As a long time Linux and Microsoft Windows user, I’ve long admired but not used (since 1989) the Apple Mac user interface and the Mac-only software.
So, I was pretty excited by the rumors circulating the night before the Macworld 2005 keynote and noted it in a blog entry here
(Apple Mac Mini: Diary of a Mac wannabe).
As others have noted
CNET: Mac Mini a maxi deal? Depends what you want),
the actual price of a Mac Mini depends on what compatible spare add-on components you have lying around the house.
The on Thursday (Jan. 13), eMachines had a much quieter product refresh and I noticed the $499 (after a $50 mail-in rebate) T3958 and compared it to the Apple Mac Mini.
The table below gives a component price comparison.
|Apple Mac Mini||Emachines T3958|
|80GB Hard Drive||0||0|
|Keyboard & Mouse||58||0|
I used the higher-end $599 Mac Mini as the comparison so that the hard drive sizes would be the same (80GB).
The Mac Mini has an edge in graphics because the eMachines uses the price saving shared video RAM implementation.
I looked for a 32MB ATI Radeon to include in the comparison but could not find such a card with 32MB RAM (64 and 128MB cards in that class were easy to find though).
The eMachines 3958 has 8-in-1 storage card reader for CompactFlash, SD card, Memory stick, etc.. I suppose I could have added $20 to the Mini price for that.
This table will differ from person to person.
For example, I have a spare USB mouse but not a spare USB keyboard lying around.
I have a Firewire DVD+-RW burner that could probably be used with the Mac Mini and avoid buying the Superdrive add-on.
But, as an Mac-fan acquaintence pointed out to me,
I should probably consider the additional $149 Applecare because the Mini probably uses proprietary components and even if it doesn’t might be tough to work on a unit that small and packed with electronics.
I’ve bought and worked on a couple of eMachines boxes.
They tend to be easy to work on to replace or add parts.
The price-wise bottom line for me, then, is that the Mac Mini costs about twice as much (after adding Applecare) as a comparable eMachines model. So, price is not going to be the deciding factor in buying a Mac Mini.
What is? After all these years, it’s still the software.
Back in the 1980s when Windows was still a DOS-afterthought, the Mac OS was smooth and cool.
The attraction, for me, is a combination of the UNIX engine underlying Mac OS X, the mature GUI interface, and the iLife application components. The question is: Is the Mac OS X and iLife worth a $200 to $500 premium over a WinTel PC?
If you are a Linux or Windows user buying a Mac Mini as your first Apple Mac even after the real higher price tag became apparent to you, what was the deciding factor in buying the Mini anyway?