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. “but people are going to have a hard time paying for hardware they can’t even use”

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I am still waiting to find out what the expansion slot on my Nintendo Entertainment system is for.

    I am also still wondering what those extra blank keys were for on my Amiga Keyboard as well.

  2. “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.”

    Not necessarily. Remember it syncs to a Mac or PC….and the wireless networking goes both directions.

  3. I know the Apple TV syncs to your Mac but if its like the iPod, you will still need to be logged in and have iTunes running for it to work. This sucks. I want a true client/server device. iTunes is not the answer. iTunes should be a client, not the server. Apple needs to write a server app that works on the backend and doesn’t require you to be logged in to talk to it.

  4. I think the issue is more that most computers don’t have a built-in HDMI port, so Apple in order to comply with the content providers had to make a device that would be able to insure “properly” protected content would have to use the Apple TV until a graphics card with HDMI were released for the Mac. I would go as far to say that in the future HDMI will be required to view content on your TV. Of course Apple could use copy protection through Firewire/iLink. We’ve all been lucky for the moment since all of the content so far has been viewable through analogue and digital means without fierce copy protection enforcement. I guess these are the end of those times. The peer to peer delivery method sounds really cool. Hopefully that really will be part of the system, but Apple can do that with the Airport with USB NAS attached. Only thing would be that content would only be playable on the computer and not the TV without the use of the Apple TV.

  5. Then again, once Graphic cards with HDMI are released, who would want to run a 100 foot cable over to their TV. Wireless had to be the natural progression. I’m surprised Apple didn’t change the output on the MacMINI to HDMI, but I guess that is exactly what the Apple TV is for. Basically a cutdown version of the MacMINI with a specialized version of OSX. The computer for your TV

  6. Apple TV features that I would like to see before I run out to get one:

    Dashboard overlays, such as weather, headline news scroll, caller id ( perhaps with the ability to attach a USB iSight or analog phone adapter to take the call), incoming video chat ala iChat, streaming local TV, streaming surround sound internet radio, just to name a few.

    The ability to stream content to my cellphone or palmtop automatically via repeated scheduling or on demand.

    The ability to remotely control and display applications from my main computer. Or the ability to do WebTV type activities while in the livingroom.

    Control my cable box through USB and allow content to be see through the Apple TV with the option of recording to hard drive.

    Then it would be worth the $299 pricetag.

  7. Come to think of it, didn’t someone from the TV tuner sector join Apple to head Apple Germany? I guess we will see a similar growth of Apple TV accessories the same way we’ve seen for the iPod depending on what types of hooks Apple presents for developers to connect through the USB and/or Ethernet ports. I would imagine a close integration with the Apple iPhone for remote playback and control. XBox 360 may have the advantage point at the moment, but if Apple moves to innovate on the ATV as they have with the iPod, it looks like advantage point Apple if they distribute the way Cringley was talking about.

  8. Regard to Movie purchases from the couch. It seems that the Front Row interface could easily be enhanced to allow one to “purchase now” from the what’s new in itunes section. So that the movie could be downloaded directly to the Apple TV instead of to a networked computer. The ability to have a drive attached to the Airport could also facilitate this.

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