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Mac mini and Asus Eee keyboard


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Mac mini and Asus Eee keyboard
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wtd
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
 
2009-01-11, 14:00

Am I the only one who could see Apple doing something like this to the Mac mini?

Take a MacBook, remove the battery, move the trackpad alongside the keyboard, maybe provide an angled front edge to slope down to the surface the machine is on since there's no lid to be worried about. In terms of connectors, put them on the back edge and provide at least MagSafe, Mini-DisplayPort and USB and you have a perfect companion to a new-style Cinema Display. Or, with a MDP->HDMI dongle you have a really nifty Mac to use as a Media Center.
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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2009-01-11, 14:33

That's crossed my mind a couple of times over the years, the Mac mini actually consisting of the guts and a top-mounted keyboard. I don't know all the possible drawbacks or "what ifs" in such a scenario (heat, etc.). But I guess it couldn't be too different than a traditional notebook, where everything is under the keyboard and works fine?

That would make for a really slick system. As long as they provided a long enough cable to route under a desk and back up to the display, sure.

I'm sitting here right now, looking at my aluminum Apple keyboard, and imagining a few more cables coming out of the back. Although Apple would most likely bundle them into a single, clean cable carrying the power, display connection, etc. And you'd still have USB cables cables coming out and going to peripherals.

And you'd have a ~4lb. keyboard...



I like it. I just wonder about real-world convenience and practicality? If you had Wi-Fi, had your printer set up wirelessly and the only USB stuff you used was occasionally syncing/charging your iDevice or using a USB thumb drive, I suppose a single cable coming from this keyboard/computer hybrid - (containing the display signal, power (and then splitting off at some point to the floor) - could work. It would for me, I suppose...my keyboard sits right here on my little pull-out shelf and probably doesn't travel more than an inch or so in any direction during the course of a month. I guess it's possible...

Would something like this be more expensive, and tougher to make, than the current one (and then rocketing its price upwards)?

Hey, maybe that's why that made these new aluminum keyboards so damn thin...they gave us a year-and-a-half to use them, so when they go stick an extra 1" computer chassis under them, they won't be much taller or bulkier than the original white plastic keyboards from 18-plus months ago?

Clever, Apple!



Seriously, this aluminum model is very thin and sits quite low...a good bit lower than the white keyboards I've used over the years. If it got raised up a half-inch in the front and then maybe 1.5" or in the back, I think I could deal with it (especially if I knew there was a MacBook-level guts sitting just below it, driving the sexy 24" display in front of me.



It would certainly eliminate the whole "BYOKBM" thing, huh? A single slim package to hold a computer that isn't much bigger, footprint-wise, than the current aluminum keyboard? Toss in a Mighty Mouse...

Even if the thing had to pooch out the back a bit further, that would be okay (some cooling vents there, etc.). As for the touch pad, don't include it on the keyboard. Offer a USB plug-in model, based on the new MacBook trackpad, supporting all the multi-finger gestures for those who want to pony up $59 or whatever to do that). Most people will probably stick with the mouse, I'm guessing. But who knows...iPhoto is fun to use when you can intuitively swipe, rotate and scale with your fingers like that.

Most of the ports on the rear, but at least one USB on the side for easy iPod/camera/thumb drive connection? Slot loading SuperDrive on one side (but probably the rear, so it doesn't interfere with right- or left-handed mousers.

Hmmm...
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Dave
Ninja Editor
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Bay Area, CA
 
2009-01-11, 14:43

What would be the point? To only have a keyboard, mouse, and monitor on your desk? They make these things called iMacs...

It's not like the Mac Minis take up too much space. If seeing your computer bothers you that much, I'm pretty sure you could hold one of the Minis on the underside of your desk with velcro.
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wtd
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
 
2009-01-11, 14:45

I had the "just use a separate mouse" thought, but then there're a few things that made me suggest including it. Aside from Apple's simplicity fetish, and the fact that they're making a crapload of those trackpads anyway, there's the use in a media center role. If you're on the couch, or a coffee table, the trackpad being integrated into the unit is a lot more elegant.

Plus, the trackpad has gotten a really good reception. If you leave it as optional, bargain hunters will leave it off and it'll possibly lower their opinion of the system and Apple as a company.
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luxuryreplica
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: New York
 
2009-01-11, 15:00

That could be a good idea. As the iMacs are basically a monitor with the computer innards, it would make sense the mini could be an all-in one keyboard.
However, it would still look like a keyboard. that may be unappealing to a prospective buyer. Maybe having the slot-loading drive an external one (like the Air's) The thing is, the mini-in-a keyboard would have to be executed beautifully and aside from functioning well, it would have to be a well designed object. M
Maybe having some kind of smooth, branded "cover" for the keyboard may elevate it as a desirable object—or maybe having the cover double as a big multitouch glass trackpad. All you need is the monitor...Or making something similar to the Vaio P but have the monitor double as a multitouch glass trackpad when at home using your big monitor, and having it then work as a small "netbook" monitor when on the go....

Just throwing some ideas out there...not sure how practical they would be.
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wtd
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
 
2009-01-11, 15:04

I wish I had some skill to mock up my thoughts on this, but isn't that was pscates is for? :-)

In lieu of that...

Add enough to the dimensions so there's room for a slot-loading drive, but otherwise slim down the borders as much as possible, and of course, use decent materials since this is a Mac, and not a VAIO.

The other option would be to keep the trackpad where it is on the MacBook, but angle the palmrest down, forming a wedge without the keyboard having to be at a particularly steep angle.

Last edited by wtd : 2009-01-11 at 15:15.
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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2009-01-11, 15:11

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave View Post
What would be the point? To only have a keyboard, mouse, and monitor on your desk? They make these things called iMacs...

It's not like the Mac Minis take up too much space. If seeing your computer bothers you that much, I'm pretty sure you could hold one of the Minis on the underside of your desk with velcro.
Just something to think about. If such a device was under $700, that's a good bit less than the $1,199 base price of the iMac. And it's not an active "hate looking at the computer" thing, but just a neat idea getting tossed around for fun.

Just taking it from a different angle...instead of the guts being stuck to the back of an LCD (the iMac), they're crammed below the other crucial, "gotta have" component of any computer setup (the keyboard).

As I said earlier, it may not be a good thing at all from a practicality/cable/heat standpoint. I don't know, but they seem to exist, in various forms (including regular notebooks), and everything works fine.
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turbulentfurball
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Québec
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2009-01-11, 15:16



OMG the Amiga 1200 reborn. I'd be so happy.
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Satchmo
can't read sarcasm.
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Toronto, Canada
 
2009-01-11, 15:19

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0 View Post
But, as I said earlier, from a practicality/cable/heat standpoint, it may not work (would all the escaping heat from the thing be coming up and out, constantly on your hands and making them sweat? If so, then that's no good). But then they seem to have solved that issue with notebooks, so it's not completely impossible to imagine...
The surface area of said keyboard would be much larger than a Mac mini, so heat could be dispersed more efficiently...maybe even add an inch or two above the F-keys. Make this thing run strictly on SSD's and you've got a pretty quiet machine.

Like you said, it's doubtful. But it's this type of outside the box thinking that I could see Apple cooking up in their labs.
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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2009-01-11, 15:26

I don't doubt for a second that they've got some mocked-up prototype somewhere there on campus (wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall, deep inside the various offices and labs at 1 Infinite Loop? I know I would...). All they have to do, really, is just take the guts of the MacBook (or MacBook Air) and place them in a space roughly the size (but probably a bit larger) than the current metal keyboard, adding a skootch of thickness (and probably no more than it was before the aluminum keyboard came to be).

Strikes me as something, at least from a mockup/what if? standpoint, they could do in their sleep.



I'm sure it's sitting in a lab somewhere, alongside all the other mini and Cube mockups, sketches, rough builds, etc. I'd love to be a night-shift janitor there with an awesome set of master keys...
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thegeriatric
geri to my friends
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Heaven
 
2009-01-11, 20:54

I like the idea, and would certainly consider purchasing such a machine.
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Robo
Formerly Roboman, still
awesome
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Portland, OR
 
2009-01-12, 00:13

So much of the area in the bottom half of the MacBooks is the battery, anyway. Apple could easily fit the motherboard, optical drive, and hard drive under a keyboard. It wouldn't have to be much taller than the current keyboards at all.

I think such a machine would be nice because it would be so simple. And it might even be smaller than the current Mac mini by volume, it it was based on the smaller, numpad-less keyboard.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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copland
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
 
2009-01-12, 04:20

Quote:
Originally Posted by turbulentfurball View Post


OMG the Amiga 1200 reborn. I'd be so happy.
Ahhh, the first and original one:



i thought about that concept too, but in times that everything can be connected via BT except the monitor I would hide the Mini somewhere close to the monitor (TV anyone) and connect all other things via BT.
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Yonzie
Mac Mini Maniac
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
 
2009-01-12, 07:57

Quote:
Originally Posted by copland View Post
i thought about that concept too, but in times that everything can be connected via BT except the monitor I would hide the Mini somewhere close to the monitor (TV anyone) and connect all other things via BT.
This^^^
While it's an intriguing idea, it just doesn't make sense when you have the iMac as well.
I'm quite certain that Apple would not produce a MacBoard simply because of all the wires needed. Certainly, power and monitor output can be combined, but what about other peripherals? It's almost inevitable that it will have at least 3-4 wires sticking out of it, and Steve wouldn't approve of that.

Converted 07/2005.
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kdcny
Member
 
Join Date: May 2008
 
2009-01-12, 10:08

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yonzie View Post
This^^^
I'm quite certain that Apple would not produce a MacBoard simply because of all the wires needed. Certainly, power and monitor output can be combined, but what about other peripherals? It's almost inevitable that it will have at least 3-4 wires sticking out of it, and Steve wouldn't approve of that.
Well, first of all, I think the design of the EEE keyboard is really slick, and seems very Apple-esque.

And, while I don't think Apple would ever do something like this, I think you're right - Apple wouldn't approve of all the wires, which is why they wouldn't have to have any, perhaps save one (power).

Everyone has been suggesting to take the current MacBook and take away the display and the battery, but hey, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sure, take away the display, but why not leave the battery? Current Macbook internals, stacked instead of laid out flat, would still be pretty darn thin, and a thin lithium-polymer battery on the bottom would allow for, gosh, 4-5 hours of use? More? I really don't know; without the display, how much are you saving? Cut out the optical drive and you're saving even more. SSD? That's even more. Included in the package would be a wireless dongle (Bluetooth or a 802.11 variant, similar to the Nike+ kit) that you attach to your TV/display.

Like I said, I don't think Apple would ever produce such a computer, but imagine what kind of a HTPC it would be. I often sit with my laptop on a bed/chair/couch, and it's much heavier compared to the MacBooks. Having little more than a keyboard that sips power and is completely wireless would be pretty awesome. (Flashbacks to a friend's Gateway HTPC setup in 1998, with big TV/monitor, wireless keyboard + trackpad. You Don't Know Jack! felt awesome then.)
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ezkcdude
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
 
2009-01-12, 10:40

Anyone remember this mockup I made a while back? A Mac Mini with a touchscreen LCD on top - this could be neat for a home theater setup.



And why not just take the base of a MacBook Air and put a touchscreen LCD where the trackpad is? That would probably be as useful as the Asus device:



Remember, Asus is marketing this as a HomeTheater PC - that's all.
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Unch
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: United Chavdom of Little Britain
 
2009-01-12, 13:17

Quote:
Originally Posted by turbulentfurball View Post


OMG the Amiga 1200 reborn. I'd be so happy.
It had crossed my mind a couple of times to gut an old non-functioning A500/A1200, shove one of these cool USB interfaces and a Mac Mini mobo in the thing.

"It's like a new pair of underwear. At first it's constrictive, but after a while it becomes a part of you."
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