Apple Mac Mini July 2011
Apple Mac Mini 2011
Apple has launched the latest version of its Mac Mini. The new model features improved specifications and a stylish aluminium case, but it's DVD slot has been removed. Find out more in our hands-on first look.
What, no DVD drive?
The latest version of the Apple Mac Mini comes pre-installed with the latest iteration of Apple's operating system, known as Lion. For existing Apple Mac users running previous versions of the operating system, the upgrade to Lion is only available as a download - and not on a disc.
This new approach, along with the removal of the DVD drive from the Mac Mini suggests that Apple sees physical formats, such as CDs and DVDs, as being usurped by digital downloads and cloud-based streaming.
And it's not only the DVD drive that's missing. You may be surprised after spending £529 (for the basic model) that you don't get a keyboard or mouse. It might not be necessary for you to shell out any further money, however, as the Mac Mini is compatible with a number of Apple and third-party keyboards and mice that can be connected either over Bluetooth or through a USB connection.
Apple Mac Mini first look video
This is the new Mac Mini running the new Mac lion OS operating system.
Now it's lost its DVD drive, in the front, and I think that's typical of approach to the non-physical format these days.
Because if you wanted to get the line operating system your existing Mac, you'll have to download it. There are no DVD physical formats of that operating system available.
And if you did for whatever reason want to get something from a disk onto this device Or off it and onto a disk, Apple suggests that for sixty-six pounds you invest in the Macbook Air SuperDrive.
Now as standard it comes with an I5 processor that runs at two point three or two point five gigahertz, or you can go for the i seven processor,
that can run it up to two point seven gigahertz.
Now it comes with two or four gig of memory, but that can be expanded up to eight by removing the base. You can also expand the five hundred gigabytes of storage to seven hundred gigabytes. So you can get that extra amount of movies or films or photos or whatever you like stored on it. Now we take a quick tour of the device and look at the rear.
You can see that it has a power button. here, next to the power input. Now, this has a transformer built in, so you don't need a extra large power pack to cart around with you. You've then got the Ethernet, the fire wire, then we've got the HDMI that we're using here to connect it to our HDTV, which is next to the thunderbolt port.
Now the Thunderbolt port gives transport speeds theoretically twenty times faster than a typical USB 2.0. It can also be doubled to be used as a display port. then you've got your four USB 2 point zero ports, it's not three point zero, that is that little bit faster, you've then got your SD card slot that recognizes the extended capacity SD cards and your audio in and your audio out.
Now the Mac Mini comes pre-installed with a number of applications that most Mac users will be familiar with, such as Garage Band, i Movie, and i Photo. but, running the Lion operating system, Apple claims that they're around two hundred and fifty differences between this and the previous version of Snow Leopard.
now we'll be looking at that Mac Lion operating system soon in depth, in a separate video, and we'll also have a full lab-based review of the Mac Book Air has recently been upgraded too. So, for that information, and for more details on the Mac Mini, go to which.co.UK/technology
*The hard disk storage can be increased to 750GB, and not to 700GB as was mentioned in the video.
Would you buy a computer without a DVD drive? Have your say on Which? Conversation.
So, what do I get for my money?
The lack of a DVD drive may put a few users off, but much of the appeal of this mini desktop computer is its design, and the removal of the slot from the front of the box gives it an even cleaner, minimalist look.
It's also pretty powerful, and will give many larger desktops a run for their money. At the lower end of the Mac Mini price range you'll find a model with a dual-core Intel i5 processor running at 2.3GHz. There's also an i5 2.5GHz version and an i7 model clocking speeds up to 2.7GHz. Removing the DVD drive has allowed Apple to add dedicated graphics to the more expensive version as well, making it a useful small gaming PC.
In terms of memory, there's the option of 2GB, 4GB or 8GB, depending on your budget, and the standard 500GB of storage can be expanded to 750GB should you need extra space for your music, films and photos. You can upgrade the memory yourself, however, which we'd recommend as Apple's prices for upgrades are expensive in comparison to buying your own.
What's so special about Mac OS X Lion? Read our top five reasons to upgrade.
Can it replace my existing desktop?
Yes, it can. It comes with a number of apps pre-installed that will allow you to get on with all your regular desktop tasks, including Safari for web browsing, Garage Band for music-making, iMovie for video-editing and FaceTime, Apple's video chatting software for keeping in touch with others. New apps can be downloaded from the Apple Mac App Store.
If you do buy a Mac Mini to replace your existing desktop, then as well as the keyboard and mouse, you might want to keep hold of the monitor too. Alternatively, you could just plug it in to a TV and use that as a monitor, but this takes the 'personal' out of personal computing, so to keep others in the room happy this practice might be best reserved for when watching films.
How's the connectivity?
The Mac Mini 2011 has a number of wired and wireless connectivity options. It's Bluetooth-enabled and supports both Ethernet and wi-fi web access. In the back there are four USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI socket, an SD card slot and a FireWire connection. There's also a Thunderbolt port, which offers faster transfer speeds than USB and doubles as a Mini DisplayPort for compatible monitors. There's also an audio in and an audio out, and a power point, which helpfully hides the power unit, making the cable smaller and more portable than a typical laptop cable.
What is Thunderbolt and why are we disappointed that the Mac Mini lacks USB 3.0? Find out in our Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 guide.
Apple MacBook Air and Lion OS
We'll be looking in detail at the new Lion operating system soon, and we'll also have a full lab-based review of the 2011 Apple MacBook Air in the next few days to see how it compares with other laptops.
Be sure to check out our laptop reviews in the coming days, where you'll find the definitive verdict on the following:
- Wi-fi signal quality – unlike other review websites, we test the range, quality and reliability of every laptop's wi-fi connection.
- Real-world battery life – we don't use synthetic tests to estimate battery life, we perform real-world tests that measure battery life when using wi-fi and when watching films on DVD.
- Screen quality – we compare every laptop we test for screen quality using professional measuring equipment and a panel of expert testers that view laptops side-by-side to see which is best. We also test how easy it is to view in bright light.
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