Cringely: What’s that 40-gig hard drive doing inside my Apple TV?

Apple Store“The new Apple TV media extender is supposed to ship this month, perhaps even by the time you read this column, and if you are like me you are wondering what that 40-gig hard drive is doing inside. I’m guessing we won’t know for sure until later this year, though of course I also think I know the secret answer, too,” Bob Cringely writes for PBS.

Cringely writes, “It will be interesting to hear Apple’s explanation for the hard drive. It would make good sense, for example, to keep storage close to the attached TV if Apple had some doubts about the speed of the network connection between the Apple TV box and the Mac or Windows machine running Front Row. If we squint hard and enter a state of suspended disbelief that might be plausible. Only that makes no sense.”

“Apple might tell us that the Apple TV can play video from the hard drive without requiring a Mac or PC on the network. This is an answer that I would believe and I really hope it is the case, because wouldn’t it be great to still watch a movie even when your computer isn’t running in the next room? And it might be true because Apple loses nothing since you’d still need the host computer to load video into the Apple TV,” Cringely writes.

Cringely writes, “Or maybe Apple won’t mention the hard drive at all, saying only that it is intended for some future software release. I believe this, too, but people are going to have a hard time paying for hardware they can’t even use. So I think it is likely Apple will have at least something we can do with that drive… Here is what I think is happening with the Apple TV hard drive. I think sometime this summer Apple will ship a firmware upgrade for the Apple TV and it will suddenly gain an important new capability.”

Much more in the full article here.

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Apple premieres Apple TV: movies, TV shows, music & photos on your big screen TV – January 09, 2007
RUMOR: Apple may enter video game market – December 05, 2006
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  1. What a load of bull**.

    It works like an iPod thats permantly attached to the TV, so that, exactly, you don’t need to run upstairs and fire up the machine if you want to view a slideshow on your TV.

    It is that simple.

  2. It’s an interseting read but the part I have a hard time buying is the BitTorrent client piece of it. If that thing was on and running 24/7 as he suggests then it would be constantly eating up bandwidth on your data connection. For those that are running low bandwidth cable or DSL lines it would kill them. Those running 6Mbps & higher (i.e.: FIOS, etc.) it probably won’t be an issue. Still, I have my doubts that it’s anything more that just local storage for streamed content from your Mac.

  3. lots of lack of research in this article.

    as said above, go to to learn more about why he’s wrong on that front..

    as far as the comment about the appletv being just like the iphone (by replacing the G2 wireless component with “apple’s wireless bits”), he didn’t read… because if he did he would notice that the iphone comes with “apple’s wireless bits” too. frustration…

  4. This guy is unbelieveable… All his “questions” have been answered at the Jobs Keynote, or elsewhere on the web. It musta been deadline time and another “column” was due. Everything single one of his predictions have been wrong. The best one was that Apple was buying Blockbuster to sell downloadable videos!

  5. I think he’s right this time: The AppleTV is much more than Apple has so far made it out to be.

    And if HD (720p) is coming to iTunes, and it probably is since the AppleTV has HDMI out, then P2P is the most plausible way for it to happen – from the consumer download time side to the supplier bandwidth cost side.

  6. Why do you think iTunes is broken on Vista? It’s the same old M$ criminal behavior used against Wordstar running on Windows — “Windows is not done until Wordstar won’t run.” But Apple will make it work anyway. There is no way Apple will let Microsoft lock Apple TV out of working with crappy PCs.

  7. Why was there such a lack of research in the article, and why the MS terminology? Because Cringely, right along with the entire public broadcasting system, are just another bunch of MS minions. Some of the top dogs in public broadcasting have ended up at MS, and in exchange MS and it’s partners shower the pbs with stuff.

  8. I really think that Cringely and many others are reading way too much into aTv’s purpose.

    Apple tv is simply an iPod for your TV. It’s a 40 gig storage device that plays iTunes content on the big screen. Nothing more, nothing less. The hard drive is needed for several reasons. 1. For compatability with older b and g wifi networks (video will only stream with “n” and most people don’t have “n” yet,) and 2. So the host computer doesn’t have to be on and running iTunes at all times.

  9. If the Apple TV is a Torrent box where the goal is to be peer-to-peer, then the price is too high. Apple would want as many of these as possible out there with a bigger hard disk and a lower price.

  10. More to the point, why would MDN bother posting this article? Usually, they choose these and tear them apart line by line, taking every opportunity to call the writer nasty names. Here, this 6-month-behind speculative article is presented without comment.


  11. 40GB is too small of a hard drive to make this AppleTV a DVR killer. My Windows Media Center has a 350GB hard drive and I feel like that’s even too small.

    AppleTV would be really cool if the interface allowed you to browse and buy iTunes content right from the couch. But instead, they’ve mysteriously left out that ability, and expect you to run to the other room when you want to buy something and then go sit on the couch to watch it. Dumb. Honestly, Windows Media Center 6, which ships with Vista, makes this thing look like a toy. In fact, it’s so good that no when I have to use Tivo, Dish Network or Time Warner’s DVRs, it feels like I’m using DOS.

    I don’t normally have much good to say about Microsoft, but they really hit one out of the park with the Vista version of Media Center.

  12. Jooop, Apple tv is not supposed to be a DVR killer, it is simply an iPod + for your tv. Just like an iPod, it PLAYS BACK CONTENT ONLY. The host computer is still the main hub which allows Apple tv to access any of the content stored on your computers hard drive instantly.

    As far as purchasing content from iTunes directly, well that feature is coming with Leopard. You will be able to stream and acess your entire Mac desktop directly from Apple TV, and yes that includes web access, iTunes store access and anything else you can do on your Mac with a wireless keyboard on your coffee table. Give it a few months and as the true story unfolds, before you rush to judgement.

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