Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mac Mini

So recently I was having computer problems.  It ended up being a shot power supply.  But before I was able to resolve that issue I decided to embark on an adventure and try something new.  So I picked up a Mac Mini to tide me over until I was able to get my computer up and running.

First things first, the unboxing of it I don’t have pictures of (will get better at that since I got my new camera and am going to try and be more official in my posting).  But as with all of Apples products the packaging was clean, to the point, and very attractive.  The hardware was covered by a thin plastic scratch resistant sticker.  But other then that there was no packaging, the box came apart and there was the Mini.  Underneath it was the cables and manuals (etc), so the process of unboxing probably took 5 minutes at most.

Setup was easy, plug in the power (which comes with an external brick power supply much like a laptop), monitor, keyboard and mouse, and it was up and running.  The initial setup of OS X is simple and just involved choosing the current time zone, and the user account name you wanted to be your default user.  I would say within 20 minutes I was on the internet and surfing in Safari.

OS X is definitely a very pretty operating system, but coming from a Windows background there is a learning curve.  Instead of CTRL being one of base keys for quick commands, it is all done with the apple command button (looks like an apple).  I would say after getting Firefox loaded it took me at least 2-3 days before I wasn’t hitting CTRL-T to open a new tab and move to Apple-T.

The Finder application is in my opinion inferior to the windows Explorer alternative.  They wanted to make it feel different and break the mold that all other operating systems use, and in doing so they made something that isn’t quite as intuitive and useful as Explorer.

Gaming on the Mac Mini is as expected not that great.  The 8400M graphics chipset is not really powerful enough for the 23” LCD monitor I run at 1600x1200 resolution.  Running World of Warcraft on the Mini I had to do a lot of tweaking to get it to run smoothly, but once I got past the setup it worked great.

The reason why I returned the Mac Mini.  Well actually there were several.  First I heard that Apple might finally be announcing a Touch screen Mac soon, at least those are the rumors.  With a wife who is a graphical artist this would be something to keep an eye on.  Second when my desktop was back operational I realized that the Mac Mini was probably going to get pushed down to a glorified external harddrive, and I could buy a cheaper solution for that.  Thirdly with the up coming release of Snow Leopard, it seems waiting for new hardware with the new OS loaded already would be a more cost effective strategy if I really wanted to make the switch.

The Conclusion:

Apple products are very well designed, and work well.  I did not have any crashes while testing out OS X although I have heard of others having issues.  Without the support of the game development community the poor selection of games makes it not very interesting for me.  If I were strictly a web surfer / writer / coder / whatever I would probably end up going Linux for the over all savings.  But since I’m primarily a gamer a Mac will not be useful for me in the near term future.

P.S. Game Development Companies, porting to an Intel Mac shouldn’t be that hard, step up already ;)


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