Mac Mini Review (pics, specs)

by NotebookReview Staff Reads (82,718)

by Artur Matula, Japan


Buying Choices for the Apple Mac Mini (1.25GHz)

Insight | $495.00
CDW Corporation | $495.00
MAC Connection | $494.00
Datavision Computer Video | $544.99
Abe’s Of Maine | $489.99

For an updated Mac Mini Review check out DesktopReview.com.

The 1.42Ghz, 80gb Mac Mini is a budget Apple (Macintosh) desktop. What we have today with the Mini is simply the most accessible Mac yet. $500 is a critical price point, but that’s only a third of the story. The second third is the remarkably friendly design of this computer. People don’t want big, noisy, power-hungry boxes, as Apple realized after shipping the notorious “wind-tunnel” Power Macs and early Xserves. Whether you’re in a home or office or server room, compact size, quiet operation and low power usage are all real benefits. And the Mac Mini excels in all those areas. 

One Mini Mac to go please (view larger image)

Mac Mini specs as reviewed:

 1.42GHz PowerPC G4
 512MB DDR333 SDRAM – 1 DIMM
 80GB Ultra ATA drive
 SuperDrive (DVD RW/CD-RW)
 56K v.92 Modem
 Internal Bluetooth
 Mac OS X Tiger

Reasons for Buying

I myself was scared in changing from a PC after being a PC user my whole life, but all my Mac friends encouraged me and I took the risk.  Why I bought it is because of its great design and size.  I travel quite a bit, and now I can have my desktop with me.  The laptop I was going to originally get was one of Dell’s Inspiron notebooks, but the Mac was by far more powerful for my low budget.

Buying Experience

As usual, the Apple packaging is well presented (view larger image)

Purchasing my Mac Mini was really easy and cheap, the total was only $861 shipped.  The apple (www.apple.com) site is very well organized and easy to use.  After about 15 minutes of easy Step-by-Step configuration, I was done and excited to receive my new and first Mac ever. 

Design & Build Quality

lunchbox or computer?  (view larger image)

The Mac Mini is beautiful at just 6.5 inches square, 2 inches tall and featuring sleek anodized aluminum styling.  Given the small dimensions, the Mac mini fits anywhere.  I think it’s beautiful in its style, small but yet tough.  You can really see the quality and perfection of the assembly that apple provides.

front side of the mini Mac (view larger image)

Display, mouse and keyboard

One of two downsides of this computer is the screen.  That’s because it actually comes with NO screen.  Since this is a desktop, it does not come with a built-in LCD like a notebook computer does, but it’s DVI and VGA compatible for easy connection with most LCDs.  I got a great 17″ Samsung Flat Panel LCD for $320 shipped from www.newegg.com.

And how about the keyboard and mouse you ask?  That’s another downside and easy for me to cover, it doesn’t come with a mouse or a keyboard.

Speakers

The second downside is the speaker, for though the Mack Mini has a tiny design, it still comes with built-in speakers.  Don’t expect to listen to your music via these speakers though, nor enjoy good audio while watching a movie.  The speakers are really there just for the little add-ons such as the welcome sound and the error sounds, no stereo quality sound.

Processor and Performance

Between the two choices Apple gives you for a processor; 1.25GHz PowerPC G4 and the 1.42GHz PowerPC G4, I got the 1.42GHz PowerPC G4 processor knowing that I will need it for all the video editing I do with it.  Furthermore, it was only an extra $100 for the faster processor so why not?  In addition to paying the extra $100 for the 1.42GHz machine you also get an 80Gb Hard Drive instead of 40Gb Hard Drive.

top view (view larger image)

I do quite a bit of video editing with iMovie and lots of rendering, so I do enjoy the 1.42Ghz processor performance.  But if you just need a processor for simple video editing and all the other things, the 1.25Ghz should be plenty as long as you get at least 512mb of RAM. 

bottom view! (view larger image)

After using PC’s my whole life, I was used to waiting quite a while for the computer to boot up, but that’s not the case with the Mac Mini, it boots up twice as quick as an average PC.

right side view (both sides look the same, no ports) (view larger image)

 I don’t play a whole lot of games with the Mac, after all there aren’t many options.  The games I do play provide no problems for the Mini Mac to run though, there is no slow down with the 1.42GHz processor at least.

Input and Output Ports

a look at some of the ports on the Mac Mini (view larger image)

The Mac Mini only has 2 USB2.0 ports because of its small design, but the Mac mini also features built-in 10/100 BASE-T Ethernet, a 56K v.92 fax modem, DVI/VGA port and an audio/headphone jack.  No memory card reader is included either, the Mini is just too small to fit such a component.

Wireless

You can customize your Mac mini with an internal Bluetooth module for wireless access to printers, cell phones, Bluetooth PDAs, input devices and other peripherals. And get ready for the freedom of wireless networking from anywhere in your home or dorm by adding an AirPort Extreme Card.

I only got the Bluetooth and it works great, no need to for anymore USB connectors.

Operating System and Software

The Mac Mini comes with Mac OS X 10.3 pre-installed (when I ordered it at least, but now comes with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger), but also includes a recovery DVD and a Test CD to make sure your RAM and other Hardware work properly.  That’s a nice touch by Apple when it seems all the other manufacturers are being silly and cutting the extra $2 or so cost it takes to include a recovery media.

The software included is great.  The Mac Mini comes with great Video Editing software (iMovie HD basic, easy to use and allows you to edit quickly and professionally all you home movies), great audio editing (Garageband), iPhoto to organize all your pictures and iTunes so you can listen to all your music right from the box.  All thic comes on a separate DVD as well called iLife 05.
   
Customer Support

I had no need to contact them since the computer came quickly and with no problems at all, but I did get the chance to contact them about my iPod and it was the best support I ever got, quick, easy and too the point.  In a PCWorld reader survey last November Apple was tops in customer support as rated by readers, so I am confident that if any problem should arise Apple would be able to help me in taking care of it.

 I didn’t get any additional warranty, but the Applecare plan is available for $149. The AppleCare Protection Plan extends your computer’s 90 days of complimentary support and one-year warranty to up to three years of world-class support.

Complaints

I have no complaints about this computer, its better than I ever excepted from such a small machine.

Praises

Great computer right from the beginning.  Packed great in a beautiful box.  It’s very small, light and ultra quiet.  The price is just amazing for a machine looking like that with such powers.  I can do all my video editing and everything else and even take it with me when I travel, sort of like a notebook without a screen really.  Great machine!!

Conclusion:

I was a bit hesitant when ordering, I was wondering like most people; can it be good if so small?  Will it be durable?  Is it loud?  But I took the chance and it’s the best computer I have ever owned.  I got all the power I need and much more for a bit over $800!  You can’t go wrong with this and Apple has done a great job!!  THANK YOU APPLE!!

Pricing and Availability

Buying Choices for the Apple Mac Mini (1.25GHz)

Insight | $495.00
CDW Corporation | $495.00
MAC Connection | $494.00
Datavision Computer Video | $544.99
Abe’s Of Maine | $489.99


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