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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  • elvisizer - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    also, someone needs to tall anand that you can get pictures out of iphoto via drag and drop, not just going to Share->Export.
  • Saist - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Wanted to step in and comment that the Microsoft Office problem is also solved by a little application that you may or may not have heard of.

    It's called.

  • wilburpan - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link


    Not to mention the lack of a need to buy an antivirus subscription, which kicks in at $25/year for Norton's antivirus program. If you keep your Windows PC for 4 years, that's an extra $75 in software updates you'll need to buy.

  • shuttleboi - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    "The comparison above was very deliberately set up to focus on hardware alone, ignoring things like software differences and form factor differences. "

    Hello? The Mac Mini comes with over $100 worth of software. Where are you going to get a software suite on Wintel for $100? Kazaa?
  • edwardhchan - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    #25: I used a Kingston ValueRAM PC2700 1GB DIMM... Works like a charm. Just a note on using as a media server: Divx and MPEG4 playback is fine with VLC. DVD is good too, but the DVD player doesn't have a very good de-interlacing algorithm. My Mini is being watched on a 43" Samsung DLP at 1280x720. Beautiful display for the compy :)
  • Eug - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Apple has just dropped pricing on some of the BTO options:

    BlueTooth/Airport Express combo now $99.
    1 GB RAM now $325.
    80 GB hard drive upgrade now $50.

    And now the SuperDrive option is 8X. Cool. :)
  • pbrice68 - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Just a quick FYI:

    TextEdit does open MicroSoft Word documents. Obviously, it doesn't support all of Word's features, but it will open and display the text and try to maintain all of the formatting.

    Although you went over a great deal in iPhoto, you really didn't mention it's built in slideshow features, professionally printed books, and the ability to purchase prints directly from the application. The books really need to be seen to appreciate them.
  • Doormat - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    #26: the mini takes a regular DIMM, not an SO-DIMM. 1GB PC2700 DIMM is under $200. Plus the putty knife you'll need to open and install it.

    And I was planning on getting one until I read that they had problems at 19x12. As someone who is going to hook this to a HDTV at 1920x1080, this is disappointing news. Maybe next years refresh with a 9600+ with 64MB framebuffer will do the trick.
  • barnett25 - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    First I want to say that I loved the article. With that out of the way I have to ask, when you said that Pages exports well to html, what were you smoking? I just recieved iWork yesterday, I bought it becuase Pages seemed like an easy way to make good looking webpages. I saw the family newsletter template and knew my mom would love to have a webpage based around that. But try saving just the template, with no editing, to html. You get a big mess. Pages was not ready to be shipped. It's export to .doc format is messed up with the supplied templates too, but I can understand that being due to Word's lack of refinment and features. I do like pages, but it seems to only be good if you are either printing, exporting to pdf, or simply saving as a pages file. For any other kind of exporting it's next to worthless. (By the way, if you go to Apple discussions you will see dozens of people with similar compaints to mine.)
  • jasonsRX7 - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Apple today lowered some of the prices on the BTO Mac Minis at the Apple store.

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