MacMini on the HDTV

Well, I’ve had my Samsung HDTV for a few months now and still really love it. It’s so cool watching shows in HD and it’s great seeing more and more HD channels appearing. In the last month or so, both channel 27 (WKOW) and channel 47 (WMSN) have gone HD. I don’t like that I have to use my own antenna to get local HD stations with the satellite. I don’t get why Dish Network doesn’t include local channels in HD and I think their advertising is a little deceptive that way, but it’s working for me (with a few blips sometimes – especially when my dad comes over for some reason).

iTunes VisualizerSo I’ve got HDTV on Dish Network, local over-the-air HD channels and HD DVD – thanks to the Playstation 3 (that almost rhymes). But there was a VGA port on the back just calling to me and I thought that I could use the MacMini as an Apple TV and also as a computer (to use iTunes with that cool visualizer going) if I could just hook that up – but how? After a little trial and error and online research, I found a good solution – which I’ll get to.

Some other things I had to consider were:

  1. The MacMini was hosting my printer, backup drive (for Time Machine) and webcam.
  2. I wanted to set up the backup drive so that both my MacMini and iBook would use Time Machine and automatically back themselves up in the background, all the time.
  3. I wanted to share my music and video libraries over all computers on the network.

Here’s what I did. I:

  1. Purchased the following:
    1. Apple Wireless Keyboard
    2. Wireless Mouse – I went with a wireless USB mouse instead of bluetooth to save a few bucks.
    3. DVI to HDMI cable (go to Best Buy not Circuit City if you want a good selection of cables)
    4. USB hub
  2. Got the wireless keyboard and mouse working on the MacMini while it’s still hooked up to the old monitor.
  3. Got the backup drive and printer working on the Airport Extreme while it’s still hooked up to the old monitor. See my Airport Extreme Printing blog entry.
  4. Set the resolution on the MacMini a bit lower – like 800×600… but this was because I first tried using a VGA cable, wasn’t happy with the resolution and then later went and got a DVI to HDMI cable – so you may not have to do this since it appears that resolution information does get sent through the DVI/HDMI interface.
  5. Moved the MacMini, mouse and keyboard to the living room and plugged it all in. I’m now using all 3 HDMI ports on the TV – so if you’re in the market for an HDTV, know that I’ve already filled up all HDMI plugs that my TV came with and you might want to get a TV with more than 3 HDMI connections if you’re like me.
  6. Hooked the audio output of the MacMini up to the stereo.
  7. Turned it all on and it worked beautifully almost:
    1. This kind of bugged me for a bit… I didn’t set up the wireless connection on the MacMini and was wondering why I had Internet but could not connect to music libraries on other local computers – it was using someone else’s open wireless Internet and not mine because when the MacMini was in the other room, it was connected via ethernet cable and I wasn’t using wireless. Duh.
    2. I played with the resolution on the MacMini for a bit and here is what I did:
      1. Turned off "Overscan" – this was my choice, you may want it on but I could not see the dock.
      2. Set the resolution to 1344 x 756 which puts about an inch of black space on the sides of the screen but it’s easy to read text from a little farther away. The resolution on my 40" HDTV can go up to 1920 x 1080 interlaced or else 1600 x 900 non-interlaced/progressive.

Be sure to get some good music going in iTunes at night, turn off all the lights and then rock that new visualizer full screen. You’ll trip out – it’s great!

Below are a few screenshots – enjoy: