Mac mini makeover considered likely for Macworld

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  • Reply 81 of 174
    steve666steve666 Posts: 2,600member
    What would your choice be for a keyboard to go with it and which monitor would you buy? Looking to buy a new Mini also.
  • Reply 82 of 174
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by steve666 View Post


    What would your choice be for a keyboard to go with it and which monitor would you buy? Looking to buy a new Mini also.



    I have a white Apple Pro ll (USB) keyboard that would work just lovely with a Mini. I have a black Logitech Mouse ($9 at Wal-Mart) that I am going to use also. As for a monitor, I'm probably going to get a Dell 20" or 22" wide screen since they are under $300 - a pretty decent monitor for the money.



    The Dells can have DVI input and display 16.7 Million colors which are true colors rather than using dithering to simulate milliions of colors which equates to about 262,000+/- colors on a "millions of colors at all resolutions" 20" iMac display, the primary reason I am buying a Mini in the first place.



    The 20" iMac was really my first choice until I found out about the display at which point I changed my mind. I use my Mac for photography and a 6 bit display = 262,000+/- colors (20" iMac) will not give a true representation of all colors that the human eye can perceive (8 bit = 16.7 million colors.) I don't play games, so that aspect is not a concern for me.



    I'd get a 24" iMac, but I can't afford it, it's just too expensive and I'd never buy a Mac without AppleCare - I can afford a loaded Mini with AppleCare. It's all about the Benjamins in the end.
  • Reply 83 of 174
    steve666steve666 Posts: 2,600member
    I like that keyboard also, too bad they switched to the aluminum framed small keyboard. I'm going to try and find something else, maybe MacAlly ?

    As for the monitor I havent shopped for one in ages so I'm not sure what to get. I assume a DVI is better than analogue. I dont want anything bigger than a 17 inch really, and I dont like widescreen.

    I don't think I could get myself to buy anything from Dell, though.
  • Reply 84 of 174
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by steve666 View Post


    I like that keyboard also, too bad they switched to the aluminum framed small keyboard. I'm going to try and find something else, maybe MacAlly ?

    As for the monitor I havent shopped for one in ages so I'm not sure what to get. I assume a DVI is better than analogue. I dont want anything bigger than a 17 inch really, and I dont like widescreen.

    I don't think I could get myself to buy anything from Dell, though.



    Well, yes Dell isn't my first choice either, but I don't have the money for a 20" or 23" Apple Studio Display, but I do need to be 8-bit capable as I said before. You can get a pretty decent monitor for around $300 and for photos, I want more than 17".



    I've used a CRT iMac and eMac, 15" and 17" respectively since 2004 and its just too cramped when you are using CS3 with a 24Mb file, its like driving on the freeway with only one eye open and sunglasses on.
  • Reply 85 of 174
    idaveidave Posts: 1,283member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by steve666 View Post


    As for the monitor I havent shopped for one in ages so I'm not sure what to get. I assume a DVI is better than analogue. I dont want anything bigger than a 17 inch really, and I dont like widescreen.



    Yes, Steve, DVI is the way to go. For a while, there were a gazillion 1280x1024 17" monitors available. I think there are fewer now that wide screens have become popular. If you like bigger pixels (I don't) the same resolution is available in 19" versions. This aspect ratio is nice for surfing because it's taller and most web pages are tall. But I just got a cheap ($220) LG display for my office. It's 1680x1050, which is as high as those I mentioned but wider. The extra width comes in handy for pallettes or icons on your desktop.



    Since the new mini will come with mini-DisplayPort, it's likely to need a DVI adapter. It might come with one but it sure won't come with a VGA adapter. So keep that in mind.
  • Reply 86 of 174
    steve666steve666 Posts: 2,600member
    Thanks for the info. I am going to look up NEC, Samsung, Viewsonic and Acer and see what I can come up with. Amazon's website has customer reviews.
  • Reply 87 of 174
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,807moderator
    There's no specific reason to ditch firewire due to space as they will replace DVI with mini-dp but there is still the issue of the Nvidia chipset not supporting firewire so it's extra cost. The Mini only had FW400 and FW400 is disappearing in favour of FW800.



    I'd say that they'll either go FW800 or not at all.



    I also doubt Steve will go about redesigning the whole machine based on what one email asks for. Especially considering he doesn't design, build or manufacture the machines himself.
  • Reply 88 of 174
    Hi,



    I still think the Mini will be phased out in favour of an updated Apple TV. The Apple TV could be significantly improved with a software update (Take 3), to become a more stand-alone media/home server machine.



    This would also fit with Apple telling people asking for Mini updates to "hang in there". The added features (below) would problaby cover 80% of current Mini users needs.



    Take 3 features:



    - iTunes (stand-alone)

    - Safari

    - External disks via USB

    - Keyboard and mouse

    - Apps and games via AppStore (I wish)



    That would be be a very attractive offer. It's would not be a full Mac. An updated Mini at at current price could be problematic in comparison to other Macs.



    Best,



    Daniel
  • Reply 89 of 174
    ssassa Posts: 47member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by imacmadman22 View Post


    Keep the Firewire!!!!

    Add 2.4/2.6 Ghz Processor or better

    Add 9400M w/128 mb video or better

    Add wireless "N"

    Keep the Firewire!!!!

    Add 4 Gb Ram capability (or more)

    Add 250 Gb Hd capability (or more)

    Keep the Firewire!!!!



    I don't play games

    I don't edit video

    I don't need HD capability

    I don't need a server





    Did I say PLEASE keep the Firewire?



    I am confused on why you are so adamant about the Firewire, especially if you don't edit video. Most external HDDs are more likely to have eSATA then FW these days and eSATA has better potential bandwidth than FW400 or FW800 so as far as I am concerned unless you are going to be hooking up a DV camera FW of any variety isn't needed. Especially considering the low end processors that are typical on the Mac Mini while you can edit video on the machine the vast majority of people who are going to be editing video are going to be buying at least an iMac if not a Mac Pro.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    I'd say that they'll either go FW800 or not at all.



    I may be holding my breath for this one, but I would prefer that they replace FW with eSATA. Far more external drives support eSATA than FW and that trend isn't likely to change anytime soon since FW ports are becoming less common and we are just talking Macs either(eg. a lot of cheap Compaq desktops used to have FW). FW800 would be nice, but there aren't that many devices that take advantage of it. The only argument to retain the FW port is that some people are using Mac Minis with DV cameras.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    Nah....he just forgot to append " at the margins we like to seel at" to the end of that sentence.



    I would probably agree with that. I seem to remember a story for the first, maybe second generation Mac Mini where the estimated wholesale cost of a $600 Mac Mini was ~$510. After you threw in support costs, and R&D there probably wasn't much margin left on the machine. Needless to say later updates were pretty cheap upgrades there little more than tweaked the specs of the machine so that they could reap bigger margins. I am guessing that Apple either is testing a longer product cycle for the Mac Mini because they are trying to see how much money they can make with a low spec Mac or Apple is developing a dramatically redesigned Mac Mini and needless to say there is a lot of directions that they could go.



    Quote:

    Jobs is a fcking moron. 17k signatures on a petition. FW complaint threads on various message boards hitting 2 and 3k posts. Jobs' is clearly wrong. Apple hardware has shown very little innovation which is why Psystar and other companies are trying to eat Apple's lunch.



    While that is fairly impressive, I don't think that alone is going to sway Apple. At the current moment the new MB w/o FW is a top seller at both the Apple store and at Apple resellers. I think Apple already knew that there was going to be some criticism about the exclusion of FW so they have retained the old white MacBook as a canary in the coalmine is see whether interest in FW on the MB really is that strong. If sales for the white MacBook are particularly strong and sales for the new Macbook miss Apple's internal estimates we might see FW come back on the MB, but even that is just a guess.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jacob1varghese View Post


    There seems to be 2 markets to serve here:

    a. Corporate for which cheap mac minis are perfect for desktop computers or as part of server farms.

    b. Consumer looking for low entry point into Mac ecosystem.



    I think this doesn't get said enough. I really don't think that there is one type of desktop people are looking for <$1000. The Mac Mini is trying to be too many things to too many people. While with the current economy and uncertainty I have my skepticism that Apple is going to split the Mini into two different designs right now if I were Apple I would have strongly studied the idea if not implemented the idea.



    So for a consumer focused machine I think that I would consider making the Mac Mini just a smidge taller and moving to a 3.5" HDD. This would allow for Apple to use HDDs that were cheaper per GB and allow Apple to reasonably include a 500GB HDD on the $600 model. While the 6.5x6.5 footprint is nice a lot of people would trade a slightly taller chassis if the computer had more storage for the same price if NOT a lower price.



    As for mini-DP, I really have to differ with some people on the whole idea of dropping DVI for mini-DP. There is only one monitor on the market that uses mini-DP(Apple's LED 24") and it is $900! Hooking up to EVERY other monitor would require an adapter, which on a computer that is intended to bring people into the Apple world is a bad idea. To add insult to injury, Apple hasn't released a mini-DP to HDMI adapter so anyone hoping to use the Mac Mini for a media center will need an adapter from mini-DP to DVI, then DVI-HDMI. That isn't elegant at all, nor would it encourage people to buy this machine. Apple apologists will tell you how forward thinking Displayport is, but where is the mini-DP to DP adapter so you can hook it up to a monitor with standard DP? So Apple is hyping up the advantages of DP, but you can't get ANY of the benefits of the standard because other from their $900 monitor you can't hook up any monitor with DP. Adding mini-DP to the Mac Mini seems like nothing more than giving potential users a world of hurt with no clear benefit. Several commentators have questioned the hype over displayport considering that so few monitors have been released that include the standard. A full size DP port makes sense on the Mac Pro where there are a lot of potential users of monitors with DP, but for a consumer machine any variation on DP seems silly. For the time being I would prefer them to retain DVI. DVI is pretty standard for new monitors these days. If they have to move a smaller connector they would be better off going with HDMI insofar as most TVs have HDMI and HDMI>DVI adapters are commonplace and fairly inexpensive compared to Apple's mini-DP adapters. The only drawback of HDMI is the lack of analog support, but while there still are a fair amount of monitors still in use with VGA only, the vast majority of new monitors have DVI. Heck, I can buy new monitors as cheap as $100 that have DVI! VGA isn't dead yet, but in the new monitor market it isn't hard to find DVI anymore.



    As for the specs I would probably bump up the CPU on both the high end and the low end Mac Mini to a first generation Penryn and use the Geforce 9300. I would prefer the Geforce 9400, but I think Apple would prefer to keep costs down by going with a slightly cheaper graphics chipset. The $600 model would have a superdrive and a 500GB 3.5" drive and both models would have 2GB of DDR2(DDR3 would cost too much on these machines), an SD card reader on the front, and 802.11N support. Meanwhile on the $800 model Apple would have a 750GB HDD and offer a DVD-burner/Blu-ray reader.



    As for a server focused machine I would probably again create a slightly taller chassis, but instead of using a 3.5" drive like in the consumer model, there would be 2 2.5" drives so that one could have a RAID 1 set if you wanted. Most of the remaining specs would be the same on both the mini server and the consumer machine. The only difference is that I think that a high end mini server would have a better processor or faster HDDs in place of a Blu-ray reader.



    As for things I don't think are realistic:



    -DDR3 (too expensive at this point for a $600)



    -dropping the optical drive (I can see that one isn't needed for a server, but an optical drive isn't that expensive and most consumers are going to want to use an optical from time to time)



    -Quad Cores (too expensive and more importantly too much heat for a small computer)



    -Intel i7 (way too expensive and I don't think there are any boards in that form factor that would even support it)



    - merge the AppleTV with the Mac Mini (The AppleTV doesn't really compete with the MacMini anyways and the AppleTV will either be overhauled or eliminated next year anyways.)



    -modular design (too unorthodox, too many unknown costs, not a clear demand for this either)



    -An SSD (too expensive, not enough demand in the non-enterprise desktop although because some people are using these at mini-servers it might be CTO option)



    - an expresscard slot (not enough demand)



    I wouldn't be surprised if Apple eliminates FW and moves to mini-DP and then will claim that there wasn't enough space for FW. That being said if they do that I think that a lot of users would be really unhappy because nobody is clamoring for adapters just to use any type of display nevermind getting the FW fanatics mad. In the last year Apple has underwhelmed and somehow I am cynical that they are going to change this trend.
  • Reply 90 of 174
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,354member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Daniel B View Post


    Hi,



    I still think the Mini will be phased out in favour of an updated Apple TV. The Apple TV could be significantly improved with a software update (Take 3), to become a more stand-alone media/home server machine.



    This would also fit with Apple telling people asking for Mini updates to "hang in there". The added features (below) would problaby cover 80% of current Mini users needs.





    That would be be a very attractive offer. It's would not be a full Mac. An updated Mini at at current price could be problematic in comparison to other Macs.



    Best,



    Daniel



    Not with the current hardware of the mini. One USB port that's not functional without hacking. HDMI outputs which would require new cables. No Bluetooth and subpar graphics. The current ATV would be a disasterous computer to attempt to sell to consumers



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SSA View Post


    I am confused on why you are so adamant about the Firewire, especially if you don't edit video. Most external HDDs are more likely to have eSATA then FW these days and eSATA has better potential bandwidth than FW400 or FW800 so as far as I am concerned unless you are going to be hooking up a DV camera FW of any variety isn't needed. Especially considering the low end processors that are typical on the Mac Mini while you can edit video on the machine the vast majority of people who are going to be editing video are going to be buying at least an iMac if not a Mac Pro.





    Firewire may have gotten it's roots in Video with Mini DV cameras but has since become more of a factor in the audio world. The reason for this is that video ingesting isn't latency sensitive but bandwith sensitive whilst audio is latency sensitive but not really bandwith sensitive. Firewire is vastly more important for audio interfaces now vs video interfaces.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SSA View Post


    I may be holding my breath for this one, but I would prefer that they replace FW with eSATA. Far more external drives support eSATA than FW and that trend isn't likely to change anytime soon since FW ports are becoming less common and we are just talking Macs either(eg. a lot of cheap Compaq desktops used to have FW). FW800 would be nice, but there aren't that many devices that take advantage of it. The only argument to retain the FW port is that some people are using Mac Minis with DV cameras.



    No this simply isn't true nor is it informed. FW is important in multiple ways. I've already mentioned the audio benefits but you also have the ability to run IP over FW and FW over Coax is going to be large for supplying routing of media throughout homes (see www.hanaalliance.org/). FW is a peer to peer protocol as well so it's beginning to be used in automotive applications as well. eSATA is a one trick pony and unpowered at that. It's faster than that FW but you don't get any of the other benefits. Personally I'd like to have FW800 and eSATA but if I'm given a choice I'm going with the more flexible connection. Firewire.









    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SSA View Post


    As for mini-DP, I really have to differ with some people on the whole idea of dropping DVI for mini-DP. There is only one monitor on the market that uses mini-DP(Apple's LED 24") and it is $900! Hooking up to EVERY other monitor would require an adapter, which on a computer that is intended to bring people into the Apple world is a bad idea. To add insult to injury, Apple hasn't released a mini-DP to HDMI adapter so anyone hoping to use the Mac Mini for a media center will need an adapter from mini-DP to DVI, then DVI-HDMI. That isn't elegant at all, nor would it encourage people to buy this machine. Apple apologists will tell you how forward thinking Displayport is, but where is the mini-DP to DP adapter so you can hook it up to a monitor with standard DP? So Apple is hyping up the advantages of DP, but you can't get ANY of the benefits of the standard because other from their $900 monitor you can't hook up any monitor with DP. Adding mini-DP to the Mac Mini seems like nothing more than giving potential users a world of hurt with no clear benefit. Several commentators have questioned the hype over displayport considering that so few monitors have been released that include the standard. A full size DP port makes sense on the Mac Pro where there are a lot of potential users of monitors with DP, but for a consumer machine any variation on DP seems silly. For the time being I would prefer them to retain DVI. DVI is pretty standard for new monitors these days. If they have to move a smaller connector they would be better off going with HDMI insofar as most TVs have HDMI and HDMI>DVI adapters are commonplace and fairly inexpensive compared to Apple's mini-DP adapters. The only drawback of HDMI is the lack of analog support, but while there still are a fair amount of monitors still in use with VGA only, the vast majority of new monitors have DVI. Heck, I can buy new monitors as cheap as $100 that have DVI! VGA isn't dead yet, but in the new monitor market it isn't hard to find DVI anymore.



    Actually MDP supports TMDS functionality of DVI/HDMI. It means that you're simply a MDP-->HDMI cable away from an adapter free connection. Monoprice is already working on a MDP to HDMI cable. If the MDP connector has %100 of the functionality of the full size connector then the queston becomes "why should I use more real estate for the full size connector? Anyone who cannot see the benefits of DisplayPort technology should not be commentating on a large scale to other tech enthusiasts. It's license free which HDMI is not. It supports better color gamut over HDMI. It has aux channels that can run audio or other signals. You will be able to daisychain multiple monitors with a cable. There is not internal and external interface like TMDS with HDMI/DVI. It supports 2560x1600 without needing to use dual link TMDS. 4 K resolution over a single cable will be feasible with DisplayPort 2.0.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SSA View Post


    I wouldn't be surprised if Apple eliminates FW and moves to mini-DP and then will claim that there wasn't enough space for FW. That being said if they do that I think that a lot of users would be really unhappy because nobody is clamoring for adapters just to use any type of display nevermind getting the FW fanatics mad. In the last year Apple has underwhelmed and somehow I am cynical that they are going to change this trend.



    Agreed. FW on the consumer computers is probably going bye bye. Though DisplayPort on the Mini immediately makes it a better HTPC along with that MDP to HDMI cable. I'm tempted to do this solution versus getting an AppleTV so that I have a full computing environment. In this way I really wouldn't need an optical drive because I'll have my HD DVD and eventually Blu-ray to spin upscaled DVD.
  • Reply 91 of 174
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,807moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SSA View Post


    I may be holding my breath for this one, but I would prefer that they replace FW with eSATA. Far more external drives support eSATA than FW.



    FW400 + FW800 devices will outnumber eSATA devices by a large margin and FW800 is compatible with all of them. eSATA is mainly for storage.



    I also think that compatibility is more important than theoretical performance. You can support eSATA devices with a FW800 hub:



    http://www.firmtek.com/seritek/seritek-spyder/



    eSATA may be faster natively but you'd be hard pressed to get close to the 100MB/s limit of FW800. Firewire is just a more useful port to have.



    I don't mind seeing the end of FW400 but I think it would be wise of Apple to keep FW800 going and as many machines as they can. The Macbook was an exception due to space and possibly cost.
  • Reply 92 of 174
    irelandireland Posts: 17,785member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Haggar View Post


    Steve Jobs said "We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." Yet the original Mac Mini cost $499 when it was introduced. Did Steve admit that the Mac Mini is a piece of junk?



    "Notebook computer."
  • Reply 93 of 174
    For any new Macs in 2009, I would gladly give up FW for a pair of on-board eSATA ports. FW is a great interface/protocol (it's 80% of 1Gb/s Fibre Channel from 1999) but eSATA will allow us to get back on the performance curve. You can buy all kinds of drive enclosures that are eSATA now and while I likey the FW, eSATA is a step forward IMHO. I'm not a USB fan, there's too much overhead; perhaps this will be better with USB3, I don't know; we'll see.



    -s
  • Reply 94 of 174
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,354member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by subaqua View Post


    For any new Macs in 2009, I would gladly give up FW for a pair of on-board eSATA ports. FW is a great interface/protocol (it's 80% of 1Gb/s Fibre Channel from 1999) but eSATA will allow us to get back on the performance curve. You can buy all kinds of drive enclosures that are eSATA now and while I likey the FW, eSATA is a step forward IMHO. I'm not a USB fan, there's too much overhead; perhaps this will be better with USB3, I don't know; we'll see.



    -s



    I'm just wondering how many people are actually limited by the connection to their drives. If you're a prosumer or pro and you have a 4 TB Array hooked up to your computer then it's easy to make a case for eSATA.



    The case for both technologies is difficult when taken from the context of the storage needs for the avg consumer whereby USB 2.0 is just fine.
  • Reply 95 of 174
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by subaqua View Post


    For any new Macs in 2009, I would gladly give up FW for a pair of on-board eSATA ports. FW is a great interface/protocol (it's 80% of 1Gb/s Fibre Channel from 1999) but eSATA will allow us to get back on the performance curve. You can buy all kinds of drive enclosures that are eSATA now and while I likey the FW, eSATA is a step forward IMHO. I'm not a USB fan, there's too much overhead; perhaps this will be better with USB3, I don't know; we'll see.



    -s



    ESATA is a one truck pony, that is an interface for disk/storage devices. That's it! FireWire on the other hand is an extremely flexible serial interface. I will always opt for flexibility over a limited interface unless there is a specific need to fill.



    The other reality is that Firewire has an upgrade path that is already available. It really makes no sense to compare old Firewire rates with the rates of a new interface like eSATA. Everything in the computing world either evolves and gets better or dies. Which brings us to the next issue, eSATA isn't fast enough! We are already seeing that single SATA SSD drives being limited by the interface. This will only get worst when Flash drives mature or Flash gets replaced with some of the new tech breaking out of the labs.



    What I'm basically saying is that eSATA really doesn't look like it has much of a future. It certainly lacks in flexibility.



    Dave
  • Reply 96 of 174
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    ESATA is a one truck pony, that is an interface for disk/storage devices. That's it! FireWire on the other hand is an extremely flexible serial interface. I will always opt for flexibility over a limited interface unless there is a specific need to fill.



    The other reality is that Firewire has an upgrade path that is already available. It really makes no sense to compare old Firewire rates with the rates of a new interface like eSATA. Everything in the computing world either evolves and gets better or dies. Which brings us to the next issue, eSATA isn't fast enough! We are already seeing that single SATA SSD drives being limited by the interface. This will only get worst when Flash drives mature or Flash gets replaced with some of the new tech breaking out of the labs.



    What I'm basically saying is that eSATA really doesn't look like it has much of a future. It certainly lacks in flexibility.



    Dave



    I agree that Firewire is more popular than many think, as they are not considering applications outside of the novice consumer Mac user. Besides being the universal standard for professional level video cameras/equipment, virtually all professional audio equipment, high-speed scientific/laboratory/engineering equipment and automotive systems --- One of the most important users is the military and aerospace industry. The architecture of Firewire is actually so good that it is used for all of the data networking and communications on the latest fighter jets, the F22 Raptor and the F35 lightning!



    Anyways, despite being a relatively new standard that is only now beginning to see use outside of pro-level external RAID systems, I think eSATA has a lot of promise for consumer/prosumer external storage. I do, however, believe that it's potential hinges primarily on the release timeframe and success of USB3.0. Firewire 3200 will no doubt be great, but we all know that it is not going to be a widely used consumer standard unless something changes dramatically and Apple opens up the spec for free with no royalties or something. Right now, it looks like USB3.0 devices will not be available until at least the first half of 2010, most likely the end of 2010 for widespread availability and decent pricing. In the interim two years from now, I wouldn't be surprised if more and more people started using eSATA, at least the ones who know better. Also, although it's obvious that people don't always make the best choice given the fact of USB2.0's popularity in external harddrives, the USB3.0 spec will probably come nowhere near it's stated 4.8Gbps (600MB/sec), probably more like 60% of that. The next version of SATA/eSATA, SATA 600, is also rated at 600MB/sec and should achieve pretty close to that. Obviously these numbers are far larger than any harddrive and even the fastest of SSDs, but eventually it will matter.



    You are correct though that Firewire is a much more flexible and useful connection. the backwards compatible nature of FW3200, even the cables and connectors is going to make a great upgrade to an already excellent product. It really is too bad that Steve Jobs got in the way and screwed it all up by alienating the manufacturers with high royalties vs. USB.
  • Reply 97 of 174
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by winterspan View Post


    I agree that Firewire is more popular than many think, as they are not considering applications outside of the novice consumer Mac user. Besides being the universal standard for professional level video cameras/equipment, virtually all professional audio equipment, high-speed scientific/laboratory/engineering equipment and automotive systems --- One of the most important users is the military and aerospace industry. The architecture of Firewire is actually so good that it is used for all of the data networking and communications on the latest fighter jets, the F22 Raptor and the F35 lightning!



    What is important is that these advanced applications are increasing in numbers and more importantly diversity. Firewire is finding its way into all sorts of interesting hardware like Software Defined Radios and such.

    Quote:



    Anyways, despite being a relatively new standard that is only now beginning to see use outside of pro-level external RAID systems, I think eSATA has a lot of promise for consumer/prosumer external storage. I do, however, believe that it's potential hinges primarily on the release timeframe and success of USB3.0.



    Interesting because I haven't really considered USB3.0 much. Taking a look at the two I'm still not sure how rational it would be to choose eSATA over USB3.0, for much the same reasons. It is all about that one trick pony problem eSATA has. In the consumer space I see that making eSATA less attractive. After all if you are about to buy a PC with a fixed number of I/O ports wouldn't you want those ports to be flexible?



    This brings up an aspect that is real important that is it isn't easy to add ports to some platforms like Notebook computers and more than half of Apples desktop line up. Unless you have a very specific usage, the greater good would come form the more flexible ports. On something like the Mini the eSATA port would only be good for connection of disk drives which causes me to take the opinion that the limitation is to severe.

    Quote:

    Firewire 3200 will no doubt be great, but we all know that it is not going to be a widely used consumer standard unless something changes dramatically and Apple opens up the spec for free with no royalties or something. Right now, it looks like USB3.0 devices will not be available until at least the first half of 2010, most likely the end of 2010 for widespread availability and decent pricing. In the interim two years from now, I wouldn't be surprised if more and more people started using eSATA, at least the ones who know better.



    I don't know about knowing better but it certainly is a good choice for disk I/O. But again is that something you want built into a fixed I/O machine? Frankly this highlights Apples greatest short coming which is the lack of I/O expansion on its mainstream hardware. I wouldn't even bother to discuss this if Apple had an expansion slot that would allow me to install the I/O of my choice. They don't on the low end thus the need to focus on flexibility of the port and not its cheapness, or other qualities.

    Quote:

    Also, although it's obvious that people don't always make the best choice given the fact of USB2.0's popularity in external harddrives, the USB3.0 spec will probably come nowhere near it's stated 4.8Gbps (600MB/sec), probably more like 60% of that. The next version of SATA/eSATA, SATA 600, is also rated at 600MB/sec and should achieve pretty close to that. Obviously these numbers are far larger than any harddrive and even the fastest of SSDs, but eventually it will matter.



    Unfortunately those numbers simply are not good enough! FusionIO already has Flash storage systems doing 600 MB/s writes and 700 MB/s reads. Yeah this years advance tech, but likely next years mid level expectation. Thats with flash in a shipping product, it doesn't take into account what we will be able to obtain if some of the new Solid State Storage technology hits.



    This is why I see the fixation on eSATA by many as a big joke as it is already a performance limiter in a version that hasn't even moved into production yet. Now FusionIO's drive is something different but we already have more conventional SSD that are being limited by todays eSATA. Like it or not eSATA is already outdated. I would suspect that by mid 2009 all SSD will at times have their performance impacted by the current eSATA standard.

    Quote:



    You are correct though that Firewire is a much more flexible and useful connection. the backwards compatible nature of FW3200, even the cables and connectors is going to make a great upgrade to an already excellent product. It really is too bad that Steve Jobs got in the way and screwed it all up by alienating the manufacturers with high royalties vs. USB.



    Well Steve has screwed up a lot of things and this is a good example but I'm not sure if the issue is all Steves and all royalties. In any event this is a common mistake of American manufactures and all the blame shouldn't lay on Steve shoulders. Often companies go about trying to monetize a technology and end up loosing more than if they had simply set an open industry standard. Somethings need to be shared openly to grow brightly. I'd expect that part of the blame also lies with modern business schools, they seem to fail at the idea that companies don't operate in a vacuum and sometimes cooperation is more important than wringing the very last dollar out of a widget.





    Thanks

    Dave
  • Reply 98 of 174
    Does every thread have turn into an endless Firewire debate?



    Stop it!



    /Daniel
  • Reply 99 of 174
    I, too, fully expect Firewire to be gone from a redesigned mini assuming the mini is being redesigned. Wish they'd keep it, though. Looking back, I'm not sure Apple has really cared about Firewire for quite some time. Perhaps more accurately I'm not sure they've cared about the superior features that Firewire offers and can impart to a personal computer. Maybe they've only kept it around still thinking that they can give it some traction to drive royalties. Did they give up trying to monetize Firewire and hence no longer give two hoots it? In other words... "if we can't make money off of Firewire then we're no longer interested in putting it on computers, either". Sure, it will stick around on the high end Apple kit but that's because they know they can't alienate that segment.
  • Reply 100 of 174
    outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    MacRumors has a front page story about new congiguration files in 10.5.6 that make mention of the new NVIDIA chipset in relation to new iMac and mini models. So we have some pretty good evidence to what the new mini's will offer spec-wise:



    • 4GB of RAM ceiling

    • MacBook equivalent graphics

    • DispayPort connector

    • Wireless 802.11n



    Still up in the air:

    • Firewire (shouldn't be ruled out since the mini doesn't have the same space constraints that the MB does. You can make the argument that since the huge DVI port is being swapped for the DP, it opens up a lot of space there in the back.)

    • Quad core CPU. I'm thinking some special order low power Intel chip here.

    • Refreshed enclosure. Why not?
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