Sunday, November 12, 2006

So where's the media center Mac Mini?

It has been rumored with great intensity. Apple would release a new version of its entry-level desktop, the Mac mini, with added media center functionality. One major rumor-writeup even called it a TiVo-killer, purported to know its internal codename (Kaleidoscope) at Apple. Estimated time of arrival: the January Macworld San Francisco expo.

Of 2006.

Well, it never materialized. The rumor mill has become rather quiet about it, especially since the announcement of iTV, a device which looks conspicuously similar to a Mac Mini.

Could it be that the "sources deeply entrenched in the grapevine" were fooled by its appearance, and mistook the iTV for a Mac mini?

It has always seemed very odd to me why, apart from the form factor, rumors would want to turn the Mac mini into a media center:

  1. The Mac mini is the entry-level Mac. It's designed to be as cheap as possible. It was made for people with basic computing needs. Why increase its costs by adding functionality that most of its users don't want?
  2. It's uncharacteristic of Apple to introduce functionality exclusive to one Mac model, especially the entry-level Mac.
  3. Hooking up a Mac to a TV is inconvenient, and Apple knows that. "Would you like an iTV with it, sir?"
I believe the Apple media center will be the iTV, and that's it. What exactly it will do in addition to what's already been revealed is anyone's guess. From the specs that we've been told so far, though, recording is not included (RoughlyDrafted Magazine explains why not, and why it shouldn't be there anyway).

So were all the "TiVo killer" rumors just simply totally wrong? Maybe, but perhaps recording capabilities will arrive in a second high-end iTV model later. Just in case they do, let me take this opportunity and warn Apple how crucial it would be to be able to start recording a show immediately. As in, pressing the "record" button. Alas, with the Apple Remote, that would look more like emerging from the depth of a five-level menu, and then delving into another three levels elsewhere before recording can commence. And that would probably mean missing the fun part.

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