Apple has this interesting knack for product placement and product positioning that no other computer manufacturer has. Take the new Mac mini as the example.
It’s the least expensive Mac, smallest Mac ever, yet it comes with plenty of powerful options which make it a good choice for Mac users on a budget, or Mac geeks who need a small, affordable, but high powered server.
Small Is Beautiful, Less Is More
How does one Mac cross so many boundaries? First, the price. It starts at $599 with an Intel Core i5 CPU, a 500GB hard disk drive, and 4GB of RAM.
That configuration and price point makes it an excellent second machine at home– just add keyboard, mouse, and display.
At the other end of the scale the Mac mini becomes a powerful, low cost server. This model as the Core i7 CPU, two 1TB hard disk drives, and OS X Mountain Lion with OS X Server.
The latest iteration of Apple’s diminutive mini also has all the ports to make it a flexible machine for experienced Mac users, Mac neophytes, or Unix server geeks.
There’s Gigabit ethernet for connectivity, FireWire 800 for high speed data transfer, USB 3 (four ports), Thunderbolt, HDMI out, an SDXC card slot, audio in and out, plus Bluetooth 4.0, and Wi-Fi.
Why is the Mac mini popular among new Mac users? It’s small, inconspicuous, powerful, and inexpensive. Why is the mini popular among the geeks in the server crowd? Same reasons, plus OS X Server, small footprint, plus low power requirements.
Everything you need to turn the Mac mini into a full on server is included (mail server, web server, DNS, VPN, Calendar and Contacts server, RADIUS, SMB, and much more.
The Mac mini has become popular in server co-location facilities because they take up so little space, use very little power, and most necessary server software is included.
What’s missing in the mini configuration is the display, keyboard, and mouse. The latter two, if purchased from Apple, adds another $118 to the price tag. Apple’s Thunderbolt-equipped display is attractive, but expensive relative to non-Apple displays.
Gone, too, in recent Mac mini models is the SuperDrive, but available as a USB add-on for $79. What would make the Mac mini an even more attractive device is a cable connector and built-in digital video recorder, or DVR app (available from Elgato as a standalone product).