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January 10th 2012 4:08 am

Good Alternatives

So I have been using the Mac Mini for one purpose only which is running XBMC to watch my TV shows on TV. What other better alternatives are out there, either that runs XBMC or are able to play avi & mkv files. Of course something that has HDMI output and having an optic output would be a plus but not necessary.

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You should try the boxee box, its an social media player which plays almost every videofile and has the built in feature of adding subtitles to your videofile without the hassle.
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Depends on your budget as well, I am currently using a Asus Eee Box PC in the living room mostly for watching online TV shows and movies and not much else. It has discrete video, I upgraded to RAM to 4gb (max if I am not mistaking, DDR3), has a dual core Atom (yes I know, not the best but it does the job), has lots of USB ports including two 3.0 ones in the front which I use for external storage to and from my laptop to the Eee Box, has the HDMI, has optical in, suits my needs and more, I believe I got it for under $500 and you should be able to find it on ebay for closer to $300 especially a lightly used one.
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There is an Apple TV hack that will allow you to run XBMC. See:

The ATV has both optic and HDMI outputs as well. Personally, I just convert my video to an ATV compatible format. Simple and pretty fast using Handbrake.
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I've been using the Hi-Media HD200A hard drive enclosure, a bit expensive but it plays a massive variety of file formats (and it's a USB 3.0 mass storage device as well). I know there are newer iterations of this device with optical output so you may want to look around. But as far as streaming files through HDMI, this device is super great (and portable).

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