Today at the Macworld 2007 keynote, they announced the AppleTV.
The AppleTV is what used to be called the iTV when the originally demoed it back in September of last year. I wrote another blog article about it back when it was released gushing on and on about how I thought it was going to be a great product. I expounded on my theory as to what this thing meant and how it worked. Turns out a lot of what I thought was right, but not quite what I expected.
I wrote originally about how it gives you the ability to stream iTunes content to your TV. I wrote that this would essentially turn your TV into a giant iPod with a big, high definition screen. One interesting question was, what type of wireless would it do?
In regards to the wireless capabilities, all that was said was that it used 802.11 networking... They never said whether it was 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n (all of which have their pluses and minuses). The prevailing theory was that they left off that letter at the end of the 802.11 intentionally. Many people stated that 802.11g wouldn't work because it's too slow to stream video reliably. They expected that it would be 802.11n, which is supposed to be plenty fast enough for this. Turns out they were right.
One other concern I and many others had was, even with the fast 802.11n networking, could this thing keep up? It has an HDMI port on it, so you can easily imagine it being able to later stream HD content to the TV. This would be more data than can be sent over wireless networking and be able to maintain a steady playback. Turns out that they fixed this too by including a 40GB HD in it! It uses this HD to sync the data on your PC with itself. Essentially it copies everything off your PC wirelessly onto that internal 40GB HD and then plays it from there. It still uses the wireless for syncing and for viewing streaming video in other cases, but this relatively large hard drive easily compensates for that. With the addition of the internal HD in it, this thing really does turn your big screen TV into a giant iPod! You even sync the thing directly from within iTunes. It truly is the 'wireless iPod' that all the rumors have been talking about. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see multiple models of this show up in the future with larger hard drives. Apple already has an 80GB standard iPod. There's no reason they couldn't throw one of those in the AppleTV as well. Or even bigger hard drives. Could this be the new 'hard drive iPod'?
Will I be buying one of these? Not at first. It's not that I don't want one. Hell, Apple has that effect on me. They make so much cool stuff, that I practically want everything they make (with a few exceptions). I won't be buying one simply because I just got for Christmas what I call my 'poor man's AppleTV'. It's a basic iPod docking station that lets you play music and videos off the iPod on the screen of your TV through your stereo. It's more or less everything the AppleTV does except the wireless. That just means that I have to load stuff on the iPod manually at the PC and then 'sneaker-net' it over to the docking station at my TV. Not a big deal and it eliminates that whole wireless bandwidth issue. :)
Tomorrow I'll write my thoughts, and concerns about the other big item announced in the keynote - the Apple iPhone.