January 13, 2005

Mac mini

Apple - Mac mini

A couple of people have asked me for my reaction on the Mac mini. It's a big announcement, it's considered huge by many Mac pundits, and I'm a Mac guy. A sub $500 Mac? How cool -- what's the reaction of the biggest Mac guy I know?

To sum up my reaction: "Eh."

First, i'm not comfortable with a Mac that's not upgradeable. I've always paid more for my Macs than I care to think about. It's an investment, really; I keep my Macs for long, long times, often past the time they're useless. So something that's got one memory slot, has a laptop hard drive, and has no upgrade path, well... for me, it's a fancy console, not a computer.

As a console, it would be good in three areas: as a cheap server, as a home entertainment piece, and as a kiosk/stand-alone box. It falls short as a file server, because of the lack of hard drive space. I've got a 80GB filled on one computer already. Filling one of these could be measured in hours, not years. As a web server or an external server, it might be good, though.

As a home entertainment piece, it's missing some elements. For me, radio and audio are my main things; again, filling up that 80GB is way too easy; but external attachable storage might be OK for storage. But for video, 80GB is way, WAY too small -- as small as a Tivo -- and for playback 80GB is just pitiful. Plus, then you have to buy something like an Elgato EyeTV. I tried the Elgato EyeTV 200 a while back... it's not pretty for anything but basic analog cable (although I heard they released an upgrade for the 500 that allows digital cable, no sattelite recievers yet. And I'm not going to deal with both the cable company and the phone company; one evil monopoly in my life is enough, thank you.) If you've got cable and don't mind paying a premium for getting Mac compatability out of the box, then it's an interesting option, but not for me.

As a stand alone box... I only can think of a couple of things I would need a stand-alone box for, and that would be a home phone system, a system in the kitchen for a combination recipe/food catalog system, or, as I said before, an audio system. That's me, a bachelor; as a parent, I could completely understand someone else wanting a cheap system for the kids... but there are other, better options, like used iMacs and such.

And as a final kicker, it reminds me of the ill-fated Mac Cube. "Non-standard interfaces" and "un-upgradeable" are not things I want in my computer; "Flexible" and "maintainable" are. If I can't add a hard-drive, it's a wash of a computer to me. No matter how cute it is.

Posted by Ted Stevko at January 13, 2005 10:06 AM | TrackBack