PC World takes first look at Apple’s Mac mini

“There was plenty of prognostication before Macworld Expo and opinionation afterward, but here at PC World, we know you care more about how a product performs in actual use. And today we got to try out a shipping Mac Mini, Apple’s new, entry-level desktop system,” Rebecca Freed writes for PC World.

“And the Mini is a solid little (emphasis on little) machine: If I didn’t love my G4 PowerBook so much, I’d be very happy to have a Mac Mini on my desk, and I can’t quibble with the price. The test unit that Apple sent us has 512MB of RAM (DIMM), plus built-in 802.11g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. These extras bump the price up to $703 from the base of $499, but that’s still a reasonably good deal,” Freed writes.

“Though it’s small–more compact than the average lunchbox–this system isn’t rickety. It handled most tasks I tried gracefully, without hesitating or freezing. The 512MB of RAM and the solidness of OS X 10.3 have a lot to do with that, but the 1.25-GHz G4 CPU also makes a difference. I opened half a dozen applications and switched among their various windows without any slowness,” Freed writes. “My bottom line? If I were recommending a starter system to someone (who hadn’t already taken a side in the Mac versus Windows holy war), I wouldn’t hesitate to send them in the direction of the Mac Mini.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Does it feel to you like Freed wants to say something about Mac OS X and the included software, but really doesn’t feel comfortable doing it in PC World? A “solidness of OS X” comment is the best this article can muster? What about iLife, Safari, Mail, iChat, iPhoto, and everything else included? For someone who loves her PowerBook G4, the almost total lack of mention of what really sets a Mac apart from a Windows box, the software, is a very strange omission. Maybe we’ll get more info later from PC World, as this article is just a “First Look.”

As for her so-called Mac vs. PC holy war, most Mac users have used both platforms (stuck with Windows at work) and clearly chosen Mac over Windows, but most Windows users have never touched a Mac, so they have no basis for comparison. It’s more like the informed vs. the ignorant holy war; it happens all the time, not just with personal computer platforms.

This article seems to carry some subtext. On the surface, it seems like a nice, quick, positive review of Apple’s Mac mini. But, notice how the Mac mini is positioned as a “starter system” in this article and that the Mac mini’s real target (Windows users looking to try out the Mac) are ignored. Maybe Freed meant to write “Mac starter system?” That would have worked much better. There are a lot of questions that are never answered: Is there a reason that Windows PC users shouldn’t try out a Mac? Why wouldn’t PC World want Windows-only users to try out Mac OS X? Why does an artificial protective fence have to be erected by dropping in the line about a Mac vs. PC “holy war?” Why would Freed write that she’d recommend the Mac mini as a “starter system” to someone “who hadn’t already taken a side in the Mac versus Windows holy war?” Why isn’t the Mac mini being recommended as a solid “first Mac” for any Windows user who’d like to give Mac OS X a try? Would that kill PC World or something? wink

Off-topic: PC World is owned by IDG which also owns Macworld – which gets us to thinking. We wonder how many potential advertisers there are for PC World vs. Macworld and what would happen if PC World’s readers suddenly dropped their subscriptions for Macworld? Would that hurt, help or not affect IDG financially? Would Macworld get thicker with ads and also with articles and content? Would PC world become a shell of what it is today?

And what of other media outlets, Wintel box assemblers, software developers, and other businesses that depend on solely or heavily on Windows? What will be their reactions to an inexpensive Mac that can introduce Mac OS X to Windows users? Surely they’re secure enough in their belief that the Windows platform is best for most people, so a little taste of the Mac platform and how it does things couldn’t hurt, right?

Another thought, if Macintosh became “popular” enough would companies that dropped Mac support in the past come back to the platform? If they tried, how would Mac users treat them?

41 Comments

  1. Bless their hearts. You know it’s got to be hard for them; the umbilical cord to MS is very long and very strong, but yet they are starting to get the courage and confidence to think about cutting it after all these years….

  2. Hooty…I must have beat you by a millisecond…

    I think we are going to see more headlines like these. Its a good time to be a mac user. Just wish I would have bought Apple stock three years ago like I planned.

  3. Being snowed in gave me a chance to fire-up my Mac-mini. I can put this guy in my brief case and set it up where ever in two minutes. My PowerMac 7600 just signed off for good. This product is going to be a big winner!

  4. Really, Pet and donnie are right. The cult is going to have to get a really big tent, and that bugs some of the formerly special.

    It is very impressive to me that the mini was kept relatively secret. It seems many were already in the pipeline when announced. I am assured the delivery date of my souped up model, Feb 3, is still good.

  5. It is possible she did mention it. It is also possible that the PC World editor’s rewrote it before going to press. It’s common business that stuff get’s cut out by the editors sometimes, stuff rarely is un-edited and goes straight to press.

  6. I also agree with Donnie. I really enjoy MDN, especially its harsh and justified criticisms of Enderle, Thurott, etc. But this is a nice piece for a PC mag, and getting all upset about it just makes Mac supporters seem radical and not worth paying attention to.

    Besides, I interpreted the “starter computer” thing a whole other way: For power-crazed PC users, it is a reminder that if you are open to a Mac, the Mini isn’t as good as it gets. There’s these Powermacs that really blow the doors off…

    And I know I might be the oddball here, but if iLife was all that sets Mac software apart, that wouldn’t do it for me. A rock-solid OS impresses me much more. Fixating on iLife actually lowers the appeal for someone like me, since it makes the Mac seem more like a toy.

  7. MDN clearly states “Off Topic,” so the following questions have nothing to do with the Mac mini review:

    Off-topic: PC World is owned by IDG which also owns Macworld – which gets us to thinking. We wonder how many potential advertisers there are for PC World vs. Macworld and what would happen if PC World’s readers suddenly dropped their subscriptions for Macworld? Would that hurt, help or not affect IDG financially? Would Macworld get thicker with ads and also with articles and content? Would PC world become a shell of what it is today?

    And what of other media outlets, Wintel box assemblers, software developers, and other businesses that depend on solely or heavily on Windows? What will be their reactions to an inexpensive Mac that can introduce Mac OS X to Windows users? Surely they’re secure enough in their belief that the Windows platform is best for most people, so a little taste of the Mac platform and how it does things couldn’t hurt, right?

    Another thought, if Macintosh became “popular” enough would companies that dropped Mac support in the past come back to the platform? If they tried, how would Mac users treat them?

    * * * * *

    I think the Wintel world is going to fight against Apple Mac with everything they have – unless they’re finally sick of malware and Microsoft’s BS, too!

  8. “Another thought, if Macintosh became “popular” enough would companies that dropped Mac support in the past come back to the platform? If they tried, how would Mac users treat them?”

    The Mac mini is a great strategic move by APPL. I believe it reveals how APPLE sees where IT and home computing is headed.

    1. The business world will move more and more to Linux.

    2. APPL and MS will compete for the home PC.

    MS got where it is today because IT wanted the IBM name on it’s PC’s, and home PC’s could use software “borrowed” from work. With IT moving to Linux, that ends, untill Linux has enough home PC applications, games, etc.

    The window of opportunity in home PC’s for the Mac is now. The mac mini is the first step.

  9. Good review. Yes, the Mac mini is a starter system – it’s the entry level system that Apple offers. It’s where you start if you’re not sure you want to jump in with both feet. The last sentence in it was a significant endorsement of the Mac mini by a PC-oriented publication. I hope the Mac iDiots hold back their spew and realize that it is a significant endorsement.

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