Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The new set up at home

I had been using my 15” Powerbook with an external 120GB drive to store all of my music and to serve music around the house via AirTunes.  Unfortunately, this tied my Powerbook to the desk, basically nullifying the portability of the Powerbook.  In addition, I started storing pictures and movies of my new daughter on the external drive and began to worry about redundancy of not only the pictures and movies, but also all of my music.

In order to fix this “problem,” I now have the following set up at home:

  • Mac Mini'>Mac Mini.  I bought the highest end Mac Mini for more storage space, a faster processor, built-in AirPort, and most importantly the built-in DVD burner so that we can send movies to the family.
  • Cinema Display'>20” Apple Cinema Display.  I went for the bigger display, which cost significantly more than some of the 17” LCD options, but the 20” widescreen display is really cool.
  • WD Hard Drive'>Western Digital 250GB external firewire/USB 2.0 drives.  I chose the WD drives because they have not only built-in USB hubs, but also have 2 firewire ports for daisy chaining.  Instead of USB, I chose to use the drives over firewire for maximum speed.  I then used the Disk Utility built into OS X to stripe the drives as a Level 1 RAID (mirroring), which means that the drives will be exact duplicates of each other, offering the redundancy I am looking for.
  • SD Card Reader'>SD Card Reader.  All of my cameras (Panasonic Video Camera'>video and Elph'>still) now use SD cards, so it is easier to use a SD card reader than to jack the cameras in directly with USB.  iPhoto works just as well with a SD card.

Now I am very interested in looking at this tutorial on MacMerc, which describes the use of the Plextor ConvertX'>Plextor ConvertX box for Macintosh to do the heavy lifting for video encoding without drawing too much processor power.  Elgato’s EyeTV software is included with the ConvertX box and can be used to manage TV recording.  Cost for the ConvertX is $209 at Amazon, which is not bad at all for a PVR solution that requires no monthly service charge.  As I mentioned above, I have the DVD burner built into the computer, so that’s nice.  I think if I go this direction I’ll need to add some more storage (luckily I already have a DirecTV receiver next to the Mini).

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