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Missing the point of the Mac Mini

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I've read several articles and numerous comments over the past week detailing just how overpriced Apple's new Mac Mini is. Reviewers seem to conclude that because they can assemble a PC of similar performance to the Mini for less money, that the new Mac simply costs too much.

What they have not done, however, is duplicate the Mac Mini in any important way. The closest comparison I've seen pitted the Mini against a machine 2.5 times its size. At least that reviewer understood that size matters. I'm a fan of small systems. I own 2 Biostar iDEQ cubes, one Shuttle, and three Book PC's. The Book PC's are the oldest and most obsolete, of course, with the fastest one containing a Pentium III 667. I've gotten rid of several systems over the past two years that were faster than the Book PC's. Why keep the slower computers while getting rid of systems up to twice as fast, you might ask.

I've kept the Book PC's because they are so small that keeping them around isn't a burden. They take about as much space on a bookshelf as an unabridged dictionary. I have one, currently disconnected, functioning only as a monitor stand for the system I'm using right now. A book PC will fit in my briefcase; I've hauled them around with me as if they were laptops. With a dozen computers around the house, space is precious and small is beautiful.

The Book PC's are 3.2" x 10.5" x 11.9". That's 4.8 times the volume of a Mac Mini. The Mac is truly tiny. I've worked to build fast, small, quiet Linux systems for years now. The iDEQ 200V is the cheapest system I've made that is fast, quiet, and runs Linux without complaint. Without software and with only the on-board graphics chip, it cost about the same amount as the Mac Mini. At 12.5" x 7" x 8", however, it is much larger than the Mini and weighs several times as much.

I challenge the anti-Mini crowd to build a PC of any shape that displaces approximately the same volume as the Mini plus power supply. Then, compare prices again. The SFF computer fans are clearly going to notice this machine and are going to buy a few truckloads of them. In the small form factor (SFF) computer market, even ignoring the software, this machine is clearly a bargain.

SFF computer fans who are committed to Windows will still covet this system; a few of them might even make the switch to OS X just to get one. I even expect some SFF Linux geeks to buy them because they're tiny, cheap, and can run Linux. Conclusion: the anti-Mini reviewers and posters are not SFF people.

Next, the Mini is an affordable and typically stylish Mac. A smallish PC does not run OS X. The Mini comes with OS X and will make a great second (or third) computer for many Mac users. I use Linux as my primary desktop OS (SuSE 9.2 Professional for the last three weeks, Fedora Core 2 the previous year) and FreeBSD and Linux (Fedora, Slackware) for my servers. I'm hardly a Mac guy but, as a Unix geek, I'm perfectly fine with OS X. I used a Mac as my primary desktop for a couple of weeks after a recent move.

Many Mac users -- at least those who need a second system -- will find the price -- and the size -- of this system quite appealing. Clearly, the negative reviewers and posters are not OS X users.

Therefore, I've come to the conclusion that these anti-Mac Mini arguments are coming from people who appreciate neither of the core characteristics of the machine. They don't understand the appeal of the SFF systems market, nor are they OS X / Mac users.

Apple, on the other hand, appreciates both and they have produced an impressively priced small form factor OS X system.

I wish for Apple responsive suppliers with scalable production facilities. They will surely need them in order to satisfy the demand for the Mac Mini.
mail this link | score:8956 | -Ray, January 21, 2005
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Articles are owned by their authors.   © 2000-2012 Ray Yeargin