Originally Posted by Carmissimo
I think the mini has potential if Apple approaches it on a less-is-more basis. Considering Apple has traditionally taken a less-is-more approach, it wouldn't surprise me if in fact that will happen.
I do understand your logic in suggesting the form factor sacrifice would be worthwhile if it meant going with less expensive hard drive technology but you're taking the short-term view of this thing. The cost of components is dropping all the time. Before long, the larger hard drive form factor will not have the cost advantage it currently does.
I'm talking about the next couple of years. People who don't follow the progress in Hd technology are in for a surprise!
The price of Hd's is dropping almost as fast as that of flash. They are all ready up to 250 GB per platter. That's going up to a terabyte per platter in a few years.
While Vinea, and others have made a good case for flash sizes to rise quickly in small devices such as phones and music players, so that we may see the amounts double in 6 to 9 months, it's different for a desktop unit.
And I really don't think desk clutter is that big a deal. I'll be quite honest about this. There is only one reason I bought a mini. I'm not exactly raking in the bucks. While the mini form factor is awesomely cool and there are applications where a very compact form factor is a big advantage, the mini is an inexpensive Mac and that's plenty enough reason for me to have bought one.
Well, price is one area that I said that a flash drive wouldn't be competitive. Are you willing to add $200 to the price for a drive that's one third the size?
And, while you might not mind the clutter, many Mini users have bought it for that very reason.
Considering that the mini I am running is roughly equivalent in performance to my previous Mac a dual 500 G4 tower that was state of the art when I bought it yet even with all the external items cost less than $1,000, I figure the thing is a big-time bargain. My G4 tower cost me more than $7,000 Cdn. by the time I had bought the machine, updated my graphics card, added an external DVD burner and added RAM.
I would never compare a totally outdated computer with even a fairly new one. The only fair comparison is to something recent. If your Mini is about the same as a dual 500 MHz G4, that's not saying much. You're comparing it to a machine about 6 years old.
I may as well compare something to my 950, bought in early 1992, which cost me $6,000, plus another $189 for the keyboard. I had to add my own CD-ROM for another $700. That's USA dollars. Fiqure out what that's worth in Canadian today. Then add the $3,000 monitor, $2,400 for 64 MB RAM, etc.
But, what does that all mean today? Nothing.
If a mini capable of being a serviceable computer out of the box for the casual, low-demand user, is also able to be adapted to more demanding uses, to me that's a marvellous product. The 40 gigs of hard drive in my mini (first-generation) allows the machine to perform as required, with some externals added to the mix.
And I think that you are wrong about external hard drives being rarely purchased. They are so inexpensive and easy to hook up, that it's a no-brainer to go there. Rather than the mini itself housing the hard-drive technology for people who need a great deal more storage, I think it makes sense for the mini to be a hub, if you will, essentially controlling whatever items a user needs to add. The beauty of this is that you can customize your system according to your needs. If all I want to do is surf the net, I don't have to pay for tons of hard-drive capacity, etc. If, on the other hand, that extra capacity is needed, it's very easy and inexpensive to add.
I have nothing against the Mini. For what it is, it's fine. But, Hd's are rarely purchased for it. That doesn't mean that companies don't have some good products available. But, Apple has now sold over a million of them, perhaps more than a million and a half. I'd bet that no more than about 10 to 15% of those people have bought external Hd's.
I think, really, where the mini does need an upgrade is in terms of its graphics performance. Especially, it needs to be able to handle video better and be high-def friendly. I'm not worried about CPU speed because Intel is steadily upgrading the capabilities of its products. Within the next couple of years I would think Apple couldn't put a slow processor in the mini if they wanted to. I'm also hopeful that soon enough the minimum standard for integrated graphics will result in good performance for all.
Everyone would like to see an upgrade in its graphics. If Apple does keep the Mini around, we will see Intel's more capable integrated solutions available.
There is a software upgrade from Intel that just became available to unlock the 3D capability that was not being used, in the current chipsets. I'm not sure if it will work in a Mac though.
Apple could put slower chips in the Mini. Intel has them available.
And I could easily imagine, within a couple of years, a version of the mini half the size of the current model, that has no hard drive or optical drive. Right now, I'm running my OS off of a 7,200 RPM firewire drive and it works just fine. What I could imagine is Apple selling two versions of the mini, one stripped of even the hard drive and optical drive and another with flash memory and an optical drive. The stripped-down version, checking in at around $450 US would make a marvellous little product. Even after adding an external optical drive/burner and memory, you would have a decent little computer for not much more money than the current mini. In fact, in terms of cost in relation to performance, such a package would represent greater value than what Apple could offer in a integrated package such as the current mini. Besides, many of us already have the pieces to take advantage of such a device. From my perspective, by taking my existing hard drives and DVD burner, I could opt for the new stripped down mini as a great way to switch to the upcoming OS X update.
Maybe, in two years. But don't expect a lower price.
If there are far fewer consumers out there than I think there are who are positioned as I am, well then, that's another matter. But I suspect there must already by a lot of external hard drives and burners sitting in people's homes because I find it hard to believe that manufacturers are building those products just to satisfy my needs. And at well under $200 each, buying a burner or hard drive is hardly an expensive proposition.
It's not an expensive proposition, as you say. External drives are available for $100, and External optical drives for that as well.
But, it's like getting people to back up. It's not that much trouble, but they won't do it.