I have a Mac Mini, but I don't use it, except when I need to test Mac-based CAD software or install an update. So rarely that I figured I could use it as a media delivery unit. I have the Linux-powered BRIX box in our downstairs entertainment room, hooked up to a 720p projector and an 80" screen. My wife calls this the Summer Entertainment Room, because the screen blacks out light from the windows and it is too cold to sit in that basement room in Winter.
Last week, I put the Mac Mini in our upstairs Family Room, hooked it up to a 40" tv. The one thing I really like about the Mini is that the power supply is inside the unit, so I just need a common power cord for it. (This particular unit was the last model to include a DVD drive, another bonus.) The other thing I plugged in was the USB receiver for Logitech's K400 wireless keyboard/touchpad.
The first time I used it was to show to guests a video my daughter made. It was embarrassing, because the Apple product randomly blanked the screen during the 20-minute video. The same happened trying to watch last week's The Amazing Race from the CTV Web site.
The blank-out typically consists of two parts: first, the screen goes grayish with pixels displaying random colors, then the screen goes black. After two or three seconds, the correct image reappears.
It was time to research the problem. It turns out that the blanking-out video problem is a well known frustration to Mac Mini users, and is the kind of Bad Apple news that the popular technical press suppresses. All kinds of solutions were proposed by upset owners, but none seemed to last. Those who still had warranty coverage had their units replaced, but no go. The problem seemed permanent, and one that no amount of unicorn tears could salve.
I never did learn the technical reason for the problem, but clearly there is some incompatibility between the third-party graphics chipset or Apple's home-grown drivers, and hi-def (1080p) tv screens. The problem does not present itself on hi-def (1920x1080) monitors.
After reading several forums worth of complaints and solutions that failed, I wondered if lowering the resolution would work. A lower resolution would put less load on whatever facilities the Mac needed to produce raster images quickly. My idea worked.
I reduced the Mac's resolution to 720p (1280x720) and I have not seen a blank-out since.