"I'll never buy a non-Mac PC again."4.0 starson by Eonz
Pros: Absolutely dead quiet
Beautiful, elegant design
Excellent build quality
No power brick
Small footprint, low profile
Works with iPhone headset
HDMI output (BUT, see cons)
MacOS is thorough but snappy
Cons: Unsmooth video output
No writing to NTFS drives (unless 3rd party software installed)
Summary: The small footprint, quietness and the power efficiency is what finally turned me to Mac. I just couldn't stand buying another PC (which initially is good value for money) only to have it rust in a closet 18 months later because its too big, noisy and power-hungry to want to still use for anything. In 3 years when I have long since upgraded I'll still find some use for my mini.I notice a lot of people complain that the CPU and storage could have been better.
As far as looks is concerned this mid 2010 Mac mini is gorgeous. The previous generation still had its flaws in my opinion but this feels like a beautifully crafted solid slab of metal that miraculously does powerful processing inside. If I didn't know there was a fan and harddrive in there I woud have thought this thing was completely solid state.
The design and build quality is so excellent. Nowhere would you find an LED that's unevenly lit up, or a USB port with a sleeve that's slightly skew. No this is precision crafted. Crisp edges all around. The simplest lines and curves but noticeably with insane amounts of thought put into it. This truly is art.
I had to smile when I opened up the bottom lid to see how cleverly the same screws that keep the components inside also serve as the locking mechanism fro the lid. I also didn't know there was an IR port on this thing until I saw it neatly hidden on the side of the DVD slit.
The low profile makes it fit nicely underneath the side of my LCD monitor causing it to take up only otherwise unusable space on my desk. The order in which things are arranged at the back just works for me - nicely arranged from most frequently swapped out to least frequently swapped out ports with the power switch on the less frequently touched side and right by the power coord. I might have said that it could use a front usb port or two, but I do think this has been weighed up against design and aesthetic considerations.
It conveniently works with my iPhone headset - the mic, the earphones and even the volume controls control the master volume on the OS. A real convenience. Something which is not advertised a lot is the toslink digital output that (with the externally bought cable) can give you flawless digital audio all the way to your amplifier (provided you have optical input). The HDMI achieves the same, but seeing as this will most likely be plugged into a monitor it is nice that they kept this great feature on here (was so on earlier models too).
MacOS boots up quickly and works out of the box, no cluttered up system tray with software from 10 different hardware manufacturers that must always run for it to work. The OS also comes standard with excellent, easy-to use encryption and backup software (File Vault, Time Machine).
So, as this was my first Mac, obviously the first few days using it was bumpy. Some of the things that annoy me most are not having a clear indication of how many windows are open at a glance (but learning to use the F9 key has helped me), having apps not quit when you close all windows and having windows not easily maximize to optimal desktop usage.
Another thing that Apple can really get sorted out is writing to NTFS drives. The user is not even properly informed that NTFS is read-only on a Mac. You're left wondering why the "New Folder" button is grayed out and nothing seems to want to paste.
Now, over to the biggest flaw with the Mac mini: video output. I'm sure a lot of people are buying these little machines to use as media centers. Unfortunately at the time of this writing, even with the latest software updates the video output is not optimally smooth. A powerful computer like this should be able to produce an experience indistinguishable from DVD or Blu-Ray but it clearly doesn't. This is a real disappointment that defeats a lot of what the Mac mini is about. This is the reason why my score doesn't round to 5 stars.
Talk of Blu-Ray, they could have just as well included this. I understand that the trend these days is suppost to be streaming media but I live in Africa where this is still a long way away. And since it DOES have an optical drive, why not just make it Blu-Ray? Something this far ahead of its time should come with the latest technology packed into it.
Updated on Apr 17, 2011
When it comes to CPU I believe computers have reached the point where most things consumers do are happily handled by the lower end. If you're a prosumer or serious gamer then perhaps the Mac mini is not for you. If you're like me and just want the Mac to work for every day tasks without hassles then its fine. Even as an iOS developer I find it powerful enough.
As for storage space my philosophy is simple: If it's not something that I use daily then it can go on an external drive. If you want to store everything on your local hard drive then perhaps the mini does have too little storage. But, given enough time, won't any computer eventually have "too little" storage? For massive amounts of data, rather rely on an external RAID system and for personal photos and videos rather rely on a portable USB drive. These you can upgrade independently when they are no longer adequate.