Mac Mini Gets Nicer and Pricier

By  |  Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 8:57 am

Last week’s WWDC keynote may have been all iPhone all the time, but there’s a new Mac this week–a heavily revised version of the Mac Mini, Apple’s teeny-tiny desktop machine.

The new Mac Mini looks a bit like a 13-inch MacBook Pro that’s morphed into a squarish shape and lost its screen and keyboard. It has a “unibody” aluminum case with an integrated power supply, so the power cord is just a cord. It’s a  SD slot for memory cards. And it finally has HDTV output for easy hookups to HDTVs. Processor choices include 2.4-GHz and 2.6-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chips, and you get Nvidia’s GeForce 320M integrated graphics. As before, it doesn’t come with a keyboard or mouse.

Some of us remember when it was big news that Apple had finally released a $499 Mac. But as Apple has bumped up the Mac Mini’s capabilities and design, it’s also bumped up the pricetag: The Mini now starts at $699, for a version with 2GB of RAM and a 320GB hard disk. As usual, it competes with less elegant base-model Windows PCs that start at far lower prices (such as Dell’s $250 Zino HD–more on it in another post soon). And with the new starting price, it doesn’t qualify as a cheap computer.

Is there any particular significance to the Mini’s upscale, costlier redesign? A conspiracy theorist might conclude that Apple is making room for a whizbang all-new Apple TV box of some sort. But it’s probably pretty simple: The company likes making refined computers and caters to customers who aren’t very price sensitive and are willing to pay more for niceties like an aluminum case.

For what seems like forever, I’ve toyed with the idea of putting a Mini or Mini-like Windows PC in my living-room entertainment center (and maybe dumping Comcast at the same time). But I need to confess something: After years of sneering at Blu-ray, I’m sort of interested in it. Enough so, at least, that the Mini’s lack of it finally feels like a downside. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to whether Apple will eventually offer it, or manage to bypass it until nobody cares about shiny discs anymore?

 
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13 Comments For This Post

  1. Brian N. Says:

    I already use my mac mini to watch hulu, netflix, itunes TV shows on my HD TV. The resolution of the display ports are impressive. I don’t think Blu-Ray will be around for much longer so I’m not upset about the lack of one, although I would like to see apple roll out some 1080p media.

  2. shawn Says:

    i’ve had a mini hooked up to the tv for years now (since they put an intel chip in the mini), and we absolutely love it. coupled with an elgato eyetv, it’s pretty darn slick. I upgraded the ram to its max of ?whatever? a while ago, and for a cheap fix, it was great.

    honestly, I’m not really sure why I’d get a new one, and certainly not for the extra cash, though the new enclosure is pretty darn nice (of course, you realize that currently the wrong picture is displayed in your post).

    since I already have a ps3 hooked up to the tv, and the fact that it’s only a 720p, AND that netflix charges more for the discs, I’ve been uninterested in having blu-ray either. I’ve heard some stuff from apple that they’re just not ready to do blu-ray (sounded like it was that they didn’t think br was ready for prime time, though that seems strange following the death of hddvd).

  3. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    The worst part is the European price: Apple bumped up the European price from €549 to (Get this!) a whopping €799!!!

    Of course, this includes taxes, and the Euro did drop a bit, but let’s do the math in Belgium, shall we?

    €799 – 21% taxes = €660.33 = (at the current 1.23$/€ rate) $812.20
    That’s a $113.20 WE-HATE-EUROPE tax Apple invented.

    I have no idea what the eff Apple thinks it’s doing, but this is outrageous! Apple didn’t adjust prices during the long period the Euro topped 1.5$/€, but when it’s about bumping prices, they are eager to do so. If this is their new pricing strategy for Europe, I’m not buying anything from them any more.

    I have always defended Apple, because their prices were the same as other manufacturers their high-end products. But they themselves are proving how overpriced their products are, by offering way better deals somewhere else in the world.

    I’m reading a lot on blogs about the new price of the mini, but so far nobody addressed the outright unacceptable EU-US difference, why is that???

    (PS: anyone starting about shipping costs: a package the size of the mini would cost 30$ to send from Belgium to the US. That’s for one Mini, don’t tell me Apple needs 113$ shipping costs per computer)

  4. Allison Says:

    I heard rumors (unsubstantiated) that the iPad may be having a foreseen-but-perhaps-not-taken-seriously-enough affect on Apple’s computer sales.

    Namely, that people are buying an iPad and a desktop computer, eschewing the laptop altogether. They want the performance and comfort/large screen/full keyboard for working and more intense tasks, and the iPad works fine for having internet on the go and for shooting off the occasional e-mail, couch-surfing the Web etc.

    I can see it. If I didn’t travel for work and need the full power of the laptop on a regular basis, I could make do with an iPad in conjunction with a nice desktop computer at home…

  5. heulenwolf Says:

    I think Apple will embrace bluray one day but more likely starting with the Mac Pro towers as a video/data disc authoring/burning feature and not for commmercial video playback. DVD is becoming too small to bother with as a data archiving medium for music- and video-laden hard drives and bluray’s order of magnitude higher capacity is too useful to ignore indefinitely. If the bluray consortium lowers the power-sucking, constant hardware monitoring requirements for commercial video playback, then it may be a different story and we may be watching bluray movies on a Mac Mini. Until they lose some load from their “bag of hurt,” though, I don’t see it happening.

  6. rdp Says:

    I am waiting for a blue ray player with built in Google TV.

  7. Kirk Says:

    I have one hooked up to my TV. Use it with Boxee and Hulu Desktop app. I don’t care about shiny discs. I get Netflix, but I rip those discs while I’m at my computer because I get annoyed if relaxing in the living room involves any more work than picking up a remote.

  8. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    > Anyone want to hazard a guess as to whether Apple
    > will eventually offer [Blu-Ray], or manage to bypass
    > it until nobody cares about shiny discs anymore?

    I think that point has already passed for the majority of consumers. I definitely don’t care about optical discs anymore.

    The argument for Blu-Ray versus iTunes or Netflix is the same as for CD versus iPod: gain a little fidelity for the cost of disc shipping, handling, management, storage, skips, scratches, kludgey playback controls, and lack of portability. Not interested! I have iTunes and Netflix in my iPad, and I carry a MacBook Air with no optical drive. It’s way too late for optical discs for me. If you give them up entirely you gain so much more than you lose.

    I don’t think Apple will ever do Blu-Ray. I think they consider the optical disc to be obsolete, same as browser plug-ins. Both have more pain than gain right now. Apple’s new and very successful consumer platform doesn’t have any moving parts, not even mini hard disks, so it is unlikely to get optical disc players. They are putting those engineering resources into things like 300+ dpi screens. Also, the sooner the movie studios get over their optical disc fixation, the sooner we will see the $5 HD movies in iTunes change from rentals to purchases and people will buy 10x or 100x the number of movies from iTunes than they do right now.

  9. Tom B Says:

    Don’t care about the TV capabilities; it’s a hell of a powerhouse machine for the price. I want one.

  10. Mike P Says:

    > The worst part is the European price: Apple bumped up the European price from €549 to (Get this!) a whopping €799!!!

    Bouke,

    blame your government. What did they do to protect the value of the Euro? Apple apparently expects the value to degrade even further in the future (that is until the next revision of the mini comes out, since they usually don’t change prices in between) and they are not alone. The german price uses an exchange rate of 1,04 €/$!

    I was in New York last week and when I planned the trip I thought about getting an iPad there. 499 $ plus 8,75 % sales tax divided by 1,35 (the exchange rate two months ago) would have made 401,97 €. At this price I could have imported the iPad in Germany without any import tax (there is a tax exempt amount of 430 €. If you go above that with a single item, you have to pay the tax on the full purchase price for this item.) Now, at 1,23 € the converted purchase price is 441,19 €. Therefore, buying in the U.S. is no alternative anymore and I would have to buy it at a price of 499 € at home. That’s a loss of 97 €. I know who to blame here (We had three different governments in the last ten years).

  11. George Says:

    Will the new Mac Mini play the high def audio formats associated with blue ray through its HDMI port via Apple’s drivers and audio chip set? I want a computer and entertainment combo that will be able to present a quality experience. Audio and high def video are still lacking with Netflix and Hulu although I view and listen to both on occasion. I wish for blue ray quality sound and video that would reside on my hard drive but am not sure Apple can deliver. As for the shiny blue ray disks, my Oppo is unbelievable! Guess I will Have to keep those damn shiny disk libraries for some time to come. Seems like too much of a hassle to copy to my hard drive for convenience sake. I am a music videophile.

  12. jltnol Says:

    Apple has never been interested in making it easy to enjoy content from sources other than the iTunes Store, hence no Blu-Ray player.

    And yes, you should be interested in Blu-Ray, as it is the pinnacle of home video technology these days, in ways that NO streaming or download service, including iTunes can come near.

  13. Aktariel Says:

    Blu-Ray is the pinnacle of home video technology?

    Really?

    1080p is not unique to BluRay. Nor is DTS. The video codec used is H264/AVC. These are pretty much what makes BluRay so special – unless of course you’re talking about the utterly delightful AACS.

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