similar.
> How hard is it to get to the next episode when watching a season?
pretty easy.. actually, its imo way easier than anywhere else, as you can always use a wireless keyboard/mouse and just jump around
VLC can even cast to a chromecast device and serve its content to TVs if you want that
most of that needs to be enabled through the settings though.
You might want to take a look at Daum Pot Player.
I can't bear to use VLC anymore. It is just that much better.
I haven't tried it for your use case though.
To reiterate what I said elsewhere, this Mac Mini is meant to be a desktop, not a media device (or some sort of perverse NAS). It's being pushed into the home theater niche by people who probably have a big trashcan Mac Pro at their desk and try to justify this lesser device. But it's an extremely competent legitimate PC for most people.
I maintain that if LG or Sony offered a “Pro” version of their OLED that had no apps whatsoever and no internet connectivity I would pay a premium.
Smart TVs and Roku boxes simply cannot be trusted. I have a brand new, relatively expensive Sony smart TV and while its Android TV support is more than adequate I don’t use it at all and keep it off the internet at all times. Instead, I use an Apple TV 4K.
Which is what I'd do but unfortunately Google insists on using it's own video codec for 4k instead of H.265. Meaning your 4k AppleTV can't play YouTube videos at 4K. My smarttv can though... We use AppleTV for everything else.
Media PCs never stopped working, and they're still better at some things. They're just less "convenient" in some ways, and requires more investment, both in time and money, which is why some people switched to streaming boxes or simply using their TV's software.
The sad thing is: This has reversed. I gave up trying to Netflix and Amazon Video from my HTPC. The former at least has an app and now even supports all formats (Dolby Vision 4k, Atmos), but the controls are terrible for a remote.
The latter doesn't even have an app, and all you get is HD+Stereo.
And don't get me started on Blu-Ray.
An iPad can’t though. And NAS’s don’t generally support transcoding.
A DLNA compatible media server can stream content to any device on the network.
Nope. Unmitigated disaster. Same thing, navigating endless spy/mal/adware laden sites to download CCCP codec packages and plug things together, every time I installed one thing I found another thing that didn't work right. I have some weird Jockersoft thing to force some other application to keep running and restart if it fails, and even though I no longer use whatever that thing was, I can't uninstall the goddamned jockersoft thing to save my life.
Windows Media Center itself was actually a joy, though, I really enjoyed how well it worked for the things it could do out of the box which were far fewer than I had been led to believe.
I also realized that a decade+ of using OS X had left me unprepared to navigate the latest online threats in the world of not-entirely-legitimate download sites for Windows utilities. It got really bad while I was away.
Two monitors. Monitors that are exactly what I want.
Finally considering upgrading as it has been a while.
The low power consumption of the thing is one thing that always just blows me away. No noise, at all. My UPS seems to last forever when the power does go out.
And I say that as someone that happily switched from a Mac to a PC I built a few years ago - I like getting the maximum grunt for my money.
That CPU power comes in handy for most of the mini’s use cases, transcoding for home theater / nas, or build times for build server.
I'm actually very interested in these - could you point me at some? I've been interested in getting a NUC8 machine, but the cheapest I can find one for (granted, in the UK) is £750 before RAM & SSD... and I have been seriously considering the new Mac Mini as a result because the final price doesn't seem like it'll be much different.
edit: found some on SimplyNUC.co.uk starting at £650 (inc VAT), 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD, awesome! https://simplynuc.co.uk/8i7beh-full/
I tested the original case, and it was fairly noisy, like a busy laptop. I don't recommend it.
You may find it slightly cheaper if you install the RAM and SSD yourself. This would be easy with the normal case. Installing the silent case was more tricky, since it requires using thermal paste to connect the case to the CPU.
Same 8GB/128 GB, but probably lower CPU for £307:
There are many different configurations on Amazon/Ebay
But yes, the decked-out i7 Mac Mini is really expensive! As noted elsewhere in the comments (and in the article), a big chunk of that cost is in Apple's 1TB SSD pricing - ticking that option adds $800 over the 128GB SSD for some reason.
A quick glance at Amazon (US) says that a 7i5 NUC with 8GB of RAM and a 250GB SSD is $540.
- Home theater -> iTunes movies play
- NAS -> iCloud clone with eventualy automation running
- Backup -> iCloud / Dropbox / Google Drive backup
- bonus: siri, xcode builds, local+ third party remote iOS backup
I have a raspberry pi setup handling the above for Google + dropbox. The day I want to switch to an Apple centric system I’d move to the Mac mini in a heartbeat.
I dont' know about "most", but pros who want quiet, small and fast (read: musician, audio engineers) will be all over this Mini.
It's looking very much like all that can be done just as well off the back of this tiny computer that's less than $1000. I was expecting the computer side to have to be more than $2000 to properly handle the fancy outboard. What with the Mini doing certain single-core processing tasks faster than ANY other Mac, and even having some RAM upgradeability (?!?) there is no question that it'd be able to work with the gear I mean.
I don't need my host computer to be a quarter the cost of all the outboard gear that plugs into it. It'll be roughly the same cost as each of the pieces of outboard gear. That doesn't seem too expensive at all.