"The cheaper Mac mini model is a great media center PC."4.5 starson by richardlawler
Pros: iTunes-based media center (not WMP).
Uses almost no power when idle.
It's a Mac. It doesn't have all that nagging software like AV and Windows update. It's a superior experience to Windows Media Center.
Cons: Some sleep/wake-up synchronizations problems. (Fixed for me.)
Summary: I use the cheaper model mini as as a media center attached to my HDTV.
It's a great media center PC -- far, far better than any Windows PC, and I'm a long-time Windows user (Not some Mac fanboi.)
The mini as equipped out-of-the box makes a great media center. I use a DVI to HDMI cable and an optical digital output to my 5.1 Home Theater. The mini comes with FrontRow which puts iTunes at the center of your music and video play back. Seriously, which system do you already use for all your MP3s iTunes or WMP?
I don't even have a keyboard or mouse attached. I just use a remote (a Logitech Harmony) and I also use Screen Sharing (aka VNC) to do more complicated configurations.
I highly recommend using Sofa Control, though, if you want to use a mini as a media center. It's essential. It allows you to navigate applications like DVD Player and iTunes with a remote.
I would recommend RipIt and Handbrake too if you want to digitize your library of DVDs. (Don't pirate movies. It's stealing. Movies are cheap. Pay for them. It's only fair. Besides the only people I know who still have jobs work in the Industry.)
Before I started using Sofa Control, I had problems with the Mac sleeping and the HDTV not seeing the video signal or vise versa. That seems to be gone now that I'm using Sofa Control.
It's a Mac. You don't run Anti-virus, or Windows update. It's really a much much better experience than PC media centers. I have another Windows PC I use as a media center attached to the bedroom TV, and it seems like every time I use it I get some stupid dialog asking for an update or some other interruption. Sure Mac software gets updates, but it's polite about it and doesn't interrupt your movie.