Geeks turn Apple TV into 'Mac nano'

— 2:07 PM on April 6, 2007

The price of the Mac mini went up $100 with Apple's switch to Intel processors over a year ago, but a user with a little extra time on his hands has managed to turn Apple's $299 Apple TV into a "Mac nano" of sorts. The Apple TV, which came out a couple of weeks ago, is essentially a set-top box that lets the user stream videos from a PC to a TV via Wi-Fi. However, with its 40GB hard drive, HDMI audio/video output, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and USB2.0 ports, the device is more PC-like than many set-top units.

As Wired reports, a user who calls himself Semthex has come up with a 13-step procedure that allows one to install a copy of MacOS X on the Apple TV. The procedure mandates popping the device open, removing its hard drive, and backing up/copying files to the drive with another machine via a FireWire or USB dock. The Apple TV isn't exactly a hot rod—Semthex's "About This Mac" screenshot says the system has a 1GHz processor of unknown origin and 256MB of DDR2-400 memory. Neither the Apple TV's HDMI audio output nor its Ethernet connection work in MacOS X, either. Nonetheless, installing OS X on a $299 system does present many interesting possibilities. Wired suggests that with OS X on board, the Apple TV may soon even be running Windows.

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