Mossberg: Apple’s new Mac mini ‘a solid addition to any entertainment center’

“This is a review of an interesting new entertainment-center component that happens to also be a personal computer — a computer fully capable of, say, creating a spreadsheet, but one you might never use that way. This new product also happens to be a new Macintosh model from Apple Computer, but, in its entertainment-system role, it works perfectly with Windows computers,” Walter S. Mossberg reports for The Wall Street Journal. “The new gadget is the latest version of Apple’s tiny Mac Mini desktop computer — a petite silver and white box that’s just 6.5 inches square and stands just two inches tall, small enough to tuck away on a shelf near a TV. This Mini costs $599 and doesn’t include a monitor, keyboard or mouse.”

“The most important thing about the new Mac Mini is that it comes with Front Row, Apple’s handsome software for controlling a computer from across a room, and with the tiny, simple remote control Apple designed to work with Front Row. You can just plug it into your TV and home audio system, fire up Front Row, and watch any videos stored on its hard disk, listen to any songs it holds, or view any photos it contains. It also plays DVDs,” Mossberg reports. “Even better, this new Mini can automatically find — and stream to your home entertainment system — all music and videos stored on any other computer on your home network, whether Windows or Mac. All that’s required is that the other computers be running Apple’s free iTunes software. The Mini can’t stream photos from a Windows PC, but it can do so from another Mac.”

“In my tests, all of this worked fine, and I can recommend the new Mini with Front Row for anyone who wants to play back, on a home entertainment system, media stored on a computer or multiple computers,” Mossberg reports. “If you click on ‘shared music’ or ‘shared videos’ in Front Row, the Mini will search your home network for other computers, and list them. I was able to stream music and videos from my Hewlett-Packard desktop and my IBM ThinkPad laptop, both running Windows XP; and from my portable and desktop Macs.”

“There were a few issues,” which Mossberg reports in the full article, but “all in all, the new Mini is a solid addition to any entertainment center,” Mossberg reports.

Full article here.

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Related articles:
PC Magazine review gives Apple Mac mini 4 out of 5 stars – March 08, 2006
Chicago Tribune: Apple’s new Intel-based Mac mini might make you switch from Windows – March 07, 2006
Mac mini 6-button remote, Front Row typify Apple’s ‘sophisticated simplicity’ strategy – March 06, 2006
Reader report: 1080p 24fps playback on Mac mini Core Duo plays fine – March 03, 2006
Apple Mac mini’s Intel GMA950 Integrated Graphics Core reviewed – March 01, 2006
Apple’s new Mac mini a HDTV media center in disguise? – March 01, 2006
Apple’s new Mac mini: perfect for HDTV – March 01, 2006
Analyst: Apple’s new Mac mini ‘a good first step into the living room’ – February 28, 2006
Apple introduces new Intel-based Mac mini – February 28, 2006

18 Comments

  1. Overheard in the checkout line at the supermarket:

    Woman Shopper: “Gee, I can’t believe they’re out of humble pies already! They just went on sale this morning.”

    10-year old kid: “Yah. I think it has something to do with this fat scrotum sack of a jackass named ‘MacDude’.”

    Woman Shopper: “What do you mean?”

    10-year old kid: “Ohh, well, this rod-jockey apparently opened his fat pie hole one too many times on some Mac forum on the internet. Now the big load has to eat so much pie that there’s none left for the rest of us normal-size folk. What a knob-gobbler, huh?”

    Woman Shopper: “Young man, do you really think you should be talking like that?”

    10-year old kid: “Why the f*ck not? I just think he’s a motherf*cking asswipe. So do all my friends. And all my parent’s friends. I mean, this guy’s so pathetic that he actually knocks the Mac every chance he gets. Can you believe it?”

    Woman Shopper: “Really? Hmmm . . . what a f*cking shitstain ass monkey.”

  2. Great article — lots of facts. Apple has understated the Mac Mini’s importance. They are really running market tests by selling this low end computer and having creative people use it as a media center device. They will obviously be using the feedback generated to adjust/tune their architecture and software. For example; the problem Mossberg ran into with an all wireless approach needs to be addressed. The missing software pieces need to be added. Don’t you think a media center device also needs an iPod/vPod dock — right at the media center?

    The switch over to HTDV is supposed to be completed by 2009 — IIRC. The concomitant market for media center devices is huge. Apple needs to finalize its candidate architecture, hardware and software and put it on the market. The time is coming to get those chairs airborne in Microsoft’s boardroom.

  3. I could see using the mini in a render farm situation. There is quite a lot of horse power inside one of those little boxes. I could pack a lot of those into my studio and set them up with remote desktop. Something for the future perhaps…. When Pro Apps are UB.

    The graphics processor is shit but perfectly fine for web browsing and movie watching etc.

  4. Mossberg just says it the way it is. If he was Apple’s payroll, he would not have mentioned that there were problems with wireless streaming of videos.

    I tried this at the Apple Store, streaming a couple of 320×240 iPod videos and one HD trailer for 16 Blocks. The two minis (the playback mini was a Core Duo, the one with videos stored was a Core Solo) were on the same counter at the Store, and I think it was going wirelessly but I didn’t check. The HD trailer worked smoothly; no skipping that I could see. One of the iPod videos was real jumpy but I think it must’ve been the networking. And Front Row did stall a couple of times – leaving me with a black screen with no indication it was doing anything and making me exit back to the Finder.

    Anyone else try it out yet?

  5. Biggest complaint I have about the sharing of music and videos is the fact that Apple isn’t doing this from a client-server view. In order to share your music and videos, you must have iTunes running on each computer that you want to share from. That means you must be logged in to each computer. Which leads to another big problem. We have multiple libraries for iPhoto on our PowerMac at home. You can only share the photos of the library thats currently open.

    Its time Apple do something from a client server perspective instead of always thinking about the desktop only. Give us the ability to link to an iPhoto library or iTunes library over a local network from within the iLife apps. Sure, we can always create a share, but give us the ability to point to the address within your apps.

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