Pinch the Macalope

He actually agrees with ZDNet’s Larry Dignan is about the Mac mini.

Not completely, of course (there’s no real comparison between the mini and a netbook, for example), but at the price point the mini is at — even with nine gajillion ports in the back — it just doesn’t seem to cut it. OK, if you find yourself a cheap monitor and already have a mouse and keyboard you can get into the Mac market for $700 or so, but the Macalope was really hoping for more here. Or less, as the case may be.

The iMac, on the other hand, is a terrific value.

UPDATE: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes comes to the mini’s defense!

Has anyone checked the warp field? This is starting to get alternate-universe-ish.

  • John Schank:

    I have to say that I love my mac mini, which I’ve had since they were first introduced. I keep it in my network closet and use it as my webserver.

    The mini makes a great little box for testing web apps because it ships with everything you need, from Apache to all the most popular development languages (Perl, Python, PHP, Ruby, and Java)

  • Karl von L.:

    I’ve been a Mac owner since 1996, and I think my next machine will be a Mini. Here’s why.

    My current machine is a dual 2 GHz G5, bought in May 2005. That is, just a couple of weeks before Steve Jobs announced the switch to Intel. Despite how easy he said it was to create Universal apps using Xcode, these days there is more and more Mac software coming out that is Intel-only. Including the upcoming Snow Leopard. If not for that, I wouldn’t be thinking of getting a new machine yet. My last Mac was 6 years old before I replaced it, and my current one is plenty snappy. But I feel like I’m getting left out in the cold by having a PowerPC-based Mac.

    I already have a monitor I really like. It’s 20 inches at 1600×1200 pixels. I like it because it’s *not* widescreen. It seems like nobody’s making non-widescreen monitors with more than 1280×1024 pixels any more. I like my monitor, so that rules out an iMac.

    And here’s the thing: Apple’s cheapest Mac Pro is $2500. They simply don’t sell a sans-monitor machine for less than that, besides the Mini. In the Adrian Kingsley-Hughes article that the Macalope linked to, he lists “People with a sub-$1,000 budget” as a target for the Mini. How about people with a sub-$2000 budget, who don’t want a machine with a built-in monitor? I’d happily buy a Mac Pro if it were $1500, or consider buying one at $2000. But $2500? I’d be willing to spend that much if I were replacing a 6-year old machine, but I’m not willing to spend so much so soon after the last time.

    And I can’t imagine why I’d need a Mac Pro. Expansion slots? I can’t remember the last time I used one. Quad core? I don’t do anything that demanding. I’d rather just pay $600 or $800 to have a Mac that can run Intel-only software, and doesn’t have anything I don’t need.

  • Yogi:

    I have 3 minis: One for my in-house server (backups), one for media, and one for my 10-year-old. Only one monitor and keyboard (for daughter) the others are KVM’d with my main MacPro.

    Same basic processor as last gen iMac that my wife has (20″). What more do I want or need?

  • Macsmarts:

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes looks like a Roger Moore-ish Bond villain.

  • Sigivald:

    2ghz, dual head and 4 gigs of RAM and FW800? (And a superdrive, in the BASE model?)

    I’m totally replacing my Late 2006 iMac (1.86ghz) with one. Probably this year.

    Half the price of a new iMac, and, hey, I can spend about 1/3 of the price difference on a new HP w2207 to go with the one I already have on the iMac. Apple’s monitors are nice, but they’re not that nice.

    (Expandability means little to me; I’ve noticed that I simply don’t use expansion slots on modern computers, and only sometimes put in a second hard drive. And given the FW800, and that the iMac has no room for another drive… no win.)

  • DB:

    I bought three Mac minis to give family members for Christmas. I was the only Mac owner in the family, and I operated on the “first hit is free” idea. If the Mac mini didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have bought any gift Macs at all. Apple sold two thousand dollars of merchandise they would not have otherwise.

    I plan, sometime in the future, to assemble a digital entertainment hub around a mass storage device. Originally I was considering an Apple TV for the head-end, but settled on a Mac mini instead. Since I don’t shop on the iTunes Store (yes, such people do still exist), I can get along fine with Front Row alone—and maybe, before I get around to buying it, Front Row will be updated with iTMS support. I wouldn’t consider any other Mac for the purpose.

  • DB:

    . . . Oh yeah, and I’m in a similar position as both the previous commenters regarding monitors and expansion.

  • Sigivald:

    (Oh, and of course if we’re going to talk expansion, it should be pointed out that the iMac is no more internally expandable than the Mini.

    In fact, arguably less so, unless it’s improved a lot since the white plastic Intel models.

    I’ve replaced the optical and magnetic drives in mine, and it was deeply unpleasant; a Mini is much more user-upgradeable, despite being less so than a Pro or a non-Apple PC.)

  • DB:

    I suspect the Mac mini is so controversial because there’s no single instantly recognizable widespread use case for it. Instead, there is a plethora of niche uses, no single example of which would be sufficient to justify it. Detractors look at the mini, see at most one or two of those niche uses, and conclude that isn’t enough. Proponents fiercely defend their niche uses, but rarely go beyond that.

    I suspect that taken together the niche uses add up to a tidy market, well worth serving. A thousand here, a couple of thousand there, and before you know it you’re talking about real sales.

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