The MacMini HDTV revolution

Yesterday I was over talking with the team behind Retrevo, the consumer electronics search engine.

We all agreed that Apple TV sucks. More on that in a minute.

But we all notice a trend: hooking MacMinis up to your HTDV. I think it’s a revolution. Revolutions always start small and among the weirdos.

Dave Winer had been on me for a while to get rid of my AppleTV and get a MacMini. As with other revolutions that Dave has started it took me about 1.5 years to get what he was saying and see the brilliance in it. Seriously, he showed me RSS for 1.5 years before I really started using it.

So, a few weeks ago I bought a MacMini, partly to get Dave off of my back and partly to help him test his new software, releasing today.

Now I’m pissed that it took me so long and I’m pissed at the industry that it just doesn’t get what’s coming and they keep trying to lock me into closed boxes like the Apple TV or the Xbox. I have an Xbox too, and a Media Center, so hear me out where I’m going.

Putting a MacMini on my TV is geeky. It’s not for everyone. Damn, I sound just like someone who discovered the Apple II back in 1977. Only the geeks got personal computing back then. Most people thought personal computers were stupid, back then. Heck, Wozniak offered to HP and Atari a chance to build his personal computer. They turned him down because revolutions in this business never are very obvious at the beginning.

Anyway, how is this a revolution? Ask my son. He now plays World of Warcraft on our 60-inch screen. He never really cared about the HD screen before. Or, look at Maryam. She loves putting pictures of Milan up on it. She also is crazy about Dave Winer’s new thing. More on that in a second too.

But why is this a revolution? Easy. It has a Web browser. It’s amazing how often I use the Web browser on the TV. “But you can’t read the fonts,” I can hear you saying. That’s not true. On the Mac keyboard you hold down the “Ctrl” key and then use your mouse’s wheel to zoom in and out.

The MacMini has totally changed my TV into something that’s NOT just a TV anymore. It’s revolutionary after you use it. Especially when you compare to the Xbox’s Media Center Extender (no Web browser) or the Apple TV (no Web browser) or my DirecTV box (no Web browser).

Why isn’t it a mass-market revolution yet? Three reasons:

1. They haven’t seen Dave Winer’s new software running on it.
2. The MacMini is too expensive to be a consumer electronics purchase (it costs about $700, and the Nintendo Wii demonstrated that consumer electronics needs to cost closer to $300, which is what the AppleTV costs, but the AppleTV doesn’t come with a Web browser so is ultimately crippled and will never participate in the new HDTV revolution).
3. It still seems a bit weird to hook a computer up to a TV (although the MacMini is ultra quiet, and cute so that it overcomes two of the previous objections that people had to bringing a computer into the living room).
4. Too many people assume a TV is just for watching TV and haven’t considered doing anything else on it. Sounds like the cell phone market before the iPhone, huh?

Anyway, what does Dave Winer’s new software do? It puts pictures up on my HDTV. “Huh, that’s the lamest thing I’ve ever heard,” I can hear you saying. But didn’t you also say that about Twitter? About IM? About the PC itself back in 1977? Yeah, yeah, you did, own up to it.

But it doesn’t just do that. It brings YOUR photos into my house if you put them on Flickr and I add you to my TV set. Even better, it puts professional photography up on my HDTV. Amazing images from around the world.

I love having great photography on my TV from my friends and from the best professionals around the world.

Oh, and the AppleTV does suck. I gave it to Patrick, maybe he can sell it to you so he can afford to buy a MacMini for his house.

Putting a MacMini on my HDTV was the best gadget purchase I’ve made this year.

UPDATE: I’ll demo it live over on http://www.qik.com/scobleizer as soon as it’s released. Dave tells me that should be tonight sometime, although it’s software so we’ll Twitter about it as soon as it’s done.

UPDATE2: we’ll be demoing it LIVE at 9 p.m. on my Qik channel. You can participate by leaving comments — I’ll see those on my cell phone.

370 thoughts on “The MacMini HDTV revolution

  1. Bigger screens are better. Aren’t Americans always concerned with bigger is better? I would have to imagine that it would have to be a heck of mp camera to stretch the image on your 60″ tv!

  2. Bigger screens are better. Aren’t Americans always concerned with bigger is better? I would have to imagine that it would have to be a heck of mp camera to stretch the image on your 60″ tv!

  3. I just orderd a USB hdtv antenna for my laptop. It is supposed to pick up , record and allow me to save and burn any local hdtv channel straight to my laptop.

    I think that is exciting, nothing mac excites me anymore.

  4. I just orderd a USB hdtv antenna for my laptop. It is supposed to pick up , record and allow me to save and burn any local hdtv channel straight to my laptop.

    I think that is exciting, nothing mac excites me anymore.

  5. Recently hooked up new mac mini core 2 duo to 46″ Samsung HD, it looks awesome. I used a dvi to hdmi connection and I love it. Then ripped my entire dvd collection into an .mp4 format loaded my itunes library on a 500GB external hard drive and now have my entire movie collection available through front row. Has an awesome wow factor, and very practical don’t have to look through dvd collection and then load dvd. I love this, just wish the new HD rentals on itunes were available to all itunes users

  6. Recently hooked up new mac mini core 2 duo to 46″ Samsung HD, it looks awesome. I used a dvi to hdmi connection and I love it. Then ripped my entire dvd collection into an .mp4 format loaded my itunes library on a 500GB external hard drive and now have my entire movie collection available through front row. Has an awesome wow factor, and very practical don’t have to look through dvd collection and then load dvd. I love this, just wish the new HD rentals on itunes were available to all itunes users

  7. When AppleTV was still $299, I bought a used 1.66 CoreDuo intel mini for $320. Not even close as far as capabilities. The DVIHDMI cable was $14, and the fiber optic for audio into my DTS receiver was another $8. Really a no brainer, folks. Finally, a $15 Wiimote makes a nice long-range bluetooth remote.
    I have since dropped a 2.0GHz C2D ($175 on ebay) and now I don’t even have to quit Firefox or iTunes before I fire up HDTV content for smooth playback in MythFrontend.

  8. When AppleTV was still $299, I bought a used 1.66 CoreDuo intel mini for $320. Not even close as far as capabilities. The DVIHDMI cable was $14, and the fiber optic for audio into my DTS receiver was another $8. Really a no brainer, folks. Finally, a $15 Wiimote makes a nice long-range bluetooth remote.
    I have since dropped a 2.0GHz C2D ($175 on ebay) and now I don’t even have to quit Firefox or iTunes before I fire up HDTV content for smooth playback in MythFrontend.

  9. Hello. I was tryingto find a walkthrough to connect my Wi through the mac mini’s airport for internet connection til i found ur content.

    I have also my mac mini connected to my 42″ Plasma. My configuration is:

    1. Connected through VGA port (is there a difference between VGA port and DVI?)
    2. Connected 500GB external hard drive for media content through USB.
    3. Connected Wii through airport settings.
    4. using a wireless keyboard and mouse.
    5. Cable TV connected directly to the Plasma.
    6. iSight connected to mac mini through Firewire. (Image is not working and I don’t know why).
    7. Screen resolution is 1024×640.

    Now, if you allow me, I wish to make some questions:

    1. How did you connect ur mac mini to ur TV set.
    2. What’s ur best screen resolution?
    3. How the hell I put my iSight to work on my 42″ plasma. Audio works but image appears just a black screen on the iChat window and also I tried changing my screen resolution and it still won’t work.
    4. How to connect mac mini to my home theater since mac mini doesn’t have RCA or component output.

    That’s all. I hope u to keep goin’ with the mac mini lounge idea since I also prefer it than the apple tv.

    Regards.

  10. Hello. I was tryingto find a walkthrough to connect my Wi through the mac mini’s airport for internet connection til i found ur content.

    I have also my mac mini connected to my 42″ Plasma. My configuration is:

    1. Connected through VGA port (is there a difference between VGA port and DVI?)
    2. Connected 500GB external hard drive for media content through USB.
    3. Connected Wii through airport settings.
    4. using a wireless keyboard and mouse.
    5. Cable TV connected directly to the Plasma.
    6. iSight connected to mac mini through Firewire. (Image is not working and I don’t know why).
    7. Screen resolution is 1024×640.

    Now, if you allow me, I wish to make some questions:

    1. How did you connect ur mac mini to ur TV set.
    2. What’s ur best screen resolution?
    3. How the hell I put my iSight to work on my 42″ plasma. Audio works but image appears just a black screen on the iChat window and also I tried changing my screen resolution and it still won’t work.
    4. How to connect mac mini to my home theater since mac mini doesn’t have RCA or component output.

    That’s all. I hope u to keep goin’ with the mac mini lounge idea since I also prefer it than the apple tv.

    Regards.

  11. I was really hoping they would announce that they were merging the AppleTV and Mac Mini into a single product line yesterday for many of the reasons Robert mentions in the post — the AppleTV is still too limited in its functionality but the Mac Mini isn’t inherently set up to be a television companion. Dropping the price on the AppleTV is a step in the right direction but if they dropped the price on the Mac Mini and added HDMI to it, I’d probably be getting one of those, too.

  12. I was really hoping they would announce that they were merging the AppleTV and Mac Mini into a single product line yesterday for many of the reasons Robert mentions in the post — the AppleTV is still too limited in its functionality but the Mac Mini isn’t inherently set up to be a television companion. Dropping the price on the AppleTV is a step in the right direction but if they dropped the price on the Mac Mini and added HDMI to it, I’d probably be getting one of those, too.

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