31 Comments

Summary:

Apple’s brand new 27-inch iMacs come with an interesting feature: the ability to act as a display for connected devices via the built-in DisplayPort connection. This means that, with the proper adaptors, you can connect an array of home theatre devices to the iMac, including Blu-Ray […]

new imacs

Apple’s brand new 27-inch iMacs come with an interesting feature: the ability to act as a display for connected devices via the built-in DisplayPort connection. This means that, with the proper adaptors, you can connect an array of home theatre devices to the iMac, including Blu-Ray players. The screen has also moved to the HDTV standard 16:9 ratio and it’s wall mountable. All of this makes me think one thing, my next HDTV may be an iMac.

The setup would be relatively straightforward. The new iMacs already come with wireless mouse and keyboard, so controlling it from your couch isn’t a problem. Add a tuner attachment from Elgato to get your cable on the iMac, as well as DVR capabilities. Plug in your Blu-Ray player via DisplayPort and then install any of the plethora of multimedia interfaces available for the Mac. My personal favorite is Boxee.

None of this is particularly groundbreaking, you could have done something very similar with a bit more hackage the day before the new iMacs were announced. But it does lead one to start thinking in an interesting direction. There’s no doubt that the computer and the television are moving towards convergence. Apple’s made its first play for the digital living room with the Apple TV, to less than impressive results, as we’ve discussed before. It’s also a company that learns from its mistakes and has a history of taking small, evolutionary steps that can, in a few years, add up to some really exciting changes. Just look at how they’ve handled multitouch.

Combine these small steps with the slow death of desktop computers and Apple has to be thinking about what the future of the iMac will be. What would be the next steps toward a real iMac as HDTV? Well, you’d need to integrate the tuner, and you’d definitely have to offer a large range of sizes, while simultaneously dropping prices. This wouldn’t be quite as hard as you might imagine. The current 27-inch iMac is much more powerful than you really need, and the cost of LCD displays is quickly dropping. Integrate the Apple TV’s media interface and tweak OS X a bit to make it easier to control from ten feet away and you’re almost there.

Do I think this is definitely the direction Apple is moving with the iMac? Not necessarily, but its actions thus far have certainly got me thinking about it and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple make a strong play at the high-end of the HDTV market. In a few years you may be able to buy 30, 40 and 50 inch iMacs, at a premium over standard HDTVs, but with a lot more functionality built-in. It’s certainly Apple’s style to go into an industry and try to slice off the top 10 percent of market share, which also happens to include the lion’s share of the profits. It’s done it in computers, it’s done it with cell phones, why not with HDTVs?

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  1. I find all of this silly. The imac is waaayyy too much computer for your living room. A mac mini mountable on the back of any HDTV makes sense. An expensive computer on a crappy (in terms of HDTV size, features) screen isn’t going to bridge the living room gap.

    1. Chris,

      I think I didn’t make this clear enough in the article, but when I mention that the current 27-inch iMac is way more powerful than you need I am agreeing with you that Apple would need to reduce the computing power in order for this to work. But imagine a big display a la the iMac with the guts of a Mac Mini.

      -Alfredo

  2. sokratesagogo Friday, October 23, 2009

    Intriguing idea – nice article.

  3. Bradley Dichter Friday, October 23, 2009

    How exactly does this work? Say you have a MiniDisplayPort to HDMI adapter, use it in reverse of it’s former purpose and connect up your blu-ray player or set top box. Then what do you do on the Mac to see this signal? A new option in the Displays System Preference Panel? Picture in Picture would be nice if this was TV or HDTV and you have a 27″ model with more than enough resolution.

  4. I remember back in the day circa 1994 the Gateway Destination was billed as an all in 1 computer TV, media center with a harmond Kardon AV Controller, Surround SOund, the works running windows 98.
    And it came with a huge 37″ tube TV. (It weighed alot) I purchased one and it worked great for about a year, then Windows Rot set in and let me tell you there is NOTHING more frustrating than having to troubleshoot a system like this just to watch TV. The convergence of the 2 medium can only be a success if you can bypass the OS altogether and have an instant on for the display to just give you TV functionality.

    1. Good point!

  5. sokratesagogo Friday, October 23, 2009

    Not necessarily Chris,

    Shelling out for another computer with more oomph in a room in addition to the mini in the living room will start to equalize the costs, not to mention space issues. The kids would also probably thankyou for it too.

  6. Not bad if it’s more tv, less computer. I still find computing to be a personal thing. I like to surf the internet, listen to music, or whatever else in privacy, not in my living room.

  7. A built in AppleTV/MacMini within large screen (36″-52″) made for Apple LCD is the future for most of us. An iMac or MacPro and a portable MacBook/MacBookPro/large iPodTouch will be the second/third computer in the home/home business.

    The future looks nice…good article, right on the money.

  8. I sincerely believe we are seeing the first stage of the revolution in the complete cloud home entertainment media center – you can watch TV, videos, play games, web surfing, computing, etc. The hint is the server farm in NC.

    We are really entering into very exciting times – courtesy of our favorite fruit.

  9. What is more natural for a real Apple TV then large 42″, 50″ or more Plasma/LCD/LED screen with build in Blue Ray Player & build in Tuner.
    Just add a keyboard with track ped (You don’t need a mouse in your leaving room) and you got TV the way it should and will be in the next 5 year.

    Give it HDMI input for games too…

    Call it iMac or whatever. It is coming! I’m sure of it.

    Boaz

  10. I’m glad someone else picked up on theis. When Apple mentioned something specific about being able to use the 27″ iMac to watch movies I thought the wording sounded suspiciously like foreshadowing a “new” APple TV.

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