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Older Mac Models

Although Front Row is officially supported only on Macs that ship with an Apple IR remote (and the accompanying remote receiver built into the Mac itself), it is possible to install it on older Mac models. Although Apple does not support it at the present time, Apple has indicated that Front Row 2, to be included in Mac OS X Leopard (a.k.a. Mac OS X10.5), which is scheduled to ship next spring, will support all Macs on which Leopard can be installed. In the meantime, there is a free utility called Front Row Enabler that modifies Apple’s latest Front Row update package so that it will install on previous Mac models. With Front Row enabler, you can install Front Row on virtually any Mac that can run Mac OS X. However, if you install Front Row on a Mac that does not have the video hardware to support Quartz Extreme, it will not display properly.

In my experience (and the experience of most users), Front Row Enabler works without any problems. However, it does modify certain Front Row files and Mac OS X system files. If you opt to use it, be aware that problems might arise, and future Mac OS X updates might also cause problems with Front Row or other system components as a result. More information can be found on the Front Row Enabler website.

One problem that older Macs have with Front Row is that they do not include support for Apple’s remote. This is not a huge problem because Front Row does support keyboard commands. By default, you can activate Front Row by using the Apple+Escape key combination and you can navigate its interface using the arrow keys on a keyboard (substituting the Return key for the pause/play button and the Escape key for the menu button). There fore, if you have a Bluetooth or wireless USB keyboard, you effectively have a remote, albeit an oversized and ungainly one. You could also use a multibutton wireless mouse, assigning the various buttons to match the appropriate key sequences. Finally, Keyspan makes a series of remotes that can be used to control Front Row.

Another problem for older Macs is that not all older Macs include DVI out support. For Macs offering only VGA support, you would need to purchase an appropriate adapter (if needed) for a digital TV or a scan converter for use with an analog TV. Also, some iBook models include support for composite video out using a special cable plugged into the headphone jack (although not all of them support Quartz Extreme).

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