Perhaps of more significance to Mac OS X is iLife05, which may be one of the reasons people want to buy a Mac in the first place. While there are apps that do similar things on the Windows platform, none can offer the ease of use, the features and the tight integration of this suite of apps. You can edit widescreen footage in iMovie using music from iTunes as your soundtrack, and pull in images from iPhoto and then send it all to iDVD, an app for which there is no real equivalent on the PC. However therein lies a problem – the standard mini only offers a combo drive, so you’ll have to add another £70 to the price for a DVD Burner, which Apple refers to as a 'SuperDrive'. And if you’re serious about making DVDs you’ll have to go for more RAM, and possibly an external hard disk drive for storage. And you can then add a USB hub so you’ve got enough ports to plug it all in.
If you want to enjoy Apple’s wireless mouse and keyboard you’ll also need to include Bluetooth at time of purchase, and the integrated Wi-Fi isn’t standard either. And we haven’t even mentioned speakers, nor the fact that you still need to provide a keyboard, mouse and display.
As you can see it all mounts up, revealing the £339 price to be no more than a headline to get you into the shop, with the hope that your wallet will loosen once the mini’s sheer ‘wantabilty’ has got you hooked.
In fact, once things start to add up the cost of the mini starts to creep dangerously close to an entry level iMac, which of course gives you a screen and a more powerful G5 processor.
However, if you specifically want a PC without a display, say as a quiet media server, the mini is perfect. Alternatively, for those looking for basic tasks such as web browsing and email, the mini fits the bill perfectly, especially as it’s free of the vulnerabilities that afflict Windows PCs.
If you’ve ever seriously considered entering the world of Macs, this is the computer that will make you cross over the edge. Forget the bargain basement entry level price – you need more RAM and a DVD Burner to make the most of this machine and you also need to BYOKM (Bring Your Own Keyboard and Mouse).
If you’re cool on Macs, the mini will start to warm you to them, but for those already tempted, we heartily recommend it. If the PC user is a Neanderthal and the Mac user the evolved sophisticate, the Switcher Man, hovering between them, is the missing link – and the Mac mini will be his weapon of choice.
Many thanks to MR Systems, your friendly, neighbourhood Mac reseller, for loaning us a Mac mini for review. If you want to buy a Mac, MR Systems can offer you a bespoke personalised service, which has got to be preferable to buying from a crowded Apple store. Contact Len Borg directly on 020 7697 2214.