At $699, the 2010 Mac mini may be a more expensive option than the others, but it offers a flexibility that no pure set-top box can. It’s a Mac, after all, and can play content from myriad Websites and apps. Connect it to your HDTV using the thoughtfully included HDMI output port, and you’ve got an unriveled media streamer (or media center, if you want to be picky).
When you connect the Mac mini to a TV via HDMI, the Displays pane of System Preferences and the systemwide Displays menu automatically show available TV resolutions for that TV: 720p, 1080i, 1080p, and so on. In addition, Apple has tweaked the Displays pane of System Preferences to let you adjust the underscan level so the mini’s video output better fits your TV screen.
The included Front Row software continues to provide only the most basic of media-center functionality, but with an iOS app or Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, you’re in complete control.