“The Mac mini removes the biggest barrier to Mac OS X adoption – price.  It’s not the cheapest computer that you can buy, it’s not the best performance that you can get for the money, but it is the cheapest ticket to OS X out there, and we’re here to see if it’s worth it,” Anand Lal Shimpi writes for AnandTech.

“Apple has effectively made their computer into something that doesn’t seem like one at all, perfect for those who are intimidated by computers, but definitely leaves those of us who aren’t feeling somewhat strange – not in a bad way, and not in a good way, but just in a different way.  If every other computer manufacturer in the world made their computers and boxes look like the mini’s, then I’m sure that the feeling wouldn’t be so strange; but the fact of the matter is, they don’t, and the Mac mini is different – and you know that before you even hit the power button,” Lal Shimpi writes. “You have your handful of users guides, warranty information and the usual paperwork that comes with any computer, but with the mini, it all seems a lot “cooler” for some reason.  Everything is well made, well put together, and well, mini.  Once again, I wasn’t reminded of a computer; I was reminded of buying something from Bose or Mercedes.”

“The Mac mini appears to be just as solid as Apple’s other desktops, running non-stop without any performance or stability degradation, thanks to careful selection of hardware, extremely controlled driver updates, and the very robust Mac OS X.  Right now, one of the most attractive elements that the mini can offer to beginning computer users is safety and protection from viruses, spyware and pretty much all other forms of malware,” Lal Shimpi writes.

“Apple did a very good job with the mini. They effectively completed the transition of the entry-level computer into a commodity.  To the average joe, the Mac mini isn’t a computer – it’s another iPod or DVD player, just a lot better and a lot more feature-filled.  It’s a DVD player that can edit and create DVDs, and it’s an iPod that can make and play music, and it’s a box that you can retrieve your email,” Lal Shimpi writes. “To the rest of us, it’s a small, quiet, stylish looking box that finally breaks down the price barrier to Mac OS X.  As a second system for any PC user, the Mac mini can’t be beat.”

There’s much, much more in the full article here.