The hacks being done to the Apple TV network media player just get better and better. Among the latest is the creation of a replacement for the Mac OS X kernel. This lets you run the full version of the Mac OS X operating system on an Apple TV - turning it into an ultra-low-cost Mac computer!
This crafty coding effort by Semthex from Hackint0sh.org (free registration required) means that an Apple TV - selling for £199 in the UK and $299 in the USA - can, if you tweak it, run the same programs that formerly required, at very least, a Mac mini costing £399 in the UK and $599 in the USA.
So, while an Apple TV isn't cheap for a media player, it is way cheaper than any new Mac that's ever been sold.
And, seemingly, Apple TV actually runs native OS X programs rather well, despite its relatively lowly spec.
Trouble is, unless you have a hi-def TV, you're going to have to pay out for a component-to-RGB adaptor, such as this £90 model sold by Keene, bringing the total outlay (ignoring the time-cost of implementing the hacks) to only about £100 less than for a full-blown Mac mini.
Two other great new (and related) hacks are also listed in Hackint0sh.org's AppleTV forum:
* A keyboard emulator for the Apple IR handset (there's already a hack on 0xfeedbeef.com to let you use a Mac USB keyboard and mouse on an Apple TV)
Apple TV uses an Intel CPU running a cut-down version of Apple's Unix-based OS X operating system and it's this highly-configurable OS that's made possible all of the many hacks we've already seen and holds out the promise of many more to come. Other useful hacks include:
* Booting up from a USB-attached hard drive
* Playing XviD, as well as DivX files by using the free, open-source Perian QuickTime component that adds native support for many popular video formats.
For an overview of previous hacks - and wish-lists - check out this recent HEXUS.lifestyle news story, Hackers turning Apple TV damp squib into hot item?
To stay up to date on what's happening with Apple TV, keep an eye on the HEXUS.lifestyle front page and on Apple TV Hacks and the AwkwardTV Wiki, as well as Hackint0sh.org's AppleTV forum.
Even though these newest hacks are quite staggering, we still reckon that Apple TV has little more mass-market appeal than it did when it was launched in the USA and in the UK.
The product can only output via HDMI and component, so can't connect to the majority of TV sets. Furthermore, even owners of HD TV sets aren't likely to find it overly appealing given that Apple has still not made available any HD footage to play - so all the product can do is output video at two low-quality resolutions, the best being 640x480 unless you go to the bother of repurposing high-def footage into a suitable form.
As a result, our own wish-list of hacks for Apple TV is still topped by a hack to let the device work at no extra cost on standard-definition TV sets - by somehow getting RGB from Apple TV's component output.
But do the latest hacks bring you any closer to buying an Apple TV? Share your thoughts in this thread in the HEXUS.community.
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External.linksApple TV Hacks - home page
AwkwardTV - Wiki
Hackint0sh.org's AppleTV forum - home page (free registration required)
Hackint0sh.org - running full Mac OS X on Apple TV
Hackint0sh.org - dual-booting between the Apple TV's own operating system and OS X from the internal drive
Hackint0sh.org - keyboard emulator for the Apple IR handset
Keene Electronics - Aptus 2 component-to-digital converter
0xfeedbeef.com - how to use a Mac USB keyboard and mouse on an Apple TV
Photobucket - Apple TV pulled apart (literally!)
Rogue Amoeba - Apple TV Surprises and Impressions
Something Awful forums - Home page (chargeable registration required)
Apple UK - Apple TV home page
Apple UK - Apple TV specs
Apple UK - home page
Apple USA - home page