This week Apple unveiled their new Mac Mini powered by the Intel Core Duo processor and using Intel’s core graphics, effectively giving it a significant boost whilst still retaining the attractive £400 price point.
Apple are now saying “Live the digital life” and implying that the mini belongs as part of a home entertainment system. They’ve even gone so far as to bundle it with their Front Row media center and an Apple Remote control.
Problem 1: Capacity
The mini, in order to achieve mini sizes, uses laptop hard disks which currently top out at 120GB. My iPod is 60GB and although it’s nowhere near full of music I can easily imagine adding my photo library and some video content will soon max out that 120GB. Then you’re having to use external USB drives.
Problem 2: Content delivery
If you have satellite or cable TV you may well be expecting this will be your primary source of video content but the mini and Front Row do not support external media devices, let alone TV guides or PVR/recording functionality.
Some people are putting Front Row against Windows Media Center which is quite amazing when you consider that Front Row lacks such basic video-feed functionality. Companies like TiVo have proven there’s certainly a market for it.
I can’t help but worry that Apple’s view of TV broadcasting is the same as it’s ideas on radio, i.e. it’s obsolete and that they should offer the content themselves.
Perhaps when they launch their updated iPod Video with bigger screen they’ll launch their fabled movie download service and expect users to acquire video and audio content exclusively through their store.
I’d be interested in knowing how they’ll squeeze high-definition content down my broadband line and onto a 120GB hard disk even with H.264 encoding.
Or maybe they’ll expect users to watch low-resolution iPod encoded video on their home TV’s. At 320×240 it’s quarter the resolution of existing TV.
On a high-definition system at 1280×720 you’d be utilizing about 8% of your systems resolution capability compared with 44% utilization on a PAL DVD.
Looks like Front Row and the mini won’t be part of my media center any time soon.