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Was the Mac mini Intended to Have an iPod dock? 404

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sure-why-not dept.
RMH101 writes "Was the Mac mini originally designed to have an integrated iPod dock? The Register has an article that appears to suggest it was. This opens up the option of homebrewing your own dock into a mini for yourself..."
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Was the Mac mini Intended to Have an iPod dock?

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  • Makes sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ceeam (39911) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:22PM (#11813015)
    I want Mac Mini. I do not want iPod. As far as I am concerned Apple made a right decision.
  • by l4m3z0r (799504) <.ten.elytsrebu. .ta. .nivek.> on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:22PM (#11813018)
    See, I took my dock, firewire cable and plugged it in to the Mini.

    Pretty leet huh, I'm about to submit it as a full fledged story to /.

    Look for me in the dupe.

  • Homebrew Cases (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlueThunderArmy (751258) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:22PM (#11813024) Homepage
    Given some of the homemade cases I've seen, I suspect tinkering with the Mac Mini to give it an iPod dock would make it a bit less "mini" and considerably less stylish.
  • by Digital Warfare (746982) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:25PM (#11813046) Homepage
    But did anyone else notice the convientley placed R2 and D2 ?
    It would a good to have this dock as optional, but that will be in the next flurry of updates?
  • While I think it's a good idea to add a "simple" feature like that, it might not be useful if the mini is just sitting on the middle shelf of a home theater system.

    • by DenDave (700621) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:34PM (#11813133)
      If it it is to be a "shove-in" dock then it would be a bit nonsensical and un-aesthetic, imagine a mini with a white ipod dangling out of its left side..

      Nah..

      An extra connector is always a charm but a slot for your pod? hrmm.. considering future changes to the form of the ipod I wouldn't go there. The 60gb is thicker than the 40 and the pod mini... ugh just forget about ok? fugeddabaatit ok?
  • by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes@ x m snet.nl> on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:27PM (#11813065)
    or we would have had YA device with a non-flat top surface (ie nonstackable).
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You're not supposed to stack them anyway, because it interferes with the optical drive on top and the cooling system on the bottom.
    • Why? The dock could be a hole on top of the device that would hold the player vertically. Of course you couldn't stack them/put stuff on top of the unit with the player in the dock, but I don't see how that's an inconvenience.
  • Not an iPod doc (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fished (574624) * <amphigory AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:27PM (#11813066)
    I don't think this was for an iPod dock. This guys is basing that conclusion on the fact that it's got firewire connectivity. But we should recally that Firewire was originally mostly used for video connectivity, not iPods, and Firewire is still more-or-less the standard for connecting video cameras and tuners digitally. The logical conclusion is that this bus is not here to support an iPod, but some sort of video hardware ... like, say an HDTV tuner card?

    This ties in nicely to the way that the mini seems tailor-made to be a media-center PC. If some sort of tuner card were plugged into this slot (say in a "Mac Mini Media-Center Edition" or something) you could plug a mini into your TV and be basically set with the ultimate convergence box.

    That's my opinion, anyway. Be looking for a Media Center version of the Mini soon.

    • Be looking for a Media Center version of the Mini soon.
      I'm not holding my breath [slashdot.org]
    • Re:Not an iPod doc (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ironsides (739422) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:40PM (#11813195) Homepage Journal
      You made me thing of something with this. Linksys made an amplifier for their 802.11b system called the BSB24. It was made to stack on top of the wireless hub. Here's a link. [socalwug.org] It stacks neatly on top of it and maintains the stackability of the hub. Is it possible this is what they had in mind?
    • Re:Not an iPod doc (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR (28044)
      Seems like a possibility. The extra control lines could be used to do things like change channels or even interface an IR Transmitter or receiver. What the MacMini is missing is an display on the front and IR controls.
    • Re:Not an iPod doc (Score:5, Interesting)

      by harrkev (623093) <kfmsdNO@SPAMharrelsonfamily.org> on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:46PM (#11813248) Homepage
      Neat idea, but I recently read a review stating that the Mini (at least the base version) lacked the processing testicular fortitude to be a full-blown media center. Plus, it does not have the storage to be a server (unless you upgrade the HD) Anandtech Review [anandtech.com] It still has some potential, but it does not seem to be designed for this role (at least without some serious upgrading)
      • Many assertions have been made that the iPod doesn't have the power to decode a full-HD stream. It certainly doesn't have enough to decode one and store another. I also sincerely doubt that it is capable of doing encoding of such a stream in realtime. You would need a lot of dedicated hardware to do any of it. Then again, that's what the firewire could be for; compressed HD video will fit across it. They would need a tuner/encoder/decoder device. Stacking it on top of or under the mini makes sense, but usin
        • Re:Not an iPod doc (Score:3, Informative)

          by Jeremy Erwin (2054)
          Nah. An atsc stream is already digital. Storing it takes very little horsepower, although it does take a "fast" hard drive-- the stream is 19.39 Mbs. Decompression could be a problem, but semimodern video cards have partial MPEG-2 decoding hardware built in, which substantially lightens the load. IIRC, wintel PCs only need a 800 MHz PIII to decode, assuming that video card acceleration is available.

          Apple hasn't exposed the necessary APIs, but if they wanted too, they could. But personally, I wouldn't expec
      • Re:Not an iPod doc (Score:5, Informative)

        by Golias (176380) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @02:26PM (#11814268)
        Neat idea, but I recently read a review stating that the Mini (at least the base version) lacked the processing testicular fortitude to be a full-blown media center.

        That's funny.

        My Mac mini (the 1.42 version) is currently providing HDTV PVR functions (via the EyeTV 500), DVD movies, Other MPEG movies via VLC, music via iTunes, and wide-screen World of Warcraft, all while hosting my personal web page in the background.

        In spite of EyeTV's box specs claiming that full-frame HD requires a dual-G5 tower, the mini seems to be handling it without a hitch. I even recorded some prime-time HDTV wide-screen broadcasts onto the mini's internal drive, and was able to watch them in full-screen mode with no trouble at all.

        Not bad for a $600 computer with no mods other than a single 1GB stick of after-market RAM in it.
        • Re:Not an iPod doc (Score:4, Interesting)

          by PatJensen (170806) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @02:46PM (#11814557) Homepage
          I just got a Mac Mini BTO 1.42 with 512Mb of RAM and it runs WOW terrible. It is very choppy and barely playable, especially in Ironforge or around any water/fire effects. Does this improve by moving to 1G of RAM? Running top I see a lot of paging activity, but I want to see wht you think.
          • Re:Not an iPod doc (Score:5, Insightful)

            by AJWM (19027) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @03:25PM (#11815064) Homepage
            Running top I see a lot of paging activity,

            As a general rule, if you're seeing any paging, adding RAM will speed things up. The exception would be something that is really CPU bound. Are you seeing high load factors? (Ie, several times the number of processors you have.)
          • Re:Not an iPod doc (Score:3, Informative)

            by Golias (176380)
            Yes, more RAM helps. No need to BTO. The "putty knife" trick works like a champ (although I find it works better if you use the knife to bend back all the tines, instead of just bending the first couple and popping the rest out) and then you will have a spare stick of memory left over which you can drop into another system.

            Crowded cities still get a little laggy, but with 1GB, it plays smoothly enough that I became willing to sell off my game PC (as WoW was the only remaining non-console game I find myse
    • Re:Not an iPod doc (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fahrvergnuugen (700293) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:55PM (#11813323) Homepage
      Apple has already reaffirmed that they have no intentions of making a media center:

      from MacWorld [macworld.com]

      Media Centers and digital video players

      Oppenheimer articulated Apple's current philosophy when it comes to "media center" computers -- PCs designed to work in the living room as a component of a home entertainment system, recording video, playing back music and more. While Oppenheimer admitted some consumers may be interested in media center PCs and that a Mac mini might be suitable, he said that "most customers" would prefer to have a more powerful computer in their office or den and leverage wireless networking to stream content to their home entertainment system.

      As a practical example, Oppenheimer pointed to AirTunes -- a feature of iTunes that works in conjunction with Apple's AirPort Express wireless networking hub. The AirPort Express features an audio jack that can connect to the home entertainment system using a mini jack or a digital optical cable. Music can then be streamed from the computer playing iTunes to the stereo.

      The iPod won't be getting video capabilities any time soon if current players are any indication, said Oppenheimer. Today's crop of portable media viewers are too bulky to carry as comfortably as the iPod, yet have screens he said are too small to enjoy a movie the same way you would on a TV or laptop. "Our view is that they've failed in the marketplace," said Oppenheimer.

    • Re:Not an iPod doc (Score:3, Informative)

      by swillden (191260) *

      you could plug a mini into your TV and be basically set with the ultimate convergence box.

      The mini would also need better sound outputs. The single 1/8" stereo jack doesn't cut it in most home theatres. You need SP/DIF or TOSLINK output for 5.1 and 6.1.

  • Coralized link (Score:5, Informative)

    by panum (161455) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:27PM (#11813068)
    Use Coral proxy [coralcdn.org] to avoid slashdotting the poor site [nyud.net].

    -P
  • iPod Docks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:27PM (#11813069)
    Don't the different iPod models have different docks? So you could have a one-size-fits-all dock, but when you put a mini in it, there would be a gap around the edges, and Apple just wouldn't let that happen.
    • Re:iPod Docks (Score:3, Interesting)

      by badasscat (563442)
      Don't the different iPod models have different docks? So you could have a one-size-fits-all dock, but when you put a mini in it, there would be a gap around the edges, and Apple just wouldn't let that happen.

      I'm not saying this was definitely a dock connector in the making here, but people are missing the obvious:

      Replaceable plastic covers. Seriously. This thing [ipodlounge.com] has 'em, why not the Mac Mini? They can't cost more than about 3 cents each to make, and Apple could make 'em look better than these do. Fo
  • Old news (Score:4, Informative)

    by white1827 (848173) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:27PM (#11813070) Homepage
    The remnants of a possible iPod dock were found by the initial people ripping them open.
  • by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:28PM (#11813076) Homepage
    Whether the Firewire feature was dropped from the first incarnation, or was put in place ready for the Mac's next revision isn't clear. However, early rumours surrounding the so-called "headless iMac" that was to become the Mac Mini, did indeed mention an integrated iPod Dock, fitted to help encourage Windows-using iPod owners to switch to the Mac platform...

    I'm sorry but what made ME (as a "PC" user) to switch to the Mac platform was the price. $499 for the base model is 100% perfect. I have said it here before (and I am saying it again)... Once Apple created a computer that was reasonably priced I would purchase one and I did.

    It's nice that it runs cool, near silent, and that it is snappy for what I use it for (with 512MB) but it's super nice that it was priced right.

    I don't own an iPod and I likely will never own an iPod so the iPod dock wouldn't make me switch. I highly doubt that PC users would switch just because of an iPod docking feature.

    YMMV.
    • I did the same thing... when that mac mini came out, I ran... not walked... to the Apple store to buy it. I got the ugpraded version, plus some software: iWork and Motion.

      Oops!

      I suppose had I looked at the specs closer I could have known, but Motion doesn't work with a Mac Mini. It won't even install. Somewhat depressing, but the graphics card isn't up to the task. And the installer won't let you even try with pokey response, it just doesn't let you install.

      I admire Apple a lot. And to finally buy a
      • by Arcady13 (656165) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:59PM (#11813353) Homepage
        You blame Apple because you are unable to read the system requirements [apple.com] or try out the free 30-day trial [apple.com] of the software? The trial page even has a compatibility checker application you can download.

        Next time, try blaming the real source of the problem: yourself.

        • by nsxdavid (254126) * <dw AT play DOT net> on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @01:50PM (#11813823) Homepage
          You are right, I could have known. But if you follow the path through their web as I did, you don't see any of that. I knew I wanted Motion from seeing it demo'd in person (at SIGGRAPH), so I didn't go to the marketing part of the web site on it.

          In many ways, I acted more like a typical customer... the kinda Apple tries to appeal too: the nontechnical user. I read the hype pages on the Mac mini (that talk about how they have great graphics power) and then just started filling my shopping cart with the Mac mini, keyboard, mouse and upgrades.

          Then it encouraged me to buy some software and so I added iWorks and Motion to the cart. The shopping cart software COULD have seen that there was a potential problem since I was buying a mini and software that does not work on a mini at the same time. A warning would have surficed.

          I understand why some companies do not let you return software. My company makes software (though piracy is not much of an issue for us). But fully understand the issues.

          The problem is that Apple didn't deal with this in what, I would argue, is a customer-centric fashion. Their correspondence were cold and indifferent. They showed no flexibility, much less concern. Heck, they didn't even try to upsell me... what a perfect opportunity to say.. "Hey, how about upgrading to a G5... that'll do what you want!" I was not going to do that, but at least a well trained Apple Store Team (as they call themselves) should have made that play.

          So, yes, I did make a mistake. But not an unreasonable mistake. And not one that should have been undoable. This is the sort of nonsense that really turns people off. And makes them complain loudly about how they were treated.

          Given how much I like Apple, admire Apple, I wish this just wasn't how things went down. The cost of the software, frankly, is a non-issue for me. It was the principle of the thing.

          • Sorry to hear about your bad experience. Are you in the US? The reason I ask is two fold. One is that I've heard anecdotes that Apple customer service leaves a little something to be desired in Europe. The other is that if you had tried to return the software with the claim that you were unwilling to accept the click thru EULA instead of the claim that your system didn't meet the requirements, they would be required by law to accept the return.
      • No offense, but let's say you were a Mac user and decided (for whatever reason) to jump to the PC. If you go to any retail store that sells PC software and pick up something that isn't compatible with your PC, they aren't going to let you return it either. It's a common practice. Too many people have installed software to use and then returned it for their money back, copied it to resell or otherwise abused the return policies of these stores. As I work in retail I have seen it before. They're just followin
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:28PM (#11813077)
    ...the reality distortion field generator, duh!
  • I think... (Score:5, Funny)

    by eobanb (823187) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:28PM (#11813078) Homepage
    ...more importantly, I noticed that Safari was using much more memory than Firefox when I had both open. Therefore, certainly we must ask ourselves, "is the Mac mini preferring certain programs over others?"
  • Firewire drive? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mackman (19286) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:28PM (#11813079)
    If you read the description, the firewire connection pins are directly next to the connection to the ATA optical disc drive. Maybe Apple wanted to have the option of shipping firewire based disc drives should they become cheaper.
    • Re:Firewire drive? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jozer99 (693146)
      Never going to happen, because Firewire drives are simply ATA drives with a firewire adapter attached. Firewire is not a suitable protocol to drive a disk alone. Since it is always more expesive to ADD something, that will never happen.
      • Many of us harbor a fervent hope that someday, someone will start making native 1394 drives. It makes good sense, especially in higher speeds. 800Mbps has the same max throughput as ATA100 with lower overhead.
  • A great deal of people are buying iPod's these days. If more of them would buy mac's too Apple's market share for personal computers would greatly increase. I'm sure they originally put the dock idea in the low-cost model to attract these windows iPod buyers but the purists at Apple fought to keep the box cheap, simple, and clean.
    Also, since I have karma to spare, with I googled for mac mini ipod dock I got a picture of this crazy contraption [hackaday.com]. Just thought I'd share.
    - Cary
    --Fairfax Underground [fairfaxunderground.com]: Where Fairfax County comes out to play
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:31PM (#11813101)
    "Microsoft intended to fix bugs in Windows?" All the signs are there, the half done architecture and comment code stating "To be enabled in Longhorn."
  • by saddino (183491) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:33PM (#11813124)
    ...is backing away from the iPod? Quick! Someone call CNet!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:41PM (#11813206)
    I had the opportunity not too long ago to speak with someone at Apple that worked on the Mac Mini project and I asked the same question as it had been speculated on a lot by the rumor sites. The answer was yes, it was considered early on in the project but killed because they didn't think that it would work aesthetically along with the possibility that it could interfere with the wireless performance of the Bluetooth and Airport antennas that are located on the top of the case.
  • by akheron01 (637033) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:46PM (#11813249) Homepage
    Pfffft, that's not a dock, it is quite obviously a Diagnostic Port [folklore.org].
  • by hsmith (818216) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:49PM (#11813274)
    Apple has the best selling philosophy:

    Sell version 1 w/ minimal features
    get everyone hooked
    release version two with extensive features
    profit

    look at the shuffle, the chip has the ability to recieve FM, they will add a screen and FM tuner in 1-2 versions to bump sales up. brilliant.
  • The iPod Mini has a smaller dock than the regular iPod, though they use the same connector. However, I'm sure that Apple could come up with something, but I'm leaning towards no being the answer to "Was the Mac mini intended..."
  • by Indiana Joe (715695) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @12:50PM (#11813282)
    Replace the hard drive with a docking station for the iPod. The higher-end iPods already come with a bigger standard drive than the Mini, why make customers pay for two drives?
    • One possible reason is that the micro drives in iPods are not designed for use as a desktop hard disk. Some poeple have learned this the hard way: installing an alternate OS on the iPod, booting into target/firewire mode, etc. In some cases, the constant use actually generated enough heat to fuse the small platters together. Oops.
  • If you're worried about design and looks, you need to think about laptops and their docking stations. Look at the bottom of the laptop and there are little flaps over the docking connector that gets opened up when you plop the laptop on the dock. Given this basic design + Apple's ingenuity, I'm sure adding an iPod docking station will not detract from the looks of the mini.
  • wrong pinout (Score:5, Informative)

    by morcheeba (260908) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @01:01PM (#11813367) Journal
    That looks interesting but the mac mini connecctor has 20 pins, while the ipod dock connector [ipoding.com] has 30 pins. The placement of the firewire pins are also different - the mini has the data on pins 1,2,11, and 12, while the ipod has them on 3,5,7, and 9 [ipoding.com].
  • $499 Computer == quite cheap
    $499 iPod peripheral == very expensive
  • The fact that the mount has firewire integrated makes absolutely no difference. If you've been keeping up with the news, you'd know that Apple is now marketing the iPod as a USB2 device. It's no longer shipping with a firewire cable. Why would that make steps towards integrating the iPod with the mini via firewire when they're abandoning their whole stance on firewire to begin with?
  • Just use your datagrinder! [datadocktorn.nu]
  • If this were a USB connector, I might be convinced it was intended as an iPod dock. As of now [slashdot.org], all iPods support USB, though only mini's and larger even have Firewire (the iPod Shuffle does not). Maybe I am totally wrong because the dock interface on the bottom might support firewire - I just don't know. What I do know is that my iPod mini is much smaller than a regular iPod / iPod Photo and I don't see how a universal dock could work.

    _Perhaps_ the reason this interface didn't see the light of day (until n
    • by damiam (409504) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @01:26PM (#11813592)
      If this were a USB connector, I might be convinced it was intended as an iPod dock. As of now, all iPods support USB, though only mini's and larger even have Firewire (the iPod Shuffle does not). Maybe I am totally wrong because the dock interface on the bottom might support firewire - I just don't know.

      Every dockable iPod ever made supports both Firewire and USB through the dock connection. There's no reason for Apple to use a USB connection for an internal dock.

      My reasoning is that they left it off to save money and because an integrated dock would taint people's perception of the Mac mini. Instead of "Wow, this is a great computer for $499", people would think "This is a $499 iPod toy".

      • Instead of "Wow, this is a great computer for $499", people would think "This is a $499 iPod toy".

        Great point!

        Apple is already seen as "the iPod company" - they need to help people realize they make great computers too.
  • by goldcd (587052) * on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @01:24PM (#11813569) Homepage
    but it's a nice little hard drive with a nice fast connection on it you can carry about with you. Feel free to shoot my down if I'm spouting gibberish, but maybe you could carry your desktop around on your iPod? Imagine a world with tiny Mac minis dotted about the place. Don't lug your laptop into Starbucks, just drop in your ipod the slot and whoosh, it's your PC. Maybe you're strolling through town and fancy some music, just pop your ipod into a public mac mini and stick a couple of iTunes albums on. You've got an ipod. You've built a desktop on it when you stumbled in for a coffee one day, why not buy a mac for your house as well? Basically, the ipod's pretty dumb by itself, but can hold a lot of your personal data. Drop it into any mac mini and suddenly it could be your machine.
  • by owlstead (636356) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @01:50PM (#11813821)
    I've never understood what the point is of a docking station. Yes, it puts the iPod (or PDA) in a possition that I can read the information on the screen. But I would get that *and* the possibility of using the keys if it was lying flat on my desk. Difficult to knock over as well. I possitively hate the docking station that came with my Palm(s).

    The only reason I see for including a docking station is for them to sell us a "special travel cable", which is basically a wire with their own proprietary connector. That and maybe supplying power, but a powered USB hub could handle that as well.

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