Unboxing the Mac MiniAttention home-theater fans: Apple has updated its Mac Mini computer for the holidays. Molly Wood unboxes the 2012 model and gives her take on what she likes and what's missing from the device.
Now there's always talk about the iPad Mini and the new iMacs and the new Mac this and that, but hardly anybody talks about the humble Mac Mini or as I like to call it, the perfect home theatre PC. We have one here and we are about to unbox it. Alright. The Mac Mini, such an interesting little computer. It has pretty good specs and a ton of storage, and I assume that there's still making it to be kind of a home theatre computer, but meanwhile they're trying to sell you Apple TV boxes. In fact, look at how they highlight the connectivity on the box right off the bat. They're like USB, HDMI, FireWire, Thunderbolt. This thing, it's meant to be plugged in, empowering things. Let's get it out of here. It's kind of a brick. Pretty heavy actually. It's kind of funny. It's the graveyard of lost connectors, like they're still doing FireWire. Only on the Mac Mini, killed it everywhere else. Oh, look at this. It's like a really big Apple TV. Oh my God, so funny. It's like a computer. Look at that. Oh geez. Kind of a slippery computer. Alright. There we go. Simple, sleek, media receiver. Let's find out what we have in the box before we do our specs. Got our little instructional packet daily. Power, is this really the power rig for this thing? It's so little. Wow. I have to say. That doesn't seem like it would be a huge feature but that's a huge feature. There's no massive brick here. That is contributing to a tidier home theatre cabinet, and I approve. We've also got a dongle actually, an HD. It's looks like DVI to HDMI dongle which is pretty useful. So clearly, I mean as soon as you start taking this thing out of the box, you get the idea that this is meant to be part of your home theatre setup. It's just so interesting that they don't talk about it. They talk about Apple TV when this is so much more flexible. Alright. On to the specs. The Mac Mini comes in 2 versions. There's a 2.5 gigahertz dual-core Intel Core i5. That starts at 599 dollars. Or you can get a 2.3 gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge. That one, 799. It's configurable to up to 2.6 gigahertz by the way on that quad-core model. It weighs 2.7 pounds. That's about an inch and a half tall. It's 7.7 inches wide and deep, so it's a little square. The 599 model has 500 gigs of storage. The 799 model actually has a built-in terabyte. It has integrated Intel graphics and 4 gigs of onboard memory. That's configurable up to 16 gigs. Let's get to the port. There is Thunderbolt. You have a FireWire 800 port, 4 USB 3 ports, an HDMI port, an SDXC card slot so you could offload your photos onto this device, Gigabit Ethernet, audio in and out, and of course an IR receiver. Now one thing you'll note is that there is no optical drive on the Mac Mini. Apple is expecting you to download or buy all of your movies and TV from most likely iTunes. Also note that it does not come with any input devices. No keyboard or mouse, so you're gonna have to bring your own wireless keyboard or Apple's 69-dollar gesture accessory, if you want to use the new OS X gestures. Now the lack of optical drive for me is the biggest knock on the Mac Mini. As long as all your media is in the Cloud, then I guess you're okay with this, but to be honest I was hoping to buy this and then have a Blu-ray drive built in so I could watch movies on a big cinema display, and that could be a whole TV all on its own. Unfortunately, I'm not gonna be doing that, but if you own all of your iTunes movies, download from Amazon, things like that, this is a great web-enabled, fully-functioning computer to make part of your home theatre package. Check out our CNET review on that and happy shopping.