Originally Posted by mcarling
The few users who will need an optical drive a few years from now can simply get an external drive.
I already have an external optical drive attached to my Mini on account of the Mini doesn't burn DVDs and so I bought a DVD external burner. As long as the thing is working properly, I can hook it up to whatever computer I want. And if Apple gets around to supporting Blu-Ray, when the price of Blu-Ray hardware becomes reasonable - probably not far off - I don't have to get rid of a perfectly good computer to go the Blu-Ray route.
Granted, I have more spaghetti in my work area than an Italian restaurant but I'm not that stressed by it. Out of sight out of mind. I have three external hard drives, including a terrabyte unit I just bought to handle more than seven hours of HD footage and an external DVD burner. I could replace it all with a Mac Pro tower, eliminating all that spaghetti, but the cost of doing that is rather high. Here in Canada it's $3379 Cdn before taxes to order up a base Pro with 2T worth of hard drive. The Mini, as it is configured now even with the CPU upgrade and a jump up to 4G of RAM, runs $1,089 Cdn. before taxes. Now imagine pulling the optical drive but lowering the cost by say $150, to bring it down to $939. Now to up the hard drive count order up a 2T hard drive from Apple for $400 and a "superdrive", i.e. an external DVD burner for maybe $150, a keyboard and mouse for $108 bringing the total cost to $1,597. Of course there is a huge performance difference but our sales tax in the area I live is 13 per cent, meaning the Mini, spaghetti and all, would check at about $1,805, whereas the tiower would come in at $3,818. That's a difference of $2,013.
If I'm running a business, it's a no-brainer to opt for the Pro's speed and less cluttered appearance. But as a hobbyist, the Mini package, including the DVD burner and hard drive, is the obvious choice.
More to the point, it would not matter in the slightest that the Mini didn't come with an optical drive. I already have the burner, so it would save me, in particular, money if the device were configured that way. If one were a beginner, i.e. starting off with no legacy equipment and not sure what my plans were for the computer, would there be a problem with bringing hiome a Mini that had the OS and iLife suite preinstalled, plugging the thing in and starting to tinker around. Adding optical capability would not require much tech savvy. Go to store, buy burner, bring burner home, plug in via USB (or firewire), done.
The original idea behind the Mini was bring-your-own-keyboard-mouse-monitor. So why not take it one step further by making it bring-your-own-keyboard-mouse-monitor-optical drive? Some folks might never need to add the drive and others like me, already have one. Don't know how many external DVD burners are out there but I'm betting it numbers in the millions. Everybody sells them. Worst case the cost is about the same and it's an additional minute or two to plug the external in. The Mini by it's very nature requires a ton of externals to be expanded for anything more than casual use so I guess my point is, what's one more?