Stability

The Mac mini appears to be just as solid as Apple's other desktops, running non-stop without any performance or stability degradation, thanks to careful selection of hardware, extremely controlled driver updates, and the very robust Mac OS X.  Right now, one of the most attractive elements that the mini can offer to beginning computer users is safety and protection from viruses, spyware and pretty much all other forms of malware.  Obviously, that can't continue to be true forever, but for the foreseeable future, it's definitely an advantage of owning a platform that makes up around 2% of the market.  The beauty of it is that the mini belongs to a family of 2% of the market, yet retains (for the most part) file, networking and printer compatibility with the majority of the Windows market, without the malware.


Out-of-Box Software Completeness

The big question is: do you need any more software other than what comes with the mini?  iLife '05 offers the best in photo organization as well as easy-to-use, non-linear video editing software, but what the mini lacks is out-of-box compatibility with the Microsoft Office documents. 

There are two solutions to the Office problem, either purchase Microsoft Office 2004 (or an earlier version) for Mac OS X, or purchase iWork '05, which is significantly cheaper at $79.  I will discuss iWork in greater detail later on, but offering the ability to import Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint files will solve most of the problems that would result by not having Office installed (granted, most competitive machines at this price point don't have Office installed either).  Update: As many have correctly pointed out, the mini does ship with AppleWorks 6, which will let you open Office 2002 files, and TextEdit will open Word document files that are text-only. AppleWorks 6 is a bit of a dated application, however, and it does ruin a fair bit of the OS X experience because of it.

Other than that, Mac OS X comes with a very full-functioned text editor called TextEdit.  Although it can't open Microsoft Word documents, thanks to Mac OS X's system-wide spellcheck, TextEdit works extremely well as an entry-level word processor for the mini.  Email is covered with Apple's Mail, which can be best summed up as a faster, easier-to-use competitor to Microsoft Outlook.  Of course, things like IM clients and web browsers are already taken care of; Apple's iChat and Safari come pre-installed and there are a number of free alternatives available for download across the web.  Of course, the mini works fine sharing files and printers with PCs, and has one-click web and ftp servers ready to go out of the box. 

Performance Impressions Taking it Apart
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  • pitdog - Wednesday, February 2, 2005 - link

    I am a computer guy and PC user for the past 20 years. I have worked in the industry for a little while (20 years). When I heard that MicroRedmond was going to sell anti-virus software it got my blood hopped up. Then I saw on Slashdot that Apple was going to sell stripped down versions of their Mac. Interesting, I said.

    Welp I went ahead and bought one. WOW...definately interesting. I was a mechanic doing data acquisition for CART teams. All Windows based. I have also worked on motorcycles for years.

    I boil it down to one thing. I have worked on Harley's for years. They hold their value and most people want them. There are more aftermarket parts for them than any other brand. But, I wanted a bike that worked. So I bought a Yamaha R1.

    The Mac Mini is the same darn thing.....it just works. I will be using Linux or my new Mac Mini from now on. Good stuff...

    p.s. of course when I want to hack a file or test a new game....the windows pc is still around...
    Reply
  • pitdog - Wednesday, February 2, 2005 - link

    I am a computer guy and PC user for the past 20 years. I have worked in the industry for a little while (20 years). When I heard that MicroRedmond was going to sell anti-virus software it got my blood hopped up. Then I saw on Slashdot that Apple was going to sell stripped down versions of their Mac. Interesting, I said.

    Welp I went ahead and bought one. WOW...definately interesting. I was a mechanic doing data acquisition for CART teams. All Windows based. I have also worked on motorcycles for years.

    I boil it down to one thing. I have worked on Harley's for years. They hold their value and most people want them. There are more aftermarket parts for them than any other brand. But, I wanted a bike that worked. So I bought a Yamaha R1.

    The Mac Mini is the same darn thing.....it just works. I will be using Linux or my new Mac Mini from now on. Good stuff...

    p.s. of course when I want to hack a file or test a new game....the windows pc is still around...

    pitters
    Reply
  • janmorren - Tuesday, February 1, 2005 - link

    Very good article Anand. It's objective, and I think (although I haven't touched a Mac mini yet) you hit the sweet spot with your article. I do think that not only the Mac mini is badly equipped with memory, it applies for every Mac running Mac OS X. Once you have the minimum of 512 MB RAM, you're in for a very credible platform. I'm working on an older (4 years) dual PM G4 500MHz, and 1GB RAM, and I'm not complaining (yet). Everything goes smoothly enough (I'm the IT guy here, and have to run everything).
    Also the comments on Pages, KeyNote and iLife '05 seem fair. Thanks for not being prejudiced.
    Reply
  • bjakuc - Monday, January 31, 2005 - link

    Two quick comments:

    1) Thanks for the straight forward, even keeled, unbiased look minus any religous overtones.

    2) As for iPhoto 5 not having built in ftp support, you could always create a folder hierarchy that matches your web site structure and attach a 'Folder Actions' script to each subdirectory (written in Applescript, perl , python, shell etc...) that will ftp anything dropped into it up to the corresponding subdirectory on your site. just type 'Folder Actions' into Apple help for a discussion on how to set them up.

    Cheers!
    Bob Jakuc
    Reply
  • bjakuc - Monday, January 31, 2005 - link

    Reply
  • hopejr - Sunday, January 30, 2005 - link

    #176, I never said that it was secure, just that MS has made such a fuss about how much work they put into SP2 to make it "secure" and the stuff they put on the packaging, that would make the novice user think it was true.
    I also have a Windows box that has none of that stuff, and it's fine too, but, it sits behind a hardware firewall. If I put it in the DMZ, it would get hit like hell. I am a responsible user, and don't go downloading anything malicious (trust me, I know what to look for - I've been using PC's for long enough to know) and that is effortless. The only problem is that many people are noobs and don't know what to look for. BTW, that guy I was talking about is no noob, it was just that someone/bot had cracked into his computer through the "enhanced" firewall that MS built into SP2.
    I agree that OS X would have vulnerabilities, but at this time, who really cares? I'd only start to consider getting any AV software for my mac if I didn't have it behind the firewall and the percentage of users increased to 50% instead of the 3% it is at. Will that happen? I don't think so with the general mentality of much of the public these days toward anything "mac".
    I also agree that arguments such as these are absolutely pointless. So many people have their minds set a certain way, and are very difficult to change.
    Reply
  • matteh99 - Sunday, January 30, 2005 - link

    #178

    The Celeron isn't one of "featured" dimension 3000 desktops. Instead of clicking on the featured 3000 desktops you have to click on the link above it that says "start shopping desktops". (great set up for the site eh?)

    http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/compare.a...

    I would like to test a 3000 with a P4 but I don't have one. :-P. I might try to find a few other pc's to put it up against.. Also maybe test the 1.25 ghz mini.
    Reply
  • mino - Sunday, January 30, 2005 - link

    #134 Actually I searched their home site www.grisoft.cz before posting.
    So, I'm happy You corrected me since I had no idea there is running such a project from Your link.
    Reply
  • RMSistight - Sunday, January 30, 2005 - link

    #158

    SUPER LMAO
    Reply
  • msva124 - Sunday, January 30, 2005 - link

    Impressive results for the mini, but you might want to test it against a dell with a 2.8Ghz pentium 4. Looking at the dell website it doesn't seem like it is possible to buy a Dimension 3000 with a celeron processor anymore. Although, I could have sworn I went there a few days ago and I was able to. Reply

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