"Solid, flexible performer! ...CNET comparison lacking"4.5 starson by erpazo
Pros: 1. Simplicity / size / small form-factor
3. Everything you need, nothing you don't
4. Great looks & design
Cons: 1. External power supply can add to cable management issues.
Summary: Comparing the Mac mini against any-old PC box with comparable or better spec sheets does not always work.
1. COMPARING APPLES TO OTHER FRUIT, NOT BRICKS.
CNET compared the mini to 3 PCs. These machines don?t stack up to the mini in regards to design & quality. They specifically highlighted the Asus slimline desktop. But that's like showing you a dozen fresh brown eggs in a brown basket, & 4 3-egg omelets cooked-to-order on fine china, & saying, "Both of these have 12 eggs, they come from chickens, & you are going eat them ".
The reality is the small form-factor of the Mac mini does add a premium to the price. A better comparison would put it up against at a comparable form factor or style, like the Dell Studio Hybrid.
Today a Dell Studio Hybrid is $520 with a 2.0GHz(Core2 Duo)2GB/160GB. The mini is $650, with a 2.0GHz(Core2 Duo) 2GB/120 GB. Neither comes with a monitor, & I would upgrade to a wireless keyboard & mouse which is an additional cost for both.
But there are key differences in the two machines. Both sport 5 USB ports, but on the Studio Hybrid you can also find a multi-card reader (multi-card readers are one I/O device I admit I would like on Macs). The Dell also sports a standard 1394 link, while the Mac sports faster FW800. The Dell bests the Apple with both HDMI & DVI, while the mini keeps its DVI port, & adds Apple?s new darling - Mini Display Port. But while the Dell has a front headphone jack, rear analog audio in/out, & digital optical out, the Mac simplifies audio connections with 2 rear minijacks combining headphone/digital optical line out, & mic/digital optical line in. On the circuitry front, the Dell has an 800MHzFSB & DDR2, vs. a 1GHzFSB & DDR3 in the mini. The mini also has newer NVIDIA graphics, while Dell sticks w/ integrated Intel.
2. THE VALUE OF THE MACOS OPERATING SYSTEM & APPLE SOFTWARE IS SOMETHING THAT CANNOT BE OVERLOOKED.
The advantages of seamless software integration with the work environment are not to be disregarded as easily as the CNET editors seem to do. I personally use both Windows XP Pro & MacOS 10.5, & 9 times out of 10, life is just plain easier in the MacOS.
3. MAC PRODUCTS ARE NOT JUST GOOD-LOOKING, BUT THEY ARE QUALITY PRODUCTS THAT LAST.
The non-generic construction & design of Macs means higher prices. But the ROI is important for large purchases used everyday. Also, because Apple designs both hardware & software together, it usually makes optimized, top-quality products with life-spans far longer than traditional PCs.
4. THE MAC MINI IS A MACHINE DESIGNED FOR GENERAL USE, BUT IS COMPLETELY CAPABLE OF DOING WHAT THE MAJORITY OF AVERAGE USERS NEED, & IS PRICED ACCORDINGLY.
But interestingly enough, it has proven itself in two important areas ? servers & home theater PCs. They make good servers because they?re small and sip power. They?re great HTPCs because:
a. They?re attractive enough, and small enough to put out in the living room.
b. Why buy a monitor? Just hook it up to your TV.
c. Wireless access to your complete iTunes & media library on your TV via Front Row (another wonderful piece of software in MacOS X)
d. It replaces my DVR.
e. The added capabilities of a full computer (vs. the Roku, or AppleTV).
So, to me it's not so clear that Apple fails the value argument quite so miserably as CNET might have us believe. Instead, I find the Mac mini is a unique, attractive solution, with more than enough power and expansion ability.
Now I agree that Apple may charge a bit much on its custom configuration options, but that?s still no excuse. If you are dead-set on topping out a mini, there are already 3rd party vendors lined up to sell you the upgrades you need & tell you how to open up the latest Lilliputian Mac to get them inside.
So while Apple?s iMac lets you buy a computer, plug it in & go, the Mac mini gives you the opportunity to add a Mac, & make it your own along the way.