The Good Sleek, living-room-ready aluminum chassis; HDMI video output makes it easy to connect an HDTV; SD card slot; user-accessible RAM; handles Web-based HD video with no trouble; best-in-class case design.
The Bad Puny storage capacity for its price; no Blu-ray hurts in a pricier living room system like this.
The Bottom Line Apple's new Mac Mini includes an elegant new design and some long asked-for features, including HDMI output and user-accessible memory. The system still faces a value challenge for its given specs, but Apple has done enough to improve the Mac Mini's appeal for Apple loyalists and design fans looking for a living room computer.
Apple Mac Mini (Spring 2010)
Apple's new Mac Mini answers a lot of the issues that have plagued the series over the years. An HDMI port helps it fulfill its potential as a living room system. An SD card slot gives a nod to digital photographers. A removable panel on the bottom provides user access to the system memory for easy upgrading. We like all of those additions, as well as the sleek, new design. HTPC enthusiasts and the value conscious will find the $699 Mac Mini too expensive for what it offers. They'll also miss Blu-ray. We expect those reservations won't prevent design fans and the Mac faithful from loving the changes Apple has made to both the form and the function of its tiniest Mac.
Say what you want about the new Mac Mini's features or its price, but the new chassis further secures Apple's standing as the best enclosure designer in the computing business. The new aluminum case carries with it all of the uber-industrial charm common to the iMac, the MacBook Pro, and the iPhone 4. At 1.4-inches thick, and 7.7-inches square, the new case takes up slightly more desktop real estate than the older 6x6-inch model, but it's also shaves half an inch off its height. Its dimensions also match those of the Apple TV and Apple's Time Capsule networked data backup device.
The old Mac Mini was always a living-room-friendly device due to its size. Despite its new measurements, the new model retains that same appeal. A few features and design adjustments push the Mac Mini-as-HTPC concept further. Chiefly, a built-in HDMI port simplifies the process of connecting the Mac Mini to a modern television. The previous model required you to purchase a Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter. Apple has also done away with the older model's cumbersome power brick. By moving to a simple power cable, says Apple, it achieved an overall 20-percent volume reduction in the Mac Mini's total hardware.
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