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View Full Version : A MacMini for Moms?



Zundfolge
April 14th, 2005, 11:10 PM
So after announcing here (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=24214) that I was "switching" to Mac, several of you guys requested that I put together a little review when I get my Mini in under the notion that you where looking for a MacMini for your mothers. So I've decided to make that the central theme of this review; the MacMini ... a computer for non-computer people.

I'm not going to focus on the OSX vs. Windows and/or OSX vs. Linux issues as these have been discussed adnausium in other threads, instead I'm going to focus on the value aspects of the MacMini (in particular when compared to the other "value Mac"; the eMac ... which as luck would have it is what my wife bought a few months ago).

My MacMini is a 1.25ghz G4 machine with 512M RAM, an my wife's eMac is also a 1.25ghz G4 w/512M RAM.

Mine cost $603. That's for an Apple keyboard (I kept my Intellimouse), the computer, the upgrade to 512 (which frankly is necessary...I don't understand why Apple even considers selling them with only 256M RAM ... order the computer with the extra RAM because there's only ONE DIMM slot, and you void the warranty if you crack the case open yourself). My wife's eMac cost right at $900 (with the extra 256M of RAM for a total of 512)

First Impressions
Damn this thing is small! - 6.5" x 6.5" x 2"
Damn this thing is quiet! - No fans anywhere in the box so the only way you can tell its on is the little light on the front (well, that and if you look at your monitor and see a Mac desktop :razz: ).
this is one cool looking and well built little unit.
setup is a breeze ... even Moms should be able to hook everything up.
Unlike every other Mac, this one doesn't come with a keyboard or mouse ... MacMall has a deal where they give you a free mouse & keyboard (well free after rebate) but be advised that its NOT an Apple keyboard or mouse, but instead is an aftermarket one. If you go this route, call MacMall and make darn sure that the keyboard has extra USB ports on it because there is only 2 USB ports on the back of the machine, so if you have to plug in both a mouse and keyboard then you're done with more USB stuff).
If you have a Microsoft Intellimouse, use the Intellipoint 5.0 software, not the newer 5.1 ... the 5.1 software is bugged and won't recognize your Microsoft mouse.


Comparison to eMac
If you already have a monitor, the Mini costs less and looks cooler then the eMac and is dead quiet (this is actually more important to Moms then to most of you) however the eMac has the following advantages:
eMac comes with a monitor, keyboard, mouse and has two DIMM slots, so mem upgrades are easier (plus there's a little door on the eMac so if you install the memory yourself you're not cracking open your case and voiding your warranty).
For some reason the eMac felt just slightly faster ... it could be because my wife runs her eMac at 1280x1024 and I set the resolution on my Mini to 1600x1200.
The eMac has two FireWire 400 ports and 3 USB 2.0 ports (not counting the 2 USB 1.1 ports on the keyboard). The Mini has only one FireWire 400 port and 2 USB 2.0 ports (again, not counting the 2 USB 1.1 ports on the keyboard).
The eMac is significantly louder then the Mini when its just sitting there ... the eMac has a cooling fan in it.
the eMac uses a CRT so if you where wanting to switch to a flat screen or a screen larger then 17" you're stuck with the bulkier 17" CRT.



So the verdict is:

If you already have a nice monitor laying around or want to buy a flat screen then the MacMini is the better buy then the eMac (even if you have to buy a keyboard and mouse ... if thats the case, check into the MacMall deal ... one other advantage to the MacMall deal is that since Apple has stores in Colorado, I had to pay sales tax and wouldn't have had to if I went with MacMall...that was an additional $40).

If you don't have a monitor, then the eMac is the better deal.

Both should be nice computers for Moms and other non computer savvy folk.

I'm happy with my Mini because it does everything my PIII 450 running Ubuntu did (and a few more things, like share files and use the printer across the network more reliably) Plus I like OSX a lot.

One big downer is that I received my Mini on April 12th ... had I waited and ordered it on April 12th, I would have qualified for a copy of the new OSX Tiger for $9.95 ... instead if I want to upgrade it'll cost me $129 :(

zenwhen
April 14th, 2005, 11:22 PM
I am probably buying one right after Tiger releases. Your review is apreciated. However, the Mac Mini does have a low RPM fan on the CPU that turns on rarely. I thought that should be added.

poofyhairguy
April 14th, 2005, 11:25 PM
For some reason the eMac felt just slightly faster ... it could be because my wife runs her eMac at 1280x1024 and I set the resolution on my Mini to 1600x1200.

I have read that the eMac has a faster harddisk, that would explain it.

Very good review. Thank you very much. As soon as Tiger is the default, I'll talk my mom into one. Sorry to here you have to pay for an upgrade.

One thing you might want to try (I read this somewhere) is calling Apple and telling them that you plan to send the Mini back and reorder it to get Tiger. One person said that instead of a supervisor authorized a retail copy be sent to his house!

jdong
April 14th, 2005, 11:39 PM
When I go off to college, I'll be looking at getting a miniATX PC or a MacMini.... OSX is pretty awesome, as is Linux, so it doesn't matter ;)

Zundfolge
April 15th, 2005, 05:45 AM
One thing you might want to try (I read this somewhere) is calling Apple and telling them that you plan to send the Mini back and reorder it to get Tiger. One person said that instead of a supervisor authorized a retail copy be sent to his house!

Well here's what happened ... since I didn't receive my computer til April 12th, it means my computer was registered with Apple on April 12th so I qualified for the $9.95 Tiger upgrade \\:D/

poofyhairguy
April 15th, 2005, 08:33 AM
Well here's what happened ... since I didn't receive my computer til April 12th, it means my computer was registered with Apple on April 12th so I qualified for the $9.95 Tiger upgrade \\:D/


Good deal.

One last question:

I don't have much experiance with OSX. How big of a learning curve would it be to a windows person, and how good is the quicken?

lerrup
April 15th, 2005, 09:11 AM
aren't you tempted to do this (http://sowerbutts.com/linux-mac-mini/)?

(but don't forget the weak lemon drink...)

Zundfolge
April 15th, 2005, 10:20 PM
I don't have much experiance with OSX. How big of a learning curve would it be to a windows person, and how good is the quicken?

I don't know about the Quicken (I assume you're talking about the accounting software ... a copy of which comes with OSX) I haven't used it.

But the learning curve for a windows user switching to OSX is not that high ... and for a Linux user (especially a Gnome user) even less.

jdong
April 15th, 2005, 10:48 PM
The GUI learning curve is not steep at all. However, it'll take an afternoon with an O'Rielly OSX book before you can exploit 100% of the power of the OSX GUI (which, IMO, is superior to anything we have in Windows/Linux)

As far as the terminal, look into "fink" to get a more GNU/Linux-ish environment; by default it's more BSD-like.