AppleTV adopts something I’ve been calling for for a long time in the digital media adapter market — a “sync and store” architecture. Yet, it also supports streaming, which is particularly good for ad hoc content sharing. When I wrote about Brookstone’s SongCube for Engadget last September, the same month in which AppleTV (then iTV) was announced, I noted “The inclusion of networking capability so that the SongCube could be loaded and ideally synchronized over a home network would greatly benefit the product.” (Even though the column was posted after the Apple event, it was written before it and certainly before I knew that AppleTV would have a hard drive.) I also was relativley lenient on the product’s user interface — advanced for a stereo but primitive compared to most modern portable digital audio players.
AppleTV, which costs the same as the SongCube but lacks speakers, addresses both of these issues. However, there’s another catch — you need a screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio. So, I’m thinking there’s room in the market for one of those companies that did the add-on flip-up LCD screens for the GameCube and Xbox like Pelican Accessories (or perhaps a Mac peripherals maker like Griffin?) to do a similar product for the AppleTV. Add a pair of powered multimedia speakers and — voila — you have the slickest shelf system ever.
Years ago, I tried matching up Apple’s PowerCD with Apple’s old gray powered speakers for a different-looking bedroom CD player, but could never get it to work for some reason.