Two days ago, Apple had their big 'Its Showtime' presentation. I wrote up my initial thoughts on it in an earlier blog. One of the more unusual parts of this presentation was that Apple gave a preview of their 'iTV' set top box. This was very unusual in that Apple never previews any incomplete products. Most of the time noone, including most Apple employees, know anything about what Apple is going to release until they actually release it.
Today, Robert Scoble, a well known blogger, who until recently, worked for Microsoft, gave his impression of the iTV. Basically, he complained that the iTV copies Microsoft's Media Center PC interface. While the iTV interface may be similar to the Media Center PC interface, he is missing the biggest difference here - the iTV is a wireless link to your existing PC, not a PC in itself!
Why is this difference important? Simple. The problem with the whole Media Center PC concept, is that it is a PC that you have to put in your living room. I remember when I first heard of the Media Center PC, I thought it was an interesting concept, but the thought of spending $2000 for a PC that has to go into your living room made absolutely no sense. Why would you want a PC in your living room? You wouldn't. Sure, you may occaisionally want to watch a TV show or DVD on the Media Center, but the rest of the time you are going to want to use it as a REAL computer. It is not practical to spend $2000 for a PC that sits in your living room and is only used occaisionally, then have to have another computer sitting in your home office for all the usual computer stuff.
iTV, on the other hand, costs $299 and leaves your PC/Mac in the home office where it belongs and essentially gives you wireless remote access to your home PC. By buying this, you have basically turned your big screen TV and thumping home stereo into a remote display for your PC. Anything that the PC can do, can now be displayed on your TV. This thought boggles the mind.
This set top box then lets you do such things as:
- Play music from your iTunes Library, complete with a snazzy display of the album art for whatever music you are listening to.
- Play videos from your iTunes Library.
- View photos from your iTunes Library, complete with some snazzy slideshow effects.
- View previews of movies coming to theaters, streamed directly from the Internet.
Notice a pattern here? Pretty much all of this functionality connects to your iTunes Library. You now can carry all your music, movies and pictures in your pocket in your iPod. You can view/listen to all your music, movies and pictures on your PC using iTunes. And now you can view all your music, movies and pictures on your bigscreen, thumping home stereo! This thing essentially turns your home entertainment system into a giant iPod! Imagine an iPod with a 500GB hard drive, with a 60 inch high definition display, Dolby Digital surround sound, and full Internet access and you get where this thing is going. You can already rip your entire CD collection and carry it with you on your iPod. Now imagine ripping your entire DVD collection and watching it on your big screen TV! Just imagine having every movie you own available at the touch of a button. No more hunting for DVDs. No more swapping DVDs in and out of the DVD player. I can imagine Apple adding an interface to the iTunes music store to the iTV as well. Now you can watch every movie you own, every song you own, and with a few clicks, every song and every movie EVER CREATED!
When I first saw this thing, I questioned why I would want it. Now, after giving it some thought, I realize that I will definately be buying one of these things when they come out.