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Summary:

So Apple updated the Mac mini today. It seems it’s pretty much everything the rumor sites were saying, and I can’t help being disappointed. In my look at the various rumors, one thing I stated was that the price was out of line. I based this […]

macmini1

So Apple updated the Mac mini today. It seems it’s pretty much everything the rumor sites were saying, and I can’t help being disappointed.

In my look at the various rumors, one thing I stated was that the price was out of line. I based this on the value of the machine, not the usual ramblings from pundits about the economy. In my view, the mini is overpriced and the upgrades — which only make the machine more modern after nearly a year of stagnation — wouldn’t be enough. Oh, and thanks Apple for pulling the remote from the package, I’d probably just lose it anyway.

Unfortunately, there was no price change, and Apple did nothing beyond the updates to bridge the value gap. The base mini comes with 1GB of memory and a 120GB hard drive. That’s laughable. In a day when even the old, white plastic MacBook comes with 2GB, the base mini is still left stuck at one. Apple has all but admitted that 1GB isn’t enough and yet, there’s the mini, sitting there under-performing. A desktop, machine no less.

It’s probably just as well, since the base mini only has a 120GB hard drive. Geez, Apple, mini or not this is a desktop machine, save the 120GB drives for your base laptop, but a desktop machine deserves more. Thanks for including FireWire, so I can fill up the drive in about 10 minutes.

So, six hundred bucks gets me a 1GB machine that won’t hold much data. Six. Hundred. Dollars. Want a great keyboard or mouse? When you buy an iMac these are included (albeit now without a keypad), so moving to the wireless version of both is only $50. For the mini? Well, they’ll set you back $100, and that’s not even wireless; kick in another $30 for that.

Apple, did it never occur to you that even though this is a BYODKM (bring your own display, keyboard, and mouse) system, you might have, you know, encouraged people to buy your keyboard and mouse? A hundred bucks? Are you drunk? The potential new Mac user sucked in by the supposed low price of the mini, perhaps even thinking Apple’s not so expensive after all, is going to get a shock. I’m not suggesting a wholesale lowering of prices, but rather simply selling a bundle dirt cheap for new mini buyers at the time of purchase.

Finally, yes, you can get the 2GB of memory the machine deserves, and a decent hard drive (320GB), and it’ll only set you back another $200. Eight hundred bucks and you now have a desktop machine that’s at least in the ballpark. Of course, at that price the 2.0GHz processor seems a bit weak but, hey, only another $150 is needed to bump it up to 2.26GHz! Woo hoo! I have a decent machine now, and it’s only $950, though I still have to dig a keyboard and mouse out of the garage.

Apple, barring a reduction in price on machines that do not compete at all, you should have at least tossed in some things to increase the value proposition. The cheap keyboard/mouse bundle as mentioned above, a remote, and maybe a copy of iWork, perhaps. Oh, and that second GB of memory. At $600 I might feel better about that baseline machine. As it is, it’s difficult to recommend the mini to anyone. I’d push the MacBook, but then maybe that’s what you wanted.

It’s hard to think that Apple looks at the potential mini buyer with anything but a bit of disdain. How else would you describe taking a year to update a machine that wasn’t competitive, and replacing it with something even less so? I get the feeling mini sales are just brisk enough that Apple can’t kill the thing, though that would probably be their preference. It appears they’d sooner run Windows Vista on their corporate machines than make the mini a good value.

Oh well, guess I’ll focus on the new iMacs next, those look like a great deal.

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  1. Brian Bufalo Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Amen! I want to buy one as a media center. But no remote and crappy specs make this a dumb buy. And yet it would be perfect for that job! WTH.

  2. I totally agree with you. The mini is a huge disappointment and not desirable given the high price for limited specs. I have been looking to a secondary desktop/laptop for a while with the entry level Macbook being the best option so far; although what I am really waiting for is a 10″+ screen netbook that I can turn into a Hackintosh.

  3. Neuer Mac Mini at Anarchieblog Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    [...] nicht nur ich finde den neuen Preis einen Witz: Apple Updates the Mac Mini: More Modern, Even Worse Value [The Apple [...]

  4. ZEDenterprizes Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    In fact, I’d love to know (I’m sure it’s out there already), but what IS a good/relatively inexpensive media centre that’ll work nicely with an all-mac setup?

  5. I agree with the price, however, not necessarily about the keyboard/mouse issue. I got my Mini a couple years back, and it was a replacement for my Windows box. The whole idea was that I already had the keyboard, mouse, and monitor I wanted to use, so this was literally the desktop replacement I needed (with some memory upgrades of course). However, taking the remote out of the bundle just hurts. There’s no good reason for that. Come on.

  6. jobs..

  7. Well, I figure no remote saves you $5 towards the purchase of a real remote.

  8. I think people miss the basic point of the mini altogether. Why is it that, even though we are in a PC dominated world, people think that Apple should provide a computer that is equally priced? You dont see BMW doing their best to compete with a Civic-level car? Why? Because their product is fundamentally better. Go ahead and compare the amount of time and headache that goes into installing and maintaining a comparable Windows box with a mini. Add in the iLife suite and absence of AV apps mucking up your processor, and I guarantee that you wont even need to get to the parts about longevity, customer service and industrial design.

    I dont want to see Apple become the lowest common denominator computer maker. Nor, apparently do they.

    Yes, I agree, the mini COULD be more powerful and capacious. But it also serves as an excellent machine for the casual user (we use them for servers all the time). But again, the point is missed: If you want to edit photos, you really need to spend more than $1000 on a computer. And get a backup drive while youre at it.

  9. Well, like beauty, value is in the eye of the beholder. Just yesterday I upgraded a friend’s Intel Mac Mini from the original 512MB of RAM and 80GB HD to 2GB of RAM and 320GB HD. That doesn’t do anything about the graphics system performance, but it’s the best we could do for her system.

    In comparison, this new Mac Mini, which I’ve been waiting for a while, and HOPING it would come out with the feature set it has, is just perfect for my living room Media center Mac/Music server- though it will have an added HD for Video, the internal drive is OK for my full resolution music collection (320 GB model). And with dual outputs (something never before on a Mini) it will drive both the “control” panel monitor, and a projection display (DVI to RGBHV converter to an NEC professional video switching system (multiplexed with HD-DVD and Blu-Ray players on HDMI to RGBHV converters).
    USB output for digital audio is fed to a PS Audio DLIII DAC into the main sound system.
    Further audio upgrades and incorporation of audio testing is possible with the FireWire input.
    So, for me, the value proposition is quite clear. What is the alternative besides a $400 more expensive iMac that will run OSX? (the local monitor for control is an HP w1907, widescreen DVI input on sale well under $200 due to being discontinued).

    ~Jon

  10. Apple Updates the iMac: Big Screen, Small Dollars – TheAppleBlog Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    [...] marked contrast to the disappointing Mac mini update today, the iMac’s upgrades make great strides in keeping the value proposition for this [...]

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