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Apple Mac mini (Late 2009) - Apple Mac mini
The Mac mini was breathtakingly small when it launched and it's no less a thing of beauty now. Every time I find myself using one of these systems I can't help but wonder whether I'm quite the fool sacrificing as I do hectares of space at home just so I can have a quad-core CPU with a boatload of DDR3 RAM and a powerful graphics card. Surely I'd be better off ditching my Windows 7 based desktop in favour of a Mac min? After all, I have a PS3 and an Xbox 360 to play games on!
Admittedly I'm not quite the audience Apple is after. The mini may be targeted at those who already have a Windows desktop setup, with the requisite monitor, like myself. However, the kind of Windows-based PC those considering the Mac mini would be stuck with is more along the lines of the Mesh Cute, the ilk of which offer similar specs for similar prices to a Mac mini.
The Mac mini bests such systems in either one of two respects, depending on your point of view. Indisputably the mini's teeny tiny 165.1 x 165.1 x 13.1mm dimensions make it almost incomparably small compared to any proper Windows PC. And while Nettops will compete on size, I wouldn't want one as my primary system at home.
The second possible advantage is that which every Mac can lay claim to: OS X. Snow Leopard is without a doubt the best operating system from Apple so far but whether it can be considered quite so superior now that Windows 7 has arrived is a matter for debate.
Having had plenty of time to use both Windows 7 and OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard extensively on a variety of systems over the past months I'm still convinced that OS X is the 'better' operating system and it's still only DirectX (and Valve, to be brutally honest) keeping me on Windows' side.
Nonetheless, I've no doubt that many Windows users could happily change to the Mac way of working with a computer. All the major name software I've ever wanted to use is available - that is, Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop. Besides, the majority of us simply need a computer to run an email client, a web browser and play back music, photos and videos. The mini does all of these tasks out-of-the-box without any fuss, so there are no complaints there.