Apple invades the den with HDMI-ready new Mac mini

Sure, it costs around $100 more than the last edition, but Apple's newly-introduced Mac mini gives the company another angle on its front room play -- it comes equipped with an HDMI slot -- and is available today.

This means Apple has a Mac that's designed to play nice with your HDTV -- that the company shipped the product on the same day as the iPhone 4 is being made available for pre-order internationally underlines the way it continues to experiment with convergence culture.

This machine can bring all the elegance and power of desktop class applications to your television set -- today.

overview-hero.png

It is an excellent upgrade to Apple's cheapest Mac. Buoyed by Apple's leading-edge position with its iTunes media empire and high visibility among consumers on back of the iPhone, iPad and iPod, the release has a chance of putting a Mac inside the front room (and runs Flash).

The Mac mini server configuration, equipped as it is with an HDMI output and dual 500GB drives, seems particularly destined to become a home media server for Macs, and could make for some interesting business incarnations, also.

For TV, simply add an ElGato-powered USB video card and you've got a Tivo replacement which will also stream content around your home.

Add Front Row and an Apple Remote and you have a set-top box which isn't just a box -- a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse makes it a potential front room machine.

(Incidentally, reports of the death of FireWire also took a slap in the face -- the Mac mini includes a FireWire 800 port, which, in conjunction with its SD card slot further reinforces its multimedia credentials).

I think this new Mac should attract a lot of purchases among people who are interested in the concept of an Apple TV, but want something a little more well-featured and powerful.

Given Apple has made no noise yet about any future upgrade for Apple TV, many may simply opt to buy a Mac. This is the beginnings of Apple's response to Google TV, I think.

backmin.png

Lets take a few more moments to look at a few more specifics.

The new Mac is thin -- 1.4-inches thin -- and 7.7-inches square. It holds 2 GB of RAM and a 320 GB drive hosted in a MacBook Pro-inspired unibody compact aluminium shell.

The server model gives you 2.66 GHz and 4 GB of RAM, along with a dual 500 GB drive.

It offers twice the graphics performance of the preceding model, powered by the 48-core NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor.

Existing Mac mini owners will let out a ragged cheer on news that the new model hosts its own integrated power supply. That's good -- previous models have required a fairly hefty power brick.

In comparison to previous models, Apple has therefore reduced overall system volume by 20 percent and minimized cable clutter. (Who needs cable clutter for a front room Mac?)

overview_hero5_20100615.png

Expansion: as pictured above, there's an under-mounted removable panel if you want to pop in more memory.

Apple's eye on green computing remains, this model has cut power consumption by 25 percent to under 10W at idle, less than half the power required by competing systems.

Model specifications follow:

The new Mac mini is shipping today and will be available through the Apple Store, Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

The Mac mini, for a suggested retail price of $699 (US), includes:

* 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB of shared L2 cache;

* 2GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandable up to 8GB;

* a slot-load 8X SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW);

* 320GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm;

* NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics;

* AirPort Extreme® 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;

* Gigabit Ethernet;

* four USB 2.0 ports;

* SD card slot;

* one FireWire® 800 port;

* one HDMI port and one Mini DisplayPort;

* HDMI to DVI video adapter;

* combined optical digital audio input/audio line in (minijack); and

* combined optical digital audio output/headphone out (minijack).

Build-to-order options and accessories include up to 8GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, 500GB hard drive running at 5400 rpm, Apple Remote, Aperture 3, Final Cut Express 4, Logic Express, iWork (pre-installed), Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse, Apple 24 inch LED Cinema Display and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

The Mac mini with Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server, for a suggested retail price of $999 (US), includes:

* 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB of shared L2 cache;

* 4GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandable up to 8GB;

* two 500GB Serial ATA hard drives running at 7200 rpm;

* NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics;

* AirPort Extreme 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;

* Gigabit Ethernet;

* four USB 2.0 ports;

* SD card slot;

* one FireWire 800 port;

* one HDMI port and one Mini DisplayPort;

* HDMI to DVI video adapter;

* combined optical digital audio input/audio line in (minijack); and

* combined optical digital audio output/headphone out (minijack).

Build-to-order options and accessories include up to 8GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, External SuperDrive, Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse, Apple 24 inch LED Cinema Display and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

The Mac mini uses PVC-free internal components and cables, contains no brominated flame retardants and features material-efficient system and packaging designs. It meets Energy Star 5.0 requirements and holds EPEAT Gold status.

FREE Computerworld Insider Guide: Five IT certifications that won’t break you
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies