Just when you thought Apple had all the solutions ready for the so-called “Media Center,” someone else comes along and tries it first.
It’s not Microsoft, either. What’s it take to pull all the media pieces together? Genie Commands Media Centre?
In short, GenieCommands Media Centre is software that runs on a Mac and powers the all-in-one entertainment center for your home. It’s billed as the ultimate media center. On a Mac.
Attached to a TV screen, GenieCommands and a Mac will let you watch TV, DVDs record TV, pause TV, listen to iTunes music, show digital photo slide shows.
Does that sound like a “Media Center” to you? Based on the home page of GenieCommands it would appear as if someone besides Apple figured out the media center puzzle.
It’s surely not Microsoft with the Windows Media Center and twenty-gazillion options to make a PC a TV.
Apple’s Front Row and an iMac G5 are nice because they allow the Mac to be controlled by a nifty remote to manage iTunes, DVDs, photo slide shows, and the like, but there’s nothing about the iMac that does TV. Yet.
What does the $20 GenieCommands do for a Mac? Another important question is, “How does it do it?” Still another question is, “Will Apple do this next month anyway?”
GenieCommands is a Mac application which controls other Mac applications and hardware, such as Elgato’s EyeTV, and select remote control devices.
If you’re tired of waiting for Apple to deliver the rest of the media center and you want to build your own, GenieCommands could be an attractive start.
What would be necessary (besides GenieCommand software)? Fortunately, they supply the answer: “To start your Media Centre project you need a small and quiet computer that will complement your living area.”
Hmmmm. What kind of computer would that be? How about a Mac mini? GenieCommands specifies a Mac mini and GenieCommands software to control iLife.
I want this to happen. I really do. A Mac mini as a media center sounds like a really good idea that finally brings together all the pieces of the digital lifestyle to one location, a digital hub that ‘just works.’
GenieCommands pretends to be the focal point of the hub. For example, GenieCommands says their software, a Mac mini, and the right hardware, can bring this to your TV screen:
• iTunes music library
• iTunes Audio and Video Podcasts
• iTunes Music and Video Store
• Streaming video and audio from the internet
• iPhoto photos and slide shows
• Play DVDs and CDs
• Live TV (pause, record, fast forward, rewind)
• And much, much more
Isn’t that what you want in a Mac-based digital hub media center? It’s high on my list.
The problem, of course, is that it’s not a simple $299 device with software that you plug into your TV set. It’s not even a $299 Apple device that plugs into a $499 Mac mini to make a fully operational media center.
It’s $20 software and a shopping list of hardware devices that you pull together to make your own media center using a Mac of your choice (choose the Mac mini).
From what I can tell after my most zealous attempts at investigative journalism (I downloaded the software and read through the very confusing web site), if you buy GenieCommands, and if you buy a Mac mini, and if you buy a bunch of the Elgato EyeTV, EyeHome products, you can pull together all the pieces to make a Frankenstein Media Center with a Mac.
GenieCommands is software that works with and appears to control EyeTV and Apple’s iLife Suite. At the low end, Elgato’s EyeTV EZ is a $149 USB device that acts as a cable TV receiver, plugs into your Mac and gives you a DVR. The EyeTV 200 does it with Firewire and is $329.
You’ll need one of those to go along with a minimum $499 Mac mini. Spend more if you want to burn movies or TV shows to DVD.
That’s all? No, you’ll need some remote method to control your new Franken-Centre, so another trip to the store to get a Keyspan USB remote control device. That’s another $60.
Pull all those pieces together and you’re looking at a price tag of around $700 at the low end, to over $1,000 at the high end. What you get is an Apple Media Center.
Of course, the Media Center (or, Centre) lets you view iLife on a TV set. Plasma or LCD. Or an iMac. You need a receiver. A mouse. A keyboard. The must be wireless. And the Keyspan remote. And GenieCommands.
I saw a TiVo on sale for $49.95 the other day. True, it doesn’t work with my Mac, but I could easily save $1,000 and walk from the living room to my home office where the Mac is running and get everything except the big screen.
All of us at Mac360 really, really want to see Apple do with a so-called ‘Media Center’ what Apple does so well with iLife and everything else. Front Row and the Apple Remote and an iMac G5 is a good start. But only a start. Not the real McCoy.
Also not the real McCoy is GenieCommands and the shopping list of devices you need to make a Mac into a media center.
Click Here to see the details yourself and reach your own conclusion regarding the ‘media center’ on a Mac.
It’s not here yet.
Tera Jean Patricks
I’m soooo ready for this. Apple’s Front Row is a toe in the water and perhaps a look at the future. There’s still that whole ‘hardware mess.’ Apple doesn’t have anything to resolve the television piece of the puzzle; to bring it all together.
GenieCommands looks like more than is there. Basically, you’re getting software to control all the components you need to make a Mac into a media center. While a $20 price tag is nominal, when you add up the pieces it’s expensive.
Carol Mary Miller
Jack, I’m so proud of you. You didn’t come home from the store with a bunch of toys just so we can watch TV on the Mac.
The geekier side of Mac’s user base will dink around with all these pieces; hardware, software, scripts, and so on, and come up with a Mac mini that controls the TV set—for about $1,000 and a few day’s work. I’ll wait until Macworld in January to see what Apple comes up with.