Posted by: Vala Shahabi | October 4, 2011

My $400 Apple Media Center

I barely watch TV, part of the reason why I don’t watch TV is because my schedule is pretty crazy and I can’t sit down at a scheduled time to watch a show. I don’t really use DVR because I don’t like any TV show that much to take the effort to record it and then watch it. Besides, with so much to do on the internet why watch TV?

Once the NBA season ended I made the decision to cancel my cable TV and only keep the cable internet package. Why pay $100 a month when I’m barely watching TV? So I did some research online about setting up a media center with a Mac Mini. The best site I found was Apple Media Center. This guy did a great job explaining everything as easy as possible. He covers EVERYTHING. I only want to watch an occasional TV show, bit torrent movie, DVD and some live sports.

First thing I did was go on craigslist and find a good deal on a Mac Mini. I found a 2010 model 2.26 Ghz w/ 2GB ram and 160GB hard drive for $375. I then needed to find a Bluetooth keyboard/trackpad. After some extensive research on Amazon, I went with the RII Mini Bluetooth Wireless Keyboardfor $27.  For another $3 I bought a digital audio cable to my 5.1 Sony surround sound system that I had bought on CL many years ago for $150.  The Mac Mini has a digital output, my surround sound has never sounded this good!

The keyboard is pretty sweet, you get what you pay for, it def takes some getting used to. Not very easy to type fast or mouse around but for it’s size it is perfect.

I immediately installed Pandora desktop app (Pandora one subscription, best money spent), suddenly I had music in my living room, which was a huge break through. I then downloaded Hulu’s desktop app and signed up for Hulu Plus. Hulu has great content of TV shows, especially my favorite, The Daily Show (watching as I write this).  Hulu’s movies content is lacking so I also signed up for the streaming only Netflix option. So $7.99 for each one and I’m up to $16 a month. My cable internet is a sweet $29.99 a month – no taxes!

What about my sports? We’re currently in the NFL season, how am I gonna watch my games? There are so many sites out there that stream games. Here are a few:  – Sunday Night Football

The bad part is you sometimes have to try a couple different feeds before you find a good one and there is the occasional buffering and lag but the bright side is you can watch ANY game and it’s all FREE.

I’m really happy with my setup, this is the future of TV. It’s really cool to be able to sit on my sofa and surf the web on my TV when I want a break from my computer.  I’m not limited to functionality like PS3 or Apple TV. I’ve also shared files with my laptop so I can pull pictures, movies, etc through the share. So I’m saving $70 a month off my cable bill and spending $16 a month on Hulu and Netflix.  Basically, in 8 months this media center will pay for itself 🙂



  1. Wonderful post but I was wondering if you could write
    a litte more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Kudos!

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