More on Personal Video Revolution

december 13, 2005

In the comments for Personal Video Revolution, Aaron mentioned something interesting about Apple. Apple did not create the podcast, but with their iTunes software and directory, they have made this nebulous piece of technology readily available to the general public in a sweet candy-coated fashion. The new Mac mini is rumored to be coming to market this January. It is also rumored to have a great feature set including an iPod dock, Front Row 2.0 and Apple's own DVR software (a "TiVo-killer"). If anything can sound as sweet as that settop box, I haven't seen it yet. Here's what would kill Microsoft's "Media Center" attempt at getting into the livingroom: Mac mini with above mentioned iPod dock, Front Row, DVR software, and remote control. A good set of connectors in the back or even a break out box so that cable managment can be easy. On the hardware side, I hope that Apple is smart enough to realize a computer in the livingroom cannot be loud. Microsoft does not seem to understand this and a lot of the machines that use Media Center have loud fans -- even the new Xbox 360 has loud fans. People don't want loud fans whirring away when they are trying to watch a quiet scene on their TV. Apple needs to eliminate all fans on the Mac mini, even if it means choosing a slower speed CPU. Apple needs to put a huge and quiet harddrive in the mini -- the 2.5" drives in the current minis make the package so small, but rather limited in size and very costly per gigabyte. If Apple can put a 3.5" low-RPM (again, for quiet) drive into the mini that would lower the cost of the machine and give more room for media -- though, in the end it would probably make the mini a bit larger. Bluetooth needs to be standard for the new mini if it is going to be a settop box. That will allow for the use of Apple's wireless keyboard, mouse and even a BT remote control if possible -- BT remote would let the user control the mini from different rooms as opposed to an IR remote. The bare minimum for (media) connectors would be: 1 set Composite video, 1 set Component video, 1 HDMI, 1 DVI, 1 SPDIF digital audio connector, 1 Optical audio connector, 1 TV antenna input, 1 S-Video input, 1 1394 input, and 1 Optical audio input. When I listed those out, it became kind of a long list. I think a nice breakout box would be needed to get all those connectors. This would allow for maximum connectivity. The mini should have a DVDRW drive for exporting of video. As for software, Apple seems to have it all done with the listed software. iTunes should be modified to have video podcast subscriptions. Apple's then got a real hit on their hands with a box that can record from live TV, playback videos that are bought from iTunes Music Store (missed an episode of Lost? Get it for $2 on the iTunes Music Store), listen to music/podcasts on the TV/home theatre system, and watch video podcasts. People can check their email and also surf the web with the new Mac mini using their HDTVs, but it would probably not be a household's dedicated machine. This could definitely work out for Apple if they approach it correctly -- and knowing how Steve Job's is, they are probably going down this path already. I can't wait!