Apple Computing and Media Advice

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  • Apple Computing and Media Advice
  • gribble


    I know the over hyped Apple products are not everyone’s cup of tea, so feel free to have a look at the sick as a dog, show me your bivi etc thread, which never fails to disappoint.

    I have got a 5 year old(ish) Macbook, which I have been very pleased with, apart from two cracks developing on the lower edge of the keyboard (nicely kept under control by some tape at the moment, looks pretty fly…). I also have an Apple TV (last generation, black model) and an ipod touch, which can control the Apple TV and I can stream music direct to the apple tv from.

    My reason for posting is that I have run out of storage on my macbook. I have two hard drives (one 250GB, one at 500GB, some with films on), but it is a pain to get all the power leads up to plug them into the macbook.

    My issue is that I have run out of storage space on my macbook, which I use to store lots of media (mostly music, but more and more videos and photos (all of the clean kind, I hasten to add). I would like to arrange a more convenient set up, so was thinking of either:

    (a) remotely connecting hard drives (via one of those Time Capsule £250 ish/Airport £130 ish products). Doesn’t get over the problem of my computer being very old, nor would it allow me to keep my laptop off when I want to access music via the apple tv, which I do quite a bit.

    (b) go bonkers and buy an Apple Mac Mini. Expensive at £500 plus keyboard, but it would allow me to move the apple TV to the lounge upstairs, which also has an old HD TV that I could connect to. It would also allow me to access music at all times whether on the tv upstairs/downstairs, as the mac mini could be left in sleep all the time. It would also sort most of my storage needs.

    Obviously I know not a lot about computers, (as I am an Apple customer), so would appreciate any advice on the pitfalls of either of the above, or easy alternative solutions.


    i would say go for mac mini. solves all your problems and gets you an updated computer while ur at it


    Hard drives take a few minutes to fit in the MacBooks if you wanted to go to 1tb (£50-£60). Have you tried taking the laptop back to the applestore? They replaced the keyboard/top cover for free on mine even though it was out of warranty (same cracks along edge)

    Also bus powered drives of 1tb are available so no power supplies/leads needed


    I’ve got a 500gb Mac Mini directly connected to my tv via a HDMI lead. The Mac Mini is also wirelessly connected to a 2tb Apple Time Machine for backup and music / film storage. I use the wireless Apple keyboard and trackpad to control. Everything just works very well. I stream from Lovefilm and the usual iplayer etc to the tv again works and looks just like normal television. A great setup and really recommend.

    Premier Icon vinnyeh

    £100 quid will get you a 2tb WD My Book Live NAS to plug into your router.
    Shift your iTunes library and any media onto it.
    If all your media is in iTunes, just point ATV and iTunes on your mac to the new library and away you go.
    If your films etc are outside of iTunes then jailbreak your ATV (you say that it’s prev gen ie ATV2), which is easily done, took me about half an hour, and the new interface will quite happily play all your media without any need for the computer.
    Guessing you’ve got a Core2Duo Macbook? – Spend £90-£120 on an SSD for the macbook- 128gb is prob enough now that all your files can live on the NAS.

    Premier Icon nickdavies

    I’d be looking at a a NAS, i’ve got a 4GB WD livebook duo attached to my network, but would still leave you the problem of the ageing laptop and unable to play via itunes with the laptop off. One workaround for this would be streaming your videos via DLNA to an iPad/iPhone if you have one, and bouncing that to the apple TV via mirroring.

    A mac mini as a server would be a much neater idea, expensive but if you bear in mind that last generation apple TV’s are going for £2-250 on ebay, if you haven’t jailbroken it just sell it and buy a new one for £85 off Amazon. Keep an eye on the apple refurb store for the mini, and you might find yourself with a new mini for a few hundred quid in actual cash.

    And if you really have that itch, the new retina macbook pro’s are awesome, i’m very tempted to upgrade my air to one.

    The time capsule works very well but the design is flawed, it gets hot in operation and has next to no ventilation, they frequently last no more than a couple of years before something burns out. I would get another make of drive over the time capsule if you can.


    I’ve got a Mac Mini, the 2010 model that preceded the current one. I bought it cheap, because it was one of two the Apple dealer in Bath had left when the new ones came in, and they customised it for me by removing the optical drive and installing a 750Gb drive, giving me 1.1Tb of storage, along with an extra 2Gb of RAM they had kicking about. I also bought a BT keyboard and Trackpad and I’ve got it connected to my Bravia with an HDMI lead, and to my Yamaha A/V amp with an optical hybrid TOSLink I got from Amazon. It all works beautifully, and I control my music playback via Remote on either my pad or phone. The only thing I need to get is a nice big NAS drive for music and photo backup, along with BackBlaze cloud backup.


    I’m not technical, so have no doubt that all the suggestions above are better than mine.

    I just got a couple of airport expresses. It says in the blurb that you can plug a hard drive into the airport, and access it on any device connected to your network.

    THe airports are about £70


    (and if you open a credit account, you get £30 off your first order of more than £60. I did this, got the airports cheaper, paid it off and will now ignore the account)

    I have a 2010 Mac Mini. Great bit of kit and easy to upgrade. It had a 250gb HD that I soon filled up. I now have a 500gb drive in place and run a couple of 3TB WDs (one for Timemachine backups and the other for general storage).

    Adding a new HD to your macbook is super simple. Lots of video guides on the net. I have done a couple. Regardless its worth taking to an Apple store for them to check out and hopefully swap out the KB.


    The beauty of the Mini is it’s mini! Mine fits perfectly under one corner of my telly, with just enough room to get a dock cable between them for connecting my phone and pad to it! Could almost have been designed to fit. 😀


    I just got a couple of airport expresses. It says in the blurb that you can plug a hard drive into the airport, and access it on any device connected to your network.

    You sure about that? The latest gen AE may support a hard drive but the earlier ones def don’t. You may also be thinking of the AIrport Extreme which does support USB HD (multiple ones if you use a USB hub).
    I’ve put one in this week and it’s fab – wifi base station, network switch, NAS and printer server all in one. Use an airport express with one and you can extend the range of your wifi very easily.


    We’ve just plumped for a macmini here for server / media centre duties. It really is astounding just how small it is for the power it has. If you pay for the server app (20 quid I think, though I bought the server model, which obviously it comes free with), you can also use it as a time machine for anything else on your network for backup.

    I’m sure there re cheaper ways of achieving the same, but frankly, this setup just works, and looks very nice. It is dwarfed by the LaCie 2Big I have all my movies on though!


    You’re right sharkbait – I bought an airport extreme as well – must have got confused when I read the instructions!

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    How about just plugging one of these into your router
    Hey presto all files accessible from anywhere on the network.


    I have got a 5 year old(ish) Macbook, which I have been very pleased with, apart from two cracks developing on the lower edge of the keyboard (nicely kept under control by some tape at the moment,

    Take it back to Apple. My Daughter’s 8 year old Macbook had this and Apple replaced this last year Free of charge as they don’t like it !
    and your Macbook will look pristine again !!!!! :mrgreen:

    I have a 2011 Macbook pro never looked back very happy indeed


    Resurrecting an old thread, but I never took the plunge and am now needing to make some kind of decision.

    I was thinking of going for a Mac Mini and can get a small discount through work (circa £30). They can be had for maybe £450 anyway, but you need to add a keyboard and mouse. I want to connect it to the TV, so would be looking at near on £80+ for the wireless keyboard and track pad from Apple.

    I see that John Lewis are now offering £150 trade in on lap tops, so you can get a macbook air for circa £700 with a trade in on an old lap top. Looking at it now, it seems that the better deal would be to spend the additional cash and trade in my old knackered macbook for a macbook air. It would only be an 11 inch screen, but to be honest I have a work lap top and probably won’t be using the laptop for loads of spreadsheets and word processing documents.

    The downsides to this route are:

    lack of storage at 128 GB v 500 GB for a mini, so would probably need to go for another storage option as mentioned above
    processor speed (not sure how these compare in the real world)
    slightly more expensive
    11 inch screen v 40 inch (but lets be honest, the wife would never let me use the big TV all the time for doing computer stuff)


    Difficult choice there, as you seem to have a compromise of some sort whatever you do, unless you really chuck some money around.
    The Mini is great, mr_mojo and my set-up’s are very similar, I have two HDD’s in mine, because I ditched the optical drive. The new ones don’t have the optical, so there’s a spare bay, but AFAIAA, there’s no connector supplied so you have to source that along with a second HDD.
    Since I got the Mini, my old PowerBook has been pretty much untouched, I use my pad for general computing stuff, and it controls music playback as well, so it’s rare that I actually use the Mini with the TV.
    Of course, with the Mini, there’s the keyboard/trackpad as well to consider.
    Not sure what to suggest for the best, really, although one possibility is to get a Mini, and see if you can get hold of a small cheap flat screen tv or monitor, and a wired keyboard, and set the Mini up in a corner somewhere as a desktop computer, and stream stuff from it to the ATV; the Mini was conceived as a small replacement for a broken PC, that you could just plug int the monitor, keyboard and mouse and go.
    Lots of possibilities, it’s just working out the best compromise.
    Good luck! 😀


    Countzero, thanks for the input. Mini does seem really good as a media centre, 500GB should cover most bases but I have two USB drives (500 Gb and 250 GB I think).

    I have an apple tv which I use to stream music mostly, either from my ipod touch or my wife’s ipad. If I do go with a mini as a stand alone device, I am not that keen to have it set up as a desk top, as I just don’t have the space at home (we don’t have a study or somewhere we could put it).

    Ideally it would just sit under a TV – the apple tv could either be kept in place or moved to the second tv we have.

    The Macbook Airs do look really smart and I like the fact that they take up minimal space and are portable, but the storage is a big downside. I think as my picture library grows I am best to opt for a stand alone storage option anyway, so photos etc will be kept on the external HD.


    So I have bitten the bullet and taken the plunge. Went for a Mac Mini in the end, as I could get a small discount via employer and had some vouchers which I have put towards the keyboard (Apple keyboards are obviously made of gold, they are so expensive).

    I resisted the tempation of going for a MacBook Air. Super bling, but not so much storage and does not look like I would be eligible for full recycle trade in value, as the case of my computer has cracks in. Checked with Apple and they won’t repair as the computer is decribed as ‘vintage’. Old Macbook on ebay soon for parts.

    I will be able to keep all my dodgy collection of hip hop/country music in one place and pipe it to the Apple TV etc round the house. Lucky wife.


    […] collection of hip hop/country music […]

    Really hoping that that’s two separate genres of music rather than an unholy mash-up.
    {tries to forget Hayseed Dixie’s version of Walk This Way and Dolly Parton’s stint with the J.A.M.}


    drlex, there is no excuse for my poor music tatse.

    Holy Grail was the song ‘Superman’ by Willie Nelson and Snoop:

    Snoop and Willie Neslon – Superman hiphop and country. God Bless America.

    Someone has commented that Snoop has ‘smoked himself country’. Ace.


    I would keep hold of the old macbook , use screen sharing to connect to control the mac mini

    my mac mini is always on under the tv and I use streaming movies , music around the house to other devices via Plex media server

    Premier Icon jambalaya

    Mac Mini are great. Apple wirless keyboard is £60 is that expensive ? My mac mini is my main computer and lives under the tv using that as the main screen, great for streaming media like bbc iplayer and mid week mini movies. Mine is a 2009 machine and I recently upgraded ram 2gb -> 8 and HDD 160gb -> 750 myself, pretty easy. Do you have an iPhone ? They work really well with Apple TV for streaming plus you can mirror you screen to tv for reading emails etc.

    The old mac books, the white ones, have a weakness / design fault which means they crack on front edge, I have one maybe 2007? still is use. Keep it.

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