Unwrapping my Mac Mini

As I mentioned last week, I ordered a Mac Mini to tide me over while my ailing Powerbook goes in for surgery. Now that I’ve had the chance to play with it it’s a pretty nifty bit of kit, although setting it up wasn’t entirely smooth. A few random notes:

* Bit of a quality control problem: the DVI to VGA adaptor is broken, which means I couldn’t hook the Mini up to my monitor. Luckily the Powerbook uses the same adaptor, so I was able to grab that. I was really pissed off about it, though, which is daft: it’s only a cheap component after all, and it’s not unusual for such things to be broken. I think the problem is that I’m so used to Apple’s “it just works” experience that when something goes wrong, you’re more upset than you would be if you’d bought a Dell.

* The Mini can be a pain in the arse if you don’t have an Apple mouse and Keyboard. On boot, the Mini informed me that it couldn’t recognise my keyboard (a MacAlly IceKey) and promptly hung. Replaced the IceKey with an Apple keyboard and the mouse stopped working. Managed to get the “recognising your keyboard” screen without a system hang, downloaded icekey drivers and finally got the Mac to talk to my keyboard – a process that took over an hour. Ech.

* The Migration Assistant is brilliant: files, apps, network settings transferred across perfectly. Takes *hours*, though.

* Minis need RAM. Lots of RAM. This one’s got a 1.42GHz processor and half a gig of RAM; I reckon it needs double the RAM to be useful.

* Having an Apple logo on the top of the case that doesn’t light up seems wrong, somehow.

* The Mini really is hilariously small. I laughed when I took it out of the box.

* Does anyone actually play the games you get free with your Mac?

* People slag off Windows for the number of updates you need when you first buy a PC. When I connected the Mini to my Airport network, it downloaded about 200MB of updates – system, QuickTime, iPod etc etc etc. Thank god for broadband.

And, er, that’s it.

11 thoughts on “Unwrapping my Mac Mini

  1. Squander Two says:

    Apple do seem to have decided that loads of huge updates is one of Windows’ selling points that they need to compete with. Silly people. I ignore most of them: don’t use iTunes for anything but file conversion, for which the old version is fine; don’t have an iPod; can’t be arsed with Quicktime updates.

    The keyboard-and-mouse difficulty is ridiculous, since that’s the market the Mini is aimed at.

    I’m thinking of getting one. I shall bear in mind the RAM issue. I had assumed that half a gig’d be plenty.

  2. Gary says:

    > The keyboard-and-mouse difficulty is ridiculous, since that’s the market the Mini is aimed at.

    As far as I’m aware, non-apple keyboards need drivers for their volume controls and other doohickeys. Don’t have a PC keyboard kicking about to test whether they work OK.

    > don’t use iTunes for anything but file conversion

    If you’re converting to MP3, it’s worth downloading the LAME encoder for iTunes. Better sound (IMO) than the default MP3 encoder, and it’s free.

  3. Squander Two says:

    Cool. I may try that at some point.

    By the way, on the Mini: 1.25 versus 1.42GHz — significant difference? Any point in the 1.42 if you’re not editing videos, burning DVDs, emailing MP3s, and listening to music at the same time?

  4. Gary says:

    Nah, there’s not a massive difference – although as ever, it’s best to get the fastest you can afford. Might be worth waiting a week or so until the speed bumped ones come out.

  5. Stephen West says:

    Yeah, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the speed of the Mac Mini I bought for a client a while ago. RAM would probably help, as would an external hard drive: apparently there is a Firewire drive in a case that is designed to fit perfectly under the Mini, but it runs at 7200rpm, so you use it as your primary and the builtin as your backup, speeds up the Mini a lot so I hear.

    Was also disappointed that the Apple logo didn’t light up. Although the Powerbook logo lights up with the screen illuminator, so it makes sense.

  6. Gary says:

    good point about the drive, sir. Slipped my mind entirely.

    It’s quite interesting to compare the PB to the mini: they’ve both got similar processors but the PB’s got a better graphics chip, more ram and a faster drive. And the difference is night and day.

  7. Gary says:

    Sadly, I wasn’t one of the lucky ones. Which is rather annoying, but I couldn’t wait for the speed bumps – the only way to run the PBook was with the lid closed, which isn’t a good idea for a laptop. Bah.

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