Officially, I’m a fan of AppleTV. It’s a slick and simple device that cleverly moves media from your Mac or PC to your TV.
If this little box is so good, why are there so many hacks to customize AppleTV. Because it’s not that good. Not yet, anyway.
Almost within hours of receiving their early-order AppleTV units, hacks and customizations began all over the country. What’s in the AppleTV device and why does it need so many hacks?
I’ve heard AppleTV described a number of ways. It’s an iPod for your TV. I’ll buy that. It’s more, of course, but what’s on your iPod can end up on AppleTV, so that analogy fits.
I’ve also heard it described this way: AppleTV is merely a $299 Mac mini? I’ll buy that, too. AppleTV as iPod for your TV is simple and easy to set up and use.
AppleTV as a low budget Mac mini is a hack, a customization, and not for the faint of heart. That hasn’t stopped the attempts to improve upon Apple’s original.
Google “hack appleTV” and you get a big list of recent articles on how and what to do to break into your AppleTV and, uh, well, find out what’s there and improve. Maybe.
Need to know more about the process required to pimp up and trick out your AppleTV? Visit AppleTV Hacker, or stop by AppleTV Hacks, just two of the sites dedicated to hacking into the latest $299 gadget from Apple.
You can learn what’s inside AppleTV, how to increase hard drive space, and even get Mac OS X running so you truly have a $299 Mac mini. What’s that mean?
It means that AppleTV is a very stripped down, feature specific Mac mini with good video and sound output options. It runs a version of OS X.
Hmmmm. Doesn’t the iPhone run versions of OS X? Will we see OS X in future iPods, too?
AppleTV as Mac mini means you can, well, uh, once you’ve hacked into it, upped the hard drive size, and uh, well, oh, you can add different video formats besides those supported by iTunes.
You’re not the hacking, do-it-yourselfer type? Have no fear. There’s always someone out there who’ll take your money and do your custom work for you.
For example, TechRestore offers pre-upgraded AppleTV units—up to $160 gigabytes, 120 more than the standard size hard drive in AppleTV. Prices start at $399.
That means more music, more TV shows, more movies, and more music videos can be stored on your custom AppleTV. Frankly, that’s the only reason I can think of for the average Mac or PC user to ‘hack’ an AppleTV. More storage.
Even at a discount, AppleTV makes a poor Mac mini. It’s slower, runs hotter, and requires voiding the warranty to save a few hundred bucks.
Who truly has a need to go beyond the hard drive upgrade and add a keyboard and mouse, or set up the Apache web server, or enable SSH? Those are all solutions looking for problems to solve.
For what it’s worth, the Mac360 folks are in agreement that AppleTV will have some understood but not widely known consequences over the next few years.
Just as the iPod spawned Podcasts which have become ubiquitous and popular, so AppleTV will spawn amateur and semi-pro video production. All you need is a camera, a microphone, iMovie HD, Garageband, and a little imagination, and your video Podcast can be iTunes capable, and that puts the whole production on TV.
What about distribution? Already there are web sites which will take uploaded mini-videos and make them available at various prices. Take HungryFlix as an example. It’s rough and short on content, but check back in six months and a year.
Hacking an AppleTV is fad for the ultra minority, not for the faint of heart, and not destined for a huge following. The average Mac and PC user just doesn’t do it.
More Mac and PC users are likely to buy and try and even produce simple and specific videos IF they have a distribution capability, and IF they have a wide audience of buyers with the means to display their video wares.
Just as Podcasts were an offshoot of the iPod and iTunes connection, videos via AppleTV (and iTunes) will make a mark by the end of 2008.