Pros Digital video output, optical audio output, Front Row interface, DVD burner, 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, it's a real computer!
Cons Video input requires external box like Dazzle, Intel shared video
Summary This is a perfect home computer for the modern home with home theater. It reminds me of the days when I was a kid using a Commodore 64 in front of my home TV.
I've been using the iMac Core Duo 17" for a week, which has all the media center functions that this Mac Mini has. I already manage all my home videos in iMovie/iDVD, all my photos in iPhoto, and all my music in iTunes, so making it all available through Front Row on these new iMacs and Mac Mini's is very easy.
Replacing a relatively high-end DVD player ($350) with this Mac Mini is a no brainer. The fact that you can use this device as a semi-mobile computer for home and work, and use it as a media center at home makes it extremely attractive.
The CNet review criticizes the low resolution of the iPod movies you can download and view on the Mac in Front Row, but obviously the reviewer knows nothing about real-world TV resolutions. 320x200 is equivalent to standard TV resolution and DVD video is 720x480. If you use a Tivo, the iPod movies in MPEG4 format look better than Tivo video on an HDTV. I'd say that's pretty good considering you can download a 1.5 hour video in 10 minutes over broadband in iTunes.
It doesn't have built-in video-in, but look at the size of the box -- there's no room for it. You can add on an external box like a Dazzle firewire device that will let you import video from any source. Also, the Intel shared video on this Mac Mini is supposed to be weak, but I haven't seen any direct numbers. The shared video probably means you need to get as much memory as possible.
The bottom line is that this media center PC lives up to the hype, which is a lot more than I can say about the Media Center PC I owned before that ended up gathering dust in my closet. Using these Macs as media center PC's is as easy to use and rock solid as using an iPod.
It really is a complete package to manage all your home videos, pictures, music, and DVD movies. Add on a video iPod, and you can effortlessly take all that with you. To a family man like me, that's easily worth every penny of the price of this Mac Mini.
Pros So simple and easy to use
Cons Few games. No hardware based CD Eject button.
Summary I am not your typical Mac Fan-Boy. My family has recently switched from Windows based computers to the Apple Mac Minis.
We have five kids and we home school. We decided to buy a computer dedicated solely to our school efforts for the kids. Our first computer for this purpose was not made by Apple. I literally hated the machine. Every week my kids came to me complaining that the computer wasn't working again.
I donated it to our church and bought a Mac Mini, on the advice of a dear friend. Since then we have not had the first failure, had to format the hard drive, run spyware removers and such.
I have set up an account for each child. None of these accounts have administrator rights. This means that they can't add things they shouldn't, or remove things that are essential. Everytime they install something it pops up a window asking me for my password, so I get to review what they are doing.
Each account has built in parental controls that allows me to control e-mail, web browsing, chatting and such.
You really can't appreciate how small it is until you have it on your desk. It is T-I-N-Y!
Now we have 3 Mac Minis in our house. One for me, one for my wife, and one for the kids. We use a wired router because I don't know enough about the wireless ones to feel secure with one. That being said, all I had to do was plug the cable in. I didn't have to change a single setting, or tell the Macs anything. All three computers magically get on the internet.
Sorry for the ramble, but I am forty years old, and in my 25 years of computing I have never been this excited about a computer before.
"Sharp Aquos?"on by mobri
Pros Works fantastic with the Sharp LCD, playing music, showing pictures, looking cool.
Cons Need a better mouse and keyboard. Something small that will not fall off your lap, or require large swaths of the couch.
Summary The Mac mini core duo has went into my media set-up without a hitch. I have connected it to my Sharp 37" Aquos LCD via a DVI to HDMI cable without any problems. This is simply not an issue, contrary to CNET review. The mini works as a great DVD player. The new Harry Potter, which appears to be designed as a DVD torture device, looked great with no jagged lines in all that stone, etc. All my music is on the system (70GB) and hooked by Toslink to Benchmark DAC. Works flawlessly. Front row is a great way to access photos, music and DVD. What I want now is a mini mouse/keyboard so I can better control the computer without running the mouse all over the couch and having the keyboard crash to the floor from my lap. A juiced version of the Apple remote that allows operation of the computer (not just front row) with a touch pad for mouse function would be great, plus a small keypad (seperate if necessary) to enter those search terms. Not something for writing war and peace, just a convenient system for looking up the latest reviews . . .
Pros No fan noise, works out of the box, Front Row, Bluetooth, WiFi, great little remote, SPDIF out, can do a lot!
Cons Poor Bluetooth range, poor FPS for games
Summary I first bought a G4 based Mac Mini last year with the intend of using it as a "Media Center PC". Instead it ended up as an iTunes media server for music.
The new Mac Mini is absolutely getting there. The tradional Media Center PCs have never attracted me for many reasons. Too cluttered remote controllers, bad user interfaces, unreliable OS, getting computer viruses etc. etc. are not exactly appealing to me.
Mac Mini is just a very cool product although of course it can be better.
These are the qualities worth mentioning:
1. Front Row.
It's doing what people need in 95% of the use cases - and it's doing it well. Cool transitional effects makes it a fun experience for easily playing DVDs, music and photo albums.
2. Apple remote.
Nice clean design with very few buttons and great IR performance (similar to my old Bang & Olufsen remote).
3. Great mechanical design and quality.
It's small and functional. It's much smaller than my DVD player and can do the same plus a ton more.
Using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse makes a perfect interface in a home theatre room.
Also I installed Skype and wow...my Bluetooth headset works with the Mac Mini so I can make phone calls on the computer wirelessly.
I got that installed in a minute...wait, how many of you guys have been fighting hours with messed up USB drivers in Windows trying to avoid driver conflicts, rolling back driver versions and ending up with something that didn't work perfectly?
5. SPDIF output.
The SPDIF output works perfectly with a surround system. I decided also to add a Midi Keyboard (M-Audio) to my home theatre setup and with GarageBand I get a pretty cool keyboard for almost nothing.
Yes, I forgot to mention the SPDIF is also great when using the Mini as music player. Of course it can connect to my other Mini via Bonjour in iTunes...pretty cool. Installed in seconds.
6. iTunes + iPOD video + Mini.
Yes, I have a USB adapter for my iPOD video that provides a perfect integration with my music library and iTunes download.
Apple just really understand what people want in terms of ease of use and seamless integration...
On top of my home theatre TV I mounted an iSight camera. Now it's easy to take photos, video and chat (using Yahoo messenger and aMSN). Great experience on an HDTV. And the Bluetooth headset adds some extra flavor to it.
8. ATSC tuner.
Yes, this feature is lacking. But seriously do I want it in the Mini? No way. It wouldn't make sense. I already have an ATSC tuner in my cable box and my TV. So not having it is a great decision!
9. Playing computer games.
Yes, absolutely that is possible on the Mini. Running Sims2 under Rosetta actually works reasonable (a bit slow). Quite impressing although I would expect better gaming performance on Intel applications.
If adding high-end gaming performance to the Mac Mini would make it another noisy PC, I very much prefer this compromise!
Man, I thought using the Mac Mini for Karaoke would be so obvious. So I bought a good microphone and found out the input sensitivity is for line level signals and not a mic signal. Also I haven't found any great Karaoke software yet for Mac. So this is another project that has to wait.
Pros Small, slilent, cute, with awesome OS
Cons Slow when running movies, amule and PowerPC based software
Summary Before purchasing this Mac mini Core Duo, I'd been a Windows Vista Beta user and fed up with all the bugs and viruses. After abandoning that sucking PC, I replaced it with the brand new Mac mini and I was SOOO excited; however......512MB of RAM just seems insufficient, and running movies just reduces about 70% of speed. I thought the double-cored machine would be as fast as hell.....but sometimes it's as slow as hell.....some day I'll definitely add another 512 on it.