Comcast is forcing us to switch over to digital TV soon; given that this will break our DVR, we’re thinking that we should just give up on this whole cable TV idea, and set up a computer as a media center instead.

Conveniently, Apple has just upgraded the Mac mini, so we’re going to go with that. It will replace our current DVD player; we’ll also have iTunes and various web options for video and audio. Never having done this before, though, I’m requesting advice from anybody with experience with this sort of thing.

Some things I’m thinking about:

  • For HD video, we currently have a spare component input and a spare DVI input (no HDMI, the TV is too old for that); it looks like the mini should work fine with the DVI input.
  • For high-quality audio, we currently have a TOS link input; it looks like a simple adapter should let us convert the minijack optical audio port on the mini into TOS link.
  • I am worried about controlling the thing: this is a computer, not an appliance, so we’ll need a keyboard and a mouse substitute. For use from the sofa, we’ll want those to be the same device (i.e. a keyboard with integrated touchpad/trackball/whatever) and for them to be wireless; any suggestions? I found that surprisingly hard to accomplish the last time I was shopping for keyboards. (I have no idea why touchpads are everywhere on laptops but very hard to find otherwise.)
  • Hopefully the Apple remote will work acceptably for watching DVDs, despite its minimalist nature?
  • Any recommendations for good online video sources?
  • Anything else I should be asking about?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice.

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