Currently Being ModeratedMay 16, 2012 6:34 AM (in response to AJ-9)
They run completely different Operating Systems. The Mac Mini is a computer. It is settup to run with a keyboard and mouse. YES, you can run iTunes and show your movies. But if you want the other services such as Netflix, you will need to access them via your browser.
Apple TV is an appliance. It runs completely via the Apple Remote and has a GUI that supports the simplified remote keys. All the services are bundled.
Currently Being ModeratedMay 16, 2012 7:15 AM (in response to AJ-9)
Mac Mini offers Equinux, EyeTV, Front Row, (Front Row no longer is available in 10.7) as remote control operable media servers. A hack known as Boxee offers more compatibility to AppleTV, which may break upon an AppleTV software update. Pre July 2011 Mac Minis had built-in DVD drives. External drives are an option for all Mac Minis. And Bluray is finally an option for Macs:
While in the U.S. one can't convert commercial movie discs to alternative formats legally, many commercial movie vendors now offer a link on DVDs you purchase to an online place to download an iTunes Store version of the movie to your machine.
DVD players that come with Macs are region protected.
In the end, until the MPAA gets its grasp over people's desire for portability, it really matters which service has most of your favorite videos, and using those devices you can afford that can access most of your favorite videos.