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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  • bob661 - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    The Mac mini isn't just targeted at Mac users that's why there is a comparison with Dell. There WILL be PC users that buy this thing and at $499 people primarily at price. The $499 crowd IS NOT the techie, computer-savvy group. Most of our arguments for buying computers don't apply.
  • mickyb - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I would wait for the turbo mini. It sounds like it needs a faster drive and better video.
  • Aileur - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    A thought comes to mind.
    Could apple get sued by other online music stores because osx comes with itunes preinstalled? Isnt that kind of like microsoft ie/windows?

    Oh and, i want a mac mini. I bought an ibook g3 800 a couple of months ago, on an impulse to actually try out osx. Sold my toshiba 2410 1.8GHZ (p4 not pm) and let me tell you, ive been advocating macs ever since. I believe if you're everything but a gamer, a mac is a great buy.

    On this note, let the whining begin.
  • downtowncb - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I'll never understand why people insist on comparing the Mac mini to Windows based systems from a hardware standpoint. Getting a "more powerful" CPU from a similarly priced Dell doesn't matter to the target demographic of the Mac mini. I can tell you that neither Grandma Claire nor Joe iPod-owning-college-student can tell you the speed of their hard drive and probably couldn't tell you three things about their graphics processor either. They both want a computer that works and won't break. The hardware is actually quite trivial to most of the users of this machine. Enthusiasts know they aren't buying a high-end machine, and the others don't know and/or don't care.
  • bob661 - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Good article. Why?
    3) To the user that this type of computer is targeted at, do either numbers 1 or 2 matter? The answer is no, all that matters is price and whether or not the thing works. If that statement weren't true then you would never hear the phrase "I've had my computer for 5 years, I need a new one", instead everyone would be a performance fanatic like the rest of us and upgrade every year at worst.
  • jtntwozz - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    no.1 what are u talking about?!?!?

    nice article.. i love all 3 of ur mac articles..
  • Dranzerk - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I'll wait till you can find half a million on Ebay for $200 fully upgraded in a few months..thats the sweet spot when people say "Why did I buy this!".
  • JacobAppler - Thursday, September 2, 2010 - link

    You can also save some real money on the Mac Minis by shopping safely. Go to a comparison site like Apple and you won't need to worry about your Mac Mini costing too much.

    The Mac Mini can be the redheaded stepchild of Macintosh land, but it's worth looking at.

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