Originally posted by Junkyard Dawg
The problem is that Apple has built a quickly approaching obsolescence into each and every Mini. The single RAM slot, the laptop HD, the old-generation CPU; this component set is built to age, and age fast.
Apple has a reputation for building machines that last, in terms of both reliability and usability.
They also have a reputation for building machines that had damn well better last, for what you paid for them. Remember when every Mac user on the 'net had the ROI argument down pat?
No machine purchased for home use can be considered an investment in any sense. You're spending money on what is essentially a luxury item. Given that, is it better to spend $1500 on one machine that lasts 5 years, or $500 on a machine that lasts 2? $1500 / 5 is $300 / year. $500 / 2 is $250 a year.
So, for a less money than your Sawtooth probably cost new, you can buy a Mini, "upgrade" every single component every two years by replacing it outright, and get six years of use for your $1500. And the upgrade process is so trivial that your grandmother could do it, with a balanced, tested, well-integrated system as the result.
Relative to cheap PCs, those are hardly ever upgraded either. And unlike most of the real cheapies, you can just by the little mini, instead of replacing the whole system the way the PC vendors and retailers want you to do. And since the mini sips 20-28W of power vs. 300W or more for a minitower PC, it will save you a lot of money in electricity bills.
The long term reliability of the mini is unknown. But the fact that it runs cool is a good sign. The fact that it's a relatively sealed box also helps, actually. Generally, there's a tradeoff between securely fastening something in and making it easy to upgrade. Time will tell.
My Sawtooth Powermac is still going strong, because Apple made it to last. Many G3 iMacs can still run OS X well enough for casual users. But this Mini isn't going to last, it will be totally obsolete in 3 years.
Based on what? The mini runs Panther well, and Tiger will run even better notwithstanding the GPU. So that accounts for about 2 of your 3 years. Since most people don't upgrade their operating systems, it accounts for all three.
At that point, why would the mini be any more obsolete than a G3 iMac is now? The mini is just an eMac in a smaller box, and the eMac is just a G4 iMac.
What I find so annoying about this is that with a few slightly different design trade-offs, Apple could have made the Mini to last. I understand their reasons to build in obsolescence, as I described above, but that doesn't make the Mini any less annoying. I mean, with just a little change here and there, the Mini could be a totally bitchin' computer! Add another RAM slot, and use a desktop hard drive, and suddenly the Mini has many more years built into it.
Not really. By the time you need
more than 1GB of RAM, everything else will probably be hopelessly out of date, and the RAM will be dated and expensive. Given that hard drives have been getting smaller and smaller over time (when's the last time you saw a 5" HDD?), the choice of a 2.5" hard drive is probably forward looking, although I doubt Apple thought in those terms. There will be many more choices of 2.5" HDD in a few years, with much higher capacities. That's been the trend. It might not be more than a few years before 3.5"s become as quaint as 5"s are now.
At that point, you can just buy another mini, and bitch about how it comes with a 1.5" drive instead of the standard desktop 2.5".
How much would a larger HD and one extra RAM slot have cost Apple?
Not much, but that's not the point. I've beaten that argument into the ground elsewhere, but suffice it to say that there are plenty of other reasons to get the size down, and one obvious reason not to offer much for internal upgradability: putty knives?!