More than a few people are looking at the Mac mini as a new component in their home entertainment center. CDs are unknown in our house, where iTunes and an old iMac entirely replaced our five disc changer some time ago. Correction: CDs are used as an input medium. New CDs are ripped into iTunes on their first play, then left to gather dust on the shelf.
Video seems ripe for a similar shift, and to many, the mini looks like the perfect platform for it. What’s lacking is a video jukebox software solution that can be operated entirely via some of the remotes now available (though a Salling Clicker-based solution might also be reasonable).
But it’s also reasonable to look beyond the mini. El Gato, for one, released the eyeHome digital media player about a year ago. The player connects to your home network and plays video, music and pictures from the other Macs in your house. Their solution is a lot less expensive than a mini, and includes a remote and good looking interface. They also appear to be working on eyeConnect, a software package that allows you to buy your own UPnP AV compatible network media player and stream content from your Mac (even if the media player manufacturer doesn’t support Macs well).
Then there’s LaCie’s silverscreen, a USB hard drive with video and audio outputs. Why AV out? Because the drive can play content from disc without being attached to a computer. The downside seems to be that it can’t play conent directly from the computer (can anybody confirm?). It includes a remote, but LaCie doesn’t give any screenshots of the interface or many details about compatible files and formats.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want a mini, but I wonder if the eyeHome, or a similar device might do a better job for less scratch.