Originally posted by Programmer
I still like the idea of a sub-$300 box (with a remote) that sits next to my DVD player, supports HDTV and 7.1, plugs into ethernet (and the next wireless standard), and allows me to watch or listen to the content served up by my computer (either a Mac or a PC, but of course a Mac does it better). Much like the airport express with AirTunes, except it supports other media and has an onscreen display and remote control. None of this messy DVR, cable, satellite, broadcast stuff... just a simple media playback mechanism. Download content from iTMS, play it on your existing TV system.
I'd buy two. Today.
Exactly my thought.
What everyone here needs to recognize is that people do NOT want to hook their computers up to their TVs, yes the functionality can be nice in some circumstances, but for 99% this is far too complicated. You just want to click one of two buttons and watch what you want without the hastle.
What I see is a small Mac mini like box with HDMI/DVI ports, Audio out port, a simple yet elegant remote ala the current Apple remote but bigger and a few more buttons, "Front Row +" that allows you to dish up your iTunes music from your computer or directly from the box, as well as video in the same manor.
NO DVR, instead have an expanded version of the current iTunes video store, with a simple click to buy option that can be directly accessed from the interface. This would not be a fully functional computer, but a media only subset of the Mac OS, to keep things simple.
If we are lucky, you could have the option to download the videos free of charge, but they will have commercials and will have an expiration date (to keep the commericals up to date) at which point you could redownload the video. Hopefully content would be larger than 320x240... maybe even HD.
Of course a large HD would be necessary, perhaps 350 or 500GB. Embedded processor, graphics, minimal features to cut down on cost.
This box would not need an Optical drive, no keyboard/mouse, and would focus entirely on video/music/podcasts/videopodcasts.
Simplicity would be the key, an area that Microsoft has utterly failed in with Windows MCE, as Steve has pointed out by making fun of the MS remote (I played with one at Best Buy once and my eyes nearly popped out, it has more buttons than any two remotes ive ever seen).
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity...
"Front Row in a Box"
Nothing more, nothing less.
Just my 2¢