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Mac Mini: Most Wanted New Features


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View Poll Results: Most desierable Mac Mini updates? (base config)
512mb RAM 48 30.00%
5400 RPM Hard Drive 19 11.88%
64mb Video Card (Water ripples!) 84 52.50%
SuperDrive 9 5.63%
Voters: 160. You may not vote on this poll

Mac Mini: Most Wanted New Features
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fxer
New Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
 
2005-05-03, 12:37

Trying to keep the price down, as well as keep its place within the Mac lineup, these seem to be the most reasonable updates when Apple refreshes the Mini? Since Tiger is now shipping on the Mini, guess that doesn't need to be on the list

Personally I'd like the 5400 RPM hard drive, I'll just swap out the 256mb/512mb RAM for 1gb anyways

What about motherboard changes? Perhaps dumping the 56k modem port and adding a couple more USB? Maybe they can just shoehorn in a couple more USB

Last edited by fxer : 2005-05-03 at 13:47.
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Luca
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Join Date: May 2004
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2005-05-03, 12:46

Even though the RAM is the most upgradable component, I think having 512 MB in the base mini is extremely important for the lineup. It's important because that way, switchers won't use the mini and think "this is so slow and crappy."

If it were for my own personal use, I would say the better video card, because that's one component I can't upgrade at all. Mine already came with a 40 GB 5400 RPM drive and I upgraded the RAM to 512 MB and got an aftermarket DVD burner.
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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2005-05-03, 12:51

Colors!

But seriously...

Not rocket science, just the 3-4 things EVERYONE thinks it should have:

- Better graphics
- Faster (non-laptop) hard drive...a 5400rpm
- More base RAM (512MB...plenty for most)
- Easier-to-access guts for consumer upgrades (without voiding warranty) for self RAM and AirPort card installation (or, better yet, make AirPort and Bluetooth standard)
- More affordable SuperDrive option

Those are the five that spring immediately to my mind (and would make me consider one OR wholeheartedly recommend one to a friend or relative...right now I just don't think I can, in good conscience).



Would be cool if they could somehow figure a way to either add another RAM slot OR - taking a cue from the iBook - solder on a permanent 256MB or so, leaving that sole slot open for user upgrade of their choosing. I think people would be happy with that.

Having only one slot - and sticking a next-to-useless 256MB in there - aggravates people. They have to trash it or try to sell it (good luck). Tiger and iLife 05 won't run worth a shit with 256MB, and it's cheesy and unfair to sling that on a customer (a newbie or switcher, in particular)...just gives a horrible first impression, either way:

- They get the 256MB and are extremely unsatisfied with performance, or
- They have to turn around and spend more money to bring it up to where any machine - in 2005 - should be to begin with.

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artse
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Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2005-05-03, 13:09

I agree with Luca...better graphics...can't upgrade that.
I upgraded my HD to 7200 rpm and stuck in 1 gb of RAM.
Pretty cool G4 now...just no ripples!
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oldmacfan
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Mile 1
 
2005-05-03, 13:11

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0
Colors!

But seriously...

Not rocket science, just the 3-4 things EVERYONE thinks it should have:

- Better graphics
- Faster (non-laptop) hard drive...a 5400rpm
- More base RAM (512MB...plenty for most)
- Easier-to-access guts for consumer upgrades (without voiding warranty) for self RAM and AirPort card installation (or, better yet, make AirPort and Bluetooth standard)
- More affordable SuperDrive option

Those are the five that spring immediately to my mind (and would make me consider one OR wholeheartedly recommend one to a friend or relative...right now I just don't think I can, in good conscience).



Would be cool if they could somehow figure a way to either add another RAM slot OR - taking a cue from the iBook - solder on a permanent 256MB or so, leaving that sole slot open for user upgrade of their choosing. I think people would be happy with that.

Having only one slot - and sticking a next-to-useless 256MB in there - aggravates people. They have to trash it or try to sell it (good luck). Tiger and iLife 05 won't run worth a shit with 256MB, and it's cheesy and unfair to sling that on a customer (a newbie or switcher, in particular)...just gives a horrible first impression, either way:

- They get the 256MB and are extremely unsatisfied with performance, or
- They have to turn around and spend more money to bring it up to where any machine - in 2005 - should be to begin with.

They should solder on 512mb.

A 3.5" SATA HD would be nice too, but maybe if we have to suffer, a 2.5" SATA II Hard drive with full NCQ support would suffice. HD manufacturers are well behind in SATA development. Optical drive manufacturers are also.

I think Apple will ultimately have Airport and Bluetooth standard on all Macs. It would raise the bar for PC box assemblers anyways.

Mile 1
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Bryson
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Join Date: Feb 2005
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2005-05-03, 13:59

No option for the fabled integral iPod Dock?
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rollercoaster375
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2005-05-03, 15:34

Things the mini needs:

- 64 mb graphics card
- 768 RAM
- 100 GB 5400 RPM HD
- FW 800 port
- More USB ports
- BT 2.0
- AirPort Extreme
- Gigabit ethernet (Dual as option)
- 17" Display option

Everything I just listed, only for $100 more (Except the display, which should be $250)
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sunrain
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2005-05-03, 15:37

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0
Colors!
No orange Mac mini dammit!
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dviant
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Lost
 
2005-05-03, 15:56

Easy choice. Better graphics chip. Everything can be upgraded by the end user.
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Luca
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2005-05-03, 16:00

You ask a lot, rollercoaster.

First of all, a 64 MB graphics card should be there... I hope the iBook and mini both get bumped to 64 MB, even if they have the GeForce FX5200. It's better than the Radeon 9200.

768 MB of RAM doesn't really make sense because the mini only has one RAM slot. Besides, Apple generally doesn't provide "odd" amounts of RAM in their base configurations. They stick to doubling capacities... 32 MB, 64 MB, 128 MB, 256 MB, 512 MB. Seeing as how the $799 eMac has 256 MB of RAM, I don't think either mini will get 512 MB standard, but I can dream. It's only $50 to upgrade from Apple anyway.

100 GB, 5400 RPM hard drives are very expensive at the moment. Much more than 80 GB, 5400 RPM drives. I'd like to see 5400 RPM drives in the iBooks and minis too, but given their price premium at the higher capacities, we'll probably have to wait until the revision after next for that. Supposedly Seagate is going to be coming out with a 100 GB, 7200 RPM laptop drive and a 120 GB, 5400 RPM one. The PowerBooks will stay with 5400 RPM for a while, but within a year or two (depending on how fast laptop hard drives advance) they might move to 7200 RPM for the PowerBooks and 5400 RPM for the lower end. Also, historically, Apple has not allowed you trade capacity for a faster drive. So they wouldn't give you both a 100 GB/7200 option and a 120 GB/5400 option at the same time.

FW800 would be nice, but even the rather expensive, midrange iMac doesn't have it. I don't see why the mini would. A third USB port like the eMac and iMac would be very useful, though.

Having the wireless stuff come standard would also be a nice move. I'm not so sure it would make it into the next revision, since the eMac doesn't have that stuff either, but maybe after that. I don't think it'll be too long before bluetooth 2.0 and Airport Extreme are built in on every Mac. Apple may even stop making Airport Extreme cards and just build the controller into the motherboard.

Gigabit ethernet is a fairly high-end feature that only today found its way into the iMac. I doubt it'll be in the mini anytime soon. As for dual ethernet... well, there's just no chance of that. None.

I guess there's nothing stopping Apple from either coming out with their own 17" display or offering to sell third-party 17" displays with the mini, but I don't think they want to. That was discussed earlier.

I think it's more important that the mini retain its low price than get all those features. Some of them would be nice and are doable, some I'd love to see but are not possible without a major redesign (which won't happen for a while at this stage in the mini's lifespan), and some are just not realistic at all and would provide no benefit to the mini's target audience. Dual ethernet especially is just ridiculous. 768 MB of RAM is more than even the $3000 PowerMac ships with. You just have to accept that the mini is a very low end machine, and it'll get updates and features at its own pace. You just can't ask too much of a $499 computer.
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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2005-05-03, 18:58

I really hope rollercoaster was being a bit sarcastic. Those are features that either just came out TODAY on the $1299-1799 iMac G5 (Gigabit Ethernet) or are only on pro gear (FireWire 800). I can't imagine the Mac mini getting either of those things. Ever. Okay, maybe in 4-6 years...



A mini doesn't require either of those to be cool and useful. May as well go balls out and ask for a PC card slot and two extra drive bays!



Seriously, the graphics and hard drive will address 85% of the complaints out there. No one is expecting a $499 Mac to have some of those crazy high-end features. Hell, the 12" PowerBook - at $1,499 - doesn't have either of those, and it's considered a "pro" machine. How/why on earth would a machine costing $1,000 less have them?!?

64MB graphics, 5400rpm hard drive and 512MB RAM will push about 94% of the fence-sitters out there into finally getting one, I guarantee you. Those are the three things you hear griped about the most.

I like the idea of someday AirPort just being built onto the board and EVERY Mac is simply "wireless ready", out of the box. I'm sure that'll happen within 1-2 years.

And yes, 768MB RAM is an odd duck number. You can't get that with one DIMM (which is all the Mac mini allows). Either 256MB or 512MB, but I'd be happy with 256MB soldered on and that slot left open.

And redesign the damn case so you can push two tabs or turn a little lock with a coin and the entire top EASILY pops off. No one should have to take a Home Depot putty knife to a brand new $500-600 computer...

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Matsu
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2005-05-03, 19:01

keyboard and mouse, not including them is stupid, on a couple of levels.
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kretara
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2005-05-03, 19:35

I've been using the Mini since "day one" and here are the things I would like.
I want it to be bigger!
Yeah, being tiny and all is cool, BUT it is very limiting.

I was much happier with my old Cube than I am with the Mini.
The difficult upgrade of the HD (along with using a frigging laptop HD), only having 1 firewire port and not being able to add at least 1 pci card is really cramping my style.
I know that I am not the type of person that Apple was targeting with the Mini, but damn it the Mini is so non-future proof that it is driving me crazy (I say the same about the iMac).
I do like the Mini. Its small, quite and does 85% of what I want with ease. But, I am already thinking of selling it and getting something else.

OK, what I want for the Mini.

1) bigger case that can take 1 user installed pci card
2) standard of 512mb ram
3) standard 5200 rpm HD that is upgradeable with some ease
4) better video card (I would rather have an upgradeable AGP card NOT a laptop card)
5) 2 firewire 400 ports
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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2005-05-03, 19:54

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsu
keyboard and mouse, not including them is stupid, on a couple of levels.
I get the sneaking feeling that if they DID include them, you'd be among the first to point out how they're "adding to the cost" and that "most people want a better-quality, multi-button mouse anyway...Apple is stupid for bundling their shitty mouse and keyboard with this!".



Anyone else with me on this?

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Matsu
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2005-05-03, 20:04

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0
I get the sneaking feeling that if they DID include them, you'd be among the first to point out how they're "adding to the cost" and that "most people want a better-quality, multi-button mouse anyway...Apple is stupid for bundling their shitty mouse and keyboard with this!".



Anyone else with me on this?

Hey, not fair. Though I don't mind being called cheap, when I gripe, I always gripe about what I feel are value propositions. You've never seen me going spastic about the iMac's video card, for example, or about G4's in mobile applications. Money should go into things like standard RAM, standard HDD size, battery life (for portables), reasonable screen resolutions, etc etc...

You can't operate a computer without a keyboard. Given that an OEM keyboard and mouse (even ones so nice as Apple's) might cost as much as $10 each to produce (and even that's a stretch) it just doesn't make sense not to include it.

The mini needs it's ports. And the convert especially needs to learn the benefits of the one-button orthodoxy. Plus it's just sort of low class and cheapish not to include them. Jobs has done an admirable job of spinning it, but in the end it's a really nickle and dime move, and it takes two key aspects of the interface out of Apple's control. Not good.
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oldmacfan
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Mile 1
 
2005-05-03, 20:05

Quote:
Originally Posted by kretara
I've been using the Mini since "day one" and here are the things I would like.
I want it to be bigger!
Yeah, being tiny and all is cool, BUT it is very limiting.

I was much happier with my old Cube than I am with the Mini.
The difficult upgrade of the HD (along with using a frigging laptop HD), only having 1 firewire port and not being able to add at least 1 pci card is really cramping my style.
I know that I am not the type of person that Apple was targeting with the Mini, but damn it the Mini is so non-future proof that it is driving me crazy (I say the same about the iMac).
I do like the Mini. Its small, quite and does 85% of what I want with ease. But, I am already thinking of selling it and getting something else.

OK, what I want for the Mini.

1) bigger case that can take 1 user installed pci card
2) standard of 512mb ram
3) standard 5200 rpm HD that is upgradeable with some ease
4) better video card (I would rather have an upgradeable AGP card NOT a laptop card)
5) 2 firewire 400 ports

You want a PowerMac, not a mini...
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kaseyha
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Minnesota
 
2005-05-03, 20:12

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsu
Jobs has done an admirable job of spinning it, but in the end it's a really nickle and dime move, and it takes two key aspects of the interface out of Apple's control. Not good.
We can never know for sure, but my guess has alwyas been that the decision to not include a keyboard or mouse was not driven by a deisre for cost savings, but rather by the marketing department. I think they really felt they could impress people by handing them a box the size of the iPod box with a whole computer inside.
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kretara
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2005-05-03, 20:19

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldmacfan
You want a PowerMac, not a mini...
Um...no.

I have a powermac at home and I want something smaller and quiter for home use, BUT I want the machine to be somewhat upgradeable (RAM, HD and Video Card). No, I do not want an AIO. I have 3 machines at home and they all need to share the same monitor.

Apple seems to be stuck in the mindset that only "Pro's" want to add stuff to their computer. Thats way off the mark. I've talked to quite a few people who were interested in switching but would not because of the AIO stuff that Apple puts out. These people just wanted to add extra firewire/usb ports or an sata card. In order to do that they had to jump up to a huge, fairly expensive machine (powermac). None of them were prepared to make that jump. I can't blame them.
There is no reason why Apple can't have a non-pro desktop that is not an AIO and has room for 1 or 2 pci slots plus easially upgradeable HD's, RAM and optical drives.
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Matsu
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Join Date: May 2004
 
2005-05-03, 20:21

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaseyha
We can never know for sure, but my guess has alwyas been that the decision to not include a keyboard or mouse was not driven by a deisre for cost savings, but rather by the marketing department. I think they really felt they could impress people by handing them a box the size of the iPod box with a whole computer inside.

I think it was driven more so by a desire to pick up a few peripheral sales in the on-line and retail stores.
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oldmacfan
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Mile 1
 
2005-05-03, 20:28

Quote:
Originally Posted by kretara
Um...no.

I have a powermac at home and I want something smaller and quiter for home use, BUT I want the machine to be somewhat upgradeable (RAM, HD and Video Card). No, I do not want an AIO. I have 3 machines at home and they all need to share the same monitor.

Apple seems to be stuck in the mindset that only "Pro's" want to add stuff to their computer. Thats way off the mark. I've talked to quite a few people who were interested in switching but would not because of the AIO stuff that Apple puts out. These people just wanted to add extra firewire/usb ports or an sata card. In order to do that they had to jump up to a huge, fairly expensive machine (powermac). None of them were prepared to make that jump. I can't blame them.
There is no reason why Apple can't have a non-pro desktop that is not an AIO and has room for 1 or 2 pci slots plus easially upgradeable HD's, RAM and optical drives.
Then why in the world did you buy a Mini. All you did was lie to your self and now your dissapointed. If and when Apple spilts the PM line into Pro and consumer, then you will have the machine you are looking for.

Mile 1
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kretara
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2005-05-03, 20:49

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldmacfan
Then why in the world did you buy a Mini. All you did was lie to your self and now your dissapointed. If and when Apple spilts the PM line into Pro and consumer, then you will have the machine you are looking for.
Because a mini can do about 85% of what I need, I can't afford a powermac and I refuse to use an AIO.
Don't get me wrong. I do like my mini. I just don't understand why Apple made it. It really doesn't make much sense (because its so limited).

As for what the mini doesn't do. Well, I've got that taken care of.
I am compiling Gentoo on a precision 530 right now.
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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2005-05-03, 21:04

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaseyha
I think they really felt they could impress people by handing them a box the size of the iPod box with a whole computer inside.

That's an interesting point. That is a supremely cute little box, huh?

It would be easy - at some point - to design a box that held a keyboard and mouse and was still "small and cute". Imagine a loaf of French bread (about 2' long, but not very big around).

Stick a handle on top, call it a day. People would carry it out of the store and it would look like a small, elongated suitcase, about 8" x 4" x 28"





Ha, I've never mocked up packaging before...
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Robo
Formerly Roboman, still
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Join Date: Jul 2004
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2005-05-03, 21:05

This discussion makes me want to take Steve Jobs hostage until he makes me my Mac Cube. So many people in this thread want something bigger than the Mini, smaller than the PMG5...

...I actually think we might see the Mac Cube soon. But anyway, on the Mini?

I wouldn't mind seeing a Mac mini in colors () and perhaps with the built in iPod dock, but that'd be like a third addition to the line or something. In a Revision B Mini? Better graphics would top my list.

Kudos to Apple from dropping the price on the RAM (again!) today.
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IonYz
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2005-05-03, 21:50

Like that box P. It would be larger due to foam and what not but I can see it on shelves. Colors would be a great addition, these are very small, very consumer-level and very cheap computers. Why not add colors?

I'm considering a purchase of a Mini to replace my aging Cube. As it stands the 32 MB may affect my decision but I'm not sure by how much. I love to play some games, nothing intense but running native (1680x1050) is required. Luckily my mom has a 1.4 GHz Mini so I'll have to test drive it now that Tiger ships with them.

Big picture, RAM should be 512 MB standard. They made the unit non-upgradable to your average consumer so they dug their own hole on this one.

Personally, a faster GPU and more ports would be great. Either Apple is concluding the Mini as bottom of the GPU barrel (pending an iBook upgrade...), "no ripples for yoU!" or they plan on bumping the Mini this fall. Why aren't "more ports" an option in the poll? Dump the modem and add another FireWire port. Having one FireWire port will kill me I know. Even with the hubs (slabs) on the market you don't get many more since you have to connect the Mini to the hub, normally only netting you 1 additional port.

Or maybe, and I'm wishing on a star here, some sorta HD-decoder. Don't want a G5, I want a chip designed solely for decoding H.264. While your at it VC-3 and any other approved HD codec certified for future use. If they move that functionality to a GPU, they had better bump their entire product line again this year.

Being "The Year of HD" they could start by offering computers that decode it with ease. A tall order, but I've come to expect great things.

/* styling for my posts */
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fxer
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Join Date: May 2005
 
2005-05-03, 22:22

Quote:
Originally Posted by kretara
I was much happier with my old Cube than I am with the Mini.

OK, what I want for the Mini.

1) bigger case that can take 1 user installed pci card
2) standard of 512mb ram
3) standard 5200 rpm HD that is upgradeable with some ease
4) better video card (I would rather have an upgradeable AGP card NOT a laptop card)
5) 2 firewire 400 ports
I suspect that many Apple enthusiasts would like just what you are selling, that's why Apple (unintentionally) catered right to us once! With the Cube! Of course Apple got burned....horribly. The mainstream didn't give a crap about it, and the enthusiasts couldn't buy enough to keep the project in black ink.

Has the market changed, making a cube replacement (essentially what you are pitching) a viable product now? I have no idea, but Jobs was kicking ass at Apple until the Cube put the company back in the red in 2001, not sure he wants to play with that hornets nest again yet
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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2005-05-03, 22:27

I allowed for foam. the iMac is 2" tall, it's resting on its side in the box. The box is 4". That's an inch of foam on two sides side, about .75" on the opposite two. I took into account the dimensions of the main items.

The mouse, cables, manuals and disks could sit behind the keyboard (which is only an inch tall, and it would be standing on its end as well).

I just made it green because a) I was thinking how nice the shuffle packaging looked and b) like you said, the target audience and the type of computer it is might lend itself to a bright, attractive and "fun" box.

It's neither here nor there, of course...I just had Illustrator open a while ago and felt "doodley", and wanted to see what a box could look like if Apple ever started to include a keyboard and mouse with the mini (which I don't think they will, for the record).

  quote
kretara
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2005-05-03, 23:05

Quote:
Originally Posted by fxer
I suspect that many Apple enthusiasts would like just what you are selling, that's why Apple (unintentionally) catered right to us once! With the Cube! Of course Apple got burned....horribly. The mainstream didn't give a crap about it, and the enthusiasts couldn't buy enough to keep the project in black ink.

Has the market changed, making a cube replacement (essentially what you are pitching) a viable product now? I have no idea, but Jobs was kicking ass at Apple until the Cube put the company back in the red in 2001, not sure he wants to play with that hornets nest again yet
The Cube failed because it was badly overpriced. The Cube started at $1800 for the 450mhz machine in 2000 (when it was released). For not much more you could get a 450mhz tower. There was no price difference. Thats what killed the Cube. Apple did it to themselves.
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IonYz
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2005-05-04, 00:39

Quote:
Originally Posted by kretara
OK, what I want for the Mini.

1) bigger case...
No. Apple sticks to their form factors like grim death.

Quote:
... that can take 1 user installed pci card
No. Find me any other models in consumer space that offers this from Apple. The Cube was a Power Mac, and even it didn't offer a PCI card.

Quote:
2) standard of 512mb ram
Yes. Apple dug their own hole on this one. No user-installable RAM on a machine that is designed for the halo-effect? They are targeting people who would never open a case and they will either A. complain how slow Macs are or B. have to BTO their order.

512 MB of RAM should be standard (if need be soldered) onto every Mac they sell.

Quote:
3) standard 5200 rpm HD th at is upgradeable with some ease
Yes on the 5200 RPM (by next rev perhaps) but no on it being "upgradeable with ease". See (1). The drive in the Cube wasn't a cinch to upgrade either, not hard but not accessible to everyone either.

Quote:
4) better video card (I would rather have an upgradeable AGP card NOT a laptop card)
Yes on a better video card down the road, but no on it ever being upgradable outside the factory. And by "better video card down the road" we aren't talking anything faster (or as fast?) as an iMac's GPU.

Quote:
5) 2 firewire 400 ports
Not if (1) is any indication, but if they dropped the modem they could squeeze it in right? With daisy chaining one FW400 port is enough for their target market.

That really sums up the Mac mini though, "its enough for the target market". Every spec on the machine is border-line "enough" just to squeeze it by as acceptable in 2005.

But why compare a $500 consumer Mac to a former $1800 professional one?

/* styling for my posts */
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IonYz
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2005-05-04, 00:40

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0
I allowed for foam...
So you did. Damn good for some doodling Pscates. I always forget just how small the Mac mini is. It boggles.
  quote
Ocelot
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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2005-05-04, 02:48

The faster HD will give the greatest performance boost, but I'd couple it with more standard RAM soldered onto the mobo and a single open RAM slot. After those options I'd choose the better video chipset, for better performance and obsolescence insurance, although it would never make the Mini into a gaming console.

The base Mini doesn't need a Superdrive, since some people don't want them and shouldn't have to pay for them.

I'd also want to see an access door for adding more RAM. Popping in a stick of RAM shouldn't be a stressful experience for Mini owners.

The Mini's got great potential, but as it is now I'd never buy it - it's pure landfill fodder. Plus I like my Powermac G4 too much - it's nice to add extra HDs without having desktop clutter and a rat's nest of Firewire cables.

"I will tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." - Thomas Jefferson
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