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Monday, October 23, 2006

What about iTV?

For those who may not have heard the news, Apple is trying really hard to take over your living room. All kidding aside, Steve Jobs announced, during the last keynote presentation, that Apple was hard at work on a new device, codenamed iTV (since the name is already in use by Monster Cable, I doubt the name will stick!) and it was set to revolutionize your living room by bringing Apple smack-dab in the middle!

Of course, since the keynote, where some details about the capabilities of this new device were announced, there has been a lot of speculation about what would and would not be included at launch, scheduled for Q1 of 2007. Here is the shot that was displayed during the presentation:

As you can see, the iTV follows the form factor of the Mac Mini, and from the picture of the rear of the device, we can deduce some of the features:

During his speech, Steve Jobs alluded to some of the functions that will be available on the multimedia device:

  • HDMI connector (x1)

  • Component Video connectors (x1)

  • Audio L/R

  • Digital audio (x1)

  • Ethernet and 802.11g

  • USB 2.0

  • And a built-in power supply, eliminating any external power bricks

With this pretty impressive list of features, as well as full integration with iTunes on both the Mac and the PC platform, and an announced retail price of $299, Apple is going to make a dent in the multimedia market, that's sure.

Engadget has posted a hands-on review of a prototype device. As far as I can see, the prototype looks exactly like the device displayed during the keynote. Another hot debate going on is whether the iTV will support any PVR-type functionality, as well as a hard drive. Both topics remain to be seen!

The Sony PSP and Apple...

As soon as I saw the Sony PSP, I fell in love with it. I know, you may get a laugh out of this, but as a geek at heart, any neat gadget really gets my attention. And the PSP was great! I had to have one, and a few months ago, when an upcoming trip to India gave me reason to shell out the money, I bought my PSP. I purchased the Giga Pack, which Sony was promoting as a great deal: the PSP, a carry case, a 1GB Memory Stick Duo card. I also wound up pickup up a couple games (for your information, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Syphon Filter, both excellent games in my opinion).

In the time I've had my PSP, several friends have suggested that I mod it, but I didn't want to go that route, because I just don't find any advantage to free gaming, if I need to get memory cards to store these games. But my concern has come with my platform of choice, OS X. Since the PSP has USB connectivity, the thought that both devices would be fully compatible did cross my mind!!!

For those who are not aware, the PSP is compatible, in a sense, with OS X. It is possible to browse the PSP once connected and mounted, but unfortunately, it is not possible to properly format and delete data. I imagine that this is due to some restrictions based on write format, but no matter. There are several solutions that have cropped up, and here are a few of them:

1. PSP Ware: In my opinion, PSP Ware, by Nullriver Software, is by far the best solution available for OS X users. Once installed, PSP Ware allows a Mac user to sync their PSP with their Mac. Users are able to select music from their iTunes library, images from their iPhoto library, convert movie files and DVD to PSP format, sync bookmarks from Safari, backup saved games and more. This application also allows users to manager multiple memory sticks, simply and securely. This application currently sells for $15.00 and is up to version 2.5.1.

2. iPSP: iPSP by RnSK Softronics provides the same type of functionality as PSP Ware above, although it also includes some features that can make it very useful in conjunction with a "modded" PSP. The ability to sync homebrew applications is a great feature, as well as some advanced file management options make this a worthy competitor to PSP Ware.

Of course, for those who do not want or need an all in one solution, there are several applications that can be used to extract, rip and compress video to PSP standards. Most of these tools work very quickly on the OS X platform, and based on your specific requirements, may suit your needs better than the two proposed programs listed above.

Explore and have fun!