ThinkSecret is reporting that Apple will announce an Intel-based Mac mini in January — presumably at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. According to the story, which I confirmed with another source, the new Mac mini will pack a bunch of new features not found in the original.
In addition to being the first Macintosh to ship with "Intel inside" the 2006 Mac mini aspires to be the digital entertainment hub in your living room. Already embraced as the center of many Mac-ophiles home entertainment systems, and even some cars, the Mac mini is a natural in the role of entertainment hub: it's small, headless and inexpensive.
According to the TS story, the mini will evolve in several ways, first by getting Front Row 2.0 (as part of a revamped iLife '06 suite) which is currently only available on the iMac G5, an artificial limitation Apple uses to distinguish the iMac. The second major innovation is new DVR functionality that will allow you to record TV programs directly to the hard drive which TS refers to as a "TiVo-killer."
Perhaps the most interesting part about about the 2006 Mac mini is its reported built-in iPod dock which will allow you to transfer recorded TV programs directly to the iPod "a feature that was scrapped from the Mac mini Apple first introduced one year ago."
After talks between Apple and TiVo reportedly broke down, it's not surprising that Apple would release this functionality themselves, especially in light of the TiVo announcement that they'll soon be transferring shows directly to iPods via their TiVoToGo program. January looks like it will be the golden convergence for Apple indeed.