Okay, I’ve really been going back and forth on this one and I’m not sure what to do. Let me throw out all the variables and maybe you can help me decide where I want to go from here.
About 6 weeks ago I bought a new 42 inch LCD TV. I got a great deal and spent all the money I got for my birthday and Christmas last year. I’m super happy about my decision. Now I’m trying to decide what to do next. Sara and I have had cable/satellite for less than 2 years of our 10 year marriage. Although I really like it, I’m just not convinced that I need it anymore with everything available online. So, I did buy my TV with the intention that almost all content shown on it would be through DVD and streamed from the internet someway. I already have a DVD player I bought last year that I really like. Here are the options available.
Option 1: Roku Player. It’s a $100 device that plays Netflix movies through your TV. I think it has a few other channels now too, but it’s primarily a Netflix streaming box.
Option 2: Mac Mini. This is what I’d actually been leaning towards the most. I was going to buy a used Mac Mini for about $350 and get a bluetooth keyboard/mouse for another $150. This would essentially turn my 42 inch TV into another computer that I can brows the web, facebook, watch DVD’s, stream netflix, hulu or anything else that can be delivered from a website.
Option 3: BluRay Player. (I hadn’t really considered this until last week) I’ve not been convinced the need for a BluRay player; however, the $140 Samsung players stream Netflix and Pandora wirelessly and it’s likely through firmware updates, more functionality will be added to BluRay. Plus, if I ever get a BluRay disc, I’ll be able to play it along with regular DVDs.
For the time being, I’ll often plug my laptop into the TV and I use an app on my iPhone that acts like a remote control.
So here’s where I’m stuck. The Roku player isn’t really an option as both option 2 and 3 allow me to watch Netflix and do a lot more. However, I have an opportunity to get the BluRay for free or for very little (maybe $50). With just the BluRay, I can do everything but Hulu (does anyone know if Hulu is ever going to cooperate with desktop boxes?). The problem is that I do watch Hulu a lot… probably even more than Netflix. But the advantage of going with the BluRay is that I don’t have to spend hardly any money and I can get some new wireless bluetooth headphones to watch the TV loud without disturbing Sara. I’ll also have the cash for some other gadgets I might be interested in. Going the MacMini option will give me access to anything available online. I can watch Hulu, Netflix or whatever I want. The downside is that it will cost me about $500 for all of that. That’s all the extra cash I have right now and will be all the cash I get for my birthday next month.
Even if I had all the money in hand right now to do either, I’m not sure I’d do the MacMini. I’m just not sure what I want to do.
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Kenny, been dealing with the same dilemma at the Kelly house too. We just went with internet and dropped the satellite. I was just going to get HDMI, wireless keyboard with trackpad for my macbook, so we can watch everything online. Good thing about Blu ray is they are going to adding firmware, and hulu might be one. I do know Appletv has a hack for hulu, might look into it, too. Happy New Year!
No link with the $50 Blu-Ray player?
Sorry, there is no $50 BluRay. Otherwise I would have shared the love. It’s complicated. I’m getting a free Panisonic BluRay because I spent an ungodly amount of money on a new video camera. I’m going to sell the Panisonic for as much of $100 as possible and buy a Samsung BluRay for $140ish. The Samsung has the Netflix, Pandora and wireless features. So the $50 is about what I expect I might have to spend of my own money on the Samsung BluRay.
I have a Mac Mini hooked up to my plasma and love it. Online content is great, also use it as our DVD player. BIG upside for me is all family photos and home videos are there as well easily accessible. Also all our iTunes music is hooked up to the stereo. (might want to play around with the mini with your iPhone remote control app before sinking money in the mouse and keyboard. I use my iPhone 95% of the time)
only downside is no BluRay from the mini. I have a ps3 and use it primarily as a BluRay player. Watch about 2-3 movies a month and play a game far less than that…
If I could only pick one I’d pick my mac mini.
I’d go with the Mac mini. Just turn your TV into another computer. That way you get the best of both worlds. You can always buy an external BluRay drive/player to hookup to the Mac later via firewire or USB. If you went with the Netflix box, you’d be stuck with that. Also, with the BluRay player, are you really going to trust that fireware updates will be delivered in as timely a manner as Apple’s updates? Surely not. It’s more, but you can stream Netflix (what the Roku does), listen to Pandora (what the Samsung does) as well as have the option of getting a stand alone BluRay player later when prices drop. Plus is you’re into bittorrent you can use that to stream your movies via utorrent. The Mac mini is more up front but better long term. The others are just filler for the time being. Get the mac mini and watch your DVDs.
Go with the mac mini and use something like xbmc on it (http://xbmc.org/) and you’re good to go.
We have a Roku and love it with the Pandora, MLBchannel, amazon on demand, Netflix, and other channels! It is a wondrous device. Now that we have a HDMI LCD TV, it is better! We have a separate Blu ray, but it is not a networked one, so it may be the way to go. If you go with the Mac Mini, I suggest getting Hulu Desktop, it is free and it accesses Hulu and your Hulu Que straight from your desktop, not having to go into a browser to get it. Hope that helps.
I’m right with you on the decision to drop a provider. My wife and I are currently using our iTV…I mean iMac…as our television.
We’ve talked about buying a real TV at some point (mostly because we want to get a Wii to go with it), but the biggest hang up on what to get is HD.
BluRay + an HDTV offers a HUGE quality difference that I didn’t think would bother me until I watched a movie with BluRay. Wow.
That said though, although the Mac Mini doesn’t really offer BluRay/HD, it does give you the greatest amount of flexibility for online videoâ€”that way you aren’t waiting for a developer to create firmware.
Another big plus with the Mac Mini is that you can use Skype or iChat with your whole family at once. Having the computer in a central location at our place has really helped us to stay in contact with our families who live 10-12 hours away.
So, with new services like UStream (http://ustream.com) popping up every day, it seems like the Mac would give you the greatest access to content, just at the expense of quality.
Hope some of this is helpful.
My DVR and DVD players both failed since then I have been reseaching media units. Mac mini wins hands down not even close. I does everything but play blueray. Get the 50$ blueray and the mac mini and you won’t regret it. You get those other devices and you won’t be future proofed. Face it TV is headed to the Internet the sooner we adapt the better off we’ll be. My vote cheap blueray (if you want to view blueray) and you must get the mac mini.
mac mini with the new beta version of boxee.tv which will come out on jan 7th. It does an amazing job of aggregating all available online content and your own personal library. Grab a copy of remote buddy and you’ll rarely need a keyboard and mouse.
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you can buy an awesome HD Antenna (ours was $35) and get all the network channels. We have been testing that out over here and it works great. We put the antenna in the attic and ran a cable down to our main network hub so any tv in the house can get it.
then we have an HD tivo and we are able to download many vblogs and other fun programming via tivo as well as watch netflix on demand. You can also connect your laptop (we use a $300 one from Dell that is like 3 years old and works fine) and watch Hulu on your nice new tv)