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Summary:

Apple’s recent hardware announcements including Video iPod have caused a stir, but in reality it is Front Row software that should be getting all the headlines. While not as expansive as Microsoft’s Media Center platform, Front Row has the potential of easing us into the computer-television […]

Apple’s recent hardware announcements including Video iPod have caused a stir, but in reality it is Front Row software that should be getting all the headlines. While not as expansive as Microsoft’s Media Center platform, Front Row has the potential of easing us into the computer-television convergence. I think for those of us who are not early adopters, FrontRow is all about baby steps, while Media Center is for the do-it-yourself crowd.

“Apple is a company that takes complex technology and makes it easier and simpler to use,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs tells Fortune magazine’s Peter Lewis. “Our goal is to stand at the intersection of technology and the humanities.”

Front Row, is one of those products. It is a piece of software that runs on the new iMacs, and when fired-up gives an easy access to Music, Photos, Videos and DVDs and Video Podcasts. A little hackery could give us access to movies we have ripped as well. You can control these with the new Apple Remote. Such solutions have been available for the Windows world for a while, though none of them have been made this easy, and haven’t worked as well as Front Row seems to work.

I wonder why this program is not being offered as a standalone product to other Mac owners? Given that I just bought a brand new Power Book, I am unlikely to spend another $1700 on an iMac, which frankly is the only Mac product I hate. But Apple could still make some incremental dollars selling FrontRow to folks just like me.

I have an extra Powerbook, which I can plug-into my LCD display television using DVI-connector and enjoy the FrontRow on a big screen. It helps me find new use for my old Mac. Of course, it could prompt many of us to opt for buying a Mac Mini and just place it next to the television, or our A/VC set-up. I would gladly pay $49.95 for Front Row. In addition, they could dip into my wallet and charge $79.95 for a bluetooth version of their remote. Alas, Jobs is the new Howard Hughes, and who knows what he will do. This is all wishful thinking of a NyQuill-addled brain.

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  1. A Mac sofware developer and I were chatting about this yesterday. He SPECULATED (and I agreed) that it was likely that Apple would include Front Row in iLife ’06 at Macworld in SF in January. I thought it might be some hardware (chipset) that made it iMac-only. But he said it was only an OpenGL instrction set in software. It’s current iMac-only incarnation was intended to spur sales of iMacs

  2. Cupertino… Start your copiers.

  3. Just ordered a new iMac, delivery not until December, so I’d like to know why iMac is frankly the only Mac product you hate. (I don’t want to experience buyer’s remorse.) Thanks!

  4. Blattman,

    its for two reasons. i much preferred the lamp design of imap, over this current one. secondly, i have heard they get hot. my one experience was that they got so hot that they malfunctioned. some of the others have had the same issue with imac as well. so i urge caution etc. make sure you get applecare when you buy.

  5. I think the heat issue was mostly causing problems in earlier models and has pretty much been resolved. I’ve had mine for about six months now and no problems so far. Had the lamp one before and loved it. Really like my 20′ though…

  6. Turning the Mac Mini into a true media center probably won’t happen till they go to new Intel chipsets in those machines.
    I read that Elgato CEO is now an Apple employee. Who knows what they have in store for us.

  7. Blattman, don’t worry about a thing. I got the iMac G5 in August, and without a doubt, it is the best computer I have ever owned. The current iMac design is much more elegant than the previous ilamp model. My iMac runs pretty darn cool for a G5, usually never more than 130 degrees F. And my fans make a very gentle noise. It’s not as quiet as my laptops, but it’s very acceptable to me.

  8. Thanks for the positive info, everyone. But then again, the new quad G5’s released today are tempting…

  9. just what i feel too.. give me front row and i will buy a new mac mini, but serious consider ur thoughts on imac again. the new one looks cool.. not as cute as the one before(i mean that little cube)with a screen on top but it sure looks nice, if only the screen is made a little more proportional to the size and thos epower problem/noise issues r gone..

  10. Front Row will most likely be available for purchase when a video Airport Express is released. Remember, Steve doesn’t believe the computer belongs in the living room, so this way, your computer stays where it is, and streams the content to your stereo, as it does now with the Airport Express, and to your tv, as it will with the enhanced video Airport Express. Until then we’ll have plenty of time to collect content.

    Also, the ElGato head is not going to be bringing PVR capability to Apple, otherwise he’d have gone to Cupertino. He’s heading the German office.

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