Rumor Alert: The Mac Mini will support CableCard

A little birdie has alerted me to a possible Mac Mini upgrade. It is rumored that Apple will be adding a “cable in” feature to the Mac Minis.

The rumor goes on, indicating that Apple will continue to have two tiers of hardware. The low end Mac Mini will sport a processor upgrade to the Core Duo processor, while the high end model will gain a modest processor upgrade as well as a dedicated video card, that will accept a cable card. The rumored video card is an ATI card based on their 650 models but catered to Apples specification.

It is also rumored Front Row will receive a major update to accept a live TV signal, and record TV programs. This could be one of the ‘undisclosed features’ that might be included in the yet unreleased Leopard OS. The source warned that Apple will limit the “PVR” function of this machine to simple point and click recording and with the possibility of scheduled recording. This supposedly was designed to allow the iTunes music store to continue to push it TV sales.

My initial reaction to this tip was curiosity on why Apple would want to include PVR functions in their machine when it is the least used feature on a multimedia PC? But after digesting the information a but, it makes sense. The Mac Mini is positioned to be the center of your digital life. With the addition of a TV tuner even with limited recording capabilities, it will make the Mac mini even more attractive to the growing base of users that think they want media center functions on their new computer, and it follows Apples tradition of adopting underappreciated technologies. Remember Apple was the first manufacturer to make USB their primary IO, the first company to ship a wireless based laptop, and bring Bluetooth to the mainstream? But the benefits are not purely to bolster the appeal of the Mini, it will also further push video sales at the iTunes video store. It is hinted that the new Front Row will help you purchase an episode of a TV show if you forget to schedule a recording.

Do you think this is a smart move for Apple?