I recently made a plan for a home entertainment setup I’d like to get working in the near future. It was a definite that it would include an Apple product, either a Mac Mini or an Apple TV. I ended up going with the Mac Mini, and in this article I’ll outline why and what the Apple TV could add to prevent more people from making decisions like mine.
Apple TV is a great product right now, but it is under-appreciated for a variety of good reasons. The most important reason is that it replaces nothing. It’s just one more box and a few more cables to string behind your TV. Secondly, a Mac Mini with Front Row offers almost the same abilities, plus a lot more due to the fact that it’s a full-fledged computer. One big thing the Apple TV has going for it, and pretty much the only thing that made me even consider the Apple TV, is that it is an integrated product. Everything is accessible through one menu with one remote.
When I decided on the Mac Mini, it was because of my decision to avoid getting cable. Using a combination of internet streaming TV shows, DVDs, and the EyeTV Hybrid Digital TV tuner, I will avoid cable altogether and still have all my shows and much more available in HD at any time. In many ways, it’s better than a DVR. The Apple TV couldn’t accomplish this task because of its fairly closed nature. The Apple TV could be a killer set-top box if it offered easier plug-in support, and, most importantly, if it offered streaming TV shows out of the box.
I would buy AppleTV in a heartbeat if it had a menu item for TV Shows that took me not to my purchased iTunes shows, but to a menu of networks: NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, Showtime, etc. Clicking on one of these would display a list of available shows, and clicking on a show would display a list of episodes. Then, when an episode was clicked upon, it would pull in the streaming video from the network’s respective website: Hulu, for NBC and FOX, ABC.com, etc. This would basically eliminate the need for a built in DVR.
Adding a DVD/Blu-Ray player would finalize the awesomeness of this product. The streaming video is likely to never happen, as it could dent Apple’s iTunes sales, but would it be worth it to take a small hit on iTunes with a huge gain in the Apple TV market? I think the answer might be yes.