The discussion over on the MacWorld forums have me thinking more about the Apple TV, Apple Time Capsule, Time Machine, and iTunes movie rentals and purchases. I think iTunes music and video rentals and purchases will become the way I get all of my media content.
I think I can replace the cable company HD PVR, my TiVo, and my DVD player with Apple branded products and totally be without any physical media. Although the Apple TV is a great option for watching prepackage movie and video from the iTunes store it does have limitations. Apple TV is limited to 1080i for HD content. To be a true replacement and compliment to a nice large HD TV ( see 40" BRAVIA® XBR® series LCD Flat Panel HDTV ) Apple would have to offer 1080P on the Apple TV and iTunes. The Apple TV also lacks a tuner. Now I know that the Apple TV is not meant to be a PVR but it would be nice if I could server all my media from one device. If I could import my broadcast HD into iTunes for playback on any iTunes enabled device ( Mac or PCs ) or iPod that would be very cool.
That's where the alternative, and I think better, solution comes in. The AppleTV is really just a Mac mini with a simple interface. I could presumably get similar and expanded results with an Elgatio HD HomeRun attached to a Mac mini. The HD HomeRun integrates well with iTunes recording and pulling in HD broadcast content. Assuming Apple provides similar features in the Leopard version of iTunes as they have for the Apple TV ... imagine. Toss in the afored mentioned 40" BRAVIA® XBR® series LCD Flat Panel HDTV and a Bose Lifestyle V3 Home Theater System and ... wow!
I know some will say, "I already have one billion movies on DVD. What about that?". Download Handbrake or Visual Hub, rip and import to iTunes.
Some movies are rental only and some are purchase only. I guess it depends on the contract terms Apple agreed to. It would be nice if I could rent the movie and if I decide later to purchase do so at some reduced rate. The hardware NEEDS to be 1080p (720p just doesn't compete with Bluray's 1080p).
One issue with going complete digital for media is the issue of permanence. When I buy a DVD or CD I have a physical asset that is presumably at less risk of loss. With digital media one failed hard drive is all it take to wipe hundreds of dollars worth of precious content. Apple should build in some version of Time Machine into Apple TV for backup to external disk or to a Time Capsule enabled Airport Base Station. With the Mac mini, Time Machine, and Aiport Time Capsule I would have a complete solution and feel comfortable that my media was safe. To top off the whole package,just add an iPod Touch.
So who wants to help me pay for this?