Wouldn’t you know as soon as I admit a typo mistake about 8 gigs of RAM in a Mac Mini in the July issue Digital Help, the following week Apple Announces an all new Mac Mini that will allow just that much RAM to be installed. No , I did not know about the new Mini, I did make a mistake. Ahead of the times? Well, that is usual for me, but I did not see a new Mini coming in my psyche.
I have owned and used Apple Mac Mini’s from the beginning of the model. I now work three of them pretty hard, and they do it all very well. Even so, I have been reserved in my recommendations to users. But with this new model I believe if it runs and lasts as well as my previous Mini’s, it is now an ideal computer for any photography enthusiast. Besides now coming with 2GB of RAM expandable to 8GB, it also has a 2X faster NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated video graphics support to the display. It also has built-in support for the latest 802.11n Airport Extreme WiFi networks, as well as Bluetooth 2.1. A 2.4 GHz Intel Core Duo processor with 3MB of shared L2 cache, runs this new Mac Mini computer.
The package is a bit wider at 7.7 x 7.7 inches, but is only 1.4 inches tall, and is now encased in a cast aluminum housing, with easy access to the interior from a removable bottom panel that provides easy access to the RAM installation. And unlike previous Mini’s, this new one has a built-in power supply, so the far left side of the rear has a household power input socket. The connector interfaces on the rear are somewhat different, still with a Gigabit Ethernet socket, FireWire 800 socket, and then a new HDMI socket for direct connection of video and sound to an HD TV, and the Mini DisplayPort, as well as four USB 2.0 connectors, and also a new SD card slot, and both in and out audio connectors.
The one main component in the new Mac Mini I have not mentioned is the 320GB hard drive. It can be upgraded by Apple in a sale to a 500GB unit, but that is really not that much larger. Some of the tech expert writers in hardware suggest a better way to expand Mini hard drive capacity is with an external Hard Drive. From my experience I would agree with that as I have used several brands of external FireWire connected and designed to sit under the original Mac Mini drives. The most recent one I have purchased through the Apple Store is an Iomega, unit and like others adds a powered hub of USB 2.0 connectors as well as additional FireWire sockets. If an external drive has a problem, replacing it is easy and you can do it yourself, and does not require an expert Apple technician to go into the guts of a Mini.
There are three functional, necessary items not supplied with an Apple Mac Mini. One is a display, so a photographer buyer has the option of selecting a good LCD display that supports color managed and brightness adjusted performance for matching printing and other output of digital photographic files. If you already have a keyboard and mouse, most USB models will work with the Mac Mini. However, I have found Apple’s latest keyboard very comfortable and efficient, and the USB wired models are affordable for their high level of quality. I was once an exclusive PC Windows user, and still use the Microsoft Office Suite of applications for the Apple Mac. I find the Microsoft made mice with their Apple software support for right button functions is an advantage and works well with a Mini for most mousing needs.
The basic Apple Mac Mini now comes in just one model instead of two, but there are many upgrades and additions that are available. The basic price now is $699, but for a serious digital photographer I would recommend ordering a Mac Mini with 8GB of RAM which adds $500 to the price. I have been doing fine with the older version and 4GB, so at least that much.
For a current PC Windows computer user making the switch is easy and and there really is not much to learn to adapt from one to another, Why do I say that? Well, I run both Apple and Windows applications on one of my Macs. There are two basic options, either install a copy of Windows you own as a dual boot setup using Apple;s Boot Camp; or my choice is to use a virtual software method, one of which is offered by Parallels (www.parallels.com) at a modest cost. Parallels supports running Windows in its own window, or running Windows applications in the Apple screen workspace. In addition other than Microsoft, many software companies publish their applications in both Windows and Apple versions, like Adobe, and if you are a registered owner and don’t have an Apple version installation disc, many of these companies will provide an Apple version for a modest fee for the additional Apple installation disc. In other words you can have all you have with Windows, and much more with an Apple Mac Mini.
I don’t yet have one of the new Mac Mini’s, but I already run my HD TV with a Mac Mini that replaced my cable box.Something to think about! The cost savings without the monthly bill for cable TV will pay for the Mac Mini I purchased in just a few months.