As we bid a fond adieu to 2003, what better way to finish out the year than with a big ol' bucket of everyone's favorite dish, Kentucky Fried Unconfirmed Rumor? (Now available in Original and Extra-Crispy Skin! Try new All-White Meat Wild Speculation Strips today!) We can't really beat on that miniPod subject much more, seeing as it's already been hammered into a thin paste, so instead let's turn to a fresh page and ponder one of the Great Questions of this or any other age: will 2004 be the year that Steve Jobs discovers TV?
"But AtAT," we hear you say, "TV was discovered long ago-- in 1498 by Vasco da Gama, just minutes after Apple board member Al Gore invented the Internet." Well, duh-- everyone knows that. What we mean is, will this be the year in which Steve finally acknowledges that TV isn't necessarily evil incarnate? The man has certainly made plenty of anti-television comments in the past, referring to it as what people use to "turn their brains off" or whatever. (What's more, he says that like it's a bad thing. Weird, huh?) As of yet Macs have only involved creative video in the Digital Hub scheme, with iMovie and iDVD; any sort of tie-in with actual brain-turning-off broadcast television is still nowhere to be seen, despite its obvious place in any reasonably complete Digital Hub strategy.
Well, that might all change soon. Mac OS Rumors reports that Apple might be cobbling together a "low-cost FireWire 800 TV-input device" that will apparently allow the conversion of TV, HDTV, and analog video sources into FireWire-friendly DV streams. If it comes to pass, said device would conceivably let you use iMovie to recut your recorded episodes of "Petticoat Junction" to remove all distasteful references to "Hooterville" and then burn them to DVD for personal archival purposes. TiVo it ain't, let alone any sort of TV-themed killer app that would propel the Mac to stunning new heights of market share-- heck, you can already buy any number of analog-to-DV converters out there-- but it would at least signal that Apple is finally willing to add a TV spoke or two to its Digital Hub.
Of course, if you want some serious rumorological craziness in the TV realm, faithful viewer Donovan Doak points out a macosx.com article chock full of "exclusive insider information" on the "iBox," a hard drive-based standalone personal video recorder allegedly slated to ship from Apple sometime in early 2004. Get this: we're talking about a $400-$600 VCR-on-steroids that looks like the illegitimate offspring of a Power Mac G5 and an iPod and supposedly packs AirPort Extreme, a 10/100 Ethernet port, FireWire and USB ports, a full-fledged G3 processor, and a SuperDrive. You plug your TV into the video ports, you throw it on your wired or wireless network, and bam, you can schedule recordings from any Mac in the house (or log in remotely from any system on the Internet). It runs iTunes and iPhoto and can stream songs and pictures from your Macs or store it on its local 120 GB hard disk for all to share. It has a stripped-down version of iDVD so you can burn your recordings to disc right on the unit itself. If you want, you can also watch iBox-recorded shows on any of your networked Macs. Oh, and you can control it from your Bluetooth phone.
So do we believe a word of this? Well, no, but then again, it's nowhere near midnight here yet, so we're stone-cold sober. Maybe if we were a little tipsy we'd be more willing to believe that Apple would ship a DVD recorder with a 500 MHz G3 to encode MPEG video-- consumers love waiting for hours! Okay, okay, fine, that's not really fair, since the iBox would most likely have dedicated MPEG-encoding hardware onboard, but still, we just can't see Apple shipping a $600 set-top box that actually acknowledges that Mac users might conceivably like to watch TV. It's just so... un-Steve. The reason we brought it up at all is because nothing beats a fringe rumor for end-of-year drama-- and because we really, really want one of these things. Pretty please?