suggestions for small tv/computer combo for kitchen?

toomuchtochoosefromDecember 27, 2006

I would like to have a tv that can double as a computer in my new kitchen. I know someone makes one that probably costs far more than it's worth - so does anyone have a computer/tv set up? I'm thinking of maybe getting a mac-mini and a monitor that can double as a tv as well - I guess I would need an add on for the tuner. Same thing for an i-mac?

I originally was just going to get an undercab tv but they're too small. We would need a 15" lcd.. so I thought it would be nice to have one that could access the internet as well.

Or does anyone have any suggestions?

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I think you're on the right track with the mini or iMac idea, though the smallest iMac available now is 17". Another option might be a laptop. Even a MacBook (with a tuner module) would do what you want and probably would take not much more room. A laptop might be more expensive, though, given that it doesn't seem you'll need to move it around much.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2006 at 9:33AM
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thanks steve o:

I could go with a 17 inch I think - depends where the speakers are.. a laptop wouldn't work - not only to much $$ but it would be more cumbersome I think. I want to put the tv onto a full motion wall swivel so I can swing it to whereever I would be working/eating etc. I don't know much about macs these days (my last one was years ago) What would I need to make it function as a tv? If I got a mac mini I would use a different brand monitor/tv. (apple's are too expensive) Can I just get a tv that also has a computer input? or would I need something else to make it work? In the case of an imac what would I need?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2006 at 9:53AM
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My son had a Mini and an LCD TV screen for it. I believe the Mini has a DVI/VGA port (you may want to double-ckeck to make sure), so any LCD TV or computer screen with such a cable should work.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2006 at 4:42AM
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You would need to buy an external TV tuner. The most popular ones for Macintosh are El Gato's Eye-TV and Hauppauge's MyTV. That would feed into the iMac/mini. (Before you choose to go with the mini, however, check the requirements for the tuner card. You're moving a fair amount of data; the mini's FireWire400 card may not have enough capacity and, of course, adding one is out of the question.)

If you buy an iMac, you're done: the monitor is already hooked up. If you buy a mini, you'll need a monitor and cable (don't know if that would have to be DVI; again, check the requirements for the tuner card). DVI or not, they're not hard to find and they're not expensive (though DVI will eliminate choosing from the loss-leader "cheap seats").

Before you diss Apple's monitors as "too expensive", consider the quality of the picture you want. Apple's monitors may not be cheap, but they are uniformly excellent. I suspect if they were priced closer to even other high-end brands, they'd sell many more of them. If your viewing does not demand top quality, however, you can do well with monitors from Samsung, Acer, Sony, and Dell. If you're brave and willing to do some research, you could save some bucks buying a monitor directly from the Chinese companies (like Chi Mei) which fab the display screens in the first place.

Or ... another choice: Sharp sells a combo monitor/TV which can be used either with the computer or as a standalone TV. They mention Macs (a plus). I don't know as it's cheaper than a regular monitor plus an Eye-TV, and I don't know if 23" will fit. But it may, and other manufacturers may sell similar products.

Good luck. I kind of envy you: I have a 20-year-old TV that won't be replaced until it can no longer receive a signal.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2006 at 10:28AM
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thanks - I went an measured the imac - it's just about 17" high - I have just 18 between countertop and cabinets. If I can take it off the stand and mount it to a swivel on the wall, which is what I'd like to do - that may work... I have an Envision 17" widescreen combo tv/monitor in another room. If I got a mini am I right in assuming I can just hook that up to the mini without needing a tuner card, since the tuner is in the tv? If I did that I wouldn't be able to get PIP I think.. I think I'd like to be able to go on line while watching tv.. So many times I've just wanted to look something up while working in the kitchen and watching tv.

We spend a lot of time in the kitchen but it's not our main tv and frankly, we've been using rabbit ears.. I don't even want to get into the reasons I don't feel like lining the cable company's pockets!

also in the mix is hooking up a vcr - I know - noone uses them anymore - but we have a bunch of them and they record shows perfectly well - and without cable there's no need for tivo right now...

Here's another question... How quiet are iMac's? Are they as quiet as the mac-minis?

    Bookmark   December 28, 2006 at 11:33AM
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AFAIK, PIP requires a tuner for each program you're watching, so yes, hooking up the Envision without a tuner card will leave you with just one program. Sounds like that might be enough, though. Will the Envision handle VCR input? Because the iMac/mini AFAICT, cannot.

As for fan noise, my iMac (an older G3 model) doesn't even have a fan -- it's so quiet I had to buy another hard drive because the buzzing of the old one could be heard loud and clear (!). Newer CPUs, however, have greater heat-removal requirements, so new iMacs have fans. I wasn't familiar with how loud they were (or weren't), but I did find this Web page which discusses fan noise on the iMacs you're considering.

One more thing ... (as Steve Jobs is known to say): in looking around, I see that the later iMacs (like the Intel-based ones) do not have a VESA-compatible wall-mounting kit. Apple sold one for the earlier iMac G5s, but it does not work on the latest ones. Science is powerless to explain why they did this. There may be some sort of universal mount you could use, but don't count on Apple's kit. :-(

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 9:09AM
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Right now I have the envision connected to a dvd recorder and vcr player so that's not a problem. (it has component and svideo inputs plus 2 composite inputs). I wasn't really thinking of the PIP for watching 2 shows - (in any case the tuner in the vcr would be the second tuner if I wanted to use it that way) I was thinking more along the lines of watching something on TV and wanting to quickly look something up online without having to exit the tv mode entirely. (don't we all multitask these days? - that's why we have no attention span! :))

I stopped by the apple store yesterday - You are correct. They told me that the 17"imac cannot be mounted to the wall. The larger ones can - but the larger ones won't fit in my space. That plus the noise issue (I checked out that website) takes me back to the mini - (the only way I can actually justify making such a purchase is by convincing myself I can actually swipe it from myself and use it for work - I record voice and right now have an almost silent - though big and klunky - pc)

I also checked out the eyetv - It says it can handle HDTV over the air signals - but it cant handle digital signals from cable or satellite at all. In my case at the moment we're using rabbit ears, so it's not an issue right now but should we ever get satellite (or fios) then it appears it wouldn't be very useful?

I used to know how all this worked - but being without cable or satellite for years I have no idea how anything works anymore... :(

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 5:29PM
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Gotcha on the "multitasking" ... In looking at the manual for the 17" Envision LCD TV, it will handle all of these inputs, but only one at a time -- no PIP. So no surfing the Web while a little square continues to show the TV program. :-(

Poking around a little more on the 'net revealed this Miglia TVMicro, or the AMD XCLAIM! (exclamation point theirs), which look like just what you want. I didn't run through the specs exhaustively, so you'd want to make sure the mini's CPU and such were up to the requirements, but this looks like an answer (or two!) for you.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2006 at 11:04AM
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