11 Responses

  1. Steve Rayner
    Steve Rayner January 11, 2008 at 11:21 am |

    Interesting ideas, but the Mini and AppleTV are more different internally than you appear to think. Still, they could arrive at a lower mini/higher Apple TV design that would satisfy both needs. It would be better than trying to sell TV’s with the computer embedded as some have suggested.

    Then they might have room in the lineup for a mid-price, mid-tower machine.


  2. MonkeyT
    MonkeyT January 11, 2008 at 11:33 am |

    I think you’re absolutely right except that it will come bundled with a Superdrive or optional upgrade to Blu-Ray, same as for the mini notebook.

  3. Steve K.
    Steve K. January 11, 2008 at 11:38 am |

    >….two almost-identical products; Mac mini and Apple TV.

    Not really. Yes both are basically computers, but the have a world of difference between them.

    One HUGE difference is that the AppleTV offers HDMI and COMPONENT outputs. These can easily be hooked to an HDTV. Many HDTVs sold did NOT have HDMI so component is the only way to get an HD signal on the TV.

    The Mac-mini only has a DVI output. Again, many HDTVs sold did not have DVI. Many still do NOT have DVI.

    Most people would probably like to see a Mac-mini with HDMI and Component out. That would solve a lot of connection headaches. Aslo by having a built-in DVD player (Mac-mini has tis, AppleTV does NOT) it would further eliminate yet another box hooked to the TV. Something most people would welcome.

    One thing Apple NEEDS to introduce is HD content to iTunes. If they don’t offer that, it won’t matter what type of hardware the new AppleTV/Mac-mini has.

    I’ve heard the new machine to be called the “Mac-nano”. Supposedly half the height of the current Mac-mini. We’ll see next week what happens.

  4. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price January 11, 2008 at 11:43 am |

    Someone above mentioned that Apple TV and Mac mini were “radically different” on the inside. I didn’t go in-depth technically in the article, but most reasons that people think of are common misconceptions.

    To clarify the whole HDMI vs DVI point, I’m well aware of the graphical differences between Apple TV and Mac mini. It’s not as big of a deal as many think… though I should have gone more in-depth in the article over it.

    The Mac mini uses Intel GMA hardware, and in fact, obsolete GMA hardware. Apple’s refusal to upgrade from GMA 950 to GMA X3000 when the mini went Core 2 Duo is evidence that Apple had planned to do a major revision sooner, rather than later.

    Apple TV on the other hand uses a GeForce Go 6200 with HDMI support. The whole HDMI vs DVI is pretty trivial… Apple can toss a converter in the box to support DVI monitors. This is what they do with VGA displays on the current Mac mini, so it will probably be an included accessory.

    So, to sum it up, DVI vs HDMI is a non-issue, just like using a VGA display on a Mac mini is today.

    As to component video, it probably will make the cut. The Mac nano name… sorry, that’s probably rumormongering. But, it does explain the similarity. There’s a good reason to not brand this as a Mac, Apple wants people to put them in PC-only homes. They want people to use it and not think twice about a learning curve, or all the costs of being a “switcher”. To customers interested in Apple TV, replacing it with anything labeled a Mac would create consumer confusion.

  5. D9
    D9 January 11, 2008 at 11:57 am |

    I agree, the DVI-HDMI issue is rather minute.

    As an owner of both a Mac mini and an Apple TV, I can state the bigger gain/loss is the power of a desktop in the mini. Having the ability through keyboard & mouse (wireless in my case) to add various media from various source as well as surf the web and check email makes for a convenience that standard HDTV viewing and even Apple TV viewing at present cannot provide. I understand your point of a startup switch but that is the equivalent to Boot Camp to Parallels…the convenience is overwhelming.

    The piece de resistance is a software control like Salling, Sofa Control or Remote Buddy which allow you to use Apple Remote Control to quickly launch various programs and use their basic features.

    And at the end of the day, you can still plug in the Mac mini to a standard LCD monitor and use it as a good old-fashioned computer!


  6. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price January 11, 2008 at 12:02 pm |

    I don’t mean to imply that you would have to toggle interfaces each boot. Far from it actually… it wouldn’t resemble Boot Camp at all.

    The out of box experience (Setup Assistant) would ask the user if they want the device to function as a Mac, or as an Apple TV (essentially, it will be a bit less blunt). The user’s choice dictates what setting the system will boot to. And, there will be an option in Front Row to jump out of there back to Finder.

    Remember, Front Row is just an application running on top of the Mac OS, even BackRow on Apple TV today is doing the same thing.

    The whole point of this though is that the existing Apple TV target audience will be given enough freedom that most will just stay in the Front Row interface, with plug-ins and Mac apps adapted for that interface. And, the existing Mac mini target audience will be given an entry-level Mac… that will be low end enough to pressure many of them into going for the higher-profit-margin iMac.

  7. TheJ
    TheJ January 11, 2008 at 12:37 pm |

    I’ve been pondering this since the release of Apple TV. If Appl makes “Apple TV” become a full fledged Mac, they can leverage it in anyway they want at any time where the minimalistic Apple TV has limitations. Where people are willing to get a new iPod every 18 months, people will NOT want to replace audio/video equipment for at least 4 years or more.

    I see Apple leveraging a “Mac Mini TV” for games as well. Games don’t need to be 3D Mega projects to be fun and enjoyable. Cell phones and the Wii have proved that.

    Speaking of cell phones, if a developer created a game for the “Mac mini TV” and distributed it via iTunes, there would be little if anything that developer would need to do to have there game on the iPhone. That starts to create a BIG Mac game market !!! (Macs, Mac mini TV, iPhone and iPod)

    I personally hope they do this as I’ve been waiting for it for a long time !

  8. D9
    D9 January 11, 2008 at 12:47 pm |

    I understand although I’m never a fan for a strategy that’s based on the betterment of the company before customer by means of upgrading. It’s too Microsoft-ish. It often is flushed out by a sophisticated audience and then pummeled in the public (and buying) forum.

    But is that not just the flip of what the mini through Front Row accomplishes? The lack of independent game play, viewing & editing of documents/attachments, iTunes playlist creation & song mgt, iCal access, iPod/iPhone sync, instant messaging, multiple file transferring…and last but most importantly, the requirement of a source computer I feel are the burden of any Apple TV-over-mini comparisons.

    It seems like we’re coming to the same spot but from 2 different ends. As I first stated, being the owner of both and using them w/ separate HDTVs (+ EyeTV), I certainly find the mini more useful overall due to its flexibility. Just improve those graphics and connections, and I’m good to go!


  9. Doug Petrosky
    Doug Petrosky January 12, 2008 at 2:51 am |

    I don’t know about this. I mean I understand that Apple has the AppleTV on some razor thin margins, but there is a $300 price difference between the retail prices so how do you see these connect?

    Are you going to increase features on the AppleTV and end up with a $400-500 HD TV ready Mini or are you going to strip down the Mini and endup with a compromised $300-$400 AppleTV?

    Personally I think we need to take advantage of the component price drops and the the AppleTV closer to $200 with minor enhancements, not $500 with major ones.

  10. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price January 12, 2008 at 6:35 am |

    Doug, you’re forgetting that the profit margin is the largest difference between Apple TV and Mac mini.

    The largest feature difference between the two units, in terms of architecture, is the optical drive, oh, and Bluetooth 2.0. Things like a FireWire port are mostly trivial… it doesn’t cost Apple hardly anything to add them.

    And, the Mac mini originally retailed for $499, further evidence that Apple has been inflating their profit margin to ship more units.

    I personally think Apple would be willing to drop the profit margin on the mini, and make that back on accessories like optical drives.

    When you pose the question as “are you going to strip/add”, you need to keep in mind, the differences between these two systems are trivial aside from the difference in CPU cost. And, with Intel phasing out the Pentium-M, Apple may be forced to do this change at some point.

    I think this would be an excellent time to add the Pentium E-class to the Apple lineup, which is basically the modern version of a Core 2 Solo (Intel doesn’t market it as such because they don’t want single-core chips branded under Core 2).

  11. Aaron
    Aaron January 16, 2008 at 1:09 pm |

    Seeing that Macworld is now over and what arrived was the addition of HD rentals through AppleTV and overhauled software.
    This brought no changes to the actual ATV hardware itself but it was also price dropped to $229.

    However, seeing that the Macbook Air doesn’t sport an optical drive standard you can see Apple’s trial at repeating removal of floppy drives. (PCs STILL come with them!) But they did release an external (Mini/AppleTV) sized USB 2.0 Superdrive for $99.

    You now can have the Mini in the AppleTV case by performing some of the hacks over at appletvhacks.net, install full OSX and plug in the optical drive.

    Or, take the Apple TV drive out and replace it with another 2.5″ hard drive. Partition it to 40 GB / X GB, use Boot Camp to install OSX on one drive then re-image the 40 GB partition with AppleTV (set which is the primary boot volume before proceeding) and re-install into the ATV box. You should then be able to choose which side to start up (w/ the aid of a keyboard).

    It would be nice to (in ATV) have the optical drive and other features available in OSX but with the USB port disabled in the ATV OS, it’s hard to utilize DVDs without hacking.

    Seems probable for the Mini to be absorbed into the AppleTV at some point causing both to die and a new device to be born from their ashes.

    Should be exciting!


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