“The apparent result of a mandate to shrink different, the Mac mini is a pioneering computer that, unlike previous small consumer Macs, is going to make a really terrible aquarium. It is intended to attract those who might not be ready for an iMac, but who are perhaps i-curious. With a little software and a few hardware tweaks, though, it could be a superb set-top box,” Peter Rojas writes for Engadget.
“At a third of the price and a smaller fraction of the size of the HP living room offering, the Mac mini is closer to the price of an XP Media Center Extender than the Media Center PC that its capabilities approach. It has ample computing horsepower to play and optionally record DVDs, store thousands of music files, and produce beautiful OpenGL-based high-resolution photo transitions that are beyond the scope of today’s best digital media receivers. Rip. Mix. Ken Burns. It lacks video capture and an IR blaster, but these could be added through FireWire or USB at the expense of a little bulk. There are also several capable PC remotes on the market, but Apple could probably design a more elegant one,” Rojas writes.
“While the Mac mini’s hard disk options fall a bit on the wee side for a digital video recorder (especially if Apple continues to embrace its new high-definition religion), there are still plenty of TiVo-based DVRs being sold with capacities of 40GB and 80GB. The computer costs as much as an entry-level TiVo device and lifetime subscription before rebate and, unlike with TiVo, one could easily add an external hard disk for more storage. It’s a foregone conclusion that at least one company, perhaps Elgato Systems, will develop some combination to turn the Mac mini into a capable Windows Media Center competitor, but it will be impossible for anyone but Apple to market such functionality with the support that, say, the iPod has received,” Rojas writes.
Much more in the full article here.