I’ve made some purchases recently. Let me tell you about them.

Got an AppleTV. All I ever wanted was an Airport Express (you know, the digital audio network bridge) with an HDMI out (for video). But Apple engineered it differently. In fact, the AppleTV is much more like a networked iPod video than a video-equipped Airport Express. It has a drive that you can synch media to or you can stream media from elsewhere. Strangely, if you want to put media on the AppleTV you must synch. Unlike iTunes and the iPod you can’t just drag media to the AppleTV to upload. This seems odd to me since it means anything you put on the AppleTV must also live in your iTunes library. That’s a lot of duplication for very large files. (Though it does show me the value of iTunes 7’s support for multiple libraries. Video can “live” in the iTunes library but reside on a different volume than all the music.)

Others have covered the AppleTV in much greater detail. I will add only these blurbs.

  • No gigabit ethernet, which seems odd given gigabit on every other Mac and their focus on next-gen wireless.
  • Wonderful, wonderful UI. Front Row meets Coverflow.
  • It looks fine, not great, but fine on a standard def 4:3 TV. There was misinformation regarding whether this was possible at all.
  • The music and photo handling — not reasons I purchased an AppleTV at all — is surprisingly good. Begs for party usage.

I really bought the thing so I could rip the DVD player out of the kids’ area. They’ve ruined dozens of discs from overhandling and are on their way to trashing a third DVD player. Now there’s no physical media to manhandle. And the AppleTV runs so damn hot the kids avoid it like a stovetop.

Finally broke down and bought a Novatel Merlin UX870 high-speed 3G wireless card. Cingular supports it — and supposedly will sell it — but I could not wait any longer. I have longed for wide-area wireless for years, but it was not until post-GPRS/EDGE speeds were fairly ubiquitous on Cingular that it became practical for me. The Novatel is a fantastic device. It is tiny (fitting in the ExpressCard slot) and I’ve gotten 3G speeds (UMTS/HSDPA) 90% of the time I have used it in Austin and New York. Last I tested it I was getting 800Kbps download. Not sure about the upstream, but I have been moving lots of big files around with no problems. I’m still resistant to Blackberry-style lashing to a wireless device, but this is going to make my life a lot easier. I’m tired of hunting out Starbucks and begging friends to use their T-Mobile accounts.

Over the holidays I went on a digital video tape transferring spree. All that usage finally jammed the tape door shut and pretty much has required taking the thing apart. So, in additional to not knowing if I put it back together correctly I’m just sick of physical media. (See above, kid-smarm on DVD’s.) I was totally smitten with my friend’s hard-disk video recorder, but it was way too pricey. Coincidentally my Canon G1 still camera has come to its end-of-life. So, two needs, not much money, and still gadget-happy. Enter the Canon Powershot TX1. It does not ship until June, but here’s why I was so impressed.

  • High-def (720p), flash media-based video recording
  • 7.1 megapixel still camera
  • 10X optical zoom

Looking forward to that one.

And now I must return a call from my loan officer. Excuse me.