What do you get when cross a Mac Mini, Final Cut Pro X and BlackMagic’s new UltraStudio 3D? Today at IBC, the folks at ToolsOnAir are showing what the next-generation of Thunderbolt-enabled devices will look like: small, compact, inexpensive and able to go where more complex setups have dominated in the past.

The company says it developed its “Ultra Studio TOA on Mac Mini” to give smaller market, regional television stations a chance to inexpensively transition to file-based workflows with 24/7 playout. Though no additional information is up yet on the TOA Web site, the bundle likely features a micronized version of TOA’s Just:Play software.

The Mac Mini has been used increasingly as a media server in the home and some businesses. Now that it’s also gotten the Thunderbolt treatment, it’s a much more appealing playout device. Attaching it to a laptop running FCPX and UltraStudio 3D and it becomes an inexpensive way to push news, edited uncompressed in SD, HD, 2K, even in stereo 3D, out to viewers. TOA’s system will also likely be taking advantage of UltraStudio 3D’s included Media Express software, which lets you insert and assemble to tape, and the device’s built-in VTR control that connects to HDCAM SR, Digital Betacam, HDCAM, D5, DVCPRO HD and several other decks.

Even if you’re still on the fence about FCPX, which features resolution-independent playback, it’s easy to see where this concept is headed. BlackMagic’s bridge, and TOA’s concept, should just be the first of many to follow.