Article: Leaving the Mac mini Behind

by on October 21, 2008

Is it sick that I find this funny? According to Gizmodo, the Mac mini could be dead as early as today. No surprise, since the machine has not been updated since November 2007. The basic case design has also remained mostly the same since the product’s introduction.

We about the issue back in May 2007, so this is nothing new. Apple’s “budget” desktop Mac has always been the awkward, unloved, misunderstood product in the family. Sales have tapered off because for a few hundred more, you can pick up a MacBook or even a well-equipped iMac.

The computer doubled as the perfect entertainment center Mac for some, finding its way attached to HDTVs and stereo systems, due to the DVI output and optical audio (on later models). However, there are numerous things which Apple skimped on, leaving the Mac mini off of many customer’s shopping lists.

Keyboards and mice are a standard item that comes with almost every desktop computer. Apple should offer some sort of “packaged” discount if you order the mini with input devices. Alternatively, the mini could come with them by default, and removing them would save a customer money. To save in other costs, Apple should streamline the mini to have more laptop-related components. How about using the same MagSafe AC adapter found on MacBooks? Although I’m not a fan of proprietary connections, the ability to connect to Apple’s new LCD for power, audio, the camera, and the display itself would allow the Mac mini to be a more flexible version of the iMac.

The public’s love affair with the Mac mini was rough at best. Some really liked it, despite needing a slew of peripherals to be full-fledged computer. People switching from Windows may have had some of these, while others had to go out and buy a number of components. It was not as upgradeable as it could have been (well, adding RAM was a bit of a challenge). Currently, the hardware is far more outdated than even the “classic” MacBook, although it too does still include FireWire. Due to its small size, the mini found its way into being used for tasks other than what some budget PCs would be used for.

Does it make sense for Apple to give the Mac mini the old “it’s not you, it’s me”? Oh wait, it is the Mac mini’s fault. The little bugger is outdated, overpriced, and not selling well. I blame the last reason on the other two. Apple either needs to revamp the Mac mini completely, with a new name, new design, and new specs or just put it out of its misery.

Quite frankly, I’m a bit torn, since I spent much of last January—through—April doing some intense video work with a G4 Mac mini (and it wasn’t the fastest, but it got the job done), but if I was in the market to buy a new Mac today, I’d be checking out something else (I actually was a few months ago, and picked up a MacBook Pro). Had the Mac mini been a bit more powerful, I would’ve saved $1300ish and replaced one little cube with another.

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