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Review: Apple’s Mac Mini

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If you’re thinking of switching to a Mac but don’t to want to give up your current monitor and keyboard the best solution would be the Mac Mini.

This is a standalone Apple computer that can fit discreetly on your desktop but still has the same processing power as a laptop or iMac.

The recently upgraded model features the latest Lion operating system and is up to twice as fast as its predecessor and now includes Apple’s Thunderbolt port for high speed data transfer.  

Mac Mini also has improved graphics performance courtesy of the Intel HD or AMD Radeon HD graphics processors for smoother video viewing, video editing and gaming.

DESIGN

The Mac Mini is not called mini for nothing. It’s only 19.7cm square and 3.6cm high which makes it small enough to fit on any desktop.

Apple's Mac Mini is 19.7cm square and 3.6cm high

On back of the device are four USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet port, FireWire 800, SD card slot, Thunderbolt, audio in, headphone jack and a HDMI connection.

The HDMI port is particularly handy because it can be used to connect to a regular monitor using the included adaptor or to the best monitor in your home – your high definition television.

Also on board is wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity so user can easily connect wirelessly to the internet and to peripherals.

One thing you won’t find on the latest version of the Mac Mini is the DVD drive. The slot loading DVD used to be on the front of the device but now that option has been taken away.

There are lots of connectivity options with the new Mac Mini

And the odd thing is the removal of the DVD hasn’t resulted in the product being any smaller. Fair enough not having a DVD drive in the MacBook Air keeps it thin and light but the Mac Mini has hardly changed without it.

We would have preferred to keep the onboard DVD but now a separate DVD superdrive – the same USB peripheral which can be used with the MacBook Air – can be purchased at additional cost.

And of course, it’s also BYO keyboard, mouse and display.

PERFORMANCE

We decided to connect the Mac Mini to our 46-inch full high definition Samsung LED TV using a single HDMI cable.

It was amazing so see the Mac desktop on such a grand scale and in HD.

We connected an Apple wireless keyboard and even a mouse and were able to navigate the desktop and use the Mac Mini like a regular computer.

A wi-fi connection to our network and we were browsing web pages full screen and connecting through other apps like iTunes.

The Mac Mini can easily be connected to your high definition television

Suddenly apart from a fully-fledged computer, the Mac Mini can also be a pretty powerful media centre. All of our content like pictures and videos were also enjoyable in full screen.

It can turn a regular TV into a smart TV .

Now remember that Thunderbolt connection? With the Mac Mini set up in such a way, imagine how easy and fast it would be to import and export video to view or edit on a larger screen.

The Mac Mini is easy to upgrade thanks to the easy access panel on the bottom of the device

Even when connected to a larger monitor – like a 30-inch model – offers the sort of real estate that is valued like film and photo editors.

Editing your movies on a high definition screen like the one we were using brought us even closer to the task.

Speed was never a problem and the Intel Core i5 processor (it’s possible to opt for the i7) easily got through the heaviest processing tasks with ease.

Upgrading the Mac Mini is also quite easy thanks to the easy access bottom panel. This makes it a snap to upgrade your RAM up to 8GB.

VERDICT

The Mac Mini is a pocket rocket and its small size should never discount its impressive abilities and power.

The only downside we found was the removal of the DVD drive which, when considering how easily the device connects to your TV, we found puzzling.

But overall the Mac Mini is still an impressive computer which gives the user the opportunity the freedom to use it in a way that best serves their needs.

Mac Mini

Price:

$699 – Mac Mini 2.3Ghz dual core Intel Core i5, 2GB RAM, Intel HD Graphics 3000, 500GB hard drive.

$899 – Mac Mini 2.5Ghz dual core Intel Core i5, 4GB RAM, AMD Radeon HD 6630M, 500GB hard drive.

Four stars (out of five)

www.apple.com.au