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The Basic Setup

For your basic home entertainment setup, you won’t need much more than your Mac, a good spot for it, and some cables. With this basic setup, you can show movies and DVDs on your television, play music from iTunes (or other audio applications) on your home stereo or home entertainment receiver, and play a photo slideshow from iPhoto or Preview.

At the center of all this is your Mac, and you need to make some choices. An ideal choice is a Mac that isn’t your primary machine, although you could do this if you don’t mind locating your Mac conveniently and giving it up when someone in the family wants to watch a DVD. This machine should have, at a minimum, a DVD-ROM drive, video output, and audio output.

It’s hard to come up with Macs made in the last few years that don’t have these features (a good place to find out is here). Once you’ve decided on your Mac, you should either upgrade its hard drive to the largest size you can put in the machine, attach an external FireWire hard drive, or do both. You’ll need lots of room for audio and video files—especially if you plan to record video.

Figure 2

Figure 2 A two-drive FireWire enclosure (purchased for under $50) can hold two high-capacity IDE hard drives[ms]enough to add a few hundred gigabytes of storage to any FireWire Mac. Please note: Dramatic shadow is not included in purchase price.

After you select your Mac, you need to move over any media that you might want to play on it—preloading it before you place it, so to speak. You can do this after the fact, but it’s nice to have everything you need on the machine before you start connecting cables and installing software. That way, testing is a breeze.

When your Mac is loaded and upgraded, it’s time for the fun part (at least, what I think of as the fun part in my twisted view of things): connecting the cables. You need to have three things close together: a television, a stereo receiver or home entertainment center receiver, and your home entertainment Mac.

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