Mac Mini: Rumors and expectations

Some recent rumors however are certainly on the fringe though still possible, with claims that Apple will drop the optical drive entirely, opting to depend on the remote disc capability that the Air uses, or the external super drive. Or, at the least they may offer an option to replace the optical drive at sale time with a 2nd SATA based hard drive. For a long time Mac users have been hoping for the ability to add more internal storage to their machines, though the only desktop Mac able to do so at this point is the Mac Pro. There is an element of truth or at least plausibility to this 2nd drive story, Apple may in fact be switching to SATA optical drives in the Mini as they did with the recent Macbook, which would leave a 2nd SATA port inside the machine. Certainly if this is the case, users will find ways to PUT a 2nd hard drive inside the machine even if Apple doesn’t offer such an option. In fact, given that users will find a way to do it anyway, or some niche industry will form around doing it for users for a small price, does Apple even NEED to offer such an option? We don’t think so, given how few options Apple likes to provide, this would be unlikely as an option at purchase time. However, the geek in me thinks it would be incredibly cool, and they might just surprise us 😀

Next up, the claim that Apple may, or should, merge the AppleTV and the MacMini in to a single product. This would be plausible if it weren’t for the huge price difference between the two, and the capabilities both need that in some ways exclude one from easily filling the others role.

The AppleTV has a significantly slower processor, much less RAM, a smaller hard drive by default, and has no standard monitor port, being equipped with component jacks and an HDMI port. Neither of those ports are found on the monitors of Apples target audience for the Mini, users upgrading from a Windows machine to their first Mac. However the AppleTV NEEDS to connect to a standard HDTV, which tend to have HDMI and Component jacks but not DVI or VGA like a computer.

Because of those limitations and differences, it retails for less than half of the cost of a Mac Mini. Apple could add an optical drive to the AppleTV, and we suggested they do exactly that quite a while ago just to get the machine into peoples TV cabinets. However, they haven’t taken our advice (surprise!). Much more likely would be for Apple to strike deals with content owners to allow AppleTV users to replace their cablebox with an AppleTV, making a sort of IPTV device that would sell people on the idea quicker than the current “hobby” of being a media extender for iTunes and a way to rent movies from the couch.

Similarly Apple isn’t likely to cripple the Mini by making it slower or less capable in order to move it more in line with the AppleTVs abilities and price range, doing such a thing would completely ruin both markets. Apple will be more successful if they make the AppleTV more useful and cheaper, while making the Mini faster and perhaps more affordable. Merging the two devices would not accomplish either of those things.

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