The Mac mini as a BYOD computer

Could the Mac mini become a popular choice for Apple-loving BYODers? I think it could.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

I'm sure you've kept up with my short, four-part Mac mini series (tell me you have) and I just had a brainstorm: It doesn't have to stay at home on my desk; I can take it to work. Well, OK, I can't take mine to work, but you might be able to take yours to where you work, if your company allows BYOD, that is. I think the Mac mini is a good BYOD candidate. It's small, it's lightweight, and it has everything required to connect into a corporate network. All you have to supply is a mouse, keyboard, monitor, and network. Sure, it's not as portable as a laptop computer but for a mobile desktop, it's the next best thing.

I'm a big fan of laptop computers. I love them. In fact, if you've been keeping up, I wanted a Macbook Air, when I got the Mac mini. I love laptops so much that I also wanted an HP Envy (which I've recommended to many happy buyers) or a new Z14 Ultrabook. When I first saw the HP Z14 Ultrabook, I think I saw a bright light and the sound of an angel chorus. I know, I know, stop digressing already. Sorry about that.

I think that instead of articles, I should create Vlogs and when I begin to digress, I'll use that dreamy special effect to transition into and out of my digression sequences. I'm doing it again, aren't I?

OK, so, the Mac mini is small. It's roughly 7.75"x7.75" (19.5cm x 19.5cm) square and 1.5" (3.5cm) high. I don't usually do metric*, but hey, it's an international audience, so I'll play along. It weighs approximately 2.7 pounds (1.22kg).

The Mac mini rear view


Peripherally speaking, it has a lot of ports:

  • Thunderbolt
  • FireWire 800
  • Four USB 3.0
  • HDMI
  • SDXC card slot
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Audio In/Out
  • IR receiver

It also has wireless Ethernet (802.11n (a/b/g compatible)), Bluetooth 4.0, and either a dual-core or quad-core Intel CPU. The dual-core is Intel i5 at 2.5GHz 3MB L3 cache and the quad-core is the smoking hot (speed not temperature) Intel i7 at 2.7GHz 6MB L3 cache.

It comes standard with either a 500GB HDD or a 1TB HDD, Intel HD Graphics 4000 and 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3 memory.

The point to all that technical stuff is that you don't have to worry about speed, power, space, or compatibility. You have everything you need to plug into your corporate network and to get to work right away.

And if your company has Windows-only applications or requirements, you can run a virtual machine using VirtualBox or Parallels at near native speeds with full network connectivity. So, really, these days, the barriers to bringing your own Apple device have been broken down.

If you don't have Microsoft Office on your Mac mini, which is the corporate standard in most companies, you can install LibreOffice, which is MS Office compatible. It comes with just about everything you need: word processing, spreadsheet, database, presentation, and more. The only thing missing from the mix is Outlook or an Outlook-compatible application. However, you can use Outlook Web Access (OWA), which is probably available to you.

Other MS Office alternatives include Zoho Docs, Google Docs, ThinkFree Office, and probably more that you can find.

As an alternative to the official MS Outlook application, you can use Mailtab (App Store) or Mailtab Pro ($1.99) to use with your Outlook mailbox.

Remember that the mini isn't a laptop. It is small and lightweight but has no attached monitor, keyboard, or mouse. You'll have to supply those or have a "desk set" at your office to plug into. But once you do, you're ready for anything. You'll probably have to purchase the Thunderbolt to 25-pin video (VGA) converter cable, like I did, to match your standard PC monitor or carry your HDMI cable to connect to a newer monitor with that capability.

The Mac mini is a good BYOD option. No, it isn't a laptop but if you need the power of a desktop computer and the convenience of your own portable Mac-based desktop system at work, you might find that the Mac mini is the ultimate BYOD system.

*I used to be a Chemist (No, not a Pharmacist, a Chemist in a laboratory) so I used metric, I understand metric, but traded all that for bits and bytes long ago. Now I only deal with the American version of Imperial units. It satisfies my need for the random and the pointless.

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