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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)
    Looks like what they should have done years ago instead of that stupid Apple TV.
    • Re:Apple TV (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nicholasjay (921044) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:33AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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:Apple TV (Score:4, Informative)

          by Burdell (228580) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:59AM (#32578470)

          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

          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. Blu-Ray supports up to 36 megabits per second, which is faster than the Internet access at the vast majority of homes in the US. For example, to get Blu-Ray quality video on my 6 meg DSL, for a 2 hour movie I'd have to wait for up to 10 hours of "buffering" before I could "stream" the video. If you only did half the max quality level of Blu-Ray (18 meg) and your Internet connection was twice as fast (12 meg), you'd still have to wait an hour before starting to watch a 2 hour movie. And that assumes there's a server farm somewhere that can feed a whole bunch of 18-36 meg streams simultaneously.

          Also, there's nothing to stop you buying an external BD player. Newegg has 'em under $150.

          Does Apple include Blu-Ray player software (complete with all the necessary DRM support so you can actually get 1080p)? A drive is useless without the software, and the software included with the drive will be for Windows, not Mac OS X.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Macrat (638047)

            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?

        • 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-r

        • Not so much (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:30AM (#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.

  • Thanks (Score:4, Funny)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:16AM (#32577802)
    Thanks Apple. I really needed yet another device to want to buy, especially given that I've just bought myself an iPad and my girlfriend an iPod Touch. This really seems like an Apple TV-on-steroids that I'd love to have. Thanks.

    My bank account thanks you too.

    Signed, an unabashed Apple Fanboi.
  • 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 @09:20AM (#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 jimicus (737525)

      It does work as a media box, it's called Front Row and it's been included with OS X since 10.5 (and was included on selected models before then).

  • by Dzimas (547818) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:22AM (#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.
  • Deal breaker (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spudnic (32107) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:25AM (#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 @09:26AM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Coppit (2441)

      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 DigitalSorceress (156609) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:27AM (#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.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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 CaptainJeff (731782) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:38AM (#32578168)

      Unibody (unopenable) case: BOO

      You can open it. From the bottom, which makes for very easy access to the RAM, unlike the previous design.

      Still Core2 instead of i5/i7: BOO

      Same reason the 13" MBP is still Core2Duo. Try to put a discrete graphics chip in that form factor without losing any of the other features.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Unibody (unopenable) case: BOO

        You can open it. From the bottom, which makes for very easy access to the RAM, unlike the previous design.

        Yeah, I realized that after I posted... definite upgrade (though apparently, you still can't get to the HDD to replace it)

        Still Core2 instead of i5/i7: BOO

        Same reason the 13" MBP is still Core2Duo. Try to put a discrete graphics chip in that form factor without losing any of the other features.

        To be honest, I hadn't thought of that. I guess it makes sense when taken in that

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      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

  • by wandazulu (265281) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:29AM (#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.

    • by greed (112493) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:17AM (#32578764)

      Changing the disk in the last-gen Mini isn't too hard. You have to do all the work to pull the disks to get at the RAM anyway.

      Just be sure to remove the heat sensor from the HDD, rather than trying to unplug it. Not all units have a plug like the one in the iFixit tear-down, and you might need a soldering iron if you do it wrong. Don't ask me how I know.

      I don't remember if there was enough clearance to fit a 12.5mm 1TB 2.5" disk. Standard 9.5mm ones fit no problem, any SATA one will be fine.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ixitar (153040)
      Don't forget to add Nagios [nagios.org] as well for tracking the status of the server(s).
  • At first, the mini was the entry-level Mac, but now it's just a rather expensive media center. 2GB RAM? 320GB hard disk? For $699? Goddamnit, Apple! As much as I like OSX, these specs are a joke!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by UnknowingFool (672806)
      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.
  • HTPC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dward90 (1813520) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:36AM (#32578138)
    This thing would make a pretty nice little HTPC, for approximately 4x the price you could build an equivalent with Newegg parts.
  • I already have a Linux powered ARM system that pretty much serves the same purpose (small form factor, low power, HDMI output) -- admittedly less processing power, but frankly, for rendering video and serving as a cheap home entertainment computer, it is fine.
  • 10W server for $1000 (Score:3, Informative)

    by vijayiyer (728590) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:46AM (#32578272)

    I think $1000 for the server configuration with two 500GB drives that you can RAID is pretty darned compelling. They claim it draws 10W at idle, which makes the operating cost almost negligble. And it comes with the server OS, which is normally $500 alone.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jedidiah (1196)

      > 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.

  • by dingen (958134) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:57AM (#32578442)

    At only 1.4-inches tall the unibody aluminium enclosure includes an HDMI port, an SD card reader, and more graphics and processing power.

    The new Mac Mini doesn't pack more processing power, it's actually slower than one of the previous models. The old line up included two models, one with an Intel Core 2 Duo at 2.26 GHz and one at 2.53 GHz, both with the option to upgrade to 2.66 GHz. Now the new line up includes only one model, clocked at 2.4 GHz, also with the option to upgrade to 2.66 GHz.

    So all in all, the new model is faster than the entry model of the previous version, but the old line up also included a model faster than what's available now.

  • by moosesocks (264553) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:29AM (#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.

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

    by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:35AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tmosley (996283)
      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
  • by kindbud (90044) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:19AM (#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.

  • by Mister Whirly (964219) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @12:02PM (#32580364) Homepage
    But does it run Flash?

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