The Ultimate Digital Hub

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 6th, 2002, 10:00
Category: Archive


It’s really the wild west out there in terms of MP3 players. I am convinced the cheaper high capacity players are hurt by their excessive size and weight. Flash media based players are too limited in capacity. Apple was smart to use a tiny HD in their portable. The ability to quickly upload and download with iTunes via Firewire helps with any capacity shortage. Even if you have 30GB of music, you can change the mix every so often with relative ease.

Car solutions are mostly based on CD players that can read MP3’s. I believe Mazda was the first to market a car around the MP3 player in it’s dashboard. Perfect for the youth market. The ability to put up to 10 albums on each disk is nice. If you could put a 10 disk MP3 changer in the trunk, there is the potential to have 100 albums at your fingertips. Clearly, a 60GB, 2.5″ removable Firewire HD in your radio head unit would do the trick even better. Of course, the iPod is certainly small and convenient enough to hook up every time you get in the car if you carry it everywhere. Like all car audio products, the potential for distraction is there ? so pay attention to the road while driving!

For the home there are a wealth of solutions. The Geekiest involve broadcasting from your running PC via FM or a home network to your home stereo. Cheap, but inconvenient. Some people even build stand alone UNIX boxes with LCD screens and huge hard drives that will play through their home stereo. Many DVD players will play MP3 CD’s now, but have limited ability to access music and create playlists. There are also some home MP3 CD players with the ability to accept a built-in hard drive.

I think the potential for Apple is pretty good here. I would like to see a Firewire/Airport docking station with remote control for your home entertainment system. Connect any Firewire HD or CD/DVD drive and it would use your TV screen for control of playback. Give it an Airport connection back to your Mac and you could rip and add music at will or even stream content like a true Geek. I see this as another Apple hub product. All your entertainment in one place. Since it hooks up to your TV, why not build in playback for iMovie and iPhoto without the need to burn DVDs. You could use a 3.5″ high capacity drive in a Firewire case or a 2.5″ HD in a bus powered firewire case or just an iPod connected to this hub.

I see this as a US$300-400 product. Just a hub with a DVD decoder, IR remote, Firewire port, a slot for an Airport card and a connection to your TV. The software and CPU would be a bit more complicated than the iPod. You could stream music or video via Airport without the need for any HD. Some people would just use it with an iPod. I’d like to daisy chain a couple of 100GB Firewire drives and combo CD/DVD player all connected to a 50″ Plasma display for the ultimate in home entertainment! Imagine the kind of flack this would generate from the music industry.

Recent Posts

Comments are closed.