Bigscreen-friendly Mac apps for HDTVs?
February 21, 2011 2:41 PM   Subscribe

I love my HDTV hooked up to a Mac Mini, but I want it to look like more than a computer desktop with icons. Any recommendations for bigscreen Mac apps that will bring the TV to life with Twitter updates, news feeds, ambient phantasmagoria, you name it?

Like so many of you, I've ditched cable TV and connected a computer (Mac Mini) to my HDTV to watch TV and listen to music. What bothers me is that there are few apps out there that give the screen personality when I'm not actively watching it.

Screensavers are an OK stop-gap -- Apple ships a crappy, illegible one for RSS newsfeeds -- but I'm wondering if there are actual apps that take over the screen and serve up information in a visually appealing, medium-appropriate way.

Full-screening a browser isn't really the answer. Instead, I want something in the spirit of "kiosk mode."

I have a Mac but any suggestions for Windows are welcome too.

posted by teedee2000 to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a fan of the boxee app.
posted by jourman2 at 2:42 PM on February 21, 2011

Plex has some fairly good looking applications that are meant for the big screen. Plus a built in media center to boot!
posted by Freen at 2:48 PM on February 21, 2011

Plex's ui keeps getting worse though. At what point did they remove the ability to sort by date, for example?
posted by rr at 3:06 PM on February 21, 2011

Best answer: If you install the Apple Developer Tools (free download) you get a Quartz Composer development tool as well as example screensavers ("compositions") to give you some ideas on how to get started.

One such demo composition shows a Twitter feed. It is available at: /Developer/Examples/Quartz Composer/Compositions/XML/The Twitterverse/The Twitterverse.qtz

Other examples include a visual RSS feed composition.

Just open up the composition in Quartz Composer to see how it is wired together. You can put a composition into your home folder's screensavers folder and set up a hot corner to start up a screensaver on demand.

If you like getting your hands dirty, you could pretty easily make your own Tweet-feed, RSS-news-feed, visual effect full-screen all-in-one app — making it look and behave however you want it to.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:24 PM on February 21, 2011

Plex. Writing plug ins is straight forward if you want it to do something it currently cannot.
posted by Brian Puccio at 3:37 PM on February 21, 2011

Boxee is good, but you know that the mac mini has Front Row, right?
posted by empath at 6:04 PM on February 21, 2011

posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:22 PM on February 21, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies. Plex really isn't the answer but it seems like the only thing out there. Really surprised there aren't more bigscreen-friendly apps.
posted by teedee2000 at 7:31 AM on February 22, 2011

Response by poster: @empath -- I wasn't looking for media center programs, I was looking for apps with different functionalities (news, social media, ambient, etc.) that play nice with big screens.
posted by teedee2000 at 7:33 AM on February 22, 2011

Check out Kylo. Its a Mozilla based browser that is optimized for large screens/TVs.
posted by mhaw at 9:48 AM on February 24, 2011

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