“Apple’s new Mac Mini is the least expensive Macintosh to date. As befits Apple’s heritage, this Mac defies conventions. It weighs just 2.9 pounds, but it’s a desktop computer, not a notebook. It’s portable — but in the sense of moving from room to room, not home to office or city to city. Apple sells the 6.5-inch-square machine in a lunchbox-size package with a handle,” Edward C. Baig writes for USA Today. “Mac Minis start at $499, though the total climbs quickly if you boost the memory and supply often-needed accessories — such basics as monitor, keyboard and mouse. Even so, with the Mac Mini, Apple has fashioned a winner.”

“Mac Mini is something of a pioneer in the Apple universe, just as the freshly minted $99 Apple iPod Shuffle digital music player I reviewed last week breaks new ground. This computer may give Steve Jobs his best opportunity yet to wrestle some market share from the masses schooled on Windows-based personal computers,” Baig writes. “Many buyers have been reluctant to embrace Macs. In part, that’s because the computers typically command a premium over Windows PCs. And once all is said and done, the Mac Mini will cost more than comparable entry-level Windows machines. You could make the case, though, that with the software loaded on the Mini, you’re getting more bang for your buck.”

MacDailyNews Note: Kudos to Mr. Baig for that last sentence. It’s very nice to read someone who actually gets it and also writes it down for millions to read.

Baig continues, “Other factors could make Windows customers ponder a switch. Thanks to the iPod, legions of PC users have been wowed by Apple’s technical prowess. And the maddening virus/spyware epidemic may have led some Windows customers to beg for alternatives. (Macs have so far been immune to the scourge.) Some longtime PC users might now willingly invest in a Mac. Two things that truly set Mac Mini and all recent vintage Macs apart: the slick Panther operating system and the inclusion of the best-of-breed iLife multimedia software suite. iLife ’05 has the latest versions of iTunes software, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD and GarageBand (a recording studio application). Apple has also thrown in Quicken 2005 personal finance software… It’s the slickest little budget computer I’ve seen.”

Full article here.

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USA Today: Apple’s iPod shuffle should ‘send shivers through’ competitors – January 20, 2005