"Great surprise"4.0 starson by peter.mortensen
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.