Pros *Geforce 9400 graphics beat anything Intel can pump out in the same value segment.
*FULL speed Core 2 Duo processors
*Integrated wireless connectivity in Bluetooth and WiFi N
*5 USB ports
*Good value compared to Windows PCs
Cons *No keyboard or mouse just screams "stingy".
*Small, slow hard drive
*Upgrades (ram, hdd) are hard to access
Summary While I couldn't help but feel the sting of Rich Browns' anti-Apple review, I want to get the record straight.
-The Mac Mini is an excellent value and price comparison to Windows computers. Try adding on wireless and bluetooth without paying out the rear.
-He compares the Mini to a Core 2 Quad processor based computer. The main point about the Mini is that it is a power sipper; with a Core 2 Duo at full power (cache and bus) you are assured great performance that wont be a drain on power and draw heat- a Core 2 Quad cannot match that.
-By noting that the model is "expensive", he surely could have picked the lower end model that is only slightly less spec'd out. Defeats his argument a little.
-The Mac Mini is a great value overall considering what you do get.
-The whole "Blu Ray" argument is also a moot point. Does EVERYONE want yet another optical standard to invest in? I sure don't and I'm happy I'm not paying extra for that in the Mini. I think it's funny how reviewers can consider that a con, especially if many people won't even use that feature.
-I'm sick of CNet bias against Macs. Sure, they aren't the right computer for everyone but look at the "Pros" section for the review: pretty much narrows it down to the design and that's it. Let's tout the DDR3, wireless capabilities, graphics that can display 1080p video (unlike Intel chipsets), the power savings and performance you get from the Core 2 Duo, the incredible value of Apple Stores near everyone giving you free support in person, etc. Talk about narrow minded Rich..
-If you think I am an Apple fanboy, please note that I didn't even talk about the Mac software..
Pros Nicely equipped.
Cons Relatively small hard drive size.
No Blu-Ray option.
You'll pay $200 more for an extra 2GB of RAM and a doubling of the hard-drive size.
Doesn't come with a keyboard or a mouse.
Summary I comparison shopped the mac mini against the Intel Atom based PCs from Lenovo and Acer and found those to be lacking on HD video playback (too much stuttering video). I also compared the mini against offerings from Dell, HP, and Gateway. Those companies offer bigger boxed machines, generally with better configurations but I found that they ran hot and in some cases, had quality control complaints. I also found they were bigger in size than I wanted for my HTPC set up.
As a result, mac mini was about the only choice left for me. I'm not concerned too much about the OS that runs on the PC but OS X Snow Leopard seems to run well.
If you can afford this computer and can live with the configuration, the mac mini is a good buy. Just understand that it's basically a notebook computer in a little desktop box.
Pros iTunes-based media center (not WMP).
Uses almost no power when idle.
It's a Mac. It doesn't have all that nagging software like AV and Windows update. It's a superior experience to Windows Media Center.
Cons Some sleep/wake-up synchronizations problems. (Fixed for me.)
Summary I use the cheaper model mini as as a media center attached to my HDTV.
It's a great media center PC -- far, far better than any Windows PC, and I'm a long-time Windows user (Not some Mac fanboi.)
The mini as equipped out-of-the box makes a great media center. I use a DVI to HDMI cable and an optical digital output to my 5.1 Home Theater. The mini comes with FrontRow which puts iTunes at the center of your music and video play back. Seriously, which system do you already use for all your MP3s iTunes or WMP?
I don't even have a keyboard or mouse attached. I just use a remote (a Logitech Harmony) and I also use Screen Sharing (aka VNC) to do more complicated configurations.
I highly recommend using Sofa Control, though, if you want to use a mini as a media center. It's essential. It allows you to navigate applications like DVD Player and iTunes with a remote.
I would recommend RipIt and Handbrake too if you want to digitize your library of DVDs. (Don't pirate movies. It's stealing. Movies are cheap. Pay for them. It's only fair. Besides the only people I know who still have jobs work in the Industry.)
Before I started using Sofa Control, I had problems with the Mac sleeping and the HDTV not seeing the video signal or vise versa. That seems to be gone now that I'm using Sofa Control.
It's a Mac. You don't run Anti-virus, or Windows update. It's really a much much better experience than PC media centers. I have another Windows PC I use as a media center attached to the bedroom TV, and it seems like every time I use it I get some stupid dialog asking for an update or some other interruption. Sure Mac software gets updates, but it's polite about it and doesn't interrupt your movie.
Pros Easy setup - one adaptor cord and your on your home theater. Extremely quiet and energy efficient. Front row software (included) works great with Itunes movies/music. Wireless keyboard and "magic" mouse work excellently in the living room.
Cons If you are a PC user - takes a little getting used to Macs format. Still think Windows is more user friendly albeit less stable. Built-in memory card reader would be nice.
Summary We recently cut the cord on cable and satellite and I purchased the Gateway PC mentioned in the review for living room home theater use. It did not work well - graphics card is just too slow - seems to get locked up often. In addition to go wireless you'll need an adaptor and a bluetooth keyboard/mouse just like you have to purchase for the Mac (and none of the PC versions are as nice as the Mac's). Yes the Gateway is cheaper, but there is really no comparison in performance and quality. After trying the Gateway for several months, it became the kids computer and I bought the less expensive Mac Mini to give it a try - and love it. I was concerned it would not be enough, but it easily handles everything we want to do from Netflix, Hulu, abc.com, iTunes, etc. Would definitely recommend it.
Everyone complains about the adaptors, but it took little to no effort to find the necessary adaptors for audio and video connections to my home theater. They are all readily available online. We purchased the wireless keyboard and "magic" mouse and could not be happier with them in the living room.
I have been a long-standing PC person and still think Windows is more user friendly even if it requires a little more effort to keep it running smoothly. Mac definitely wants you to do things their way. But, for home theater use this thing is great!
I am usually very impressed with the reviews on CNET and rely heavily on them in making my electronics purchase decisions. I think they dropped the ball on this one. There is no comparison between the Gateway and Mac Mini. I would highly recommend the Mac Mini for a home theater PC.
Pros - fast graphics
-runs windows 7 very well
Cons - mini dvi to hdmi adapter
- no built in blu ray drive
Summary The mac mini is being compared to a Gateway in the review. Click on the Gateway link and tell me if the Mac mini isn't a much better looking pc!
In terms of spec. The mac mini is running a much faster graphics card and memory combo than the Gateway.
I've run windows 7 home premium on a mac mini and it runs great.
You can connect an external blu ray drive to a mac mini running windows 7 and with windows media center you get a fantastic home theatre PC set up - much better looking than any other PC and much better performing at this price point.
While I like Mac OS X in general, I feel for the mac mini the best OS for home theatre use is windows 7 home premium.