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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  • aliasfox - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    mlittl3- that's hilarious.
  • mlittl3 - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link


    Everyone just went through the eight stages of dealing with grief from the first post to the last. Cool!

    1)Shock - Apple reviews on Anandtech
    2)Emotional Release - just those crazy Mac fans, it will all pass
    3)Panic - maybe Apple might just have something here. Oh no, what about my shuttle box!?
    4)Guilt - maybe I should have been nicer to Apple all along. I'm now out of the loop.
    5)Hostility - those f*cking Mac fans. They don't know how cheap PCs can be.
    6)Inability to Resume Business-as-Usual activities - must read forum every second to ensure a Mac fan doesn't get in a good point without rebuttal
    7)Reconiliation of Grief - see description of emotional release
    8)Hope - we can stop reading and go to another hardware review site where there aren't any Mac articles. If we ignore Apple, they will go away.

    You guys crack me up. Let me know when the funeral is.
  • ElFenix - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    heat sink is two words. thanks.
  • ransath - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    Cocnord..."By the way, it is the same 'narrow minded' engineers as you call them who make miniMac. No?"

    Nope - they are OPEN minded "revolutionizers" caught in the Steve Jobs "reality distortion" field :)

    Concord - my apologies to you for being a smart ass. My comments weren't meant to be malicious, I was just poking fun at you. As I said to cygni, I will refrain from them in the future.

    BTW - I drink 2 or 3 Mountain Dews (Code Red) everyday! w00t!
  • WorkingHardMan - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    #157 "I guess Mac folks are used to paying for everything and don't mind it" - I guess this is a perspective thing. I've always thought of the Wintel crowd as being the ones that like to pay for things that can be had for free on other platforms, since just about all the software I've ever needed either came with the Mac or was easily available as freeware or low cost shareware. In fact, I long ago concluded that one of the reasons you only found 12,000- 15,000 Mac software packages for the Mac vs. the 80,000+ (well, way less if you don't count the games) on the Wintel side is that (1) You don't need a lot of the utility programs like those used by the Wintel crowd to keep a Mac going, (2) free programs on the Mac drive out commercial products, and (3) Mac people are more into value than cost, and are less likely to pay for a program than a Wintel user unless it really makes their life easier. And, or course, most of the major Open Source projects are Unix/Linux stuff and run on Macs (you do know that Mac is a Unix system?), that are ported to Windows.

    I also find it curious that Wintel people are always concerned about the availability of software on the Mac, but when you find out what programs they use it is usually MS-Word, MS-Excel, MS-Powerpoint, Adobe's Photoshop, and Quark DP, all Mac programs that have been ported to Windows, usually years after their depute on the Mac. And what is the Windows user interface but an imitation (and some would argue, not a particularly good one) of the Mac OS? [I have to admit here, that I haven't spent a lot of time with XP, but both Windows 95 and Windows 98, at least from the UI standpoint, were pretty half-baked imitations of Mac 85, and even MS would like to forget that Windows 1.x through 3.x ever happened).

    Similarly, to me it is the Wintel users that seem to include among their ranks the shrill who regard computer operating system selection as more of a religion than as choosing the best tool for the job ( in this thread, people like Concord come to mind).

    As I said, it's a perspective thing, what the "Wintel" crowd looks like vs what the "Mac" crowd looks like seems to change with where you are sitting. The good thing about the 3 articles to which this whole thread is supposedly relating, is that one member of one camp made a concerted effort to put away his prejudices and see what life was like on the other side. It was undoubtedly a difficult job, and I think he did a good job with it.

  • mzlin - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    I meant after anandtech, of course :)
  • mzlin - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    Arstechnica is the single best technology site on the internet. Their software and hardware reviews are done by programmers and engineers and is full of all the technical details you would ever want to know while at the same time assessing the more consumer-oriented questions such as value, productivity, practicality. Then they are very up-to-date on general science, technology, and internet news. I have learned of many an upcoming trend or internet phenomenon from them.
  • Entropyq3 - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    arstechnica is head and shoulders over the others in terms of general level, even though it has deteriorated (IMHO). Go to the technical forums, and you will find knowledgeable people.
    If you just want to blubber about technical stuff and voice opinions, please choose one of the others. ;-)
    Seriously, there are knowledgeable people in all three of these fora, but the signal-to-noise ratio is way better at arstechnica.
  • msva124 - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    Speaking of which what are some other hardware sites to go to? I know of three,,, and Are these any good? They all look very similar, just wondering if there is a certain one that is better than these three that I should take a look at.
  • linuxOwnzIfUrLeet - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link


    you used to be my hero below john carmack and martha steward.

    After seeing you get married and now this mac loving I can only believe that you've lost your engineering edge.

    Your poster on my wall will now be taken down.

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