Apple’s Front Row software ‘radically simpler form of couch-driven computing’

“About three years ago, Microsoft took a stab at that goal with its Media Center Edition of Windows XP. This ambitious, creative release added a simplified, large-type interface that could be driven from the couch using a remote control, but it went nowhere in the market. It’s done a little better recently, as manufacturers have begun leaving out Media Center’s most glitch-prone feature, the ability to tune into and record TV broadcasts,” Rob Pegoraro writes for The Washington Post.

“Now Apple is making its own attempt. Its Front Row software — standard on the updated iMac G5 desktop it introduced last month– offers a different, radically simpler form of couch-driven computing,” Pegoraro writes. “Where Media Center comes with a long list of features and options, Front Row does only four things: You can play music, you can look at your photos, cue up a DVD or watch video files stored on your hard drive or online. It doesn’t lump in irrelevant commands (for example, Media Center’s bizarre inclusion of photo-editing tools), it has no preferences screen for you to mull over, and its remote control consists of just six buttons.”

“That’s what you’d expect of Apple’s products. Where most of the computer industry trudges on under a banner of ‘more’ — more processor speed, more expansion ports, more stickers on the front of the computer — Apple’s mission statement amounts to ‘less.’ It is one of the few companies in the business that understands editing — how the discipline imposed by having to remove yet another button, menu and toolbar can yield simpler, easier and more useful products,” Pegoraro writes. “The iPod may be the best example of that. In Front Row, Apple has given us an interface obviously modeled after its category-defining, competition-crushing portable media player. With that lineage, the results ought to be a breakthrough hit. But they’re not — at least, not yet.”

Pegoraro writes of Front Row’s current shortcomings, such as leaving out functions that have been standard on iPods for years, not scrolling titles that are too long to fit on the screen, and the fact that, officially, Front Row runs on only one computer, Apple’s iMac G5.

Pegoraro writes, “While Apple works to fix the defects and fill the blanks in this software, it also needs to put Front Row on more of its computers — and in particular the Mac mini. That machine is cheap and small enough to be a second computer, and it includes a digital video output that connects to many high-definition TVs. When you can show off your vacation photos on a 42-inch plasma screen, a program like Front Row will be a much easier sell.”

Full article here.

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MacDailyNews Note: While we agree with Pegoraro about Front Row’s current shortcomings and that Apple will address the issues with future releases, we must mention that you can connect an iMac G5 to another screen. Use Apple’s $19.99 VGA Display Adapter to connect the mini-VGA port on the iMac G5 to any VGA-equipped monitor or external projector for video-mirroring. The VGA cable plugs into the VGA video-out port built into your iMac G5. Or use Apple’s Apple Video Adapter to connect the mini-VGA video output port on your iMac G5 to any S-video or Composite enabled device (TV, VCR, or overhead projector’s S-Video or RCA (composite) cable).

Related articles:
PC Magazine review gives Apple’s new iMac G5 with Front Row 4.5 out of 5 stars – November 04, 2005
Mac enthusiast Web site offers Front Row, Photo Booth to all Mac users – November 01, 2005
Apple’s brilliant, deceptively simple Front Row software has a bright future and raises questions – October 28, 2005
Apple’s Front Row hits torrent sites, video showing application running on Mac mini – October 25, 2005
NY Times’ Pogue: Apple’s iMac G5 with sleek, virus-free, spyware-free OS earns place in living room – October 20, 2005
Analyst: ‘media companies will call Apple to strike deals, Front Row is Media Center done right’ – October 12, 2005
Apple’s new iMac G5, iTunes 6, iPod video designed to bait Hollywood – October 13, 2005
Apple’s Front Row with Apple Remote and iMac G5: media center done right – October 12, 2005
Apple’s Front Row with Apple Remote and iMac G5: media center done right – October 12, 2005
Apple introduces new thinner iMac G5 with built-in iSight video camera, ‘Front Row’ media experience – October 12, 2005


  1. I’m waiting to see Front Row on an Intel-powered Mac mini. Then I’ll get one. And use handbrake to rip every DVD I own so I can play them from my computer. No more broken DVD’s from my 2 year old.

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