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Updated Mac Mini Aims For the Living Room 638

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the need-a-review-unit dept.
WrongSizeGlass noted that besides the pre-order of the new iPhone appearing on the Apple store today, Apple has revved the Mac Mini and started selling those too. "PC World is reporting on the latest version of Apple's Mac Mini. At only 1.4-inches tall the unibody aluminium enclosure includes an HDMI port, an SD card reader, and more graphics and processing power. Even the power supply is inside now. The base model comes with 2.4-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB of RAM and a 320GB hard disk — for $699. Graphics power comes from an NVIDIA GeForce 320M GPU (as found in lower-end MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops). Apple appears to be aiming for living rooms by including the HDMI port and eliminating the external power brick."
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Updated Mac Mini Aims For the Living Room

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  • Apple TV (Score:2, Insightful)

    by StarWreck (695075) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:15AM (#32577798) Homepage Journal
    Looks like what they should have done years ago instead of that stupid Apple TV.
  • Just remember (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ThoughtMonster (1602047) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:18AM (#32577828) Homepage

    For all its sexiness (and $699, apparently) it comes with no screen, keyboard or mouse. Granted, people will probably use this with their TV, but having no bundled keyboard/mouse is a real shame. And to think that the Mini was supposed to be an entry point (price-wise) in the Apple Mac world.

    Also, no Blue-Ray option?

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0racle (667029) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:18AM (#32577840)
    The Mini was always aimed at people who already had a screen and keyboard.
  • Deal breaker (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spudnic (32107) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:25AM (#32577938)

    Unless I'm missing something, this seems like a really stupid mistake that would be a deal breaker for any use in the living room.

    "and if you have a separate sound system, you can use the audio out 3.5mm jack (no real surround sound here, unfortunately) for your home cinema."

  • by YA_Python_dev (885173) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:26AM (#32577952) Journal
    I liked more the external power brick, because it's a component that generates lots of heat and it was passively cooled. If you put it inside the Mac Mini it will inevitably cause more fan noise than a similar solution with external power supply.
  • by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:27AM (#32577966)

    I don't know about you, but the internal power supply would make me really concerned that this thing would run hot.

    Also, I had some high hopes when I read they were revving the mini - I was hoping it would have an i5 (and maybe even an i7 option).

    Basically, I want an iMac, but I've got my own screens - just never gonna convince me to buy an all-in-one like that, but the Pros are overkill.

    Better graphics: yay

    Unibody (unopenable) case: BOO
    Still Core2 instead of i5/i7: BOO

    HDMI: MEH

    I guess my MacBookPro will have to be an only Mac for a while longer.

  • Re:Just remember (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xaxa (988988) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:27AM (#32577968)

    I've never bought an Apple product, but presumably they sell keyboards and mice in the Apple store. That way you can choose between a standard one, and a wireless one, or whatever.

    I'd prefer PCs in normal stores to come with no keyboard and mouse, the provided ones are typically crap anyway.

  • Re:Apple TV (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nicholasjay (921044) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:33AM (#32578074)

    Without a BluRay player, even as an option, its a deal breaker. If the only way they expect me to get content onto the device is to go through iTunes, then I'm not buying.

    Even something like EyeTV for recording television seems like a half assed solution, when Apple has the opportunity to do it right.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:36AM (#32578126) Homepage

    In terms of being an HTPC...

    The mini didn't need to be any smaller. It didn't need a more powerful GPU. It also didn't need a price increase.

    It already had to deal with competitors 1/3rd it's price.

    Allowing for "more" in the mini itself would have been a better idea.

    Also, moving the power supply into the main case is a DUMB idea because it
    complicates cooling issues. There was really no problem with it being on the
    outside. In back of a TV stand, it really won't matter if there's a power
    brick back there too.

    It's nice that Apple has finally decided to acknowledge HDMI though.

  • by DJCouchyCouch (622482) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:40AM (#32578186)

    Apple makes pretty silent computers. They would've figured how to make it quiet.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:41AM (#32578212)

    So with the current mini you're looking at doubling the ram like you always have to for a stock machine and it's a proprietary case not meant for user fiddling so you have to pay the mac store to install the ram, then you have to get the mouse and keyboard which will be wireless and thus more expensive

    If you were going to use it as a main computer, I could see the need to add more RAM - but 2GB is plenty for a media system. You can pay only $100 more for 4GB if it freaks you out to use a putty knife to open the case, but honestly it's not that big a deal.

    As for the wireless mouse/keyboard - you don't have to have wireless, since they are tucked out of the way most of the time. If you have an iPad or iPhone already you can use that to control the mini. And honestly, what other media PC's ship with wireless mice and keyboards?

    I like OSX but Apple hardware is nowhere near the high-end, premium, top of the line reliable they keep trying to claim it is. It's the same shit that goes into all the other consumer computers and breaks about as frequently.

    Beyond hard drives dying (which happens to everything) I have found macs to be more reliable. I have a laptop I've been using daily over seven years. I have a mac mini I've been using as a media PC since the first Intel Mac minis came out, using that almost daily and it's never had an issue. And the thing is, even if the hardware is not really that much different than what you could buy elsewhere, the software reliability and resilience against viruses is still higher. It's still a more stable configuration overall, and for anyone that buys any media with iTunes it's far, far better to run iTunes on a Mac than a Windows box.

  • Re:Apple TV (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) * <capsplendid.gmail@com> on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:44AM (#32578242) Homepage Journal
    Blu-Ray is dead, it just doesn't know it yet.

    Remember, Apple doesn't plan a couple quarters ahead, it plans years ahead. And it knows that you can already stream an HD movie or TV show faster than you could get up off your couch and go buy or rent it physically.

    Also, there's nothing to stop you buying an external BD player. Newegg has 'em under $150.
  • Re:Just remember (Score:5, Insightful)

    by apoc.famine (621563) <apoc@famine.gmail@com> on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:48AM (#32578308) Homepage Journal
    Agreed. I like apple products - they're pretty slick. But for half the price you could get about the same by buying a Dell laptop and keeping the lid closed. For the extra cash a keyboard, mouse, display, and Blue-Ray drive would cost, why wouldn't you?

    I like apple, but GOD DAMN, do they need to look at reality once in awhile. I might buy this if it was $300-$350. That would be a pretty good deal, I think. I could build better for that price, but not in that small a form factor. A little realism in their pricing might be a very good thing for them.
  • Re:Expensive (Score:1, Insightful)

    by NiteShaed (315799) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:03AM (#32578532)

    In terms of being a Fisher Price walled garden...

    Fixed that for you.

    no, you really didn't....

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:13AM (#32578690) Homepage

    The statement about the RAM was only wrong because Apple finally decided to fix the problem.

    It wasn't so much "wrong" as it was OUTDATED.

    That doesn't make it a troll exactly.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tehcyder (746570) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:18AM (#32578788) Journal

    The Mini was always aimed at people who already had a screen and keyboard.

    The thing is, if non techy people have their box die on them, they're not going to switch to a Mac Mini that probably costs more than their original complete system did.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:27AM (#32578932) Homepage Journal

    but the big box stores and consumer hardware creators seem to not notice. Outside of Apple and Netflix I know of very little in this direct delivery market other than what the consumer is exposed too, namely cable. Yet for all the years of Cable and Satellite a good amount of DVD sales occur because many still want something the can put their hands on.

    The problem I see the new mini having other than lack of blu-ray is the fact it cost even more overseas, the prices are scary high for what you get.

    No blu-ray means its just a toy to me, something that does not replace another device but instead requires to find accommodation for it.

  • by moosesocks (264553) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:29AM (#32578974) Homepage

    I wonder if Apple are becoming complacent, or are focusing far too much on their mobile products. Their current product line is an illogical, uncompetitive mess (moreso than usual).

    Apart from the usual "Mac Tax, no mid-level desktop blah blah blah" argument, the current product line is decidedly unappealing to a veteran mac user. I have a 2005-era Mac Mini (Core Duo 1.6GHz), and a 12" PowerBook (1.5GHz G4). If it weren't already obvious to you, I'd like to replace both, but don't have gobs of cash to do it, and would also like to get a tangible improvement for my money, and 5 years of "evolution."

    We're used to paying 20% more for several intangibles (build quality, form factor, aesthetics) as well as several "tangibles" (OSX, generally top-of-the-line hardware). Right now, many macs cost double what their PC counterparts do, and although Dell and HP haven't quite gotten the memo about build quality and form factor, they're closing the gap, and Windows 7 is actually not bad at all.

    Up until today, the Mac Mini hadn't seen a major redesign since the addition of a few extra USB ports around 2007. In 2010, I can pay more than my 1.6GHz machine cost in 2006 for a computer with a slightly better processor (about 2x as fast from what Passmark say), and the same (inadequate) amount of RAM. I installed a 7200RPM hard drive last year (for all of $80), which actually makes the new Mini worse in that regard. 802.11n, and the form factor improvements are nice, but the package just isn't compelling.

    The 13" MacBook pro is also a baffling oddity. It's a great machine at a decent price point, and really has no peers in the PC world. However, like the Mac Mini, a C2D is inexcusable on a new machine in 2010. There's not even an expensive option for something faster or with more RAM. The 15" and 17" models are better, though, like many others, I cherish portability more than I do screen size. I'd love for Apple to bring back a 12" model, or simply sacrifice the optical drive for a bigger processor.

    The iMac's got better entry level specs and pricing (which have inexplicably not trickled down to the Mini). The top-end model also has an i5, which is nice too, also considering that i7 chips too expensive to be economical for most home users. However, there's no way to get an i5 without a behemoth (but gorgeous) 27" display.

    Apple's top-of-the-line workstations used to be defensible, considering that Xeon chips are seriously %*$&ing expensive, and the machines were generally rock-solid and lasted forever. Dell and HP's equivalents weren't much cheaper. However, things have changed, and the Mac Pro hasn't gotten any cheaper. Even a small bump down would be appreciated.

    The RAM issue is a bit tricky too. Apple upcharges an extortionate amount on RAM upgrades, and has rather low maximums on most of its machines. Laptops are sadly rarely upgradable very far beyond the stock amount, and even the Minis and iMacs have incredibly low maximums. My G4 from 1999 has the same RAM capacity as my Mini from 2006. That's pathetic.

  • Not so much (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:30AM (#32578990)

    People like owning discs and there are reasons to want to. Currently Blu-ray beats any streaming service hands down. Not surprising, as a Blu-ray is often 25mbps or more for the main movie. Nothing streams at that rate yet. Also none of the streaming services I've seen include extras, which people do like. Finally there's just the concept of owning a disc, owning a movie. People want to be able to rewatch as often as they like and not be charged. May seem silly but it is the case. Also there's just simple impulse buying. People go to the store, browse the movies, see one and say "Want." They aren't specifically out to get a movie, they are just seeing what there is and decide to grab one.

    Then of course there's the net issue. While we geek types tend to have connections sufficient for easy HD streaming, many people do not. If you want to stream video well you tend to need a connection at least twice as fast as the rate you wish to stream at, to deal with dropouts and so on without an excessive buffer, and you need it to be pretty stable. Many people still have low end Internet, even if it is broadband. Here cheap cable modem service starts at 3mbps. Now it's only like $10/month more to go up to 12mbps, however people still go for the cheap shit. They say "It's all I need."

    Of course then you get to the problems with the streaming services themselves. Netflix is great, pay one price and watch whatever you like, whenever you like. However the selection sucks. There are only a few things you can get watch now. I can watch X-Files but not Robot Chicken, I can watch SVU but not normal Law and Order, and movie selection is the worst of all. Vudu and Cinemanow have a much better selection, you can usually find the latest titles. However that is pay per view. $4 to watch a movie from Vudu. Not hugely expensive, but not cheap either.

    Finally there's the simple issue that a Blu-ray player does all this. My $150 LG player plays Blu-rays and DVDs, of course, but also streams Netflix, Cinemanow, Vudu, Pandora, MLB.tv, and Youtube. It apparently can be upgraded too since it didn't come with MLB, that appeared after the last update. So a cheap consumer device, that has an excellent interface for TV use and works with a normal remote, streams movies off the net with ease.

    I don't see the Mac mini is Apple planning years ahead (also I can give you plenty examples of Apple failing to plan), it is just a fairly expensive low end computer. Yes you can hook it to your TV, big deal. You can hook any computers with a DVI or HDMI output to your TV and they all have them these days.

    Blu-ray is here to stay for some time, like it or no. Streaming is cool but people want to go and buy discs and play them.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:31AM (#32579000) Homepage

    > I think $1000 for the server configuration with two 500GB drives that you can RAID is pretty darned compelling.

    Only if you are completely unaware of $200 ION nettops, $600 RAID tower boxes and, $130 2TB drives.

    There's no good reason to put all of the muscle next to the TV. Put the muscle someplace else and put only what you need next to the TV.

    A mini with laptop drives that you can't even service properly is not a suitable home server.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AusIV (950840) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:46AM (#32579228)
    That was my thought. When the Mac Mini was originally released, I believe the low end was $499. When they moved to Intel chips, the low end moved to $599. Now the low end is up to $699. It's still the cheapest way to get Mac OSX, but it's losing its price advantage.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @12:34PM (#32579892)

    The no i3/i5 seems very strange in particular since they are lower power. The i3/5 are available in 32nm which cuts power usage a good bit at the same performance (also the i series is more efficient per clock), the Core 2s are not they are still 45nm.

    Not a huge deal, but if you are going minimal sizing, minimal power usage seems like a good idea too. Can't be all that expensive either, I got a laptop for about $1050 that has a Core i5 and a 5850M in it so you aren't talking ultra premium parts.

    At the price they charge, there's little excuse to use the older technology.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @12:38PM (#32579968) Homepage Journal

    I'll be blunt: if you can afford a Mini, you can afford either a new USB keyboard or a PS/2-to-USB adapter for your old one. In the list of reasons why you might not want a Mini, this non-issue is so far down as to be nonexistent.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @01:04PM (#32580400) Homepage

    ...yes. The old "you are being overcharged anyways so you might as well be content at wasting some more money" argument.

  • Re:Apple TV (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @01:32PM (#32580856)

    The 1080p trailers on Apple's site are ~10mbps, 720p is significantly less.

    My connection is 30mbps, and the average internet connection is increasing.

    Blu-Ray's days are numbered.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @02:33PM (#32581596) Homepage Journal

    Including PS/2 connectors would have better met that goal without discouraging any customers with USB-only peripherals.

    The subset of people who would want a Mini and who refuse to upgrade past PS/2 keyboards and mice is null. If you want to bitch about an adapter, bitch that it doesn't support VGA or DVI without buying the extra cable. But seriously, you just can't credibly whine that you'll have to shell out another $5 to buy a keyboard and mouse from this decade.

    The Dell I'm typing this on doesn't have PS/2 jacks. The (much older) Dell it's sitting on doesn't have PS/2 jacks. My home server doesn't have PS/2 jacks. Neither of my laptops have PS/2 jacks. I suppose you think that Dell, HP, IBM, Gigabyte, and Apple are all being miserly bastards, but the truth is that you have obsolete peripherals that won't work on the majority of new systems. Either buy an adapter (as I said I did so I can keep using my Model M) or go to the Salvation Army and ask if you can have a spare USB keyboard and mouse. They're ubiquitous now.

    Other topics off-limits to bitching: the lack of parallel parallel ports, serial mice ports, and ISA slots.

  • by HogGeek (456673) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @02:38PM (#32581648)

    I haven't spent any money on a Blu-Ray yet...

    I have a 52" LCD HDTV, AppleTV (XBMC), DirecTV HD DVR, and a old upscaling DVD player.

    Why haven't I bought a Blu-Ray yet? Because I have yet to find anything on blu-ray I'm willing to pay the "tax" for.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @02:50PM (#32581798)

    Why is it these articles are always filled with 'you can get the same thing for half the price from XXX' comments that then go on to list all the things that aren't actually the same which end up making the comparison wrong and retarded.

    Look, when you start out and say 'but you can get an AMD processor' just fucking stop. Theres a reason intel charges more than AMD and a reason people pay it. Most of my machines are newer, higher clock speed AMD machines. My C2D macbook pretty much eats my Phenom quad core for everything I've thrown at it, including large compiles with enough threads to saturate the CPUs.

    Then you start adding form factor, support, and FINALLY get down to the nub of the matter, OSX.

    The simply truth is, you really can't get the same thing for a lower price ... or Apple wouldn't be able to sell them. You can pretend you can find the same for cheaper and wax on about it all day long, but it still won't be true.

    If you don't want to pay for it or can't afford it, thats fine, say so, but for fucks sake stop making these retarded 'comparisons' where you have to fill it in with a bunch of 'well XXX is a little different, but it doesn't really matter!' If it doesn't matter why are you even pointing it out? Because someone will point out its not the same thing and you're trying to preempt them ... and in doing so, proving their point perfectly.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @02:50PM (#32581806) Homepage Journal

    That's exactly right. This price is no longer anywhere near the "hmmm, maybe I could switch" zone. And I say that as someone who really did encourage switching at the $499 price point. You could just barely justify it. No longer.

    Also... bear in mind that $699 is the entry price. That machine, with 8 GB ram, 500 GB drive, and a 2.66 GHz CPU, is $1449.

    It's a nice box, but like the rest of the Mac line these days, it's also a luxury box.

    There's a recession, Steve. $700 isn't petty cash to most people, and that's not a feature-dependent issue.

  • Re:Apple TV (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Macrat (638047) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @02:57PM (#32581870)

    Wally-world is 3 minutes from my house. I can be there and back in 15 minutes from when I decide to go. They actually have a decent selection of Blu-Ray movies these days, including a number in the cheap bins.

    You realize a lot of those "blurays" are bargains because they are simply the standard mpg2 file from the DVD release put on bluray media, right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @04:42PM (#32583230)

    mac mini plus boxee w/ netflix & bittorrent = who the hell needs tangible media.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PW2 (410411) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @06:24PM (#32584266)

    >> Z- Windows Vista OS - base (Win7 -> +$150)

    The $150 upgrade is for Win7-Ultimate -- they had a $30 upgrade option for Win7HomePremium

  • Re:Apple TV (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:13PM (#32586430)

    So you don't have to have two boxes?

    Well, a mini also doesn't have a cable card and it doesn't make a great gaming system. You'll also need a DVR. So that's three more potential boxes...

    One device is never going to suit everyone, and I've yet to see an all-in-one box that works as well as a bunch of separate boxes.

    I just kind of found it funny that, of all things, lack of Blu-Ray was the complaint. Standalone Blu-Ray is the way to go.

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