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Apple Businesses Entertainment

Mac mini, Apple DVR? 487

CDPatten was one of several to note the rumor of a new Mac PVR... code named Kaleidoscope and featuring an Intel CPU and Front Row 2.0.
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Mac mini, Apple DVR?

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  • Plus an iPod dock (Score:5, Interesting)

    by axonis ( 640949 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:03AM (#14137636)
    Dont forget the all important iPod dock which was left out at last minute from the PPC version
    • all-important? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by frankie ( 91710 )
      Really wouldn't say that iPod integration is "all important". It would certainly be a nice touch with elegant Apple style, but the value add is maybe 10 bucks max.

      True DVR capability though... if it has both well-designed, powerful iSoftware AND true plug-n-play hardware, that would make it a serious killer device that launches Macs into millions of living rooms.

      If there really is a Macintel mini next month, most likely they'll release a low-end model comparable to the existing high-end, and a premium versi
      • Re:all-important? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @11:28AM (#14138453)
        Really wouldn't say that iPod integration is "all important". It would certainly be a nice touch with elegant Apple style, but the value add is maybe 10 bucks max.
        The iPod is Apple's #1 springboard into content distribution. How much does the value of the high-margin video iPod go up if you can simply drop it on your DVR and automatically get all your selected programming to go, with no further hassle?

        Compared to dedicated products like TiVo, an Apple PVR could have a lot to offer if it is not a closed, locked-down system. Provide a high-quality usable product up-front, but in addition turn the user base loose and see what they come up with. Remember, Apple did not invent podcasting.

        Would an Apple PVR go anywhere Microsoft's media PC hasn't already gone? Since Apple already has content distribution deals with major players like ABC, I'd say it's a possibility. Hardly anybody even knows that Microsoft has its own music-store competitor to iTunes.

    • Re:Plus an iPod dock (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:52AM (#14138062) Homepage Journal
      I thought the conclusion for those solder points was that it couldn't be for a dock because the number and spacing of pins was wrong.
  • by tlacuache ( 768218 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:04AM (#14137641)
    The MPAA filed a lawsuit against Apple this morning, citing massive revenue losses due to the new Apple DVR.
    • Quite seriously, one wonders what irritating DRM Apple will put in to avoid just those suits -- Or worse, add in later "upgrades".
      • Re:In other news... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by God'sDuck ( 837829 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:13AM (#14137723)
        one wonders what irritating DRM Apple will put in

        True...although considering that the mac mini isn't all that much bigger than a VHS tape, if all i wanted to do was tape something and bring it to a friend's house, even if they drm'd it to death i could conceivably just pick up my whole pvr and take it with me everywhere. intriguiging...
        • Let's give credit where credit's due here. I've bought a lot of music through the iTunes Music Store, and other than being asked for a password when I buy a new machine, I've had zero trouble with iTunes DRM. I download the music, and it just works on the computers I have registered for it.

          If any company can manage seamless, quality DRM acceptable to all parties, it's Apple.

          D
        • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @11:46AM (#14138617)
          True...although considering that the mac mini isn't all that much bigger than a VHS tape
          But the Mac Mini as we know it is not a PVR. The obvious problem (mentioned in the article) is the use of laptop hard drives, a very bad choice for a PVR. Then they need somewhere to put a tuner for analog signals, and hardware video compression circuitry. They need a digital audio out, plus composite, s-video, and hopefully component video outputs. In other words, of all the specialized requirements for a PVR, the Mac Mini hardly meets any of them, and doesn't have any room inside for expansion.

          Besides, I doubt Apple would try to push portability in a PVR design anyways. They'd probably rather people use the video iPod for that.

          • Re:In other news... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by gnasher719 ( 869701 )
            >> Then they need somewhere to put a tuner for analog signals, and hardware video compression circuitry. They need a digital audio out, plus composite, s-video, and hopefully component video outputs...

            Fortunately I live in Britain, where all you need is a demultiplexer to grab the digital signal and record it completely unchanged on the harddisk. Since a settop box with receiver, demultiplexer and decoder costs less than £30, all the functionality should be quite cheap.

            If you then consider that
      • To be honest, I havent ever had a problem with the iTunesMS DRM. iTunes itself doesnt add DRM to CD rips, I was fully aware of the limitations of the files I bought from iTunesMS and it has never ever been a problem, so what makes you think anything they add to a DVR would be any different? Or am I just supposed to nod and agree that DRM is bad bad bad, naughty Apple etc etc?
      • Re:In other news... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by network23 ( 802733 ) *

        ...one wonders what irritating DRM Apple will put in...

        Apple doesn't irritate me with DRM. iTunes is a very good ripping machine that doesn't care about what you are doing.

        You can even drag folders and folders of illegal MP3s directly into iTunes to be automagically sorted and becoming a first class citizens together with your legally purchased music from iTunes Music Store.

        And you can mix. Burn.

        And transfer all your files to as many iPods you want.

        And you can copy ALL your music - except songs bough

      • There will probably only be the typical HDTV flag issues (if they support HiDef). Apple doesn't typically add DRM to content they did not provide themselves. Now I hope this box will be snappy enough to play the TV shows off of iTunes. My current box can't. Right now I pay $2 per episode of Housewives and Lost but still have to find a torrent because DIVX plays better than QuickTime (mp4?) + DRM on my machine.
  • The excuse I need. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:08AM (#14137684) Homepage Journal
    To own a Mac is to have it give me some functionality I cannot easily derive from my Windows PC in a format that doesn't collide with my entertainment center.

    I would like to have a Mac around to experience OS/X but I don't need it and therefor have no reason to spend the money. Make it do something useful for me that I would have to already spend money to have and then I can consider it.

    Yeah I know TiVO is big, my friends have them. I also see MCE and some Linux solutions. The first is proprietary and the other two require work on my end to have something that both looks decent and might actually work.

    If Apple can deliver a PVR that also allows me to dabble with OS/X who knows where it might lead. The big IF is, will they price it for the market or let their ego do the pricing?
    • Be careful. This summer, I bought an iMac for my wife to use. Now my Gentoo box, which previously was switched on 24/7 and had months of continuous uptime is standing alone and unloved in a cold room, switched off almost permanently and I'm wondering whether to purchase a mac mini to replace it.

      OS X is so damnned good that I've pretty much abandoned Linux after been devoted to it for many years.
    • on a separate drive, put your Windows OS and/or Linux. That way you will have the connectivity you desire and the stability and security of OSX and Linux.
    • by utexaspunk ( 527541 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:40AM (#14137948)
      Yeah I know TiVO is big, my friends have them. I also see MCE and some Linux solutions. The first is proprietary and the other two require work on my end to have something that both looks decent and might actually work.

      So you dismissed the TiVo because it's proprietary and yet would like a DVR from Apple? I seriously doubt whatever Apple releases will be any less proprietary than TiVo...
  • Will MythTV run? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drewzhrodague ( 606182 ) <drew AT zhrodague DOT net> on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:08AM (#14137685) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if MythTV will run, or how their software stacks-up against MythTV. I really enjoyed having a Myth in the living room, but it is pretty annoying to make a PC into a set-top, with cables, adaptors, and stuff. Machines built for the set-top are (obviously) more specialized, but generally lack major features (like keyboards, mice, MAME, etc). Maybe I should have picked up a PVR-250 yesterday during the non-sale.
  • by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:10AM (#14137698)
    Reminds me of the line "What is it? We're not saying yet, but that won't stop you from posting about it on every message board you have access to."
  • video ipod (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aberson ( 461047 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:11AM (#14137705) Homepage
    this is an obvious step... it better be able to sync with a video ipod.

    Seriously, who cares about "Watching their music"
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:18AM (#14137765)
      Seriously, who cares about "Watching their music"

      Those of us on acid, naturally.
    • Re:video ipod (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tpgp ( 48001 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:18AM (#14137770) Homepage
      this is an obvious step... it better be able to sync with a video ipod.

      I can guarantee that it will not sync with the video ipod in a useful way (ie transcode TV shows to ipod's low res format)

      Because:

      1) I doubt this thing will be fast enough to transcode a TV show in a timeframe deemed acceptable to Apple's high QA standards.

      2) Revenue sources (why would anyone buy what they can set their shiny new Apple PVR to record?)

      3) Fear of getting sued.
      • Re:video ipod (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Gulthek ( 12570 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:31AM (#14137876) Homepage Journal
        1) I doubt this thing will be fast enough to transcode a TV show in a timeframe deemed acceptable to Apple's high QA standards.

        Apple has a QA standard to tv transcoding? The closest thing I can think of is an iDVD encoding which can take hours on my dual 1.8Ghz. I'm sure that a mac mini can transcode a tv show to low res in less than hours. Hell, even with the hardware that's in the little boxes now shows could almost be transcoded on the fly. How is that not good enough?

        2) Revenue sources (why would anyone buy what they can set their shiny new Apple PVR to record?)

        The same reason people with tivos still buy DVDs, extra content. If you refer to the music store, then I submit that their ultimate goal is to be the content distribution medium for videos and shows that *aren't* on network television. Think of Star Trek: Beyond; now replace Star Trek with New, Brilliantly Written, Made by the Viewer tv show. Such a beast could never hope to reach a market via television unless they were very lucky; but now anyone can make a show and get it on iTunes.

        3) Fear of getting sued.

        Silly. It would be no more than a portable tivo.
    • Like the likely PS3-as-PVR -> PSP link.

      (PSP as a LocationFree client is already confirmed and shipping...)
  • by ian_mackereth ( 889101 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:12AM (#14137714) Journal
    I hate the way that it keeps charging me 99c every time a music track plays in the background... At least it won't have some of the annoying features of Windows Media. I hate it when Clippy appears and says "You seem to be watching pro wrestling. Shall I e-order beer and pizza for you?"
  • Mini-mac PVR (Score:5, Informative)

    by dvdungeon ( 761065 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:16AM (#14137745)
    I'm already using my mini-mac as a pvr. Mini-mac, plus eyeTV (via firewire) plus 21" lcd = pvr. It does recording, live pause thingy, editing, plays dvds and music. I use an external 160 usb drive for recording, and can archive to dvd. The eyetv software gets listings from the internet. Not bad for a quite little box. Matt
    • Re:Mini-mac PVR (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Golias ( 176380 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:58AM (#14138133)
      Likewise. The EyeTV 500 is a nice little HD tuner that lets the mini do the work of a PVR, along with all the other usual stuff.

      Since I use a projection system and don't really need my media computer to be teeny-tiny, I'm actually replacing it this week with a refurb G5 tower. The mini is going into my music studio rack as a headless digital audio processor. Versitile little gadgets, those minis.
  • by mattyohe ( 517995 ) <matt.yohe@NOsPAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:17AM (#14137758)
    This makes perfect sense. Now you will be able to have some sort of integration between the DVR app and iTunes to load up your iPod with your saved tv shows...

    But now that I think about it, this would cannibalize iTunes TV show sales... Maybe this is all rumor?
    • But now that I think about it, this would cannibalize iTunes TV show sales... Maybe this is all rumor?
      Well, think about this... maybe steve jobs wasn't able to nail down contracts with anyone other than disney^H^H^H^H^H^HABC. So this is his way to insure the Video iPod will succeed..
    • Apple couldn't care less. They will make more money on hardware, than on selling tv shows. Short term and long term. -Remember that they are gunning for total iTunes dominance.
    • But now that I think about it, this would cannibalize iTunes TV show sales... Maybe this is all rumor?

      Sort of the way the ability to rip CDs and import downloaded songs cannibalizes iTunes music sales? Apple has been using the same model for years, they break even on consumer software and services in order to sell hardware and professional grade software. I don't think they care if users use the iTunes store except in that it leads to iPod and Mac sales and counters an MS file format lock-in on media.

    • by Johnny Mozzarella ( 655181 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @11:32AM (#14138492)
      People can get music on their iPods for free. Why would anybody buy from iTMS?
      Once Apple has millions of these in living rooms, there will be a much larger potential audience for paid video content.
      Not a lot of people are buying iTunes TV shows because not a lot of people have a Digital Home Theater.
  • Times Have Changed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PacketScan ( 797299 )
    Wow I am very happy with the direction that apple has taken in the past few years. They are truly coming back as a worth while competitor.
  • Kaleidoscope (Score:5, Informative)

    by derniers ( 792431 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:23AM (#14137810)
    way back when Kaleidoscope was a nifty UI app for OS 9 and the guy who wrote it (Greg Landweber) went to work for Apple
    • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:40AM (#14137952)
      Greg Landweber ascended to the mother ship? Decent example of Apple taking on someone whose main product Jobs didn't really agree with. Steve-o has never much liked the custom "skins" idea, and basically killed it with OS X.

      For those who aren't familiar, the old Kaleidoscope gave you the ability to drop "skins" over the OS 9 finder and OS, to the point where you could go with a complete BeOS or any number of completely outlandish looks and feels.

      Half of the results weren't amazingly useful, exactly, but it was so easy to develop a new scheme that you could easily tinker around and produce yout own flavor. The archive of schemes [kaleidoscope.net] pretty much says it all.

  • Form Factor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Snorklefish ( 639711 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:24AM (#14137824)
    If Apple wants to be at the center of the A/V world, I suggest they build a machine that can physically sit at the center of a typical A/V ensemble. The mini's size makes sense on a crowded desk. But putting a mini on top of your tower of A/V components looks silly and feels cheap.
  • ...by the burst of kaleidoscopic light.
  • Why build when... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WebGangsta ( 717475 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:27AM (#14137849)
    Apple should just go ahead and buy TiVo and get it over with.

    TiVo already negotiated the ability to transfer files to the Video iPod, so why not go the next step and put the iPod connector directly on the box itself?

    • Re:Why build when... (Score:5, Informative)

      by renderhead ( 206057 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:43AM (#14137974)
      TiVo negotiated nothing. They're just incorporating the technology to automatically convert the video they record into a format that the iPod supports (which is completely open - simply MPEG-4 video that fits within certain dimensions). A nice feature, but they didn't require or receive Apple's cooperation.
  • Maybe it'll only support DVB systems, cutting down on the need to do transcoding on the fly. However Apple will have to adapt to the different DVB standards (DVB-C, DVB-T and DVB-S), as well as offering the various encryption options. They will also have to support the various output connectors used by TV systems in the world, as a composite video connection will not be good enough. There's also differences in some of the DVB implementations - for example the UK uses a different system for text applications
    • I'd kill for something as good as Tivo in the UK (Sky+ is a pale imitation) however DVB-S is probably a non-starter, since Sky will *never* release the details of their encryption to *anyone*.

      HDMI inputs, and the ability to control an STB would do the trick - just like Tivo but ready for HD when it arrives. For SD of course SCART is an absolute necessity (biggest problem with MCE at the moment is it's *very* hard to find capture cards with SCART inputs, so they can't be attached to standard media systems).
  • Price cut? (Score:2, Informative)

    As it stand now the base cost for a Mac mini is $499. Seems a little expensiveif you're only using it for a DVR considering replayTV starts at $179 and TiVo at $199 ($79 and $49 with instant rebates).
    • I'm hoping for the price cut, too, but there would be added value that the Mac would have over the replayTV. Here are some of the things that I'm positive Apple would include as features that no sub-$400 DVR does:

      1.) Plays DVDs. No need for a separate DVD player.
      2.) Plays and rips CDs
      3.) Stores and plays your digital music library
      4.) Allows both audio and video downloads from the iTunes Music Store (tangent: will they be renaming it to simply the "iTunes Store" in the near future?)
      5.) Sync with the iPod dir
    • It's also a DVD player with upconversion. I currently use a PC as my primary DVD player, and VGA out to a projector is sweeeet.
  • In the meantime... (Score:4, Informative)

    by sootman ( 158191 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:31AM (#14137881) Homepage Journal
    ...I'm a huge fan of MediaCentral. [mh1.de] It does just a few things and does them very well. Amazing that it's just a 0.1 release, unlike CenterStage, which--as neat as it will surely be, someday--has been in development since February and is currently at a semi-functional 0.4. It's also very simple to use. Key features:
    - plays movies
    - plays DVDs
    - plays DVDs ripped to a VIDEO_TS folder and the parent folder name is what shows up in the menu
    It also works with EyeTV products, but I don't have or care about that--being a happy DirecTiVo owner, I was just looking for something that does everything the TiVo doesn't. Works with some ATI remotes, according to the site, and it also works with my $30 Keyspan DMR remote control. Just set '*" to be 'quit' and 'stop' to be 'eject' (in addition to the regular keys--left, right, up, down, enter=middle, space=play/pause, escape=menu) and you're in business. Runs fine on my base (1.25 GHz, 256 MB) Mini.
  • by osewa77 ( 603622 )
    PVRs are the way to go for TV entertainment. If Apple can become the king in this area, they'll make an awful lot of money. ooking forward to it.
  • by Fahrvergnuugen ( 700293 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:46AM (#14138008) Homepage

    There is software available as part of the Apple FireWire SDK that lets you record MPEG2 streams direct from a firewire enabled cable box. Hmmm....

    Check here [macosxhints.com], here [avsforum.com] and here: [use this link: http://machdtvtimer.home.comcast.net/%5D [comcast.net] for more info.

  • Deal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:50AM (#14138046) Homepage Journal
    Two years ago, I put my old notebook in the living room as an entertainment center. Since then I've tried MythTV and half a dozen other solutions, but none of them satisfy me (I want DVD, video and music playback, no TV functionality). Today I run mplayer or xine from the commandline, it's the least hassle.

    If this thing actually appears, I have an old notebook for sale.

    No way in hell am I giving M$ the keys to my living room. Linux was tried, but didn't quite work out. I do have confidence in Apple to pull this off. I'm very much looking forward to the Expo.

  • I think there are a large number of people waiting for this product. This might make me buy a second mac mini. I know several freinds thinking of using Mini's as a Myth front end. What I want to see with this is 5.1 audio support on the mini!!
  • If this actually materializes, it'll be interesting to see what other features are included. I love my Mac - but I also love my Tivo. Apple will have to give folks like me a compelling reason to "switch", since it's hard to imagine them significantly improving on the Tivo experience. As a matter of fact, Front Row seems pretty Tivo-like in its operation.

    Having a built-in DVD player might be a selling point for some...
  • I was long one of those geeks building my own computers, snorting derisively at the Mac price/power ratio...

    But somewhere along the way my attitude changed and I am looking for something fresh. I am getting tired of sorting out MB conflicts, windows conflicts etc...

    I have also come to the point where the power curve is really flattening. My many years old Athlon is still adequate in power for all my needs. Any PC I buy will likely last me many years now.

    Everything is lining up now and buy a well packaged qu
  • by Cereal Box ( 4286 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @11:22AM (#14138385)
    This may be a little offtopic, but I just wanted to share my disappointment in using the Mac Mini as an entertainment center (didn't even bother with the DVR stuff).

    • Cost -- the Mac Mini is a little expensive. But that's OK, I had originally bought it as a general-purpose desktop, and later decided to it a shot as an entertainment center and having constant problems with my Windows entertainment center.
    • Audio -- the only decent 5.1 audio solutions for the Mini are USB or Firewire hardware from M-Audio. The cheapest one I could find that does proper AC3 passthrough was something like $80-$100, and it was just some cheezy little USB thing! Turtle Beach sells pretty much the same thing for $20, and it works on the Mac, but without the AC3 passthrough (if you're curious, AC3 passthrough works on Windows). Oh, and let's not forget, the M-Audio units require you to do a manual AC3/PCM selection! I.e., you can't just go from listening to MP3s to 5.1 sound when watching a movie unless you manually change the output format. Geez.
    • Video -- the DVI connection works great on my HDTV. Unfortunately, I have to shell out $20 for a program that will allow me to set the Mini's display resolution to 1280x768 (the TVs native resolution). VGA is not an option, because my TV will do image realignment every time I switch back to the VGA input, and if I'm watching 4:3 pillarboxed material, the image will be shifted quite a bit to the left.
    • Remotes -- The only IR remote I could find was the crappy Keyspan remote. That thing has only like 20 buttons! You've really got to get creative if you want this thing to control your entertainment center. And before you ask, I can't use the ATI Remote Wonder because it's an RF remote, and I want to use my IR universal remote to control the Mini.
    • Software -- By far the worst offender. CenterStage just plain didn't work with my ripped DVDs (a series of VIDEO_TS folders on a share). Matinee didn't seem to work either. I wasn't going to bother with MythTV (way too much hassle on OS X). There really is a stunning lack of passable frontend software for the Mac. It's a shame, really.


    These are all the problems I ran into, and I can't imagine how much trouble it would've been getting emulators to work in addition to movies/music (none of the frontends seemed to support emulators).

    So to all those that think the Mac Mini is a good entertainment center choice, I say think again! It's really expensive, the software is terrible, and the hardware issues are a real pain. You know what I did recently? Spent far less money on an XBox and put XBMC on it. It works just the way I expect it to, and with a lot less hassle!
  • Mac mini done better (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wootest ( 694923 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @11:26AM (#14138441)
    I'm not at all terribly into the DVR aspects of the new Mac mini. It's nice, but there are plenty of other things to get more excited about.

    First... An Intel Mac mini means a sub-$500 computer that runs OS X and Windows. Steve Jobs quipped during the launch of the first Mac mini that they wanted to price it so that "people who are, you know, thinking of switching, will have no more excuses". With this they won't even need to keep their own PC - assuming the storage is plentiful and drivers available, they can transfer over all old files from their PC and keep their old environment truckin' in addition to working in OS X.

    Speaking of storage. Think Secret's report notices that a 3.5" HD might be in the cards (instead of the current 2.5") which would, even after adding bulk to the relatively small machine, be a good move as it would allow for more storage and cheaper drives. The most spacious 2.5" drives Apple offer today are 120GB for the Powerbook and only 100GB on the mini - the smallest 3.5" Apple will let you get away with on the iMac is a 160GB drive.

    While we're dreaming, I hope Apple will make Superdrive (DVD+-RW and Dual Layer) standard, and add Gigabit Ethernet, an extra USB port or two and certainly an extra RAM slot.
  • by jocknerd ( 29758 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @11:38AM (#14138539)
    Apple is too close with Hollywood. Cable and Satellite companies own the DVR market from here on out. Unless Apple and them agree on a way to extract the recordings off the cable box, it just won't happen. Apple knows this.

    Apple will make a Mac mini running an Intel chip that will be a media player though. It will connect to your television and stereo. It will show photos, play music, and play videos that are on the computer. But it won't record television broadcasts.
  • What about games? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @11:54AM (#14138699)
    You hook up a couple USB or bluetooth game controllers and you have yourself the best looking game console around. Maybe not as its main feature, but there are plenty of games out for OSX to make a Mac Mini a versatile PVR, game console, DVD player/recorder and living room PC.

    The key would be not to limit functionality to make it feel too much like a special purpose device, but to have a simple button to switch the software from one mode to the other. Maybe just have a remote like a multipurpose remote, with buttons on the top for switching between different modes, and a cool ipod like menu wheel. That would be pretty slick.

  • makes sense, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by penguin-collective ( 932038 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @11:57AM (#14138739)
    The Mac Mini makes sense as a PVR, from its form factor and appearance. But, as someone who has been trying to use it for just that purpose, I have to say: they need to do something about performance, both of the hardware and of OS X itself. It's not just that the system needs MPEG hardware encoding/decoding, they also need to make OS X less of a resource hog (or ship with 1G of memory), need to make the screen rendering more efficient, and fix a lot of other performance issues. None of that matters much on a big Macintosh, but on these little machines, it is an issue.

    As it is, I use my Mac Mini for DVD playback and as a jukebox; as a PVR, it's not all that usable in its current form.
  • by BoraSport ( 702369 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @12:24PM (#14138996) Homepage

    Disclaimer... I am an Apple zealot. I have tasted the Koolaid and it was good.

    The new iMac with the built in camera, remote, and Front Row was interesting. It was tied to the iTunes music store and created (either by accident or design) the largest iPod on the planet, complete with 20inch LCD if desired. If we apply the remote technology and Front Row from the iMac to the Mini we can in effect turn it into a giant iPod dock.

    With the new video iPod we can already perform almost everything we can do in Front Row on a TV by just connecting the iPod. To be really interesting the Mini will need to tap into a greater source of content. It is the content that is the key to any PVR/DVR solution IMO. Comcast manages their content through OnDemand, Tivo was wildly successful because it taped into a huge content store, starting with over the air, then moving to satellite. Unless the Mini can at a minimum support the content I already pay for (digital cable in my case) then I'm really not interested.

    There is another post here talking about connecting to digital cable through the firewire connection on the cable box. That would be the least desirable method, but even that would be enough for me to make the purchase. HOWEVER, this firewire connection must be native to the product, not a hack. Ideally I would like to see a cablecard slot in the Mini but that is because I pay for cable. I'm not sure what the best solution is for the folks out there that are using satellite.

    My prediction is that the new features of the Mini will tap into a Apple managed content pool, the iTunes store. The launch of this device will coincide with the launch of a much larger video content pool on iTunes, and, if we're lucky, the ability to rip your DVD's to the mini.

    Ripping DVD's creates its own set of headaches on the Mini. Even with a switch to 3.5 inch hard drives there would still only be room for 1 drive in the system. Even if that drive were a 500gb SATA monster my DVD collection would not fit on the drive. My hope is that Apple will recognize this and let the Mini be the engine or brain allowing me to access a much larger NAS storage solution. I don't want to have to stack external firewire drives next to my Mini in the entertainment center.

    This type of separation is a week spot already in the iTunes library. I keep all my music on a NAS appliance at home so that my wife and I can access it at the same time with out a server. When I add new music to the NAS appliance I have to go to my wife's machine and add the new folder to her library. My hope is that a new media center focused Mini could solve this issue by allowing our computers to access the Mini as a server for all of our content, music, video, etc. But if the Mini is limited to internal storage it really won't be able to keep up with the volume of content.

    PVR/DVR solutions don't really have this problem because by design, you never own the content. It is assumed that the content on these drives would be overwritten over time. Apple on the other hand sells their content through the iTunes store so it is expected that the user would keep their content because they own it. It is the balance between these two sales models that needs to be addressed, prior to releasing any PVR/DVR functions on a new Mini.

  • by tji ( 74570 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @01:15PM (#14139510)
    We all know how reliable Think Secret is with there "inside info". This looks like another case of ass-talking.

    Some of their quotes from this article just seemed silly.. "It is similarly unknown whether Apple will scrap the 2.5-inch hard drive currently featured in the Mac mini in favor a standard 3.5-inch hard drive". WTF? Have they seen a Mac Mini? A 3.5" drive would require a completely new, much larger, case. Also, 3.5" drives account for 10W+ more power/heat, which is a no-go in the tiny confines of the Mac Mini.

    Ever since the x86 announcement, people have been speculating that the Mini would be one of the first to go Intel. I don't see this.. Even the Pentium-M processors can't go as low in power/heat as the PowerPC G4's. The extremely small space of the Mini tells me that it would be the last to go x86, not the first.

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