Introducing the Mac mini

Before we get to the mini itself, let's have a quick rundown of the specs of the Mac mini:

   Apple Mac mini 1.25GHz  Apple Mac mini 1.42GHz
CPU: PowerPC G4 1.25GHz PowerPC G4 1.42GHz
Memory: 256MB DDR333
Graphics: ATI Radeon 9200
Hard Drive: 40GB 2.5" HDD 80GB 2.5" HDD
Optical Drive: Slot-loading Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
Ports: One FireWire 400; two USB 2.0; DVI (VGA adapter included); 1/8" headphones/line-out; 10/100 Ethernet; 56K modem
Monitor: None
Keyboard/Mouse: None
Software: Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther), iLife '05
Price: $499 $599

First Encounter with the Mac mini

The box is small:

If you need a carrying case for your Mac mini, just save the box and it will serve perfectly.  Remember that the mini measures 6.5" on each side and is only 2" high, so the box is pretty small. The box is slighty longer and wider than the mini itself, but about twice as deep. 

A Mac mini box compared to a regular sized ATI Radeon 9800 Mac Edition video card. 

What's interesting about the box is that on the back face of it, you have instructions on how to set up the computer.  As you can expect, it's not too difficult, but helpful for the first-time computer user.

The Mac mini box itself is representative of Apple's simple design philosophy, but what truly sums up Apple's intentions with the Mac mini is the side of the box:

The side of the box simply states that iLife is included, and below that, it says that you can organize photos, compose music, create playlists, make movies and watch DVDs.  This isn't the side of a computer box. This is the side of a consumer electronics device box; it's the side of a multifunction iPod's box.  And this is where it hit me - what I was holding in the mini's box didn't feel like a computer. In fact, it didn't feel like I was unpacking a computer either.  Apple has effectively made their computer into something that doesn't seem like one at all, perfect for those who are intimidated by computers, but definitely leaves those of us who aren't feeling somewhat strange - not in a bad way, and not in a good way, but just in a different way.  If every other computer manufacturer in the world made their computers and boxes look like the mini's, then I'm sure that the feeling wouldn't be so strange; but the fact of the matter is, they don't, and the Mac mini is different - and you know that before you even hit the power button.

Inside the Mac mini box, there are already indications that Apple was working as quickly as possible to get these things out and shipped.  The best example of this is that the Mac mini comes with iLife '04 installed (meaning that the master image for the mini's hard drive was made before iLife '05 was ready to be put on it), and stuck to the top of the inside of the box is an iLife '05 DVD.

You have your handful of users guides, warranty information and the usual paperwork that comes with any computer, but with the mini, it all seems a lot "cooler" for some reason.  Everything is well made, well put together, and well, mini.  Once again, I wasn't reminded of a computer; I was reminded of buying something from Bose or Mercedes.

Index First Encounter with the mini
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  • Ecgtheow - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    #56: Probably not.
  • sluramod - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Probably stupid question, but I'll ask anyway...

    Is Tiger upgrade going to be free for Panther users?

  • HardwareD00d - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    the Mac Mini sounds like it would be a fun toy to play around with, but it's a bit too expensive for what you get. If you don't mind paying close to $600 for a screenless laptop, go for it. I personally hate laptops cause they have such crappy performance. They're only useful if your always on the go.
  • msva124 - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Exactly #53. I can't see the word of mouth from all of the 256MB mini owners being too great, which is a shame because at 512MB it would have had a much better reputation.
  • bob661 - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Unless the buyer is an AT reader or the salesman is an AT reader or the Best Buy ad says buy the extra 256MB of ram, they'll buy the unit at $499 without upgrades. Unless they specify the extras or a salesman suggests getting some extras, they'll get the unit as is. If it gets too much over $499, they'll choke and go get a Dell with the "free" flat panel. Like #32 said, cost and name. I guess it really is hard for some of you to imagine yourselves as a typical computer buyer.
  • downtowncb - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Anand concedes:
    "Working as a simple file, ftp or web server with no end user interaction in the OS, you can get by with a 256MB configuration, and the same goes for a single user, single application usage environment..."

    I know that most of the people here would never dream of using a machine with only 256 MB of RAM, but for a few people 256 MB is enough, especially those who just need a cheap, reliable web server that they can stick in the basement and administer with VNC or even ssh.
  • MIDIman - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I'm not sure if this has been mentioned above, but I think a smaller system, along the lines of something at's store front would be a more useful comparison than the stock Dell. It would allow a better representation when you take size into the comparison.

    IMHO - when these two are put side-by-side, you'll find similar performance issues as well - i.e. needs for 512mb, a faster HD, etc.
  • elvisizer - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    48, that might be it- i always keep my pictures huge, since I don't have a webpage of my own like anand :)
  • sprockkets - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Perhaps the applications alone are worth me trying a Mac Mini. BUT, more ram, and use Hitachi's 7200RPM hdd and that will make it MUCH better.

    Then again, I rather just use apps on a completely GPL system rather than a proprietary system. If only it was easier to find more PM itx systems, a PM system in a cubit case would appeeal more to me.
  • jasonsRX7 - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I get the feeling that he's using export to resize the pictures for the web. Just dragging them out of iPhoto will retain their original size.

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