Apple Updates the Mac Mini: More Modern, Even Worse Value


So Apple (s aapl) 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.