iTiVo and Wishful Thinking (7/16/02)

So what does Apple have waiting in the wings for tomorrow's shindig? Well, there's been a lot of reasonably believable speculation flying around out there, with stuff about 17-inch iMacs, 20 GB iPods, iTools turning into ".Mac," a solid Jaguar release date, and more. So far, though, we haven't heard much about anything in the works that'll knock our socks halfway to next Thursday. About the closest we've come to nudging our needle from "Jaded" into "Intrigued" territory comes from a couple of whispers floating around following hot on the heels of a nifty new device that was just introduced yesterday-- but not by Apple.

Longtime viewers already know that the AtAT staff are total freaks for TiVo, that wonderful device and service that lets us, for example, sit down at 4 AM and watch six straight episodes of Daria sans commercials while wolfing down a whole pint of Cherry Nirvana should the mood strike us. So when El Gato introduced the EyeTV yesterday, we thought it was kind of cool that a TiVo-like personal video recorder has finally come to the Mac. With EyeTV, you can record shows straight to your Mac's hard disk, burn them to CDs, etc. Similar products have been around for Wintels for a while, and it's nice to see the gap start to close.

Now, personally, we're not entirely sure how useful we'd find this particular device, since we like to watch our TV on the TV and not on the Mac, Cinema Display notwithstanding. But we admit that it'd be nice to be able to archive MPEG-1 versions of some recorded content, and doubtless some people are just going to be all over this thing. That is, provided Apple doesn't come out with its own personal video recording device tomorrow. There have been low-key and occasionally semi-believable rumors about an Apple set-top box for donkey's years, now-- stretching all the way back to that whole "Columbus" media fiasco and even further. And Apple has definitely done work on TV-related devices in the past; remember the PiPPiN? Or the "Weird Mac Thing"? So now the latest rumors (which, incidentally, don't stray too far from the last iteration spotted at Mac OS Rumors) claim that Apple has a standalone TiVoesque system in the works, which not only records video, but also allegedly includes a radio tuner and, accordingly to some sources, your choice of a CD-R or DVD-ROM drive, presumably to play DVDs and/or audio CDs and possibly burn recorded video to archive discs. It sounds a little sketchy, sure, but the claim that this sucker has a FireWire port and can output video in real-time to an attached Mac would make for a kinda nifty feature.

To be honest, we're not throwing a lot of faith behind this one (read: almost none), largely because we know how Steve feels about television in general and, more specifically, how he feels about the convergence of TV and computers. (In short, he's not amused.) There's also the pretty damning fact that Steve himself has, uh, flat-out said that Apple has no plans to do a personal video device for at least the next year and a half, so these rumors of an imminent unveiling are most likely just hoaxes. But even though rumors of the Apple PVR are rarely spotted in the wild (and when they appear, they tend to contradict each other on the details), Apple is shooting for that whole "digital lifestyle" thing, and it's not completely absurd to think that television fits in there somewhere alongside desktop video and home DVD authoring. So if Steve actually does trot out some sort of iTiVo tomorrow, a couple of years ahead of schedule, we'll be plenty surprised-- but maybe not as surprised as we could be. Now, gangway-- we've got three hours' worth of "Six Feet Under" to plow through before bedtime. Where's that remote?

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The above scene was taken from the 7/16/02 episode:

July 16, 2002: Apple hits the analysts' estimates-- just barely-- amid a slew of slightly worrying declines in revenue, gross margins, unit shipments... you name it. Meanwhile, Microsoft looks to spoil the Macworld Expo fun by pre-announcing products months in advance and making noises about abandoning the Mac platform, and rumors continue to swirl about the imminent introduction of an Apple-branded personal video device tomorrow, but we wouldn't get our hopes up too high if we were you...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3735: The Expected Profit, But... (7/16/02)   Welp, the numbers are in-- and surprise of surprises, Apple didn't totally leave a big, smoking crater where its solvency once was! According to the official press release, the company scored a quarterly profit of $32 million, directly in line with the analysts' expectations...

  • 3736: Microsoft: Party Poopers (7/16/02)   This is it, people: Keynote Eve. This is the night when all good little Mac enthusiasts drift off to sleep with visions of 20 GB iPods dancing in their heads, as they pray that Santa Steve won't pass them by just because they were once careless enough to ponder the plausibility of an iMac with a 17-inch screen without first taking the precaution of donning a tinfoil hat to block Steve's thought-reading wavelengths...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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