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Rumors have been circulating around the web about just what is known as Apple's "Brick" is. They came in waves, starting mostly with Mac Mini updates, moving on to Macbook rumors including a netbook and the design process rumor as well as Nvidia graphics. And now, the latest rumor is that Apple will release networked televisions.

Whatever Brick is, it will supposedly be unveiled as part of a "one more thing" presentation at the end of the October 14th Macbook refresh announcement.

I'm going to try to tackle all of this piece by piece, so bear with me.

Mac Mini: The Mac Mini rumor seemed to pass by quickly. The Mini has changed little from its inception, mostly just "behind-the-scenes" hardware changes such as processor upgrades. Many think that the Mini needs a refresh, and it's hard not to agree. However, it seems doubtful that the Brick is related to the Mac Mini. The Mini is Apple's cheapest desktop product, and you have to, as they say, BYODKM. That is, you have to buy the monitor as well as a keyboard and mouse separately in order to use the computer. The first thing that makes this rumor seem unlikely is that this is a Macbook refresh event that we are talking about here, so it would make little sense for the "one more thing" at the event would be a Mac Mini refresh. Also, the Brick turning out to be a Mini refresh would be, needless to say, disappointing. That's not to say that it isn't, just that it seems unlikely that Apple would give that much attention to it. But then again, the recent announcement of the iPod Nano refresh was ultimately extremely disappointing for many and has done very little for a struggling Apple (see The Economy and Consumer Electronics). Hopefully Apple has learned their lesson, and if this is a Mac Mini refresh, they at least execute it properly.

Macbook Netbook: Rumors began to turn to the possibility of Brick being part of the Macbook line, possibly a subnotebook (like the Macbook Air). An editor for Wired, Leander Kahney, suggested that the Brick might be a netbook. Kahney proposes that the Brick may actually be a netbook with two touch screens connected at a hinge, like the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) XO-2. This would allow for the laptop to be used for multiple functions depending on the way the screen is tilted. This seems more like wishful thinking than a good prediction, however. Many have been hoping for something like this for a long time, but it seems unlikely considering Apple's history. Who knows, maybe Apple will surprise us.

Manufacturing Process: This rumor, which was said to have been confirmed by an anonymous Apple employee, states that Apple's Brick is not a product but instead a way of making a product. The rumor claims that Apple would start using lasers and jets of water to cut Macbook chassises out of a "brick" of aluminum. This could result in designs that would supposedly make for a stronger, smoother, and lighter Macbook. The amount of screws could be greatly reduced, or external screws could be eliminated entirely with some good engineering. Finally, the process could allow for more innovate designs, which would definitely be a plus for a company like Apple. Other claims are that the process would reduce costs and give Apple a competitive edge.

Networked Television: Now this would be something. According to Nate Lanxon, Jason Calacanis, a so-called "tech celebrity," has confirmed that Apple's Brick is really a networked television. This would be much like a television with an integrated Apple TV, a device released by Apple that allows for the streaming of music and video over a network through ethernet or wirelessly using 802.11n wireless. Apple clearly makes some beautiful displays. However, this rumor seems suspicious. With the Apple TV already on the market (and not selling too well at that), Apple would have to give the general public a really good reason to buy their new televisions. Many who would be interested in this kind of product have probably already bought an Apple TV. While Apple's more loyal fans would probably buy one, others may question why they should pay more, especially when many already have HDTVs. It's not something you upgrade every 5 minutes. Perhaps, however, Apple could make it worth the people's while. What if, instead of having to buy cable, Apple offered an online TV service instead? The service might not cover every single channel at first, but this could be the future of broadcasting. With the current economic downturn, perhaps if Apple had a cheap enough service (Apple and cheap rarely mix) they could get the masses to switch. If Apple could do something unique and desirable enough, I am sure they could get a pretty good userbase going.

Since the event is supposed to be tomorrow, I will update the blog with new reviews and opinions tomorrow as information is released (or leaked). Stay tuned.


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