The Very Nifty Mac Mini

Last weekend my wife and I were out computer shopping. Her for a new Dell laptop, me to dream of the laptop I might be able to buy around about 2007. We traveled to the King of Prussia Mall in southeast Pennsylvania, where Dell allegedly had a store, and to keep me quiet during Sue’s experimentation with the Dark Side, we stopped by the Apple Store.

That’s where I saw the new Mac mini. And what a beautiful little machine it is.

This computer — and not the blocky, bulky iMac G5 — is the true Mac equivalent of an iPod. At first glance, the thing that strikes you about it (as with the iPod) is its diminutive size. It takes up a slightly more space than a compact disc would sitting on your desk, and stands a mere two inches high. A cyclopean mass of cables sneaks out its backside — including the much-mentioned power supply brick — but these lurk just out of sight. Positioned next to a 17″ flat screen monitor, the computer is almost lost in the tabletop landscape.

The machine is surprisingly spry. Apple’s been slammed in the press about the piddling about of RAM that the Mac mini ships with, but I was surprised at how well its 256 mb of RAM and 1.25 processor held up under Mac OS X. Most applications I tried launched in one or two “bounces” (an handy unit of measurement among Mac geeks that corresponds to the number of times an icon jumps up and down on the dock after clicking it). That said, I agree that it should ship with 512 of RAM, and that Mac OS X certainly demands that much for heavy users.

If I was in the market for a new desktop Mac, this machine would definitely be a contender. It has the looks and sleekness that the iMac tries and fails to accomplish, and while it doesn’t have the faster G5 processor, what it’s got is more than adequate for day-to-day surfing, writing and heck, even video editing. Looking at my huge G4 tower as I write this, I can’t help but wistfully long for the lost desk space that a mini would return to me.

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