Just why would I want an iTV?

18 Comments

For about 8 months now I’ve been a proud owner of a Mac Mini thats sole purpose in life is to reside underneath my TV. Of course it functions as a media server, but it is a full blown mac after all so can do pretty much anything you want. Here’s the rundown of what mine gets used for:

  • iTunes Library Sharing
  • Serving downloaded and personal video via airport
  • PVR (for Freeview Digital TV here in the UK) via EyeTV for DTT, recording both TV and Radio
  • Spam Filter for 2 email accounts (using Spamsieve)
  • Downloading torrents using Transmission
  • Watching/Downloading Video podcasts with Democracy
  • Front Row/Media Central playback via the TV (of course)
  • Quick, accessible backup server for important files from other computers in the household or at work via FTP

I guess what I’m trying to point out that having a machine that is reliable and always on, doing things in the background for you so you don’t have to is just plain cool. On any given day you can expect Mail, Spamsieve, EyeTV, iTunes, Transmission and Democracy to be open, all doing their thing in the background.

This of course wouldn’t be possible without OS X. So, other than pointing this out, this brings me to the point of my ramblings… just how is Apple going to convince me to buy an iTV? Right now, the mini is just too useful for me to part with. I can’t see me ‘swapping’ the Mac mini for a iTV as my spam filtering will go out the window, whilst everything else will have to take place on other computers – which are not always on. So, there will have to be something truly unique that the iTV will offer for me to want to shell out the best part of £200 here in the UK.

I think many others may be in the same boat – clearly Apple wants to target the mainstream with the iTV, but how about those of us who are closer to the bleeding edge, who might have a machine that performs the (announced so-far) functions of the iTV already. I’m stuck! I can’t see what Apple can really bring to the table with the iTV which would make me want one enough. Clearly there are unannounced features, but surely not anything too groundbreaking. Any ideas? If you already use your mac for dedicated media functions, what do you want out of an iTV, or why would you buy one?

18 Comments

Steve Newport

You’re missing the point of what I think the iTV is for. You can still make use of the iTV AND your Mini. I think the eventual Holy Grail will be to have EVERY type of media you own stored in your huge 50 terabyte hard-drive in the basement (that is of course backed-up daily via online methods). This way, all the space that storage and processing power takes up can be tucked away out of site. It can then be distributed to anywhere in the house you need it (wirelessly of course) via the Airport Express, or iTV, or whateverthehell-else they come up with. The iTV will of course be siginificantly smaller than your mini, because it won’t have to house any storage. This way you can go tuck your mini somewhere in the basement and have it send all your audio to your speakers in any room of the house, or all your stored video to any TV in the house.

Depending on how fast the internet and wireless can get, you may not even need that central computer/hard-drive, and just use services such as Rhapsody to have access to practically every song/movie ever made whenever you want, wherever you want.

So the iTV is not at competition with the mini (or any other entertainment center for that matter. It simplifies it into a tiny little component that speaks to your entertainment center stored away to keep your living room and bedroom as spacious as possible.

Thugbot

Simple reason for me (and I suspect many others) to buy and iTV: I hooked my Mini up to my parents plasma, did a slideshow, a movie of my brother’s kids, played background music for a family gathering through the stereo, and played a DVD of Dora episodes later in the afternoon to keep the kids entertained. Both my parents have Macs (A G5 for my Dad and my Mom uses a Mac Book Pro) and a media vault to share music and pictures. They don’t have the technical know-how (nor do I want to remotely support) them having a Mac Mini as a media server. Everything is inplace, but they need a simple / clean / easy way to get access to all their stuff for visitors and parties. iTV will be the bridge for the non technical. I’m thankful that it’s coming. One less thing for me to have to teach my folks. Frankly I’ll buy one, because it’s one less thing I need to worry about for my setup as weel. I don’t feel like dropping a new Mini in to do my sharing.

Michael

errr.. can’t edit my last comment. I probably will be purchasing an iTV because it does exactly what I want a media box to do, talk to my iTunes library.. since I prefer to use the mini seated at a desk in my office. As prices come down on the 360, I may lean towards it, because of the HD-DVD player.

Michael

Personally, I’m not a fan of computing from the couch. I tried the mini hooked up to my 50″ Samsung DLP (1080p), web-browsing/emailing/etc was too painful.. mini went back to my desk. Funny thing, I bought the mini to use as media machine, but soon discovered that I liked using it as a real computer much better, more so than my PC. They’re pretty kickass with 2gigs RAM.

As far as Apple’s business, I could care less if they keep cranking out products and spread themselves thin. I just want good products, and they’ve delivered. In terms of investing, current stock price is strictly for the speculators, not investors.

David

You also need to consider your display. If you have an older TV or display with no DVI input, being able to use the component connection or HDMI represents a great benefit for using an iTV. It also allows you to put an older Mac, such as a G3 or older G4 which does not have the grunt to handle video display, into service as a storage device.

Matt

I am also in the same boat. I currently do not own a mac mini but within the next few months I plan to purchase one as a media center for my TV, which will be around the same time the iTV comes out. My girlfriend and I are both laptop users and it seems for the $300 more it costs for the mini I can get a lot more for my buck.

Honza

@Boo… Thats why I use Xbox Media Centre (on an Xbox of course). All my movies/music/photos stream from my Mac over the wifi. I haven’t found ONE movie format XBMC didn’t support (apart from RATDVD but thats a closed to windows format only).

Boo

I user the mini the same way and after using different kinds of ready-made media centers i can definitely agree that none of them will ever be better as fully functional computer – Front Row is nice and i use it as much as i can, but hey no player supports all the types of files – not even VLC ;)

Keith Mason

Very true, there is nothing in the rules anywhere that says ‘I must buy what Apple produces’, so of course they may not target the iTV at those who already use mini’s for media purposes – we may be lost causes for that, and after all they already got more $$$/£££ out of us for that mini a few months back. One way I do see problems is that now, mini’s are cropping up on ebay for about the forecast price of the iTV, so I would argue anyone who is tech savvy enough to want an iTV would be able to buy a mini at around the same price and have it do more.

JulesLt

In response to the Anonymous comment – I don’t think it’s a sign Apple is diversifying too much, but a sign of the direction Apple is going in, which is turning computing into consumer electronics. It’s not even a new strategy, that’s what the original Mac was compared to, say, the Apple II. It is preparing Apple against the day when the ‘computer’ disappears from the majority of homes, and goes back to the world of business and hobbyists.
(There is a second strand to their business which is owning the content production and delivery markets)

If you look at wider trends in the software world, the single biggest trend / revolution is towards software deployed directly over the web, using operating system agnostic technologies. At the moment, it’s at the point of apps like GMail – mid-90s GUI, no 3D card access, no plug-ins – and the cost of development is far hire than writing directly for Windows or OS X. But the trend is inexorable. It has presents massive opportunities for Apple – the Windows dependency is dying – but it also presents a threat – the operating system dependency is dying, and what people are buying computers for is changing.

The one thing that is hugely evident is that Apple have no significant technology in this space (Quicktime is being slaughtered by Flash as the prime media delivery technology) – it is largely a game between MS and Adobe for the client, and MS and Sun/IBM for the server. It’s a pretty blood-thirsty market, involving giving away millions of pounds of software development for free to gain market share for hardware, consultancy and support.
(A long way from Apple’s strategy of giving away support to drive hardware and software sales – and trying to make sure their users need less support).

People don’t need computers – they need the functions that computers perform – and I think Apple has the right focus at the moment on what the home market wants. (As someone who has owned two DVD recorders, I think Apple could OWN that market, should they choose too. And I think they might, but they’re focusing on the next generation – the move away from physical media).

anonymous

Has it concerned anyone else that all of these extraneous rumored ventures are really bad moves instead of good moves for Apple? It’s hard enough to get a couple products really right (read: Mac or iPod), let alone an entire extra-os software company, web services, and now all this talk about phones and whatever the heck an iTV really is/does.

While larger businesses may be able to incorporate much better, small business implementations of too much diversity are often disastrous and affect profits from every venture. I wonder if Apple is trying to do too much, too fast. Just a thought.

Angel

I have a “spare” Mac Mini and I’m using it in the same manner (except for the DVR function).The only way I can see myself buying an iTV is if I wanted to stream content into my bedroom, but since I do the majority of my TV viewing in the family room, it’s highly doubtful that I’ll purchase it.

Gareth

For you, I think, the only reasonable answer is for another TV in your household. So that you can watch whatever is stored on your mini from there.

My mini serves some similar purposes to yours, except it is located in my bedroom, hooked up to a screen. The iTV may be useful for me if I ever decide watch something on one of the other TV’s in our household.

Scott Nicholas

What Chris said.

I am in the same boat, theres a mini under my TV and it does a lot more than an iTV will/could.

This is why the iTV costs $300, not $600 or $1000.

A good place for an iTV, in your case, would be a different TV in your house, which would connect to your mini and do its thing.

Michael Houghton

If Apple could come up with a DVB decoder that can do the digital teletext/MHEG5 interactive freeview red button stuff, that would be a reason I guess… otherwise, yeah. It’s a bit of an odd proposition.

Chris

Nothing! Apple cant do anything to make you buy one, you are not their target. You bought the more expensive of their solutions and they are happy with that!.. The iTV is for people that cant drop 600 bucks but its for the people that would drop half that. Most people dont need or want all the features you have, and would have no idea how to set all that up. The just want an easy fully remote controlled (no OS to deal with) solution. So for you apple sells mac minis and for others they sell iTVs. Just like they dont expect you to buy both a nano and a 5G iPOD, you pick one that fits your needs. You choose the more expensive one, others want the lower end one.

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