I recently heard about the upcoming Apple iTV device… the idea is slick. This is a wireless (or wired, your choice) box so you can stream music, video, and pictures from your PC, presumably from your iTunes library. This, combined with Apple’s iTunes music and video store is almost the device that could change the way we rent movies, watch television programs, etc. What is missing? Support for older televisions (I don’t see SVideo or Composite video out) and, more importantly, it is missing low cost, digitally downloaded movie rentals (like downloadable Netflix) — I have to think that by the time this thing rolls out Apple will have a partnership with Netflix or Blockbuster to rent movies. Also, instead of buying a single episode of Lost for $2, you should be able to rent it the season for a month for $5 or $10. Just how many times do I plan to re-watch a season of any TV show? If I want to watch it over and over and over I will go buy the DVDs which, undoubtedly, have better picture and sound quality, extras, etc.
Sure, if you run Xbox Media Center you can do most of this, but, it isn’t trivial to setup, it isn’t natively wireless, and it doesn’t have the backing of anything like iTunes music and video store, downloadable movie/tv show rentals, etc.
So, is there another possible competitor? I think Nintendo’s Wii could easily perform all the functionality of the Apple iTV. Apple (or Netflix, or Blockbuster?)Â should really team up with Nintendo to provide virtual movie/tv show rental that you can playback on the Wii. Sure, it might need an app that runs on the PC, but, the Wii already has wireless networking, it already has a wireless remote control, it already has the hardware to play the video (on any kind of TV) and enough horsepower to decode the compressed video. It seems like a match made in heaven. Plus, it will be inexpensive and play some really great games. The only real problem with the Wii is the lack of hard drive which would limit its capability to download movies directly to the device.
Could the Xbox 360 do this same thing? Sure it could — and probably even better because it does have a hard drive, faster processor, etc., but, the 360 costs twice as much as a Wii, especially if you get one with the hard drive, add wireless, add a friendlier remote control, etc. In the end you would probably pay nearly three times what you would have to pay to do it on the Wii.
You might ask: Where is the PS3 in all of this? I don’t really care. PS3’s won’t really see any market share until at least mid-2007 and won’t be reasonably priced (ie, competitive with even the Xbox360) until around 2008, so, unless Blueray becomes the definite winner within the next couple months, I am completely ignoring the PS3. It is way too expensive and there are no games that interest me on the platform at this time.