We've had the Mac mini at the PC Doc HQ for nearly a week now and while the system isn't fully integrated into the ecosystem, it's not been left to gather dust either. So, with a week under my belt, I thought I'd pass on my initial thoughts about Apple's smallest member of the Mac family.
The first thing that struck me about the Mac mini is how small it is. I'd seen Mac minis on display in the Mac store but even that didn't prepare me for the small box I got handed at the cashier's desk. I expect hard drives to come in boxes that size, or maybe PSUs, not a whole computer. I'm pretty sure that my last cellphone came in a box bigger than the box that the Mac mini came in. But it's a solid, well-packed box. Just like the MacBook Pro that I reviewed earlier this year, there's nothing rattling about in the box at all.
I'll spare you the unboxing pornography but after I got home and unboxed the Mac mini, I got a few more surprises. Not only does the Mac mini feel tiny once you get it out of the box, but the power adaptor is gigantic by comparison. The thing is huge.
I got the system hooked up to an LCD panel and a Microsoft keyboard and mouse (oh, the irony!) and I hit the power button and waited ...
... and waited ... and waited some more. I hit the power button again. Nothing. I hit the power button repeatedly, they way that you do when trying to hurry up the elevator. Click ... click ... click.
Nothing happened. Uh-oh. I really hoped that I didn't have a DOA Mac on my hands. I rechecked the connections and discovered what my mistake was - when you connect the power cord you have to adaptor you have to press it home quite far. Seems I hadn't done this properly the first time around. With the power cord fitted properly this time I did another quick countdown and hit the power button again and the system sprung into life.
Since the system came pre-loaded with Tiger and I wanted to take Leopard for a spin, didn't spend much time investigating Tiger before nuking the install with the upgrade disc. If you're interested in reading about the upgrade process, you can do so here. The main thing to note is that the upgrade process seemed to go flawlessly (albeit a bit slow) and I ended up with a fully functioning Mac mini at the end of it.
The Mac mini is not only small but it's really quiet. I didn't really notice this until I hooked up an external hard drive to use with Time Machine. It's so quite that you have a really hard time telling that it's on and you have to trust that it's coming out of sleep mode because there are no sound cues (there's a light on the front of the Mac mini to tell you that it's coming back to life). This is the kind of system that you can happily have running in your living room without getting on your nerves.
We do have one problem with my Mac mini - the remote control doesn't work. I've checked it with video camera and there are no signs of life from it. I'll check the battery later just in case but my feeling is that the unit is dead.
Everything else seems to work just fine - network, WiFi, optical drive (personally I'm not too thrilled about slot loaders, but that's not really a big issue) - and the unit seems robust and very well put together.
If you're buying a Mac mini I'd recommend that you pick up a Mac keyboard too. I cheaped out and I'm regretting it already. I'm not doing a five hour round trip to pick one up, so I'll probably have to get one mail order.
All in all, we're very pleased with the new Mac.