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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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  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:19AM (#32577844)

    I have a mini. Bought it two years ago. The idea was to get my feet wet in the wide world of mac. A big deciding factor was that the mini was so much cheaper than the imac, the next lowest model. And my TV had a VGA in port so I figured it was necessary to finally get the living room computer.

    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, plus any other accessories you might pick up. Over $1000 easy. Oh, and let's no forget the mandatory service plan since Apple gives you a flat one month warranty, that's it. My mini's hard drive took a shit at one year plus two months. They told me I was SOL.

    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. Ok, let me take that back. HP laptops break even more frequently than that.

  • by SpudB0y (617458) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:20AM (#32577864)

    A home theater system with no Blu-Ray. Might as well buy a PS3.

  • Looks good but.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Superken7 (893292) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:20AM (#32577880) Journal

    Looks good, but sacrificing a frontal USB port just for aesthetics? .... meh.

    I don't quite see it fitting into the living room. For that price I would expect a mac mini which works as a media box and has a natal/kninect interface. THAT would be killer! IMHO.

  • by Dzimas (547818) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:22AM (#32577910)
    I disagree with the notion that the new Mini is aimed at the living room, because this $699 box is $300-$400 more than the Boxee Box, Popcorn Hour and other less-expensive media players. It's more likely that the Mini's primary market is education and home users who want a desktop Mac for under $1K.
  • by wandazulu (265281) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:29AM (#32577994)

    I'm glad I waited; I was going to buy the previous version in the server configuration. Say what you will about HDMI ports, no blu-ray, etc., but the mini makes for a great server. I run Jira, Subversion, Postgres, and Tomcat for a dev team on one mini and it hasn't given me a minute of problems. If anything, I forget where it lives because it's so small. That said, I'd like to replace our existing one with a new one for the increased disk space (currently the db is on an external disk) and to possibly use the built-in Jabber server than the one we've got now.

  • HTPC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dward90 (1813520) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:36AM (#32578138)
    This thing would make a pretty nice little HTPC, for approximately 4x the price you could build an equivalent with Newegg parts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:37AM (#32578142)

    No kidding.

    The new Mac Mini is about the same size as Apple's Time Machine which also has an internal power supply and a well-earned reputation for suffering heat-induced death after an average of about 18 months http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2009/nov/04/apple-time-capsule-failures-early [guardian.co.uk]

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:45AM (#32578260)
    I'm not overwhelmed by the specs myself but it appears that Apple is positioning the Mac mini to be a replacement computer and not an entry-level. If you already have a PC/Mac and want to upgrade/switch, this is the machine.
  • Re:Expensive (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Trufagus (1803250) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:50AM (#32578344)

    I got an Acer Revo with the Nvidia Ion GPU for about that price ($250) about a year ago.

    I connected a 1 TB external drive via the eSATA port and the thing works great. It is not speedy but the ION allows it to play just about any HD video with only a slight increase in CPU load. It is pretty close to silent.

    I guess this mac must have better specs, but I can't imagine what would justify such a high price. Small, silent computers were expensive several years ago, but now they are cheap.

  • by Coppit (2441) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:09AM (#32578626) Homepage

    For years now I have to listen very closely to hear the fan when my laptop is running at 100% CPU and fan. (Unlike my old Dell, which sounded like a harrier.)

    If there's one company who I think can do this right it's Apple.

  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:19AM (#32578802) Homepage

    "A desktop OS will, and never will, be suited for anything other than a Desktop... it will never work on the Living Room."

    Based upon what? Right now I run a Windows 7 system via my 50" Samsung in my living room. I use two bluetooth mice and keyboard. The keyboard is rarely used. My system works perfectly.

    To get to a movie or TV show you double click My Computer and double click the mapped drives to the movies or shows. Using the scroll wheel you whip through hundreds of movies or subfolders with the shows. You want to instantly get to the end of the list, use the scroll bar. Double click on the one you want.

    Media Player Classic opens and you can use the mouse to instantly zip through the movie or show via the seek bar without using the slow "fast" forward or rewind buttons you get with a remote. You don't realize how much fast forward and rewind buttons suck until you start using a mouse to traverse through videos. You want to go half way into the movie, one click and you're half way into the movie. Want to skip to the end, one click and you're at the end. Instantly.

    You want to turn up the volume? Scroll up on the mouse. You want to turn it down? Scroll down. You want to pause, click the mouse. Want to unpause, click again.

    Tired of watching TV shows or movies on your TV? Double click a short cut to your "rock" play-list on your desktop and the music instantly starts. Want to find a specific song. Double click on the Winamp library, get the song you want, and listen to it.

    I have friends who use their PS3s and 360s to access content. That works. You can even buy remotes for them. But I can get to my content much quicker and with more ease than they ever could.

    And one more thing, I don't have to wait for some manufacturer to play catch-up. If some new video codec or wrapper is released, I can instantly watch it in my living room. I don't have to wait a few months in hopes that Sony or someone else will play catch-up and include support for it.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:22AM (#32578846) Homepage

    My mini that I still have running as a dedicated MythTV backend makes quite a bit of noise when it's
    working to flag commercials in videos. It runs in a thermally abusive environment though and sits
    next to a Hauppauge HD-PVR that's a hot plate in it's own right.

    Those minis can be noisy when they are set to do something besides web browsing.

  • Is this for real? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:35AM (#32579058) Homepage

    I almost had to check the calendar to verify it wasn't April 1st. Oi!

    I wonder what their thought pattern was on this move. It's got a fraction of the performance of a PC at the same price point (yeah, because I built one - a year ago - for $100 less than that, with high quality PSU/board/etc. and a Phenom II). Hell, pick up an Acer Aspire Revo similar (practical) performance for $330 - less than half the Apple cost. Granted, the Aspire Revo has a weaker CPU, but in that role (without OS X) you're not going to need a faster CPU.

    Maybe they saw the mini was selling too well so they increased the price? Seems like a really silly move, considering it now costs more to get a mini than it does an iMac (after peripherals and monitor), with less performance.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:50AM (#32579294) Homepage Journal

    Comparing apples to oranges. Well, to other Apples actually, but what the heck.

    The mini is a great machine for the living room, and why would you want to put a MacBook there? The form factor is different, pretty much everything else about the hardware is different. We live in an age where the old PC mantra of "one user, one machine" isn't true anymore. Today, most of us own several computers already - if I count my phone, I have 3 at home and 2 at work plus a few servers out there. Ten, even five years ago, with that count I would've been an extreme nerd. Today, that's not so unusual anymore.

  • by Ixitar (153040) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @12:00PM (#32579414) Homepage
    Don't forget to add Nagios [nagios.org] as well for tracking the status of the server(s).
  • Re:Just remember (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @12:03PM (#32579454) Homepage Journal
    That laptop the GP mentioned has a custom mobo, custom case, custom cooling, and small size. If you're willing to Hackintosh it, you can even run OSX. Plus, it comes with a built-in Battery backup unit. This new mini is flat out overpriced for what it is, especially with the 3 year old specs--A C2D? Where's the i5 or at least i3? 2GB of memory? Who puts less than 4GB in anything anymore?

    This smells like someone at Apple paranoid that the Mini is going to undercut some other product and turning it into a real lemon to avoid that.
  • Re:Apple TV (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nicholas Schumacher (21495) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @12:14PM (#32579596) Homepage

    The disk may cost very little in material cost, but that is only part of the cost of a physical disk - you also have the manufacturer's overhead (it takes more space to manufacture disks than it takes to stream media), the storage and distribution costs to get the disks to the retailer, the retailer's overhead.

    Also, it has been reported that it costs Netflix under 10 cents to stream an HD movie. The biggest cost for Netflix to stream a movie to you is the licensing fee they are paying to have the right to stream it to you.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sootman (158191) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @12:17PM (#32579640) Homepage Journal

    Dell also sells the Hybrid [dell.com] for, um, some reason.

    Say what you will about Steve Jobs, one of the smartest things he did when he first returned to Apple was slash the product line down to a few simple categories. There's nothing I hate more than trying to compare laptops from Dell or HP. Someone at each of those companies needs to watch this. [youtube.com]

  • by kindbud (90044) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @12:19PM (#32579678) Homepage

    The Mac Mini is popular with car customizers because of the size and the external power supply. It's easy to adapt to a DC-DC regulator so it works off of 12V automobile (or boat) power.

    Now they'll have to resort to a inverter.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Interesting)

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @12:27PM (#32579788) Homepage
    The largest problem with the Zino is that it is sold by Dell. Trying to find a real price for anything via its website is like visiting the worst caricature of a used car salesman possible.
  • Blu-ray??? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Byzandula (83077) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @12:53PM (#32580226)

    I would seriously consider purchasing one of these as a media server if it had a blu-ray/dvd combo drive. Without blu-ray this device isn't worthy of space on my HT rack.

  • Re:Is this for real? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tmosley (996283) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @02:32PM (#32581586)
    But how much of your performance is wasted on virus protection? When I switched away from PC, I found that the same specs on a mac performed MUCH better simply because there wasn't all that crap running in the background. Bringing up the control+alt+del screen on the PC showed dozens of processes running at any given time, more than half of which I had no idea what they were. The equivalent screen on a mac shows only those programs that I have open.

    Also, Macs are surprisingly resilient. I once broke a PC laptop by dropping it off of a table. Macbook takes similar abuse in stride, and my 2005 era mini survived a house fire and subsequent drenching, losing only the sound and CD/DVD drive functionality. My older G4 was in the direct path of the fire as it burned its way through my living room, and it also still works (including the CD and DVD drives!), with only the lowest set of USB ports being disabled, doubtless due to the liberal application of water from the firehoses.

    Note that even with all that virus protection, PCs are still highly vulnerable. With Mac, I can go to ANY seedy corner of the internet and pick up anything I like without fear of getting a virus. The PC that we bought a couple of years ago for one of the techs in my lab, on the other hand, is now very nearly useless due to viruses. The macs we have for the lab last on average 10-12 years, where the PCs last 2-4. From that perspective, the cost is well worth it.
  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RatBastard (949) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @03:42PM (#32582430) Homepage

    A few years ago I was in London and I bought a paperback science fiction novel. (Day of The Triffds, if you must know). The price was £9, or $9.50 Canadian. At the time the exchange rate was almost two dollars Canadian to one Pound. Now, the book was published, printed and distributed by a UK company and it cost almost twice as much in the UK as it did in Canada. And they had to pay to ship it to Canada.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dogtanian (588974) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @03:56PM (#32582650) Homepage

    IIRC, the UK has stronger consumer protection laws that Apple must deal with. Things like being able to get an item replaced after then end of the warranty period if it breaks.

    I've pointed this out myself a few times. The UK (AFAIK) always had quite good consumer laws, and the EU (if anything) strengthens that.

    People in the UK might be surprised to know that the PS2 only had a 90 day warranty in the US. I've seen new laptops with as little as a 30 day warranty. Now, if you know that you're not going to have to cover repairs or replacements for anything more than a brief period after sale you're obviously going to save money on that, and be able to sell cheaper goods.

    I can't remember what the exact law is, but my understanding is that goods are expected to last a reasonable amount of time; e.g. a laptop would be expected to last more than 30 days without needing repair, a PS2 more than 90, etc. At any rate, you don't see such "guarantees" in the UK, likely because they wouldn't stand up in court.

    Bottom line though is that one could reasonably argue that this accounts for *some* of the general difference in prices (if not all), along with the omission of sales tax from most US prices.

    I think there's also import tariffs that must be factored into the cost.

    Unless the Mac Mini is made in the US *or* the EU- which I doubt- that would apply to both territories anyway.

    Despite my increasing "feelbad" associations with Apple due to the obnoxious iPhone control freakery, part of me still liked the idea of buying a Mac. Until I saw the prices, that is.

    I thought the original concept of the Mac Mini was as a relatively affordable (though not dirt cheap) low-powered Mac. Well, the new Mac Mini is far from high-powered, but at £649 I'm not even interested. The server version is £929. Whisky Tango Foxtrot?!

  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @05:04PM (#32583478)

    Except I can't get my PS3 to see my Win7 network, but all my Macs can.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Firehed (942385) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:06PM (#32586788) Homepage

    About the same form factor? Did you even look at what you linked? That Shuttle is about the size of a shoebox, not a couple of stacked CD cases. There's absolutely no comparison, other than that they're both much smaller than a full tower.

    If you care about the expandability, or price/performance, then definitely go with the Shuttle. If you want a tiny, low-power-consumption, attractive system that can easily be used as a set-top box, then paying a premium for the Mini is probably a better choice. Not everyone shops only on price - value can be derived from places other than raw computing power.

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