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Apple's Mac Mini

From a hardware perspective, the pressure points are: 1GB of RAM maximum, notebook-like internal speaker quality, 32MB of video RAM maximum, and an utter lack of user-upgradeable options (internally). Unlike most PCs, Macintoshes are not designed for users to remove the case. More experienced Mac users will quibble with me on this point. But when you look at the way Apple offers support and warranties, they really don't expect or want users to tinker with these boxes. After all, this is proprietary hardware, whereas Wintel PCs are really open. As I wrote it just there, that only presents the downside of the Mac's proprietary design. The upside is that Apple exerts far more control, and that means an inherently more reliable environment. Less flexible, but less prone to issues.

Something else about the hardware: Why is it that Steve Jobs is the only man on earth whose company can design a computer that people somehow instinctively "love"? Within seconds of unwrapping my Mac Mini, I heard myself whisper "This is utterly cool!" in admiration over the packaging, the industrial design, the eloquent smallness, the profound simplicity. The Mac Mini doesn't need color coding and a pre-opened four-color slick step-by-step guide to tell you what to do to set it up.

The Mac Mini, which is about the size of a small, square external Macintosh hard drive from the 1990s, just disappears on your desktop. It looks like an office toy left there for your co-workers to pick up, or the perfect place to rest your coffee cup. It doesn't look at all like a computer. The AC power brick that comes with it is the same length as the computer itself. I haven't loved all of Apple's designs. The "works in a drawer" iMac G5, for example, is not my idea of scintillating design. It's form over function, IMHO. On the other hand, Apple's notebooks are also well designed — but pricey.

In Short

First Boot
My first Mac Mini experience was nearly perfect, but in the end, it failed. To me, bring your own keyboard meant I would use the same keyboard I use on all my desktop PCs (which number over a dozen), Microsoft's Natural Keyboard Elite. Newer versions of this keyboard come with USB adapters. But I buy these keyboards in bulk every two years or so, and I don't have any with the USB adapters.

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