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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  • Dennis Travis - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    #136, I have never figured it out either, but in some ways it reminds me of the AMD haters who bash any CPU that AMD comes out with and say that Intel is always more stable and runs more apps and on and on.

    I have never hated the Mac but simply at one time, and even now can not afford the top end Macs. I have used both platforms for years but always loved the way the Mac worked, but after 2k and XP came out, Apple really needed to come up with a new OS as OS8-9 just was not as good as Win 2k or XP with Shared Multitasking and memory. OSX came along and gave Apple just what they needed, A STABLE OS with Great Multitasking and Memory managment with a solid BSD Darwin core.

    If Macs still were running OS9 I would not be as excited about a new Mac today.
  • hopejr - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    I don't understand why there is so much open opposition to apple. I used to be a mac hater, but I kept it to myself. Then I tried OS X 10.3, and now use it all the time. I rather it over anything else.
    To all those mac bashers: If apple hasn't done anything bad to you, why make so many bad comments about it?
  • Dennis Travis - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    So 134, It BLOWS down McAfee eh? Check this. Check which found the most viri and what found the least.

    You might be suprised. Even AntiVir blows AVG out of the water and it's free also.
  • DigitalDivine - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    "#96 Just to make things clear:
    1.) AVG is just a piece of crap(I have my reasons)
    2.) AVG is NOT free. It costs around $50 per 2 years"

    why you think avg is crap is beyond me, it smokes the likes of norton and mcaffee in load times and such just as fast in searches. but hey, if you think it's crap, don't use it, because you know what... it's free!!!

    and that is really all that you really need, a hard drive scanner, a real time scanner, and an e-mail scanner. and free updates... but hey, if you don't like that, o well...
  • win32asmguy - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    For apple its not good enough to just throw together a low cost machine -- it has to be stylish. Expandibility isn't that much of an issue for these machines. I have the 1.42ghz model and it runs OSX Panther fast with 512mb ram.
    I had a Shuttle cube (SN45G) also and it wasn't designed nearly as well as the Mac mini. The internal power supply would raise the system temp as much as 10-15C, the fans were loud even while at idle speeds, and stability seemed to be compromised when running higher end components in the system (which I assume was because the 250W supply couldn't handle it) The Mac mini doesn't have any of these problems so far, and performance can only go up from this model in the future...
  • Concord - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    OK. Now I realize what's wrong with it. It's size.
    Can anybody at least try to explain why it should be so small? Well PC desktops were big and people tried to find solution to that for example like barebones. They are small but at the same time they have enough space for many expantion. Actually in good barebone you have almost the same exppandability like in minitowers and some very pleasant extras. But this! I am wondering it is not notebook, you will not run with it and cut space to lose every posibility to change anything!
    The same time this very small size makes no sense at all for home PC!
  • bob661 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    The hard drive would need to be a lot larger than 40GB for HTPC use. Movies take up a lot of space.
  • krazykat - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Thanks Concord!

    I think the mini will find a base with people who bought the first sub $500 machines and are now sick of Windows 98 and the hideous box it came in. I'll be curious to see if there's not a population of people who will simply hook it up to a TV (especially fancy Plasma/Flat Screen), like a WebTV that's got a real computer behind it. Just like with the first iMac, the second version of the mini will be better.

    I wish the PC users above wouldn't stoop to abuse. Using a Mac is sipmly a different experience. Yeah, I drank the Cool-Aid, and it still hasn't killed me. I think I have enough experience to say I've tried it all, and Mac just suits me.
  • Concord - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Great post! I really appreciate your passion! keep it this way and Mac will survive and will not
    disapear like many other great things. Anyway I think that something wrong with miniMac. But maybe
    passion and devotion are enough? Or I am not right?
  • krazykat - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I am a former systems administrator and currently a first grade teacher. I have been a lifelong Mac Admirer, but couldn't afford them until more recently. I just spent the last two days reading all three of the Mac articles. Great work!

    Here's all the stuff I want to say:
    Remote desktop works great from my 800MHz, 12" Powerbook. Crashes less than it did on my Win2K Dell at work.

    I've used the whole Office suite for years and only switched over to Appleworks 6 because that's what they use at my new work and I actually really like it. Not perfect, but a lot less buggy and frustrating than Word in terms of pagination and formatting. It also has a built in Database program which Office lacks on the Mac side. (No Access.)

    My wife hates computers and loves her Special Edition Clamshell. We bought it on eBay two years ago and had to pay nearly full price even though a totally re-vamped, faster iBook two generations newer was available. Worth every penny. My parents are still using their Rev. B iMac (in Bondi) and they have the ability to kill anything with a microchip.

    The price point is something Mac users need to take more issue with. You will keep a Mac longer. Period. I've also built systems from scratch, but I love my Powerbook and would never dream of going back to a FrankenBox.

    To use OSX is to love it. I've used Windows from 3.0, Mac from 7.6 and many flavors of Unix, and I just love OSX. The only word is elegant.

    My 2 cents.

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