I am an admitted oddball, as well as a gadfly, so it is not unusual that the Apple product announcements today had me rather enthused by a new version of the Mac Mini computer. I have been favorable to Mac Mini’s since first introduced, and the last version I believe is the best choice for a digital photography enthusiast on a budget. And, with the new upgrade, chiefly much more powerful Nvidia graphics, which in previous models was maybe the weakest aspect of performance in terms of digital photography processing. But why this odd, ultra small Apple Mac? First at $599 as the entry level price it’s affordable even if that does not include a keyboard or mouse, and you have to also add a display. And that you have to choose a display is a great advantage, because for digital photography it is probably more important factor than the computer that’s running the display. Also new from Apple is a new compact wired USB keyboard similar to the recent and current but smaller Apple keyboard that are the best I have used. As for a mouse, you won’t believe this, but the USB Microsoft mouse that is optical and supports both PC’s and Mac’s, is the best both for ergonomics and right click support that is very efficient working with photo image applications. The one thing Microsoft makes that is the best!
The specs are respectable, but this is not a MacPro and a small fraction of the cost. It has besides the new Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics, a 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and either 2GB or I GB RAM base model and a 120GB HD or in the $799 model 320GB Serial ATA HD, and both models have 8X slot loading CD/DVD Super Drive with DVD burning. All Mac Mini have support for Apple Airport wireless networking and Blue Tooth, as well as 5 USB an 8oo FireWire and Ethernet support.
So far I have purchased three Mac Mini’s (the first now retired and on its way to a friends house), and I also have a MacPro, and find although the MacPro is very quick and powerful, the Mac Mini is never any kind of drag in comparison, The Mini handles all kinds of digital photography processing including handling Raw dSLR image files and really large scan file input and editing as well as driving medium and large printers.
Although the Mac Mini and MacPro are the only Apple Macs that do not come with built-in displays and offer digital photographers a choice of a good graphics display, that advantage is somewhat diminished by a rather small number of good choices. The great bulk of LCD displays available are made for the masses of the home/office market and most don’t provide good support for digital photography as well as being the cause of the “prints too dark” problem. And there has been little new in LCD displays for pro-graphics, Just new Eizo models that are a bit pricey if the consideration of a Mac Mini is budgetary, and a new and affordable NEC Multisync P122W. The rest that I can recommend is a short list I have been touting for some time now, including the NEC Multisync #90 series displays, the Samsung Syncmaster 245T, and my best buy recommendation, the LGE L2000Cp display.
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