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 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Graphics card swap hardly agonizing but Joe $499 User won't know how or care to do that, I agree. I am still wondering how a PDA can be useful for me but since I can't think of a reason to get one I am obviously not the market for those.
  • Chuckles - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link


    1: Given that a 3.5" is about a third the size of the computer, what do you think?

    2: Do you think Joe Luser is willing to spend the time and agony upgrading his graphics card?

    3: If the past is any indication, no, its got about 4, maybe 5 years of "official" OS support.

    4: Does your PDA have the ability to serve as your HD backup, play music for 8 hours, and still fit in your pocket? Capability is a matter of perspective. The PDA I have does exactly what I need it to, my iPod does different things.

  • Concord - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Oh, yes! Dying - strong word but its true and best
    describes situation. Macs represent now less than 1 percent of the market. Of course we do our best to keep them alive. We vote for personal computer's diversity :)). But frankly speaking this miniMac is so badly constructed (I have at least 10 reasons for this claim) so I see at this moment only one reason to buy. Your girlfrend would say - Oh, its so cute! Maybe this reason is strong enough to buy it. But I will give you strong consumer advice (it was in 1st post) - wait for a couple of month and you will buy it on eBay for 200 US, of course if you will not change your mind.
  • bob661 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    People will still jump on these because the $499 buyer doesn't know about how much system or video memory they'll need. Like someone else said, the $499 market only cares about price and name.
  • Dualboy24 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    #121 "A pitiful attempt of the dying platform."
    - People have been saying its a dying platform since the early to mid 90s. Perhaps even earlier. But that hasnt stopped tens of millions of people worldwide from buying their products.

    I am sure that everyone would agree that they would love standard 512MB RAM and 64MB or 128MB video memory. If apple were to offer this a large amount more people would jump on these Mac minis. Perhaps a good rule is to hold off a few months. Until the buying rush is done with and apple tries to start a new rush by offering more advanced features. I dont know if they could get in a 9600 or higher video card with heat reequirements though. But the 9200 should do fine for the OS and the higher res work with more video memory.
  • bob661 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Shuttle is making gaming machines. They need to be able to fit a 6800 or X800 in them. Also, they use full size hard drives and DVD/CD drives.
  • Concord - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    A pitiful attempt of the dying platform.
    There are no reasons to buy it. Stylish? This soap box? I am dying laughing! Try to have your own look on things. Apple is trying to make an impression that it does so much good for us poor users and for only 499 US we are among choosen.
    Ha-ha buy and enjoy - You are different! That's all you can get.
  • peachee - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    It uses 2.5" HD. Does that mean 3.5" HD upgrades won't fit?

    Is the graphics card upgradeable?

    Will it take 1 - 2 years before Apple completely abondons this computer when a new OS update comes out?

    When people realize that a PDA is cheaper and more capable than an IPOD, will MS have to bail out Apple again?
  • Cygni - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    "figure out the case and internal hardware components to use such as those you suggest be used for an alternate base Wintel"

    Thats true, the shuttle will take considerably more setup time and prior knowledge. That does not lessen the bang/buck of the hardware, in my eyes, and i think thats what Anand is speaking of.

    "when it comes to downtime, system maintenance,"

    I am typing this on my G4 Powerbook, and i think this is an unfair comment. I have K6-2 machines running WXP that havent rebooted in months. I also have friends and coworkers with Macs that consistantly freeze (especially when opening a 3rd party program). In all honesty, if you have any type of downtime problems with ANY modern system, something is wrong. There doesnt seem to be any measurable difference to me... they are both quite solid.

    "I'd bet my daily income, that if you would install a good AV SW, many ,even tens of, viruses would be found."

    I havent installed an AV program since Windows 3.1, and i have never had any problems with viruses. I run HouseCall every couple of months, and its never found anything. Honestly, how do people get these viruses? I use P2P programs all the time, i open and install community made programs all the time... never gotten a thing. And i have yet to recieve any type of virus from all these amazing holes in XP where viruses just fly through the internet at your computer. If you DONT click anything on the screen on a shady site, you will never have any problems... doesnt matter what browser you use. If you drop all the security levels and click yes to everything, whose fault is that?
  • msva124 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I don't care what the PC costs, I already have plenty of PCs. I want to buy a Mac. First of all, I will need 512MB RAM ($75 extra). Second, I want to get a keyboard with apple keys so that I can get used to the new shortcuts ($30). It should also have a USB hub, or I will need to get one seperate ($15). Third, I need wireless, unless I never want to use the internet($79). Fourth, I need a two button usb mouse with scroll wheel ($20). Finally, the cheapest 15" LCD with good reviews on Amazon is the AG Neovo F-415 ($215 with shipping). That comes to $933. A similarly configured Emac is $953. And the lowest cost Ibook upgraded to 512MB is $1074.

    Why would I not want to upgrade to the Ibook and get full portability?

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