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Apple in the Living Room

Now it's getting interesting. Steve Jobs has announced the iPod Hi-Fi, which is an audiophile-quality boombox iPod dock. Featuring three speakers, a sealed resin case (to keep vibration down), and even SPDIF optical input (!!!), the iPod Hi-Fi brings Apple into the living room.  And the kitchen. And the garage. And even outdoors, because the unit can be powered by D batteries like any boom box. It comes with adaptors for every current iPod, and the Shuffle can plug into an Aux input.

The electronics in your living room, other than your stereo, is usually the television. Apple hasn't announced an explicit PVR unit, but with the new Mac Mini they probably don't need to. There is a Core Duo and Core Solo version, each one far outperforming the G4-based predecessor while keeping the same form factor. The Mac Mini sports 4 USB ports, a Firewire port, and Gigabit Ethernet. And due to its small size, quiet operation, built-in infared port/Apple Remote and the option to attach a television as a display, the Mini can be used in your entertainment center.

Why would we want to do that? Well, the new Front Row media center software from Apple ships with the Mac Mini, and the updated version (available later this week via Software Update) will support Bonjour/Zeroconf ad hoc networking. In English, this means your Mac Mini will have full, automatic access to your iTunes Video library no matter what computer in your network it happens to be stored on.

Now, pair this Mac Mini with Elgato's EyeTV PVR, and you have your functioning living room Mac PVR. The newer EyeTVs have their own remote control, but perhaps an update will allow EyeTV recordings to be shared with FrontRow just like the iTunes downloads, which would be the killer app for me- my EyeTV is installed in my office on my main computer with lots of storage available, so I end up watching shows on my Mac. What would be great is to have that streamed automagically to any Mac in the house.... possible with open source streaming apps like VLC, but most desirable when done in a no-fuss automatic fashion.

The Bomjour networking in FrontRow will also support iPhoto for photo slideshows.

Some of the other rumored products that were much anticipated but not announced (and so may not even exist): a Mac Tablet computer, an Apple Phone, a Video iPod with large touchscreen display, and studio movie downloads via iTMS.

So, Elgato, care to up the ante and get EyeTV speaking Bonjour?

Posted on February 28, 2006 | Permalink | Tag this post with del.icio.us | This Post Now Lives Here


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