Apple Tv or Mac Mini

Last week Apple didn’t just release the iPhone. They also released Apple TV, a single use appliance that allows you to play music, watch movies and view your pictures from your home PCs or Macs. When I saw it my first thought was how this would stack up compared to the Mac Mini as a multimedia device. Both are small, both have iTunes — what are the exact trade-offs? Luckily, the Apple Blog has written up a great side-by-side comparison of the Mac Mini and the Apple TV.

The stack-up is what I expected. Apple TV is cheaper (by $300), simpler, but also more restricting. It has a made for TV welcome screen, but I can’t surf the web or play Rhapsody through it. The Mac Mini has all the freedoms and configuration issues of… well… a computer. Sure I could use it, but could a friend of mine? Not so sure. Still it will allow me greater freedom with my media, still look very slick, and can be repurposed elsewhere when something shinier comes along. Of course, I wouldn’t make my choice just between these two devices. Microsoft’s Media Center or Ubuntu on a Shuttle PC would have to be considered as well.