Amidst the fanfare and media frenzy that was the iPhone 4 launch, Apple quietly slipped out a new Mac Mini. Redesigned to fit in with the uni-body design of the Mac Book range the unit is sleeker and more attractive than its predecessor. Predictably it also has a faster processor, more memory, a larger drive and faster graphics hardware. Now costing £649 the model has moved on from its original brief as an entry level Mac to tempt users aware from Wintel to an altogether more powerful and capable device.
With an HDMI port as standard the Mac Mini will do excellent service at the center of your home entertainment system. Of course Apple have deigned to ignore Blu-Ray and include a DVD drive. With the format war between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray now over in the latter’s favour, the platform now pretty mature and the huge library of films now available it’s an irritating omission. But of course Apple want to sell and rent you films via iTunes, so where’s the revenue stream for them with Blu-Ray? What a shame, had the Mini included a Blu-Ray drive I’d have bitten Apple’s fingers off to get one having thus far resisted the charms of the HD format.
With the inclusion of HDMI and its smaller size the new Mini is now stepping on the toes of the arguably unloved Apple TV (certainly unloved in this household, more on that later.) It’s interesting to note that on visiting the UK Apple online store the Apple TV is now nowhere to be seen on the front page, I don’t think it will be long before its current incarnation is retired, there are already rumours abound of a new model. The existing model is however around a third of the price of the new Mac Mini so opting for the Mini over the Apple TV is certainly a much more expensive proposition.
I’m not sure exactly what the story with the Apple TV is, I’ve often heard it described as a ‘hobby’ project for Apple, it’s certainly the least ‘Apple-like’ product I own. Mine crashes regularly, is worryingly hot when running and still annoyingly warm when on standby. I therefore refuse to leave it turned on all the time, cutting the power regularly, whether this is the reason for its unstable behaviour I’m not sure but it has certainly disappointed me on a number of levels.
For me one thing would save it from becoming an expensive toy and that would be a stable interface for the BBC’s Iplayer. I’m aware that you can via a hack coax it into accessing the service, but I want a proper implementation, with access to the BBC’s HD content. As far as I can tell there is some sort of issue with DRM between Apple and the BBC although I have been unable to find any official statement. Of course using the new Mac Mini this would be a breeze but that’s a pretty expensive route into the Iplayer particularly when you consider it will be coming via Freeview before too long and given that Project Canvas has been given the go ahead.