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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Laptop used mainly for Front Row use?

Laptop used mainly for Front Row use?
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cmillerdesign
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Aug 19, 2008, 12:14 PM
 
I was hot to get an AppleTV, but now am considering alternatives. Mainly because streaming 1080i is not and good idea... and AppleTV only supports up to 540p @ 30fps!

Why not use a laptop and Front Row? A nice thing about using a laptop is its portable and can easily go from room to room/house to house if needed.

SO considering the main intent is to watch VERY large files in 1080i (as small as 2gb/hr or 40gb/hr depending on how I compress them) off of a large external drive. What would be the minimum level to stick with Intel or could I drop to a PPC? I need DVI out. Find someone with a cosmetically beat up MacBook who wouldn't otherwise be able to get much?
     
Simon
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Aug 19, 2008, 02:35 PM
 
Make sure to get a Mac with a C2D. A CS or PPC won't cut the mustard.
( Last edited by Simon; Aug 20, 2008 at 03:10 AM. Reason: CD -> CS fixed)
     
cmillerdesign  (op)
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Aug 19, 2008, 02:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Make sure to get a Mac with a C2D. A CD or PPC won't cut the mustard.
Even for just 1080 Quicktime playback and why's that? I'd think any Intel based machine would work well since so many people are doing it with Mac Minis.
     
Simon
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Aug 19, 2008, 04:29 PM
 
A CS or PPC Mac cannot decode h.264 1080p content at 25 fps w/o dropping frames.
( Last edited by Simon; Aug 20, 2008 at 03:10 AM. Reason: CD -> CS fixed)
     
cmillerdesign  (op)
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Aug 19, 2008, 05:13 PM
 
Can a Core Duo play 720p or 1080i h.264 files? I'd have to upgrade everything I own (stereo, projector, a really nice handbag for my wife, etc ) to really take advantage of 1080p.
     
mduell
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Aug 19, 2008, 08:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by cmillerdesign View Post
Can a Core Duo play 720p or 1080i h.264 files? I'd have to upgrade everything I own (stereo, projector, a really nice handbag for my wife, etc ) to really take advantage of 1080p.
Depends on the OS and app. In OS X with QuickTime or VLC, not without dropping frames in the complex parts.
     
cmillerdesign  (op)
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Aug 19, 2008, 09:22 PM
 
OS 10.4 or 10.5 running whatever the latest Quicktime is via Front Row?
     
Simon
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Aug 20, 2008, 03:17 AM
 
No definitely not. No matter if you chose QT Player or VLC or mplayer, etc. If you have a 1080p h.264 clip and a CD Mac you will not see 25 fps without dropped frames in some parts. A CS or PPC will drop frames constantly. I have tried this myself on a CS Mac mini, a CD MBP, and a PPC Mac mini. In all my experience you need a C2D to get 25 or 30 fps (for 1080p h.264 material) w/o dropped frames.

A good example is this clip. It's a 1080p flic with 25 fps. It requires 8.3 Mbps throughput. On a 2.4 GHz C2D playback with VLC or QTP takes up about 72%-107% of one core. The load is obviously spread across both cores though.
     
cmillerdesign  (op)
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Aug 20, 2008, 10:12 AM
 
720p 1080i... what about 720p 1080i?? both should have about half the data, right? i'm not planing on using 1080p... did i ask about 720p 1080i, yet?
     
bpl323
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Aug 20, 2008, 04:58 PM
 
Going to keep my eye on this thread.
     
mduell
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Aug 20, 2008, 07:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by cmillerdesign View Post
720p 1080i... what about 720p 1080i?? both should have about half the data, right? i'm not planing on using 1080p... did i ask about 720p 1080i, yet?
Still Core 2 Duo minimum if you're using OS X.
     
cmillerdesign  (op)
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Aug 20, 2008, 09:12 PM
 
I tried a clip tonight on a 2.0 Core Duo Macbook Pro running 10.4. I played a 4 minute, 350MB 720/30fps clip with light compression (h.264 25Mbps). It ran fine. I then tried it running the Quicktime file on an attached FW400 iPod to simulate an external drive (well, that is actually what it was). Ran find with no drops.

Now I'd hate to buy a Core Duo to find out it was too slow, so I'll need more than just this 4 minute test (such as someone who has logged hours on one) before I'd feel comfortable... but my 4 minute test was promising.
( Last edited by cmillerdesign; Aug 21, 2008 at 08:46 AM. )
     
Simon
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Aug 21, 2008, 02:52 AM
 
That is very light compression. With such material you need to have the bandwidth, not the CPU power. And even with a cheap, slow external USB2 drive 25 Mbps is no problem.

If I were you I wouldn't assume such light compression. If you take more heavily compressed files you will see the data rate drop, but the CPU load will go up considerably. For a 720p h.264 at 30 fps I wouldn't put my money on a CD.

Also keep in mind that that was a 2GHz CD MBP. The fastest CD Mac mini you can get your hands is slower.
     
cmillerdesign  (op)
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Aug 21, 2008, 08:50 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
That is very light compression. With such material you need to have the bandwidth, not the CPU power. And even with a cheap, slow external USB2 drive 25 Mbps is no problem. If I were you I wouldn't assume such light compression. If you take more heavily compressed files you will see the data rate drop, but the CPU load will go up considerably.
Very good point. I never happened to think a HEAVILY compressed file would actually require MORE CPU. That does make since. I'll have to try the same with a 9Mbps file.

Will a Macbook have similar abilities to a Macbook Pro if I'm looking CD to CD or C2D to C2D?
     
Simon
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Aug 21, 2008, 08:54 AM
 
Originally Posted by cmillerdesign View Post
Will a Macbook have similar abilities to a Macbook Pro if I'm looking CD to CD or C2D to C2D?
Once you have enough bandwidth playback quality (at least under OS X) pretty much comes down to having sufficient raw CPU power. In that sense you can directly compare the two. If a 2 GHz C2D MBP plays your movie well, it will also work on a 2 GHz C2D MB.
     
   
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