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Desktops readers: How we'll use the Mac Mini

Following Apple's introduction of the Mac Mini at Macworld, CNET asked readers what they planned to do with it.

Following the introduction of the Mac Mini at the Macworld Expo, CNET what they planned to do with Apple's diminutive computer (see photos). These are some of the more interesting (and unedited) postings:

Minimac as webtv
Posted by: Wing Yu
after i pick up a wireless keyboard and mouse, i'll plug it into my flatscreen tv and get cozy on the couch.

My thoughts exactly
Posted by: Michael Huynh
Mac Mini + HDTV + EYETV 500 = a great home media center with DVR abilities.

Mobile Entertainment Computer
Posted by: Yadong Liu
I happen to mostly agree with Om Malik on this: use the Mac Mini as a mobile entertainment computer.

I absolutely agree
Posted by: Dave Barnes
Our small company builds websites and creates marketing collateral.

We have 2 main computers: 1. Mac PowerBook (Which we use in the office as you would use a Mini. Logitech keyboard and mouse, Apple 20-inch display, LaCie FireWire 400 drive, iPod, Canon 300D camera.) a. 1.33 GHz CPU: slower than the $599 Mac Mini b. 60GB, 4200 rpm disk: smaller and slower than the $599 Mac Mini c. GeForce 5200, 64MB video: slighly faster than Mini d. 768MB RAM: you can upgrade the Mini to this 2. Windows whitebox a. 1.8 GHz AMD Athlon: about same performance as Mini b. Radeon 9000, 64 MB video: less power than Mini, but more memory c. 80GB SATA, 7200 rpm disk: faster than Mini d. 512MB RAM: you can upgrade Mini to this

Both machines do an excellent job of running all the software (Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, browsers, email, contact managers, iTunes, iPhoto) that we need to run our business.

What I have concluded, after buying PCs and Macs over the last 10 years is: 1. For business use (not gaming), any CPU speed greater than 1 GHz is probably enough. When I upgraded from my 900 MHz machine to my current 1.8 GHz machine, only program (WebTrends) ran noticeably faster.) 2. More memory is better. 3. Low-end graphics cards are good enough. 4. Rotational disk speed has a huge influence on performance. It is the major weakness of our PowerBook.

Is the Mini perfect? No. Are any low-priced machines perfect? No.

My conclusion: The Mac Mini has plently of horsepower for 90% of the computing public.

A little of everything
Posted by: David Guzikowski
First my g3/400 is about to keel over. I use it for graphic design, web design and programming. The Mac mini will be used for design, and programming. I'll start to dabble with audio and video. Web surfing, and email. and i'll prolly hook the mini up to my tv get a wireless setup and enjoy from a more comfortable place. I bought a mac mini that first night, with options and taxes came to about 750. i'm thrilled, and when i have money i'll be getting a g5 tower/or laptop. The windows box is used for testing websites, and that's it.

Mac Mini will retire 400 mhz G4 Tower
Posted by: Michael Walker
I'm an IT Director. My employer will regularly pay for me to update my home based Windows computer, however, since Macintosh computers are not used at my office, Mac purchases are a personal expense. I have a 7 year old Platinum G4 Tower. Specs: 400mhz G4, 10gb HD, 128mb RAM, DVD player, OS9.

Upgrading the ram, hd, os and installing a burner, nearly adds up to the price of a new Mac Mini, and would still leave me with a older and slower G4 and related system bus.

My Mac usage is quite simple these days. Web browsing, ripping and storing my CD collection with iTunes, archiving JPEG photos from my digital camera. I have never installed additional equipment inside my G4 Tower (video cards or extra HD), nor have I pushed the capacity of the external expansion ports. The only accesories plugged into my G4 Tower would be my USB digital camera, and my original 5gb Firewire iPod.

I wanted a new iPod, but they require OS X, and OS X required all those upgrades to my G4 Tower, sooo...

The Mac Mini makes perfect sense for me (and yes, I'll use my existing mouse, keyboard and 17" Apple video monitor.)

Need a few cheap editing bays
Posted by: John Higgins
Hmm... I'll use one in the living room for music, one for WiFi, one for editing... Then I'll string a few together and make myself my very own personal superomputer! =)

Not for me.
Posted by: Todd Ouzts
I've owned many Macs since 1984. What's misleading about the Mac mini is that Apple doesn't show you all cables and power bricks that will clutter your workspace. The only reason to buy this Mac is if you already own all the accessories. Otherwise, you'll spend a fortune just making this thing usable. The iMac is a far more elegant solution for not much more money.

It can be clean if you want it to be!
Posted by: Jonathan Fingas
It's obviously not going to be as clean as an iMac G5 setup, but then that's not an easy feat with any computer.

However, you can still find ways to clean it up. For example, odds are that the power brick will sit on the floor, not on the desk. You only have to have one cable coming out of the Mac if you have a keyboard with a USB hub in it. And of course, if you're willing to spend the scratch, you can get Bluetooth and 802.11 to eliminate the need for input or networking cables.

Even if you have everything plugged in, it's still going to be a lot easier to deal with the clutter on a Mac mini than on a much larger x86 mini-tower.

Educational a/v projector
Posted by: Jeff Earl
we are going to use it as the head of an a/v projector system on a mobile cart. But that's just a start of what we can use this for.

Server appliance ...
Posted by: My Self
This would do a real nice little server appliance.

Judging by the wild success of Cobalt appliances (before Sun bought/killed it), there is a market for such an easy to setup/use/upgrade/backup server, with the added benefit of OS X for easy administration.

Call that The NetPod ...

WebTV and Cube replacement
Posted by: Ed Faulkner
My parents bought a new LCD TV w/computer inputs. I told my dad about the Mac mini and he's going to connect one to the LCD for email/web stuff. My bro has been considering a processor upgrade for his G4 Cube, but for $499 the mini is a better replacement! And I like the iTunes/iPhoto idea someone posted here!

nubu Cluster
Posted by: Luis alejandro Masanti
I can't afford this idea, but a bunck of Minis get togheter with an Ethernet router/switcher and Xgrid may build a miniCluster for science or rendering

Mac Mini cluster
Posted by: Chris Gulker
Heh... I put this on my blog as soon as mini was announced... someone will try this just because you can.

Question is, where might you get price/performance that you can't get just by buying a G5? A mini cluster gets up to serious money relatively quickly, and the slow front-side bus and relatively slow G4 are going to gate perfromance.

One place mini clusters might appear is in education. If schools buy lots of minis, you'd have a de facto supercluster that might have hundreds of minis available overnight and on weekends. If nothing else, it would be instructive for students to set up and learn about clusters...

Best performance/cost supercomputer
Posted by: Victor Pereyra
I would put 1,000 of them together to get a teraflop supercomputer for applications that do not require a lot of inter-processor communication and also would fit in a small space and at low cost ($1 M?).

de facto clusters...
Posted by: Chris Gulker
It's easy to imagine the mini being popular in K-12 education... might help Apple get some sales back from Dell.

A scholl that has a few dozen or hundreds of minis would be a de facto cluster available afternoons, over night and weekends...

It will be 3rd computer in KVM switch.
Posted by: Old Warez
I have always wanted to get my hands on OSX (especially Tiger). But I don't have an extra desk to install an eMac and the $1600 base price of the Power Mac would make for a very expensive toy.

The $500 mini is a perfect fit. Mini PC's are just as or more expensive than the mini and they are also twice the size. The mini is a 6.5 inch square and 2 inches tall! If I wanted I could transport it from home/work like a laptop with a docking station.

Apple's market share will probably double by the end of the year.

3rd computer in KVM switch
Posted by: Ralph De vries
I don't understand why people (Apple, etc.) don't push the KVM switch setup. This would allow ANY user to use 2 or more computers (Mac-Mac; Mac-PC) at the same location with the same keyboard/monitor which is already in place. JUST FLICK THE SWITCH!!!!

This would really push the "Switch" campaign to the MAX

How will I use it? How about WHO will use it?
Posted by: Blah Blah
Perhaps Steve Jobs could moonlight as a snake charmer, because every time he plays that marketing flute of his, the media falls under the spell. The "mini" is indeed aptly named, given Apple's miniature marketshare. Let's get back to discussing technologies the rest of the world uses, thanks.

Apple has small market share. . .
Posted by: Jon Hanson
but it has always been a leading innovator. In contrast, Microsoft imitates what others do, often poorly, and uses it's control of Windows and monopolistic tactics to knock off competitors. A great deal of what is interesting in the computer world these days is coming out of Apple. You'll just have to deal with it.

Grew up on MAC /Build windows servers...I'm getting the MINI!!!!
Posted by: Josh Slade
I'm 22 years old. I grew up on apples since i was little. My dad always warned me of the "dark side". My earliest mac i could remember was the good ole performa 600 with 120mb of hard drive. It was great. I used Macintosh right up until OS 9. I love computers and networking. At that point I went to school for windows (feasable at the time...only way to make money). Also at that point I've yet to own a MAC. At work I'm known as the Windows guy. I build Windows Servers for an enterprise. I always have my hands in Cisco and Red Hat. Had my MCSE when I was 19 and my CCNA when I was 20. Unfortunatly I have had a void since I left the "cult of mac."

But still can't shell out enough dough to buy a Apple to compete with my dad. I miss them. So when I saw the rumors come true. I went frantic. There is no way I'm passing up a $499 apple mac mini to sit on my desk. Can't wait till I'm playing with it. I'm counting the days!! Soon the void will fill!

I think apple was genius to release it cheap and keep the cost down by not including moniter keyboard etc. I'm not switching persay. Since Windows is my work. But for play, it's definitely the Mac, GLAD TO BE BACK!!! It's perfect for a switcher. It just works. And Apple has done it again.

Cheap Cluster
Posted by: Ernest Williams
I am surprised that I hadn't heard more about this use. With x-grid you could start small and then add to your cluster as you can afford to and you can have Virginia Tech calling and asking for time on your cluster.

mac mini
Posted by: Ron V
I will use it to hook up a home media server/web access by attaching a HDMI to DVI cable to the mini mac straight to my hdtv. This will allow me to surf onscreen, show photos in my library, and access the internet through Airport Extreme.

Home server
Posted by: Dave Donohue
I plan to use a Mac Mini as a file server for my home and home office. I had been planning on assembling a cheap Linux server to use as a central repository for mp3s that my TiVo could draw from, but this makes things much easier and user-friendly. The Mac will go out of sight below the TV and can be accessed wirelessly.

Anytime new CDs are purchased, they can be ripped and transferred to the iMac which will appear as a network drive.

In addition, if/when TiVoToGo ever supports Mac, we'll use it to transfer shows and movies from TiVo for burning via the SuperDrive.

The Bluetooth capabilities will make it the transfer method for content to and from my Treo 650.

We'll also use it for displaying photos and movies on the TV and transferring them from cameras and recorders.

20" Widescreen + PC + Mac Mini + KVM Switch =
Posted by: John Doe
The above situation is what I'm going to setup. Frankly I have too much PC only software to simply give up the platform and I'm a big enough geek to handle Windows PITA-ness when it comes to patches/security/tweaking/etc.

That being said I'm pretty stoked about the Mini. The only thing that is irking me is that the Mini may not handle core video. Think about that a sec. Apple is releasing a system less then 6 months before Tiger and the system isn't going to be able to handle all the features of Tiger. That is just BS. Still for $600? Yah I?ll get one.

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