I purchased my Mac mini the day that Apple announced it — I mean the very first Mac mini Apple made — and I spent every last dollar I had on it at the time. I have used that Mac mini everyday since I purchased it and it’s only on its second hard drive. Suffice to say, I have gotten my value out of the machine.
For the last five years or so, the Mac mini has spent its little life attached to my TV as a media center. It downloads and stores all the video files ((I don’t know the legality of downloading TV shows from the web if you pay for the cable subscription already, so that’s not what I am talking about. Either way, it’s not movies — honestly.)) I would like to play on my TV and plays them over a DVI connection. Up and until this year everything worked really well, I couldn’t playback 720p or higher quality files, but “normal TV grade HD” played back just fine.
Then everyone made the switch to encode video files with h.264 and well, the Mac mini struggles to play those files back. I get random artifacts and massive amounts of dropped frames during fast moving scenes. This is something that has been driving my wife and me nuts.
This all got me to thinking about how I could get back smoother playback without having to buy a new machine. Initially I thought Mountain Lion would be the answer, streaming the files from the mini and AirPlaying to the Apple TV, but having to move my retina MacBook Pro into the living room didn’t sound appealing.
I wanted to stream from the mini to the Apple TV, but with none of the video streaming to AirPlay apps working on PowerPC chips, I thought I was SOL. Then I found File Browser, a $4.99 universal iOS app that allows you to browse network shared files, play them back on the device and/or stream them over AirPlay.
So with that I can stream the videos on the Mac mini to my iOS device, from there I can AirPlay them to my TV via the Apple TV. Thus giving me smooth playback for $4.99.
It’s not all roses though, the app is pretty ugly and the icon is blue.
That said, it worked, worked well, and amazingly was damned easy to setup.
And so the G4 Mac mini lives on.