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Desktops (Apple) Hardware

Will Mac mini Lead the Charge to Smaller Desktops? 1084

elecngnr writes "Maybe size doesn't matter. ZDNet has a story about how the Mac mini may shift consumers away from the larger tower style desktops to smaller ones. Other computer makers, such as HP, have so far been unsuccessful in marketing small computers to consumers. However, Apple does have a history of leading the charge in paradigm shifts in certain aspects of consumer products (e.g. GUI's, color changes, the iPod, and the list goes on). It is also important to recognize that they have been wrong at times too (e.g. the Cube, the Newton, and the one button mouse). Time will tell which list the Mini will belong to."
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Will Mac mini Lead the Charge to Smaller Desktops?

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  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Thursday January 27, 2005 @11:47AM (#11492479)
    "What we found was, at least at that time (before HP bought Compaq), that people were still concerned about expandability," Anderson said. "It's been an important feature of the PC for the last 20 years, but as the PC has gone mainstream, it's been something that people liked but that they haven't used."

    Will it make a shift to smaller sized desktops? Maybe. Most people never need to open their case for a memory upgrade or some other piece of hardware being added but a lot of people do enjoy the ability to do that. As long as these small form factor machines are still able to be upgraded fairly easily I don't see why they wouldn't be popular... Personally I am rearranging my computer desk to accommodate the Mini. Not because of its size but because I want to show off the fact that I have this sleek, little, quiet, box sitting on my desk (BTW - I took Slashdotter advice from yesterday's article about the Mini and hardware upgrades and went with 512MB. I couldn't justify the $210 for 1GB when 512 was only $80). I am not looking forward to using two thin putty knives to open my brand new machine though. Why couldn't they have just made it user serviceable for RAM?

    For the first time since I was 12 I am nervous about opening a computer case and swapping out some stuff inside. To me, that's just wrong.

    Most buyers tend to purchase PCs based more on price and quality of technical support than on design, analysts said. Yet executives such as HP's Anderson see a market for unobtrusive desktops that consumers would purchase as second or third computers and use in settings such as kitchens, where large desktops are impractical.

    Ok, I'm a geek and I love to have the Internet wherever I am but why in the kitchen? Like I don't have enough shit on my crappy counter space... Why not do something like those failed Motorola wireless AIM clients and have a docking station and wlan? Why do we have to have a small form factor machine in the kitchen? Most people here seem to be using this machine in the media room because it's small, quiet, and has DVI. That makes more sense to me.

    Building in 120GB, 160GB or higher capacity drives, for example, will mean miniature PCs able to match larger machines in storing large numbers of MP3 files or even digital photos.

    Oh come on. Not many people have enough photos and MP3s to fill even 10GB nevermind 120GB or 160GB. I am still using a 10GB HD in my XP machine. Yeah, my music is stored elsewhere but it's still less than 7GB of MP3s and 10GB more for SHN/FLAC (which most people aren't into). I want to know how many regular computer userse have 100GB of music and photos. Geeks are in the minority when it comes to computer purchases from major vendors that would be hurt by this "gamble". I'm sure it won't be anything for them to worry about.

    I didn't get the Mini because it was small, quiet, or good looking. I got it because OS X is not Windows, is built on BSD, is now affordable, and isn't as susceptible to all the bullshit that my Windows machines are. If anything the Mini might open the door to more users for Apple which may or may not be a good thing ;)
  • Newton? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cutriss ( 262920 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @11:48AM (#11492497) Homepage
    How was the Newton wrong? It may not have taken off, but it definitely had an impact. Palm would likely never have existed if Apple hadn't tried the Newton.
  • Size DOES Matter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cyngus ( 753668 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @11:49AM (#11492506)
    Perhaps the title should be that size does matter. Rather, being small is becoming more important. Perhaps we can think of this as Maslow's Hierarchy of Computer Needs. First we just want a machine that has enough power to do what we want. Then we want a machine that is small and unobtrusive and with enough power to do what we want.
  • Firewire and USB2 give the expandability of peripherals, and they're bundling video and sound chipsets that don't suck. RAM and internal drives can be upgraded (although the optical drive would be a trick I'm sure), so that leaves the cpu and mainboard. Non-geeks aren't going to attempt to upgrade those.

    Someone needs to just say it: Apple got it really really really right this time.
  • by vena ( 318873 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @11:51AM (#11492533)
    what, do they just not realise it or something? the cube and newton are certainly failures and are discontinued, but Apple continues to bundle one-button mice with their computers. what's more, a lot of mac users seem to be perfectly happy with it.

    i can understand it as a personal preference, of course, but what you like or dislike doesn't define failure, does it?
  • Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geoffspear ( 692508 ) * on Thursday January 27, 2005 @11:51AM (#11492535) Homepage
    If the Mac Mini sells well, everyone will copy the idea. If not, it will disappear like the Cube and no one will ever build anything like it again.

    Of course, the cube's problem wasn't the design, it was the price tag. If they'd sold the cube for $500, it would have been a big hit, and you'd see grey cubes everywhere, from other computer manufacturers to George Foreman CubeGrills.

  • One button mice... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DavidLeblond ( 267211 ) <me@davidleblond.cHORSEom minus herbivore> on Thursday January 27, 2005 @11:52AM (#11492550) Homepage
    It is also important to recognize that they have been wrong at times too (e.g. The Cube, the Newton, and the one button mouse)

    God will you people PLEASE come up with something more original to pick at Apple with than the One Button Mouse. They obviously weren't THAT wrong about the one button mouse, they still use them. And they like it!
  • shhhh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by .Spyder78. ( 453998 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @11:52AM (#11492559)
    Smaller is cool. Saves you having to buy a desk with one of those PC tower compartments.

    But you know what I'd like to see more of? Quieter PC's. Everything seems to be getting faster and/or smaller, but quieter would be nice.
  • by jockeys ( 753885 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @11:53AM (#11492576) Journal
    I tend to think of it as more an issue of intended use, rather than size. This is the ultimate iteration of the iMac... the Console Computer. Now it just LOOKS more like a console. I remember the first iMac. When I looked at the side of the box, there were 3 steps listed for setup: step 1) take iMac out of the box. step 2) plug in power and keyboard. step 3) there is no step 3. this is just the next logical step. A small, unobtrusive computer that anyone can set up and use. As to the poster above saying he/she dislikes the inability to open this and modify it... that's the point. Like a console, it is intended to be "perfect" from the factory and never need modification. Just plug it in and turn it on.
  • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) * on Thursday January 27, 2005 @11:54AM (#11492583)
    The cube was a brilliant design, and people I know that have it love it.

    Only problem was that it was too frickin expensive.
  • Wrong? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Damek ( 515688 ) <adam@nOSpAM.damek.org> on Thursday January 27, 2005 @11:56AM (#11492610) Homepage
    Just because a product flops or isn't the mainstream flagship product of its type doesn't mean it's wrong.

    Arguably, Apple was right with the Newton and the Cube - they were just a few years early on both counts. Arguably, Apple is right with the one-button mouse; just not right for everybody.

    Within the context of pushing paradigm shifts, you could argue that these three were unsuccessful, but you can hardly argue they were "wrong."
  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tbone1 ( 309237 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @11:58AM (#11492642) Homepage
    People like big things. Big TVs, big SUVs, big houses... big computers. Size still matters. I bet if they started selling room-size computers again, people would be buying them.

    It all depends, really. People like some things bigger. Pizzas, for instance, because it means more bready-cheesy-tomato-saucy goodness. Bigger homes mean more space AND a (perceived or true) better return on investment. Big SUVs are great in the winter weather, and they have a lot of room for hauling stuff.

    However, they don't always prefer bigger. People love the small size of the iPod. They love smaller, slimmer cell phones. They prefer babies to teenagers. You don't see too many huge women as centerfolds. Huge bazooms, yes; land whales, no. Middle-aged-crazy men prefer sports cars to minivans. I myself prefer women who require small maintenance to those who require a lot. And you can bet that taxpayers prefer small government to big. People love laptops that are smaller and lighter.

    So maybe there is a market for this, which will be helped along by the Mac mini being stylish and from a company that's considered cool. Maybe it won't start a trend. The market will decide, as the market always does.

  • by DavidLeblond ( 267211 ) <me@davidleblond.cHORSEom minus herbivore> on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:00PM (#11492674) Homepage
    Right, thats why everyone is flocking to Firefox.
  • Re:Cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DevilHoops ( 852624 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:00PM (#11492676)
    I think cost will be a huge part of this equation. Clearly Jonathan Ive's design team at Apple has been incredible fitting powerful components into minute packages. I doubt Dell and HP will be nearly as successful, and furthermore doubt that it is in their interests to attempt this. Dell has always found success through fitting inexpensive components together to market towards the masses. Focusing on design can only increase costs and reduce profitability.
  • Re:Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tji ( 74570 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:02PM (#11492700)
    > If the Mac Mini sells well, everyone will copy the idea. If not, it will disappear like the Cube and no one will ever build anything like it again.

    The PowerMac G4 Cube kicked off a whole industry of PCs. It was the reason the Small Form Factor (SFF) PCs, the most successful of which are from Shuttle. When they first came out (not too long after the Mac Cube) people were calling them PC Cubes.

    Of course the SFF PCs are nothing like the G4 Cube in its simple, quiet, elegant design. I guess the SFF box was the best they could do when accomodating PC requirements (HOT running CPU needed a huge heat sink + fan, internal ATX power supply to meet the high wattage requirements, and PCI/AGP slots to satisfy PC tweakers).

    If the PC manufacturers do copy the mini, expect it to be another design full of compromises and lacking the style of a Mac.
  • Re:odddly enough (Score:4, Insightful)

    by damian cosmas ( 853143 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:02PM (#11492702)
    Surely you jest. They moved 4.5 million iPods just during the Holiday Season. The "geek circle" can't be that big. Go to a gym sometime; tell me that all the women working out with their shiny pink iPods are geeks.

    Bloomingdales sells iPods; Nieman Marcus sells insanely expensive iPod cases. You can't possible believe that these are typical geek shopping venues.
  • Re:Maybe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:03PM (#11492717) Journal
    If the Mac Mini sells well, everyone will copy the idea. If not, it will disappear like the Cube and no one will ever build anything like it again.

    Dont you mean if the mini/micro-atx market didn't sell well, Mac woudln't of copied them?
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:03PM (#11492720)
    they have been wrong at times too...the one button mouse

    Two big problems with the One Button Mouse:

    1: They continue to refuse to admit that it is a mistake, instead touting it as the supposed superiority of Mac over PC. (Note: Every time I sit down at my Mac to work with Maya, the first thing I do is plug in a three-button mouse with scroll wheel -- and so does everybody else.)

    2: It is all a Big Lie to start with! Mouse click, mouse double-click, mouse click and drag, mouse+alt, mouse+option, mouse+shift, mouse+Apple, mouse+control, mouse+every combination of the above!

    It has never been a single button mouse. It's just that the rest of the buttons are exceptionally inconveniently located on the keyboard, most of them in the lower left quadrant! It's all style over substance crap that doesn't endear me to Apple!!

  • by wezzul ( 813900 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:04PM (#11492734) Homepage
    Not many people have enough photos and MP3s to fill even 10GB nevermind 120GB or 160GB

    What about video? Small form factor boxes could easily be the new Tivo, without a monthly fee. Running something like MythTV or (cringe) Windows MC. Having a computer in the living room wouldn't be so bad if it was little and quiet, and if it was marketed correctly, could easily become something that not just for geeks...
  • Re:No (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:08PM (#11492796)

    Big SUV's are NOT nice in winter weather. Learn to drive, get a small, front wheel drive car, put good tires on it, and you'll have something that is 1000 times easier to drive in winter weather. Plus you'll finally be out of my lane because you'll know the size of your f-ing car!

    P.S. Yes, I know the argument between front-wheel and rear-wheel control in the winter. Here's what it amounts to: Given a person who knows how to drive each, it's more difficult to lose control in a front wheel drive car, but it's easier to regain control in a rear-wheel drive car. So, for most people, front wheel drive is better.

  • by N Monkey ( 313423 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:08PM (#11492800)
    Building in 120GB, 160GB or higher capacity drives, for example, will mean miniature PCs able to match larger machines in storing large numbers of MP3 files or even digital photos.

    Oh come on. Not many people have enough photos and MP3s to fill even 10GB nevermind 120GB or 160GB

    One home use where you do need stacks of HD space is editing home videos. The DV format is not compressed very much and so it doesn't take many DV tapes of the family holiday to suddenly devour 50~100GBs of disk space.
  • by ceeam ( 39911 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:09PM (#11492804)
    Yes, go to your mom, dad, sister - whoever you think is not geeky enough. Ask them whether they know that mouse wheel is clickable? Now watch them trying to do it... Yeah, great fun. Ask them whether they know that they can drag things with the right mouse button? BTW, Ask them what happens when you drag things with the mouse - will they get moved or copied or what? What exactly in what situation? So, how many points scored? Do you still think that simple mouse (that they probably like to handle with two fingers and release before clicking) is a bad thing for _them_?

    Me - I trained myself to handle my mouse with both hands equally well :) No bash.org'ese replies please :)
  • by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:09PM (#11492807)
    We've all wanted to see MS's dominance challenged. We've been working hard to make Linux a viable candidate and it is. We've always known Mac's were a better GUI experience and really a better desktop than Windows. We've always known if they would just bring it to the masses it would go far. Well, now Apple is doing just that.
  • by asv108 ( 141455 ) <asv@ i v o s s . com> on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:12PM (#11492856) Homepage Journal
    From what I tell, that charge has already taken place. Desktops now are a lot smaller that they were 10 years ago. Sure, Dell is not mass marketing a mini-itx model to consumers, but thats because of price considerations. The majority of people in the market would rather by a laptop than a small desktop.

    The other consideration is psychological, consumers tend to gravitate towards big things because they think their more powerful. I've seen so many people by the 17in powerbook for absolutely no logical reason whatsoever. Yes, people doing video editing, sound editing, and graphics work can make us of a 17in, but the vast majority of buyers are normal users. I joke around with my one 17in wielding coworker, and call it the SUV laptop phenomenon. People are buying 17in powerbooks much in the manner that others buy hummer H2s.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:13PM (#11492867)
    Ok, I'm a geek and I love to have the Internet wherever I am but why in the kitchen? Like I don't have enough shit on my crappy counter space... Why not do something like those failed Motorola wireless AIM clients and have a docking station and wlan? Why do we have to have a small form factor machine in the kitchen?

    True. Not to mention your computer equipment will likely end up as clean as the top of your refrigerator. Most people probably do at least some cooking in their kitchen, and lingering smoke and grease in the air eventually find their way into any device with an air intake. The kitchen is simply no (permanent) place for computer equipment--unless you have one specifically designed for such environments. This is why we have wireless LANs--bring your laptop in the kitchen, surf while have your coffee, then take it when you leave.
  • by slcdb ( 317433 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:15PM (#11492901) Homepage
    ... is that they still need some work in the cooling arena. Unless it's an under-powered machine, of course (which the Mac mini appears to be).

    I tried the mini PC thing for a while, and now I've gone back to a regular sized mid-tower, and am much happier. The reason? Cooling. From the moment I bought my first mini PC, I suspected that it would run a bit hot. And it did with a 3.06GHz Pentium 4 in it. The CPU temperature was always running near the limit and occasionally on warmer days the temperature alarm would go off. So I added an additional fan and, since it seemed stable, I just ran with it that way for a long time. Then one day I remembered that Pentium 4 processors had a thermal throttling feature that inserts idle cycles when the temperature gets too high. So I did some searching and quickly found a utility that could tell me if the Pentium 4 in my mini PC was throttling. Sure enough, it was. All this time I had basically been running a crippled machine because the tiny case simply couldn't adequately ventilate the high-performance hardware. I tried a second model of mini PC, but returned it because it too had this same problem.

    I moved the CPU and all the other hardware (except the mobo of course, since they're always proprietary in these mini PCs) into a normal sized mid-tower case. Now that same processor with the same heatsink/cooler runs well below the Pentium 4's thermal limits. And it never throttles itself.

    And if you're thinking, "Well Mr. Smarty Pants, I'll just buy a mini PC and soup it up with the sweetest CPU cooler I can find!", then think again. These cases are far too small for your typical enthusiast to install a fancier cooling system. Someone with a lot of skill and specialized tools might be able to engineer a proper solution, but you won't find anything off-the-shelf anywhere.

    The moral of the story? Mini PCs are for the weak. If you want performance in a mini PC case, they're just not there yet. And the Mac mini does not appear to be an exception. It too comes fairly weakly equipped.
  • by sean23007 ( 143364 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:17PM (#11492922) Homepage Journal
    It's just that the rest of the buttons are exceptionally inconveniently located on the keyboard, most of them in the lower left quadrant!

    Would you prefer that they be in the lower right quadrant? Putting them in the lower left quadrant makes it easy to use those button combos with your non-mousing hand without moving it across the keyboard. It's a reasonable thing to do if your mouse only has one button. And you couldn't reasonably expect them to release a mouse with 8 buttons and call it a machine for the masses.
  • by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <giles.jonesNO@SPAMzen.co.uk> on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:19PM (#11492941)
    Laptops are expandable and hatches reveal the slots for RAM and other optional extras like wifi modules. Why this cannot be done for a small form factor PC I don't know.
  • by hether ( 101201 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:19PM (#11492951)
    Ok, I'm a geek and I love to have the Internet wherever I am but why in the kitchen?

    Because in many households with families the kitchen is the hub of the house. They spend a lot of their time hanging out there, ie: kids do their homework while mom makes dinner.

    Also, some people have their computer in this area because it's not a comfy place to hang out and veg all night watching DVDs, surfing or playing games, but rather a productive place to do homework, pay bills, etc. And for younger kids using computers, a place where their usage can always be monitored to some extent.
  • by saddino ( 183491 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:22PM (#11492995)
    I'd rather go buy a cheapo tower that can take an ATX motherboard of my choosing...it's cheaper to deal with.

    What Apple does is probably good for the people who use Apples and want a smaller, cuter LOOKING computer, but the market of people that use Apple is different than the market of people who use PCs.

    Apples are the closest thing you can get to a car with the hood welded shut.

    I believe your mistaken. Just because you'd rather buy a cheap tower and build your own PC doesn't mean "the market of people who use PCs" are anything like you. In fact, given that computer systems are just about commodity items, "the market of people who use PCs" are most likley people who will never, ever even open up their computer. And that's exactly why Dell is #1 and not the maker of some "cheapo tower."

    Thus, a "car with the hood welded shut" (e.g. the Mac Mini) is not only attractive for Apple users, but also for most PC users.

    For you and other "tinkerers" there will always be the option to build your own, but you're a rare breed. Dell isn't interested in your business, and neither is Apple.
  • Maxi Tower Cases (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:23PM (#11493004)
    I maximize my desktop space by putting the computer case on the floor. I like my cases to resemble the layout of a '56 Ford pickup engine compartment... room to climb in and walk around. If I want to change out a drive, it shouldn't be necessary to route my screwdriver through an alternate unverse to reach the screws. I don't want to disconnect the IDE ribbons to see the memory chips. I don't want to worry about the audio cables getting sucked into the CPU fan. For those times when a small form factor is important, such as hotel room microdesks or college dorms, there are notebook computers. They work great.
  • NOT a mistake! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:23PM (#11493011)
    "It has never been a single button mouse. It's just that the rest of the buttons are exceptionally inconveniently located on the keyboard, most of them in the lower left quadrant!"

    You need to switch to decaf. First and foremost, the Mac was developed to be used with the mouse and keyboard at the same time. The idea was that you had one hand on the mouse and the left hand on the keyboard (sorry lefties). The hand on the keyboard meant that you had all the modifier keys you needed already beneath your fingers, so extra buttons on the mouse aren't necessary if you work this way. Besides which, the common menu commands all have consistent keyboard shortcuts associated with them, and as you gain in experience with the Mac, you rarely find yourself mousing to the menu bar. Microsoft of course missed this with Windows and went to the philosophy that it was all about the mouse. I know Mac users who tell PC users that they only like multi-button mice because it leaves one hand free when they're surfing pr0n sites.

    I use a PowerBook and I thank God for the trackpad, because it means that I never even have to remove my hands from the keyboard to reach for a mouse, which I absolutely hate doing. I also have tap-and-hold enabled so I don't even use the button at all, much to the amazement of my PC-using friends. So in effect I use a no-button mouse. I will grant however that the scroll wheel is a much more useful innovation. Not necessary for mouse-haters like me, but more useful.
  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:23PM (#11493012) Homepage
    1. The fact that you are using Maya already puts you well above the average user. Just ask everyone who has ever tried to do tech support over the phone how often they've had to say "Just click- no, the OTHER button..."

    2. None of those operations are ambiguous in the way that two featureless buttons on the mouse are. There's no way anyone could confuse the actions of pressing shift and pressing option, or lose track of how many times in a row they had clicked the mouse.

    Apple had to choose between confusing newbies or making power users spend a bit more money, and chose the latter. They're the group more able to deal with imperfections and problems with their computers on their own, right?

    (For the record, I use intellimouse explorers on all my Macs.)
  • by dema ( 103780 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:24PM (#11493020) Homepage
    (Note: Every time I sit down at my Mac to work with Maya, the first thing I do is plug in a three-button mouse with scroll wheel -- and so does everybody else.)

    And the fact that you can do that 99% of the time with zero hassle from drivers or legacy or yadda yadda is why I (as an Apple customer) don't really care what mouse Apple chooses to ship with my shinny new computer (:
  • by SPYvSPY ( 166790 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:27PM (#11493053) Homepage
    If I understand you correctly, you are upset that the mouse that is bundled with most Macs only has one button. And yet, you seem to be aware that the operating system performs all the functions of multibutton mice, either by using the keyboard, or by allowing you to plug in a third party multibutton mouse.

    Are you just upset that Apple won't sell you a multibutton mouse? I'm trying to understand whether you are a total moron, or just a slow learner.
  • by colinleroy ( 592025 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:32PM (#11493144) Homepage
    The size of computer systems has been shrinking for years.

    Sure, but not at such a rate. In the space my PC tower uses, you can put about fourteen (14) Mac minis. 2 stacks of 7 units. You can put at least 4 Minis in a Shuttle (3 stacked, one vertically).
  • Re:But! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tdemark ( 512406 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:40PM (#11493255) Homepage
    They weren't wrong about the cube!

    Actually, of the three things on the list, I would be most willing to agree with the cube being listed.

    For the others:

    Newtons - Newtons failed because they were so far ahead of their time. A PDA, before there were such things as "PDAs", that actually allowed you to write the way you know how as opposed to learning a new character set?? Over 10 years later and I STILL don't think you can find this on ANY handheld. Apple had the right idea - let the human dictate to the PDA and not vice-versa, but, just technology hadn't advanced far enough, yet (Eat up Martha).

    one-button mouse - Will people just get over this? Please? The general public just doesn't care about one vs. multi button. Personally, I've have a 2 - 4 button trackball (Now with a scroll ring!) on my machine machine for the last 10 years. However, the one button mouse is a godsend when dealing with people that don't work on computers day in and out.

    I can't count the number of telephone support calls I've had that sounded like a bad "Who's on first?" routine:

    Me: OK, I need you to click the icon with the right mouse button.
    Them: I did. The icon got dark.
    Me: It sounds like you didn't click with the right mouse button.
    Them: How do I know which one is right?
    Me: It's the mouse button that is on the right side of the mouse.
    Them: There are no buttons on the right side of the mouse. ...

    as opposed to dealing with Mac users:

    Me: With your left hand, press and hold the "Control" key located at the lower left corner of the keyboard. Now, click the mouse on the icon.
    Them: A little menu appeared.

    - Tony
  • by spectasaurus ( 415658 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:44PM (#11493301)
    You mention the Cube as a mistake. Hmm, wasn't that a small computer? And was it successful? Personally, I would love a small computer, but given that the cost is typically the same an a larger machine, isn't nearly as expandable, and I can't get dual CPU's, it's not going to happen soon.
  • by Big_Al_B ( 743369 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:46PM (#11493333)
    Of course, the standard PC answer is to any Mac innovation is "Who cares? If it's of any real importance PCs will have it in a year anyway. And it will be cheaper." To which the Mac answer is, "Yeah, and it won't work as well."

    As a lifelong Apple customer, I say this without a hint of troll:

    Apple often miscalculates the value delta between "cheaper" and "won't work as well". People will find a way to deal with the latter, if the former is significantly true.

    The "as well" chasm must be wide and painful before most people will throw money at it.

    For my money Macs are a great value. But I don't suspect that's true for everyone.
  • Re:Newton? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Codger ( 96717 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:48PM (#11493360)
    I have an old Newton 110 sitting in a desk drawer somewhere. The only reason I stopped using it is because it's too big to easily carry with me.

    I now have a PocketPC (wouldn't have bought it, got it free). Even though it has somthing like 100 times the memory and 50 times the processor power, and is 10 years newer, it doesn't work nearly as well as the Newton. The Newton's handwriting recognition is far better, the built-in apps work better, the UI is infinitely better, etc. It's even faster at most things (probably because it's not pushing a lot of color around).

    The Newton was way ahead of the game. Its designers recognized that the new form factor also required a new user interface paradigm - the WIMP/desktop metaphor doesn't work in that form factor. They came up with something revolutionary that worked beautifully in a handheld, pen-driven device. Microsoft seems to think that everything has to look like Windows - they just don't get it.

    I wish Jobs hadn't killed the Newton. Imagine a Newton with a fast StrongArm, lots of memory, color, etc., in a Palm form factor. It would put Palm and Microsoft PPC to shame.
  • by falcon5768 ( 629591 ) <Falcon5768@co[ ]st.net ['mca' in gap]> on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:49PM (#11493377) Journal
    Last time I looked just about everyone had a PDA. Sure apple didnt stay in the PDA market, but they did create the market as it is known today. Why would you consider the Newton a failure when all that went wrong is that it came too soon for there to even be a market for it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:51PM (#11493406)
    Then again, not all of us have two hands to press keys and click mouse buttons with at the same time?
  • by calbanese ( 169547 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @01:01PM (#11493529) Homepage
    They aren't trying to sell you a MacMini. - They are trying to sell you a G5.

    If everything was expandable, you'd need a bigger case. There goes part of its appeals. Plus you increase the cost. So then what are you buying? A decent computer with a G4 processor for far more than an equivalent (from a hardware perspective) x86 machine. And they'd have people complaining, 'Why should I buy a Mini when I can get a G5 for only $xxx more?'

    I don't think that the goal of the Mini was to make computer hobbyists happy. I would guess it was to sell a cheap Mac that worked well enough for most people, while preserving their high-end market for power users.
  • by amichalo ( 132545 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @01:11PM (#11493642)
    It is interesting to me that the Mac Mini uses a Laptop hard drive. The Mac Mini and iMac G5 also share the same laptop slot-loading drive as the PowerBooks. Airport cards in desktops and laptops are identical too. The Mac Mini does NOT use laptop ram but the iMac line does. Obviously the iPod is using some small hard drive, perhaps one also used in laptops, but I am only guessing.

    The point is that Apple is enjoying some economies of scale. By buying larger quantities of laptop parts, they not only get better per unit pricing, but also reduce inventories, support costs, engineering overhead, etc.

    If they are smart, the big PC makers will follow suite inroder to reduce costs for their laptops as well as provide cooler desktops.

    Apple recognized with the iMac that the computer needed to move from boxy to foxy. Dell, Gateway, and others tried but couldn't think outside the box. They just used black cases or rounded some edges. The Mac mini is really an evolution from the original iMac and is no smaller than the iMac G4's housing and no more an engineering wonder than the iMac G5 behind the monitor.
  • by gobbo ( 567674 ) <{wrewrite} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday January 27, 2005 @01:16PM (#11493693) Journal
    While you're wrong about HP (well, OK, they don't 'invent' much in the consumer space, but elsewhere...), you raise an interesting point about what Apple may have learned from Newton/Cube/iPod sales--timing.

    I wondered why it took Apple so long to do the Mini; I don't think it was because of design challenges alone. I suspect that they were waiting for a number of factors to line up first: iPod market saturation, cheap laptop HD's & G4's, and the market momentum shift towards computers as an appliance... a shift that is in its early but not infant stages. The trick, I suspect, is in hitting the market at the right angle, like orbital re-entry. I was wondering why Jobs didn't make more fanfare about the Mini when he introduced it, but 'got it' when he held up the packaging--it would fit in a large purse. This thing will sell itself, through positioning and word of mouth, and it will have a long run as a product; watch for some interesting iterations and really interesting hacks.
  • by damiam ( 409504 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @01:21PM (#11493768)
    Not being able to upgrade the video is a big deal to me. The radeon 9200 chip they have is ok for playing basic mpg's or tetris but that's about it.

    If you want to play games, you don't want a Mac anyway. If you want to do real video editing or 3D modeling, you don't want a Mac mini. The Radeon 9200 does exactly what 99% of Mini users need it to do. A faster card would pump up the cost and produce more heat and, consequently, noise.

    And, of course, Apple doesn't believe anyone could want better sound than what they have built in so *no* mac's have upgradable sound.

    WTF are you talking about? Every Power Mac ever made has upgradable internal sound, as do all Powerbooks with PCMCIA. And every Mac made in the past 6 or 7 years has Firewire and USB, either of which can be used for an external sound card with much better quality.

  • by Tsiangkun ( 746511 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @01:45PM (#11494049) Homepage
    I only need one mouse button to open the terminal.
  • Re:Newton? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Refrag ( 145266 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @01:48PM (#11494099) Homepage
    The one-button mouse is also not wrong. Apple is right to ship computers with them (when they ship a mouse). Just because some people eventually graduate to competently using a multi-button mouse doesn't mean Apple should bundle them with their computers.
  • by b-baggins ( 610215 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @01:51PM (#11494131) Journal
    Let me introduce you to a word you need to teach your children.


    Works wonders, especially when reinforced with a smack on the back of the hand.
  • by dr.badass ( 25287 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:00PM (#11494251) Homepage
    I don't understand why there have been so many comments about the one-button mouse.

    The Mac mini doesn't even come with one of them.

    What, really, is the gripe? There is nothing stopping you from using a multi-button mouse. There isn't even the disincentive of having the machine come with a mouse that you'd won't use. Is it really that offensive that Apple doesn't want to sell you something that you can get elsewhere, or that you might already own?
  • by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:05PM (#11494329)
    I'm not an Apple guy and even I notice many people like you who enjoy spreading this FUD around. I mean, come on. Hack about it's power or low system specs or anything else, but don't spread FUD like this.

    Woah, chill fella. This isn't FUD. FUD is deliberately posting untruths about something, this guy is just wrong. Don't make it out to be something so sinister.

    Secondly, I don't give a toss what the Product Manager, senior designer or even Steve Jobs says at Apple. I'd like to see that statement on cold hard paper which can be waved in the face of any jobsworth who trys to play silly buggers and claim your warrenty is void when you return your faulty equipment for fixing.

    Now that is not to say it doesn't exist, but in business, the word of someone doesn't mean jack unless it's written down and formally communicated. If this guy leaves tomorrow, you'll have no recourse if you don't have a hard-copy.

    Whinging "but xx said that it didn't matter" isn't going to help in the slightest if you don't have it on paper and they no longer represent the company.

  • It'll happen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gone.fishing ( 213219 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:10PM (#11494365) Journal
    Smaller desktops will happen and here's why:

    1. It costs less in raw matterials to busild something smaller.
    2. It costs less to ship smaller, lighter devices.
    3. The devices can be built to accomidate a larger market by adding features that offer extra value without costing a lot to build in.

    3A. By offering a feature laden product that can't be internally accessorized easily, they build a market that will want to replace their computers more frequently. Building future market for the manufacturer (planned obsolecence). Note: this will also create a market for USB style accessories.

    4. Less space for retailer's stock.

    Look for computers to evolve into machines that don't have sockets to add RAM (it will be soldered on the motherboard) and are fabricated more like the new PS/2 from Sony. All the ports will be USB and or Firewire. Much of the design will be borrowed from Notebooks and use "mobile technology" including power-bricks, 2.5" HDD's, and thin style accessories. Things like internal speakers and fans will go away. The CPU heat sink will be a large aluminum panel which will double as a part of the case.
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:11PM (#11494374) Journal
    The Newton concept lead to Palm and then to PocketPC
    This is a skewed view of things. For one thing Psion had handheld PDAs out there since 1984. Diary, text editor, contact database. All there. And the whole touch sensitive tablet concept was straight out of Star Trek (I'm not kidding here!). Even if the Newton hadn't existed the basic design for the Palm had pretty well already been specified.
  • by Jim_Callahan ( 831353 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:32PM (#11494644)
    As a user of online rpgs, I can attest that I screw up ctrl+ or shift+ commands a hell of a lot more than I accidentally press the wrong key on a mouse. In most windows apps, the right mouse button opens a menu, which is much more convenient in that I am looking at the screen already, and already have my hand on the selection control, whereas I do not already have my hand on the ctrl button.

    The point of any user interface is to allow users to access things quickly and without having to divert their attention from what they are doing. One button plus keyboard loses on both counts, as far as my experience goes anyhow.
  • Re:Newton? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gotih ( 167327 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:42PM (#11494793) Homepage
    for a long time i thought apple's one button mouse was the most stupid thing ever. then i borrowed a powerbook. it didn't take long to discover that "option + click" is the same as "right click". on a PC my left hand never leaves the keyboard -- always ready to click shift or ctrl or alt. now, with a mac, it's there to press shift or ctrl, option (alt) or the apple key.

    i think the only REAL reason to have more than one button is to play video games. 3D modleing needs a special mouse but that's not what most of us are doing.

    actually, i'm not even a fan of the mouse -- i've got keyboard shortcuts for everything (and they're easier to setup on mac than any other default system i've used). i only use a mouse for graphics or web browsing which is nothing but click and apple+click (for new tab).

    manufacturers will always sew more buttons on the mouse but i'm convinced i only need one (plus all keys my left hand can reach on the keyboard).
  • by Jim_Callahan ( 831353 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:50PM (#11494889)
    Just because they released a design first doesn't mean that it was an original concept at the time. Don't attribute Apple with more inspiration than they have.
  • by wfberg ( 24378 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:56PM (#11494950)

    2. None of those operations are ambiguous in the way that two featureless buttons on the mouse are. There's no way anyone could confuse the actions of pressing shift and pressing option, or lose track of how many times in a row they had clicked the mouse.

    You've done tech support, but somehow not noticed how thousands of people go through life double clicking on start, double clicking on links, double clicking on the "B" to make words appear bold (and wondering why it doesn't work), double clicking on file, then double clicking on save?

    And the people who press the "Ctrl" button, let go, and then press "C" when you've instructed them to press Ctrl+C.

    "At the same time? What do you mean, at the same time? OK, I'll press them at the same time" (proceeds to press Ctrl and C together, and letting go of Ctrl first and C next, resulting in a dozen "c" characters)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2005 @03:07PM (#11495077)
    I run Photoshop and sound editing software on a P3-900...and it runs Battlefield 1942 pretty well. How much power do you think most users need?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2005 @03:14PM (#11495154)
    And here it is now.

    You: "Okay, now control-click on the file.
    Them:"I clicked, but it just made the file open. I didn't see any menu."
    You: "No, no, control-click the file."
    Them: "What do you mean, 'control-click'? My mouse only has one button."
    You: "Control-click, as in 'put your hand on the keyboard, hold down the button called control, and then click.'"
    Them: "I did that and it made a copy of the file."
    Them (completely astonished): "Oh there it it. You mean I have to do all of that just to do something else???
  • by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @03:28PM (#11495325) Homepage Journal

    A perfect example of the "as well" chasm is Linux. It's significantly cheaper than Windows, yet for most folks, doesn't work as well.

    I do run Linux, and I'm not trying to troll, but Linux has a long way to go when it comes to some things. Compare installing a new piece of hardware in Linux vs. Windows*:

    • Linux: Lookup hardware compatibility info on web. (30 minutes)
    • Windows: Buy hardware, bring home.(30 minutes)
    • Linux: Go to store.(30 minutes)
    • Windows: Install hardware. (15 minutes)
    • Linux: Go to a different store because 1st store doesn't have the model you need.(another 30 minutes)
    • Windows: insert drivers CD and install drivers. (15 minutes)
    • Linux: Buy hardware, bring it home.
    • Windows: Reboot machine, confirm hardware works.(4 minutes)
    • Linux: Install hardware.(15 minutes)
    • Linux: Download drivers from internet. (5 minutes..)
    • Linux: ./configure; make install. (5 minutes)
    • Linux: Fix broken headers so that drivers will compile under your architecture. (0 - 60 minutes, depending on hardware vendor)
    • Linux: make install (5 minutes)
    • Linux: reboot.(2 minutes)
    • Linux: Hardware doesn't work. Turns out, you need an updated kernel. Download latest kernel (~150 MB) (30 minutes)
    • Linux: Configure kernel (10 minutes)
    • Linux: Recompile kernel (45 minutes)
    • Linux: Install kernel, update bootloader (10 minutes)
    • Linux: Reboot. (4 minutes)
    • Linux: Your device now works! But now, for some reason, sound no longer works...

    And I haven't even covered the cases where the drivers won't compile, or the vendor changes chipsets and the device won't work with Linux at all.

    Granted, you only have to setup Linux once. But I've found that installing Linux and getting the hardware to work typically takes between two and three times what it would take under Windows, if it is supported at all. I can talk someone through reinstalling Windows over the phone, but I wouldn't dare try that with Linux. (Of course, you might never have to do the latter, so it might be a moot point).

    * - based on a true story...

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @03:40PM (#11495477)

    Apple does not ship multi button mice for a very good reason. If they did, application developers would require the use of multiple buttons to use their application, just like on windows. This just complicates the interface and makes it harder for power users who do use multi-button mice to customize their system. Right now all 4 buttons on my mice have functions. If Apple shipped two button mice, one of mine would be used up by Application designers, and not be available for what I actually want it to do.

    The best reason not to ship multi-button mice by default is that Windows does, and it sucks. Functionality no one uses is crammed into a contextual menu. Even fucking notepad has the second button assigned to crap, meaning the user can't assign it to do something actually useful. I know my workflow better than application designers do. One of my buttons activates expose, another has features tied to each app, that I have assigned, not the application designer. My text editor has spell checking, thesaurus, dictionary lookup, translation services, read aloud, etc. My ray-tracer has batch scripts. This is much more useful than another way to activate random features already in the menus, or the only way to active some feature that should be in the regular menus.

    A single button mouse enforces good application development and customization. It also keeps things simple, the learning curve short, new and very remedial users happy, and makes things much easier for the disabled who need alternate interfaces. Multiple buttons are fine for power users, but I sincerely hope Apple never makes them standard since it will make as big of a mess as it is on Windows.

  • Re:Newton? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nightsweat ( 604367 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @06:34PM (#11497612)
    So the Wright Brothers' plane was wrong, too? I don't think they sold many units.
  • Re:Maybe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BeerCat ( 685972 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @07:01PM (#11497925) Homepage
    A MacFormat (UK) recently had an interview with the guys from Shuttle - they said that the Cube (or more accurately, the demise of the Cube) had inspired them to see what they could do on the PC side
  • by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @07:06PM (#11498006)

    As a left-hander, using a mouse with my right hand means I can use a pen in my left at te same time. :)

  • by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @08:21PM (#11498804) Homepage
    But if you need those peripherals that you are attaching with firewire and USB, you lose the whole point of having the mini in the first place- it's no longer so mini and out of the way - now it's a collection of seperate boxes connected by seperate cables and ends up being more of a clutter than just having a larger box would have been.

    Does this mean the mini is a bad idea? No. I'm just saying that the ability to expand it with external devices is not the panacea that you portray it to be. I do like the idea of having all the connections to peripherals being external, but if I do that, the mini is no longer small, no longer portable, and no longer really "mini". It's just a full computer sans case.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!