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Apple's HD future, the mini-mac, the big change

post #1 of 163
Thread Starter 
Apple has a history of suddenly changing our expectations and redefining a market overnight.

Amongst us home theater enthusiasts who have been lusting after an all-in-one media center, the mini-mac now allows us to see the computer as being a more modest and elegant part of our rack systems.

WHAT IT CAN DO OUT OF THE BOX (In your media center) -

Music jukebox, game player, DVD player, wireless base station, display to a DVI HDTV set..

WHAT IT CAN DO WHEN COUPLED WITH A TUNER

PVR and video jukebox (Yes, you can already do this with Virtual DVHS), HD editing

WHAT IT MIGHT BE ABLE TO DO-

Depending on what Apple has done with iMovie HD, H.264, and Tiger's use of the graphics cards power, the mini-mac might even be capable of decoding HDTV. I guess we'll have to wait to see on Jan 22. Not that it matters because you'd want a tuner anyway.

THE BIG CHANGE

Sure Apple will eventually incorporate an HDTV tuner when they are dirt cheap, but the point is that Apple recognized that this is not a necessary function of the home theater computer. It shouldn't be a big ugly tower crammed full of all the other components that used to be in your rack system.

It should be small, simple, and able to control everything else.

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post #2 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by Nordstrodamus
Depending on what Apple has done with iMovie HD, H.264, and Tiger's use of the graphics cards power, the mini-mac might even be capable of decoding HDTV. I guess we'll have to wait to see on Jan 22. Not that it matters because you'd want a tuner anyway.

Not sure what you mean by this -- a tuner is for receiving the compressed data stream, decoding is for decompressing and displaying the stream. The iMac mini should be able to handily decode a 720p MPEG2 stream with its 1.25GHz G4 and Radeon 9200. This stream would most likely come in via the Ethernet or FireWire port.
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post #3 of 163
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Programmer
Not sure what you mean by this -- a tuner is for receiving the compressed data stream, decoding is for decompressing and displaying the stream. The iMac mini should be able to handily decode a 720p MPEG2 stream with its 1.25GHz G4 and Radeon 9200. This stream would most likely come in via the Ethernet or FireWire port.

I'm not sure where I lost you on this, but yes, the tuner's function is to receive the stream and although decoding is a seperate funciton, all set-top tuners that I know of also can decode the signal for display. Whether the mini-mac can decode HDTV is questionable. I'm basing this on the FAQ for the EyeTV 500 HDTV tuner which, unlike the set-top models, only receives the stream and transfers it to the mac (no decoding). In the FAQ they suggest that only a dual G5 can reliably playback HDTV streams, although they do mention something about how Apple might be able to come up with a more efficient decoder since they have access to the graphics card in ways that Elgato doe not.

I went ahead and bought an eyeTV 500 while it was on sale this week, just to ensure that I have some tuner without the broadcast flag compliance.

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post #4 of 163
Here is what I want it to do:

- DVD player

Already covered

- DirectTv Tivo

I want a whole house Tivo for directTv.
Right now I have a single tivo, and I am going
to add a second one. Every time I want to
record something, I am going to have to program
it into both tivos (because I won't know where
I will want to watch it). A whole house tivo
would be able to record 3 or 4 things at once,
and play them in any room (possibly at the same
time).

- Video scaler

The box just needs a bunch of video inputs and it
will be able to scale them to display on the
output device (tv, projector, etc).

I would use this for sharing a projector
between my playstation, computer, etc.

- Music server

Already covered with iTunes and airTunes.
The box just needs to be able to serve to different
zones at the same time (playing different playlists,
or the same).

- Touchscreen remote controllable

I want a number of touchscreens throughout the house
so I can controll the video/audio playback

Non-entertainment extras:

- security system tie in

I want the touch screen to show a layout of my house,
with the rooms that have motion in them being different
colors.

During a fire, I want to be able to see which rooms
are very hot.

- thermostat

I want to be able to see the temparature of each room
in the house.

Turn off the heat in rooms that have windows open.

Turn off the AC in rooms that have the fireplace in use.
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post #5 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by Nordstrodamus
I'm not sure where I lost you on this, but yes, the tuner's function is to receive the stream and although decoding is a seperate funciton, all set-top tuners that I know of also can decode the signal for display. Whether the mini-mac can decode HDTV is questionable. I'm basing this on the FAQ for the EyeTV 500 HDTV tuner which, unlike the set-top models, only receives the stream and transfers it to the mac (no decoding). In the FAQ they suggest that only a dual G5 can reliably playback HDTV streams, although they do mention something about how Apple might be able to come up with a more efficient decoder since they have access to the graphics card in ways that Elgato doe not.

Well since you're discussing uses of iMac mini, I presume you want the video signal to go through it. In that case your only choice is to feed it the MPEG2 stream and have it do the decoding -- if you use your set-top box to do the decoding you get a video signal out, which can't go into the Mac.

I've seen comments from people with a 1 GHz G4 about being able to decode a 720p stream without dropping frames. A modded XBox with a ~1.4 GHz PentiumIII can handle a 720p stream decode. That makes it likely that the iMac mini (with a 1.25 GHz G4 & R9200) can handle it as well -- on this kind of thing the G4 kills the P3.
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post #6 of 163
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Programmer
Well since you're discussing uses of iMac mini, I presume you want the video signal to go through it. In that case your only choice is to feed it the MPEG2 stream and have it do the decoding -- if you use your set-top box to do the decoding you get a video signal out, which can't go into the Mac.

It would be ideal if the mini-mac could sit in between the TV and the rest of the components (tuner, DVHS, Blu-ray), in which case it would need to be able to decode the streams from the other components sent to it by firewire.

Failing that, the tuner/decoder would have to sit between the TV and the mini-mac. The mini-mac could still record streams from the tuner, but this presents problems with the tuner taking up the DVI inpuit on your display- How do you see your desktop? Either your tuner has a DVI in, or you'd have to use the VGA input on your display (presuming it had both vga and DVI) and then you have to toggle some stupid input switch to see it.

Quote:

I've seen comments from people with a 1 GHz G4 about being able to decode a 720p stream without dropping frames. A modded XBox with a ~1.4 GHz PentiumIII can handle a 720p stream decode. That makes it likely that the iMac mini (with a 1.25 GHz G4 & R9200) can handle it as well -- on this kind of thing the G4 kills the P3.

let's hope, but even with that no enthusiast is going to limit themselves to 720p. Personally, I've been holding out until everything is 1080p capable. Sure over the air will still be 1080i max, but blu-ray is supposed to be able to do 1080p.

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post #7 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by Nordstrodamus
It would be ideal if the mini-mac could sit in between the TV and the rest of the components (tuner, DVHS, Blu-ray), in which case it would need to be able to decode the streams from the other components sent to it by firewire.

Failing that, the tuner/decoder would have to sit between the TV and the mini-mac. The mini-mac could still record streams from the tuner, but this presents problems with the tuner taking up the DVI inpuit on your display- How do you see your desktop? Either your tuner has a DVI in, or you'd have to use the VGA input on your display (presuming it had both vga and DVI) and then you have to toggle some stupid input switch to see it.

I don't think most tuners can read a stream from their FireWire ports, can they? Its just for output.

Quote:
let's hope, but even with that no enthusiast is going to limit themselves to 720p. Personally, I've been holding out until everything is 1080p capable. Sure over the air will still be 1080i max, but blu-ray is supposed to be able to do 1080p.

If the current iMac mini can't decode 1080p, then the next one will. I'm not all fired up over 1080p myself -- 720p is just an improvement over the old standard that I'll be happy with it for at least 10 years.
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post #8 of 163
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Programmer
[B]I don't think most tuners can read a stream from their FireWire ports, can they? Its just for output./B]

It varies, but those models that support HAVi or DVHS can. The tvs that have a tuner built in and have firewire inputs definately can. I'm not sure how many makers have adopted the HAVi standard, but I know mitsubishi does.

Quote:

If the current iMac mini can't decode 1080p, then the next one will. I'm not all fired up over 1080p myself -- 720p is just an improvement over the old standard that I'll be happy with it for at least 10 years.

It's for the very reason that I anticipate my new setup lasting as long as the old one (12 years) that I want to start with the best and have no regrets.

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post #9 of 163
Even if the bare CPU and GPU are unable to decode 1080p streams, they could add a dedicated DSP for decoding. And I just read that some company made a MPEG4 H.264 HD decoder chip, but unfortunately can't remember who it was or where I read it.

It would be nice if the chip also accellerated MPEG4-encoding. Ideal home/amateur movie editing station.
post #10 of 163
The Mac mini is going to be somewhat limited by the 4200 rpm notebook drive being used in it's chassis. The wisdom of that move elludes me. Yes the Mm is small, and that in itself opens new possibilities, but as limited by notebook capacities and speeds, the mini will struggle to have the right internal storage capacities and HDD speeds to deal with video properly.

It could have been an awesome PVR, but it's an application crying out for 250GB of internal capacity and 5400rpm speeds. There isn't even a cost effective means of mitigating the HDD situation with cheap RAM. 1GB+ would do it, but with only one DIMM, that's going to be expensive to do.

So in the end, we have to question the wisdom of not making the mini at least a half inch bigger in every dimension so as to accomodate bigger/cheaper/faster HDD's and an industry standard TWO ram slots?
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post #11 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by Matsu
The Mac mini is going to be somewhat limited by the 4200 rpm notebook drive being used in it's chassis. The wisdom of that move elludes me. Yes the Mm is small, and that in itself opens new possibilities, but as limited by notebook capacities and speeds, the mini will struggle to have the right internal storage capacities and HDD speeds to deal with video properly.

It could have been an awesome PVR, but it's an application crying out for 250GB of internal capacity and 5400rpm speeds. There isn't even a cost effective means of mitigating the HDD situation with cheap RAM. 1GB+ would do it, but with only one DIMM, that's going to be expensive to do.

So in the end, we have to question the wisdom of not making the mini at least a half inch bigger in every dimension so as to accomodate bigger/cheaper/faster HDD's and an industry standard TWO ram slots?

Its not being marketed in any way as a PVR. That's the usual premature geek fantasy. So wisdom or otherwise is a non question. The mini is what it is, the smallest, cheapest Mac they could make. Why pretend its something else just so you can criticise it? You have a perverse need to be critical. They will not be able to make enough of these things to fulfil the enormous demand. It will therefore in Apple's terms be a roaring success. Why is this always such a f*cking problem for you?
post #12 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by Matsu
The Mac mini is going to be somewhat limited by the 4200 rpm notebook drive being used in it's chassis. The wisdom of that move elludes me. Yes the Mm is small, and that in itself opens new possibilities, but as limited by notebook capacities and speeds, the mini will struggle to have the right internal storage capacities and HDD speeds to deal with video properly.

It could have been an awesome PVR, but it's an application crying out for 250GB of internal capacity and 5400rpm speeds. There isn't even a cost effective means of mitigating the HDD situation with cheap RAM. 1GB+ would do it, but with only one DIMM, that's going to be expensive to do.

So in the end, we have to question the wisdom of not making the mini at least a half inch bigger in every dimension so as to accomodate bigger/cheaper/faster HDD's and an industry standard TWO ram slots?

I'm doubtful that this is really the intended market for the iMac mini -- if it was then Apple would be touting software for that purpose, and probably would have mentioned it somewhere. No, its just that it is so tantilizing close to being appropriate that a lot of Mac fans are tempted to try it.

If Apple makes a move in this direction, I still think it might be a thin client approach -- a hugely beefed up Airport Express, if you will. We may see hints of this in updates to the FireWireSDK before the actual hardware product arrives.


Edit: Damn! Vinney beat me to it by less than a minute!
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post #13 of 163
You all brought up HD and Video, etc etc... It's being marketted as a cheap computer, and even in that context the use of MORE EXPENSIVE and SLOWER components makes no sense. I can understand choosing an inherently slower component to save cost, but using a laptop drive saves you nothing in a design where space need not be at a premium. Like I said, half inches, that's all. Any way you cut it, it was a pretty myopic thing for Apple to do.
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post #14 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by vinney57
Its not being marketed in any way as a PVR. That's the usual premature geek fantasy. So wisdom or otherwise is a non question. The mini is what it is, the smallest, cheapest Mac they could make. Why pretend its something else just so you can criticise it? You have a perverse need to be critical. They will not be able to make enough of these things to fulfil the enormous demand. It will therefore in Apple's terms be a roaring success. Why is this always such a f*cking problem for you?

No, it's not marketed as a PVR, but Matsu is correct. This may be the smallest Mac they could make, but probably not the cheapest. Remember the Cube? There were a lot of complaints about the cube, but I don't remember anyone comlaining that it was too big. And yet, this thing is 1.5" smaller in both width and depth. If they retained the Cub'es 8"x8" footprint, or even had a middle-of-the-road 7"x7" as Matsu suggests, the added cost because of more plastic, packaging and shipping costs would be very small. OTOH they would save a lot of money by using standard components.

We're getting marvell-of-technology level smallness and the 300G shock-resistance of a laptop drive. Why do we need that in a Desktop? For the same component costs they could include a much larger hard disk, at least as a BTO option, and dual memory slots. It would also allow them to include somewhat hotter chips in the future without a complete case re-design.
post #15 of 163
I think it's clear that the Mac mini is never going to be the complete answer for viewing TV in any form on it's own.

Add on's will be needed to make the Mac mini your TV tuner, PVR, or Home Theater System.

These add on's are already on the way, you can bet that El Gato, La Cie and others are already addressing the form factor and will be releasing very complimentary, if not identical, form factor "Slices" to sit under the Mac mini.

I think that Firewire will be the transport mechanism for beaming the TV signal between devices. Where is development of wireless Firewire? Is progress being made towards that as an accepted standard? In combination with H.264 this could be the software "glue" that puts it all together.

NAB 2005 in April should be very important to Apple's plans in this area. I am really hoping that "Asteroid" will turn out to be some Mac mini "Slice" from Apple to address TV & HDTV for the platform they unveiled at Mac World, as opposed to a simple "breakout box" for Garageband.
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post #16 of 163
A while ago I saw this thread about Firewire enable TV's and set-top boxes and integrating them with Macs. Reading through the post, the software, at least a developers version, is available in the Firewire SDK, and it allows the controll of either the Mac's DVR program by the TV/set-top box and or the control of said components from the Mac. There is also a list of compatible components. I havn't actually done this so I don't know how well it works, but there it does say there is communication both ways over the firewire link. I imagine that if/when Apple takes this software out of the developers tool kit and turns it into an end users application (or another company or independant programer does) then you could have the device that everyone here is asking for without any additional hardware than the Mac and a supported TV or cable box.
post #17 of 163
Here's my vision for dance and electronic music... TranceFire

Slices are TranceFire modules based on very popular analog synths that give you that warm rush on the dance floor as the DJ drops the phat tracks and your pills kick in

The "breakout box" is the 2nd slice from the top, the one with at logo mod - that's right, that's the logo for Apple2 8)

The Apple2 TranceFire hub is the master module that translates all the FireWire inputs from the TranceFire synth modules and the one that sends the FireWire signal.

IMPORTANT: Why have the TranceFire modules?
1. they reduce CPU load, software-based synth chews up CPU
2. hardware synth sounds better, especially analog
3. all analog to digital conversion is done within the module,
so Mini gets nice clean separate digital tracks from all modules
4. this is a much lower cost and convenient alternative to wrangling
separate hardware synths of different form factors
5. reduces cable mess and noise significantly

This would go sweet with bluetooth MIDI controller keyboards (not shown) to enter notes and control the separate TranceFire modules

post #18 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by RolandG
Even if the bare CPU and GPU are unable to decode 1080p streams, they could add a dedicated DSP for decoding. And I just read that some company made a MPEG4 H.264 HD decoder chip, but unfortunately can't remember who it was or where I read it.

It would be nice if the chip also accellerated MPEG4-encoding. Ideal home/amateur movie editing station.

It's Broadcom. The chip doesn't do encoding, though one likely will come out but that's a whole different market with different needs. Broadcom is all about saturating markets and will likely make their chip cheap enough that it'll do just that.
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post #19 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by synp
No, it's not marketed as a PVR, but Matsu is correct. This may be the smallest Mac they could make, but probably not the cheapest. Remember the Cube? There were a lot of complaints about the cube, but I don't remember anyone comlaining that it was too big. And yet, this thing is 1.5" smaller in both width and depth. If they retained the Cub'es 8"x8" footprint, or even had a middle-of-the-road 7"x7" as Matsu suggests, the added cost because of more plastic, packaging and shipping costs would be very small. OTOH they would save a lot of money by using standard components.

They ARE using standard components. 2.5" drives aren't as popular as 3.5" but you're still looking at what, 30% of the drive market? They're totally standard.

And there is an absolute floor to the cost of a hard drive you can buy in volume. The 40GB drive is pretty much the smallest 2.5" drive you can expect to find over the next few months. I don't think you can still get 40GB 3.5" drives in volume any more - there's not enough money in it for the manufacturers. So Apple could have done a 60GB 3.5" drive but it wouldn't have been cheaper, just more storage for the user, and Apple would have to deal with the added costs of shipping, etc.

I think the 2.5" drive was the best way to the $499 point. The $599 could probably be better met with 3.5" drives, but that machine wasn't really the point of the exercise.

Besides, if they did use 3.5" drives, they'd be 5400 RPM and people would STILL be complaining that they aren't 7200 RPM. So, just go buy your 7200 RPM 2.5" drive and 1GB RAM, pay the Apple tech $30 to install both and be done with it. eBay the old drive or stuff it in a FW case for backup.
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post #20 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by Programmer
I'm doubtful that this is really the intended market for the iMac mini -- if it was then Apple would be touting software for that purpose, and probably would have mentioned it somewhere. No, its just that it is so tantilizing close to being appropriate that a lot of Mac fans are tempted to try it.

If Apple makes a move in this direction, I still think it might be a thin client approach -- a hugely beefed up Airport Express, if you will. We may see hints of this in updates to the FireWireSDK before the actual hardware product arrives.

I think Apple is really hoping the market helps to identify the direction of this machine. They really didn't cripple it in any significant way so the hobbyists can turn it into a HTPC if they are so motivated, a car system, whatever. Apple will pick up on these trends in the next version and either make it easier to incorporate the HTPC functions or to do it altogether and just ship a HTPC box if the market grows large enough.

In the meantime, they get 10.4 and Quicktime 7 out the door - both of which will be hugely helpful in this effort, developers can work on getting MythTV or some other open-source project working well on OS X and Apple will sweep in and blow away half of the 3rd party vendors like they so commonly do when things like this happen. If we want Apple to move into the HTPC space, all we need to do is keep pushing it, buy the minis, buy gear from ElGato, and get software up on versiontracker for making it work the way we think it should. In a year, we should have a HTPC version of the mini, equipped with larger HDs, etc.
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post #21 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by johnsonwax
They ARE using standard components. 2.5" drives aren't as popular as 3.5" but you're still looking at what, 30% of the drive market? They're totally standard.

And there is an absolute floor to the cost of a hard drive you can buy in volume. The 40GB drive is pretty much the smallest 2.5" drive you can expect to find over the next few months. I don't think you can still get 40GB 3.5" drives in volume any more - there's not enough money in it for the manufacturers. So Apple could have done a 60GB 3.5" drive but it wouldn't have been cheaper, just more storage for the user, and Apple would have to deal with the added costs of shipping, etc.

I'm going to stop you there...

The use of 2.5 drives was a bad choice for consumer and shareholder alike.

Here's why (in retail prices) assume volume prices to Apple that are anywhere from 40-60% lower:

3.5" 80GB drives can be had for about $60USD
2.5" 40GB drives require $90USD

It gets worse the higher up you go.

2.5" 80GB drives will require from $170-200

You'll be hard pressed to find many 160GB units that cost more than $130, in fact, a great many come in at $99, for $170-200, there are numerous 200GB options, and even a few 250GB options!

Apple assumes to sell 300K Mac mini's per quarter, or 1.2 Million a year. You can safely assume a component cost savings averaged between the two mini models (499 and 599) of $25-40 per unit, just by using 3.5" drives. Do the math, anywhere from 25-48 million worth of pure unadulterated profit. There's no way I'd let my product planning group release the mini with anything but a 3.5" drive. You don't think a half inch taller mini would be just as cute?

It's obvious that Apple hopes to convert mini-curious visitors into AIO customers. They better convert a lot of them on the spot. Unfortunately, it's a bad bet, these "switchers" are, afterall, the same people who've eschewed AIO's till now, they may want a mac, they certainly want it cheap, and headless, which means basically, if they're coming into an Apple store, the mini is the only thing Apple has any chance of selling them. So rather than make more money on those purchases, they've elected to make less. Eschewing a clear win for both parties (cheaper cost to Apple, better value and performance for the consumer) in favor of a dubious bait and switch tactic...

NOT SMART.
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post #22 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by Matsu
Here's why (in retail prices) assume volume prices to Apple that are anywhere from 40-60% lower:

3.5" 80GB drives can be had for about $60USD
2.5" 40GB drives require $90USD

It gets worse the higher up you go.
...
There's no way I'd let my product planning group release the mini with anything but a 3.5" drive. You don't think a half inch taller mini would be just as cute?

NOT SMART.

What? We spend so much time at the Shrine o' Mac and the only justification we can find for the choices that they make is that they're dumb?

No. Where there's an inexplicable or illogical act there's an unrecognized motive.

And it's this: The laptop HD is shock-resistant. So when the Mac mini is in your car's dashboard and you brake short, it won't skip on you and display that you're now in Delaware.

--B
...


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post #23 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by Matsu
I'm going to stop you there...

The use of 2.5 drives was a bad choice for consumer and shareholder alike.

Here's why (in retail prices) assume volume prices to Apple that are anywhere from 40-60% lower:

3.5" 80GB drives can be had for about $60USD
2.5" 40GB drives require $90USD

It gets worse the higher up you go.

2.5" 80GB drives will require from $170-200



Well, your retail prices for 2.5" drives are 20-30% too high.

Quote:
You'll be hard pressed to find many 160GB units that cost more than $130, in fact, a great many come in at $99, for $170-200, there are numerous 200GB options, and even a few 250GB options!

Right - which precisely proves my point. $60 retail (excluding special deals) is about the bottom of the market, which is where the 40GB 2.5" drives are now.

Quote:
Apple assumes to sell 300K Mac mini's per quarter, or 1.2 Million a year. You can safely assume a component cost savings averaged between the two mini models (499 and 599) of $25-40 per unit, just by using 3.5" drives. Do the math, anywhere from 25-48 million worth of pure unadulterated profit. There's no way I'd let my product planning group release the mini with anything but a 3.5" drive. You don't think a half inch taller mini would be just as cute?

Well, I thought the same thing, and then I was told some things that I can't restate here, and now I understand that your assumptions above are totally wrong wrt to this product.

You can dislike the 2.5" drives for many reasons, but the cost/profit argument from Apple's perspective is wrong.
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post #24 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by bergz
What? We spend so much time at the Shrine o' Mac and the only justification we can find for the choices that they make is that they're dumb?

No. Where there's an inexplicable or illogical act there's an unrecognized motive.

And it's this: The laptop HD is shock-resistant. So when the Mac mini is in your car's dashboard and you brake short, it won't skip on you and display that you're now in Delaware.

--B

Sorry, but that's absurd. I assure you, Apple doesn't give a damn about the one fourth or one sixteenth of one percent of a fraction of ICE fanatics who might in 1 out of a 3000 cases attempt to install the Mac mini into their latest neon monstrosity. It's so small a niche that it is statistically insignificant. I guarantee you, Apple doesn't care and neither does Jobs. The mini has no display, it's NOT designed to be used in transit, though it can be easily transported fom place to place.

What they do care about is using the mini as bait for potential purchases of more expensive models. That is the ONLY reason that the mini is spec'd as it is, and to discourage (easy/cheap) modification. "Want a bigger/faster HDD, more RAM, why not just spring for this lovely iMac?"

That's all there is to it, plain and simple. The flaw in this, if you bothered to read the argument, is that those who haven't bough Apple's AIO in the past, won't buy them now either. The AIO is fundamentally different, and the mini won't convince anyone who's shopping primarily on price that AIO's are the way to go.

Like I wrote before. They may wan a mac, they certainly want it cheap (and headless). That means their option are the mini and the mini. I don't believe Apple can upsell them straight off.

There is an argument worth making, however, that the Mac mini is not design to convert the unfaithful to an iMac straight away, but to get someone who buys a mini today, to buy an iMac in two years: to see the goodness and come to the light. That's all well and good, except it offers no reason why Apple shouldn't make more per machine right now, especially when they can do so while offering the consumer more value at identical price points.
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post #25 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by Matsu
one fourth or one sixteenth of one percent of a fraction of ICE fanatics who might in 1 out of a 3000 cases attempt to install the Mac mini into their latest neon monstrosity.

No. Not neon. Heavens no.

BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, Nissan, Psion (sp?), Alfa Romeo, Ferrari.

"The next generation adapter that's coming out this year...there's an incredible consumer demand for these things." SJ MWSF Keynote 2005.

iPod's integrated into the steering wheel controls and the dashboard display. Mm doesn't need its own display. Could just plug into any car manufacturer's heads-up display.

I have a pipe-dream in the pipeline.

--B
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post #26 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by johnsonwax
Well, your retail prices for 2.5" drives are 20-30% too high.

They are indeed a little high, but not 20-30%

The cheapest retail 40GB 2.5" HDD (4200rpm) is still $85. Even if Apple is getting a deal on it to take it to the same price as 80GB (5400rpm) 3.5" drives, they're giving up twice the storage capacity, and a substantial speed difference.

At 80GB, it gets worse. (there aren't any 2.5" drives available for less than 150 retail at this size, and I think we can both agree that at least for the 599 model, a 3.5" drive would have been a better choice.)

I think you're underestimating just how limiting a 40GB drive can be. I know, I have one in my 12" PB. 15+ GB are gone just to software. All my writing and correspondence stays on the PB (backed up periodically). Over 22GB of music sits on my 30GB iPod. If I didn't have the iPod, the PB HDD would already be maxed. Only a couple of GB of music actually sit on the PB at any given time. Next up is iPhoto. I shoot a 3MP camera mainly to document events, and I burn everything to CD. If even half of the photos sat on my PB, the HDD would be bursting at the seams. These days, most consumer cams sport between 5-8MP. Apple encourages users to keep it all in iPhoto -- with their slide show, it's a nice idea, but with the way a consumer digicam can chew through a 512MB flash card, it won't be many outings before your 40GB HDD is full. iMovie? Forget it. iTunes/iPhoto will eat a 40GB HDD within months of ownership. That's bad, as is the needlessly slow 4200rpm speed, just wait till you get a few apps going.

I re-iterate, this would be a better machine, were it half an inch bigger in every direction, so that it could offer better HDD value and easy access (dual) RAM slots for the same price.

I, of course, am biased in this regard. The eMac has no reason at all to exist in the consumer space. If it were up to me, I'd stretch the mini to 6.5" tall (to again make a "cube") put in regular (faster and more flexible) drives, incorporate the PS into the unit, offer complete I/O (ie. including mic-in and SPDIFF out), and provide an industry standard 2 user accessible RAM slots, as well as user accessible airport slots.
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post #27 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by bergz
[B]No. Not neon. Heavens no.

BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, Nissan, Psion (sp?), Alfa Romeo, Ferrari.

"The next generation adapter that's coming out this year...there's an incredible consumer demand for these things." SJ MWSF Keynote 2005.

iPod's integrated into the steering wheel controls and the dashboard display. Mm doesn't need its own display. Could just plug into any car manufacturer's heads-up display.

I have a pipe-dream in the pipeline.

Yeah, but Matsu is dead-on on this point. Cars are not a market that Apple cares one whit about serving directly. If people want to eviscerate a mini or iBook, that's all well-and-good for Apple, but I'd be stunned if they spent even $1 to make that easier to do for this specific market.

Home theatre on the other hand is a large and growing market.
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post #28 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by johnsonwax
Yeah, but Matsu is dead-on on this point. Cars are not a market that Apple cares one whit about serving directly. If people want to eviscerate a mini or iBook, that's all well-and-good for Apple, but I'd be stunned if they spent even $1 to make that easier to do for this specific market.

Home theatre on the other hand is a large and growing market.

The biggest pictures are the ones that always seem the least tenable. Anyway, we'll talk about it once my car's Synced with my stereo. 8)

--B
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post #29 of 163
Just out of curiosity, where was it said/written that the iMac mini is using a 2.5" form factor hard drive? I was just looking for the drive specs and couldn't find any on anything I would call an "official" site.
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post #30 of 163
Programmer:

This is as close as I've seen so far as far as an "official" source, which I'll claim MacCentral(Macworld news section) to be.

http://www.macworld.com/2005/01/news...view/index.php

Under the pic of the mini:

Quote:
The Mac minis diminutive motherboard is exactly the width of its RAM slot. Thats because the Mac mini uses full-size PC2700 RAM. Apple could have saved some space by using laptop RAM, but it wouldnt have helped much, given the size of that pesky optical drive. However, the Mac minis hard drive is the same kind youd find in a laptop: its a 2.5-inch, 4200 rpm drive.

There's been several reports on forums as well of what it says in System Profiler, I think it's a Toshiba HD, likely the same ones in iBook/PB.
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post #31 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by Matsu
The cheapest retail 40GB 2.5" HDD (4200rpm) is still $85. Even if Apple is getting a deal on it to take it to the same price as 80GB (5400rpm) 3.5" drives, they're giving up twice the storage capacity, and a substantial speed difference.

Penny wise, pound foolish.

It has already noted that there would be a production cost increase with manufacturing a larger case, packaging materials and shipping. I dont think it would be huge, but it would directly impact the profit margin ( and only to fit the bigger hard drive. I discount any addition that adds more cost - 2 ram slots - or jeopardizes the Mini's precise marketing position ).

Regardless, you also have a faulty assumption.
That the difference in retail price between 2.5" and 3.5" drives carries over into wholesale prices. I put it to you that there is no market for retail 2.5" drives. Very, very few people ever build machines with them, or upgrade their laptops. By comparison people are buying 3.5" drives at retail all the time. I dont have any hard figures, but a look at compusa's catalogue reveals that they sell 11 different models of 2.5" drive, and 50 of 3.5". When you go into the store there is a whole shelf of different 3.5" drives, and no 2.5" drives.

The net result of this is that drive manufacturers can basically charge whatever they want at retail, because the few people who want a 2.5" drive dont have any choice ( they have to have one ).

When you look at wholesale it is a different story. Laptops made up almost 50% of holiday sales. You can guarantee that OEMs push really hard on those drive prices.

Indeed, laptop drives, being physically smaller, should cost less than desktop drives, within certain capacity thresholds. ATM drives have just hit 100gb per platter. A 2.5" platter might be expected to hold 40gb. The result is that the per platter cost of the drive favors the 2.5" while the per GB cost favors the 3.5", eg: to put in the lowest capacity drive available it is cheaper to get a 2.5" than a 3.5".

So, not only does Apple get a cheaper drive ( in absolute terms ). It also aids product differentiation. Users perceive drive upgrades as being difficult and expensive, creating the possibility of an upsell. But, on the flip side, the diminutive form of the Mini, and its lower cost, contribute to the perception that it is an appliance, which is cheap enough to just replace when upgrades are required.
post #32 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by mmmpie
Penny wise, pound foolish.

Perfect post. Have a cookie.
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post #33 of 163
There is no evidence to support that. Even the furthest possible deviation from my analysis still puts desktop drives at the same cost (while offering a minimum of twice the storage, and superior speed)

If there were any economies of scale to be exploited in the use of 2.5" drives, other, far more cost conscious, manufacturers than Apple would have been using them in desktops for months! Likewise, if there were any real money to be saved in making a computer extra compact, those same manufacturers would already be doing so. They aren't, because there isn't. It's that simple.

You CAN save shipping costs by getting more machines on a palette, but it's the size of the container, not the device, that counts. Look at the mini packaging, you could easily put a machine of twice the volume into the same box, ergo, NO ADDITIONAL SHIPPING COSTS.

Trust me, the desire to make it small, has more to do with the Mini's intended role as a bait for consumers. Apple wants those people to buy other more expensive macs, and hampers your ability to upgrade the mini in order to accomplish that. It's role as an appliance you describe well enough: if you won't buy other macs, perhaps you'll just buy more minis. And I agree that it's made extra small for that purpose, however, in doing so, both performance and overall value have been comprimised, at a minimum. Potentially, so has short-term profitability.

It's all staked upon the ability to of Apple to up-sell, but this has problems since most of the mini's core market hasn't ever wanted anything to do with Apple's typically overpriced AIOs.

If nothing else, the introduction of the mini proves Apple's passionate addiction to the AIO form factor, for although they have finally released a headless machine, they have taken extra pains to seal it up even tighter than there alreay locked down AIO's. Rather than repack an i/eMac into a 6.5"^3 device and offer it somewhere south of 799, they've chosen to define a niche that leaves the AIO as the aspirational machine in their line-up.

There is no doubt from this poster, that the mini will sell wel enough as is, but there is also no question that a 799 iMac sans screen, would trounce just about every model Apple sells (a true switcher)
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post #34 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by Matsu
There is no evidence to support that. Even the furthest possible deviation from my analysis still puts desktop drives at the same cost (while offering a minimum of twice the storage, and superior speed)

If there were any economies of scale to be exploited in the use of 2.5" drives, other, far more cost conscious, manufacturers than Apple would have been using them in desktops for months! Likewise, if there were any real money to be saved in making a computer extra compact, those same manufacturers would already be doing so. They aren't, because there isn't. It's that simple...

But we do not know the price that Apple is paying for these drives, if they got a better volume discount or whatever...or they wanted to increase their volume priceing for these drives so that they could get a better price across their product line that uses these drives to maximize their profit margin on PowerBooks and iBooks. It may be that the economies of scale cover all 3 products profit margin, and not just that of the 'mini. It could also just be that Steve just prefered the smaller form factor and wanted to go with it for esthetic reasons.
post #35 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by Matsu
If nothing else, the introduction of the mini proves Apple's passionate addiction to the AIO form factor, for although they have finally released a headless machine, they have taken extra pains to seal it up even tighter than there alreay locked down AIO's. Rather than repack an i/eMac into a 6.5"^3 device and offer it somewhere south of 799, they've chosen to define a niche that leaves the AIO as the aspirational machine in their line-up.

I think it proves Apple's (or at least Jobs') passionate addiction to the notion of the computer as an appliance. The very first Macintosh was intended to be an appliance, and the iMac mini is the second realization of this ~20 years later. This time he's a whole lot closer.
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post #36 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by MCQ
There's been several reports on forums as well of what it says in System Profiler, I think it's a Toshiba HD, likely the same ones in iBook/PB.

Well, there's you answer, Matsu. If Apple ships close to a million of these drives per quarter (250k iBooks, 250k PBs, 500k minis? I'm guessing), I must assume there's economy of scale in that figure to help keep the mini at or below $500, not to mention how it can help iBook costs.

I don't think the Mac mini is the end of this case design either. I think there's some accounting to do for what will (hopefully, I know) come into its design.
post #37 of 163
But it goes the other way too. iMacs plus eMacs plus Minis = roughly the same numbers, toss in low end towers too... In addition to the broader economies brought on by commodity pricing levels forced by the whole industry.
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post #38 of 163
The mini is a computer not a Entertainment Center Device. I think you've lost sight of its intended purpose.
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post #39 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by Matsu
There is no evidence to support that.

Unfortunately you're right, Im not privvy to wholesale pricing, and can only speculate.

Quote:
Even the furthest possible deviation from my analysis still puts desktop drives at the same cost (while offering a minimum of twice the storage, and superior speed)

Actually, I think it puts 2.5" at a lower cost. Which is the point I was making. It is not relevant to Apple that you can get a bigger, faster drive for a few dollars more. That doesnt fit with what the Mini as a whole is.

Quote:

If there were any economies of scale to be exploited in the use of 2.5" drives, other, far more cost conscious, manufacturers than Apple would have been using them in
desktops for months!

Mainstream manufacturers have different scenarios to what Apple faces with the Mini. However, it is only recently that laptops have reached 50% market share ( last couple of months ). I think we will see 2.5" drives penetrate the low end market fairly quickly. It is important to note that Apple will be paying more for the 80 gb drive, so it may not fit other companies plans to have various modes within a lineup using different drives.

I worked for a white box shop in '97 that used 2.5" drives as standard even then. Even with the additional cost of the IDE adapter and the drive bay adapter ( 2.5" drives dont really play well in the ATX world ) they were price and capacity competitive with other shops in the area.

Quote:

Likewise, if there were any real money to be saved in making a computer extra compact, those same manufacturers would already be doing so. They aren't, because there isn't. It's that simple.

Because they arent in the market that Apple is in. I cant speak to the cost of abandoning standard ATX components, but it is huge. Apple have massive capital investment to allow them to operate their custom everything model. Even today they are still designing their own custom ASICs. There just arent any other mass market manufacturers who do that. Smaller companies just dont have the margins ( in the PC market ) to support that effort.

The reality is that what is cost effective for Apple ( because of how they already operate ) may well be wrong for another company.

Quote:

You CAN save shipping costs by getting more machines on a palette, but it's the size of the container, not the device, that counts. Look at the mini packaging, you could easily put a machine of twice the volume into the same box, ergo, NO ADDITIONAL SHIPPING COSTS.

But Apple air ship their products direct from Taiwan and China. How many other manufacturers do that? Weight is vital in air shipping. Even in sea shipping everything is standard container sizes. Every extra one costs more. Even ignoring weight, Im sure that Apple have the minimum packaging required to protect the machine in transit. They will know how many DOAs they get with a certain volume of packaging, and those numbers will be optimised to minimise cost to Apple from having to perform tech support/replacements.

Quote:

Trust me, the desire to make it small, has more to do with the Mini's intended role as a bait for consumers. Apple wants those people to buy other more expensive macs, and hampers your ability to upgrade the mini in order to accomplish that.

Apple will have very carefully optimised the profit margin on this machine to make it practical for them. Sure, it has to meet a certain marketing position ( which I think it does ), but Apple have demonstrated a streak of ruthlessness when it comes to axing projects that arent going to hit the spot in more ways than one. The cube demonstrates what happens when everything isnt carefully considered. The PDA project is another example. Apple are stepping very, very carefully. Their uphill battle is slippery.

I just think it is short sighted to look at the retail cost of drives and then complain that Apple could have given the Mini a 3.5" drive and kept it at the same price point. It is vastly more complicated than that.

Quote:

All stuff about AIO

I see two things at play here. Apple is still stuck under the boot of their CPU manufacturers. IBM still isnt manufacturing enough/cheaply enough, Moto still hasnt ramped up the G4 clock speed. It is improving, but slowly. It makes no sense for Apple to sacrifice their high end high margin to sell the same number of cheap low margin machines.

Apple are looking to a future of information appliances. The Mac has always strived for this. But I think the Mini is the first true realisation of it.
post #40 of 163
Quote:
Originally posted by vinney57
Its not being marketed in any way as a PVR. That's the usual premature geek fantasy. So wisdom or otherwise is a non question. The mini is what it is, the smallest, cheapest Mac they could make. Why pretend its something else just so you can criticise it? You have a perverse need to be critical. They will not be able to make enough of these things to fulfil the enormous demand. It will therefore in Apple's terms be a roaring success. Why is this always such a f*cking problem for you?

No it isn't being marketed as a PVR - but who cares? It's a computer with all the correct things that could make it easily the most popular media center type deal - ever if not really the first one from a large OEM type.

Smallest, cheapest mac they could make? Hah - what a joke - yes it would have been so much more money to buy a half an inch of extruded plastic cases, that just would have made it a 1,000 dollar computer. In fact I bet it is cheaper/better to make it a half in thicker and use typical 3.5" hard drives - but as Matsu stated earlier it is quite clear as to why they didn't do that.

I love those last few lines "It will therefore in Apple's terms be a roaring success." WELL WHO GIVES A SHIT ABOUT WHAT APPLE WANTS?? Are you the type of person who wakes up and checks Apples stock prices - yet you don't own any Apple stock? Are you the kind of person who keeps a photo of Steve Jobs in your wallet? Seriously who cares what Apple deems as successful or not. This machine is on target to be the next big thing and with a few modifications it could easily be the next big media center hub that Apple is always talking about and I think the next thing everyone including myself wants.
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