Apple TV - a $100 powerhouse

March 18, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

As some of you may know, I like some Apple products.  I'm not what one would call a "fanboy", but I've been a Mac user since 1986 when my Pop bought a Mac Plus, and I never looked back.  I've also got a gallery filled with native-resolution retina display wallpapers for the new iPad - even though I don't have a new iPad (I honestly can't think of a use for one, especially when I could put the funds towards buying more lenses).

Last night it dawned on me that the new Apple TV, while not a device I have any particular use for, is really quite a powerful computer for a hundred dollars.  1GHz A5 processor - same as the iPhone 4S (though admittedly single-core, not dual), 512mb RAM, 8gb flash storage... and it's essentially solid-state.  With an Ethernet port, USB, and WiFi (N now supported), interfacing it with other devices could be extremely easy.  If the power-supply was located outside the case, or if it were converted to run on DC, it'd make an excellent mobile-computing widget when jailbroken (especially at 3.9"x3.9"x.9" and .6lbs).

Obviously, I have a wishlist to make this a truly practical widget - SD card slot, external power supply, USB3, gigabit ethernet, bluetooth... but really, these things are overkill for most uses and not exactly necessary.

So what hijinks could we get up to with a jailbroken Apple TV3?  Well, there's your standard computer-uses (providing someone could hack it to run Linux, which I believe is doable)... cheap web server, home media server, tiny hacker-box... But let's look beyond that.  What if you removed the AC power supply and could feed it DC?  Affordable, lightweight, reliable solid-state computer for cars, motorcycles, airplanes... I bet it's powerful enough to control a drone... or serve as a control center for multiple drones.

Imagine a flock of these badboys being controlled by a larger mother unit nearby on the ground or in the air onboard a larger quadcopter.  What was the saying?  "I for one welcome our new robotic overlords"?

I imagine Apple could actually bring in a lot of additional sales if they offered a version of the Apple TV that was a bit more like Raspberry Pi - fully open and programmable.  In the meantime, I predict the hacker/jailbreak community will provide solutions that creative-minded engineers around the world will exploit well beyond my pallid imaginings.


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