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Should the Mac Mini die?

I caught a quick article on AppleInsider this morning about the Mac Mini. We have a few of these hanging around our school, but it turns out they were pretty underpowered (I made the mistake of trying to set up a mini-journalism lab on serious budget constraints).
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I caught a quick article on AppleInsider this morning about the Mac Mini. We have a few of these hanging around our school, but it turns out they were pretty underpowered (I made the mistake of trying to set up a mini-journalism lab on serious budget constraints).

However, the idea of a Mac Mini has always appealed to me. Reuse hardware like monitors, keyboards, and mice and get into the Mac OS X on the cheap, right? They're incredibly tiny and use less power than the average laptop, so they can be thin clients, kiosks, web servers, file servers, print servers, media servers, etc. They even have built-in wireless, so they are easy to locate.

They have, however, largely become Apple's redheaded stepchildren, left to linger in a little corner of the Apple store with no real hope of updates.

Back to the AppleInsider article, though, and we see there might be hope for these slick little machines (at least in principle, they're slick), opening the door for more inexpensive options for us cash-strapped, Mac-loving ed tech folks. According to the article,

Apple appears to be taking its policing of the rumor mill to the phones, in one case dialing a customer who expressed concern over Internet reports on the Mac mini's fate to assure him the situation would be addressed in due time.

The real question, though, is should we in Ed Tech abandon this platform? After all, it's really cheap to build mini computers running friendly versions of Linux. Thin clients can be rolled out fairly cheaply as well. If you're in the market for higher end hardware, then Macs offer plenty of options at a competitive price with similarly configured PCs. However, if you, like many of us in Ed Tech, are on the lower end of the hardware purchasing scale, is the Mac Mini really relevant? Again, according to Apple Insider,

One of those feature revelations, to which AppleInsider can lend a nod, suggests that Apple will offer new options that will allow the systems to better cater to the server and storage markets for which they've become extremely popular.

"In ordering a Mac mini from Apple, there will be an option to have two SATA HDDs and eliminating the optical all together," the report said. "With the new Remote Disc introduced with the Macbook Air, this option will be tempting for many."

Will the price come down, too, if Apple introduces a Mini refresh? I love Macs, but at these prices, for their capabilities, I'm just not sure that some homegrown micro ATX-based Linux boxes wouldn't serve us better in this market.

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