The new Intel Mac Minis are pretty much everyting I dreamed of in a media centre machine. Small, quiet, attractive, and Bonjour-capable of finding every single scrap of media floating around on the home network.
And maybe I’m alone in this, but I’m not real worried about the one over-hyped deficiency in the system, its lack of PVR capabilities. I figure most early-adopters (we’re still in that stage, despite the age of the Tivo) have a separate PVR unit. Personally, I’ve already got a Bell HD-PVR unit that I’m pretty happy with.
That said, I am interested in figuring out a way to transfer the recorded programming from the PVR to the Mac Mini via USB 2. I think there’s a software product to make money with here.
My PVR unit, for example, is a Bell-branded EchoStar 9200. It has a 200GB hard drive and two USB 2.0 ports on it. The Bell manual states that the USB ports are for future use, but in the US you can buy an EchoStar device called the “PocketDish“that will download content from the PVR. It’s got a 20/30/40 GB hard drive and a 2.2/4/7 inch LCD screen, depending on the model, so you can watch recorded programming away from the TV.
What’s even more interesting is that the PocketDish can download content from either a PC or Mac, too, so it’s not as if there’s any funky talky-talk going on over the USB connection. In fact, Echostar has positioned the PocketDish as an iPod killer (one begins to understand why Apple refuses to license FairPlay — some hardware might just be better!).
The trick is to build a desktop app for Mac and PC (in Java?) that will pretend to be a “PocketDish” and transfer recorded PVR content to a workstation. That way one could archive and burn all those HD movies that cost 7 bucks a pop. (For personal use only, of course.)
Anybody interested in taking a shot at this with me? I’m no programmer, so I’d mostly provide moral support and beer, plus cover the cost of a research PocketDish and the ensuing law suit expenses that would no doubt follow.
If you don’t want to engage, could you point me towards some underground hacker resources that might set me on the right (or wrong, depending on your point of view) path? If you really want minimum involvement, please volunteer to be a relay shipping address for one of these devices as they won’t ship to the Great White North.