Here's an edited version of what I sent Adam...
Thanks for the quickly-produced MacCast to talk about the new Apple stuff. I'll skip over the other announcements to offer my opinions on the new mini. As an owner of the latest (well, mostly - I only have a 32 MB VRAM version) Mac mini, I have some perspective on what the mini "was" as compared to the new version.
First of all - here's my gripe list of the G4 mini:
. Not until I upgraded to 1 Gig of RAM did the mini finally feel like it had decent performance. Needs at least 64 MB of VRAM. 32 MB of VRAM limits a number of games that could at least be playable, not to mention certain Quartz Extreme effects (such as the rotating cube for fast user switching) that don't work at higher resolutions.
Could use ATI 9600 or equivalent for decent game performance. Actually the 9600 series is about 2 generations old for lower-midrange graphics, and it would have really benefited the mini for a decent casual gaming machine. As it is, the 9200 will let you play a lot of games that are 3+ years old with decent performance, but most newer games become either unplayable or are really ugly. This is less of a gripe than a wistful "gee, wouldn't it have been great if..."
Hard drive - slow and small. Yeah, I know - the form factor almost forced them to use a laptop-style drive. However, it's really dog slow and it helps to pull down the performance quite a bit. If the drive was faster, 512 MB wouldn't seem too skimpy as hitting VM would hurt less. Additionally, 80 Gigs just isn't all that much these days, especially if people actually use applications like iMovie and iDVD. If one attempts to use the mini as a media center, you absolutely must have a large/fast external drive, or a good connection to an 802.11G (or Ethernet) access point to access a dedicated server somewhere.
Other than these gripes, I really like my mini! ;-)
Now, let's contrast the new mini.
* Fast or Faster CPU offerings. The dual-core offering is really sweet on a machine like this, as it's typically going to be asked to be a real hub. Dual cores mean it can deal with drive access much better, plus do a lot of other simultaneous processing (e.g., DVR record functions while watching at the same time?).
* 5400 RPM SATA Drives. Faster rotation, faster bus, and larger sized offerings. What's not to like here?
* Two more USB ports. Again, what's not to like?
* Sound Out and In. Flexibility to use analog or digital sound - both out and in instead of just analog out. Very good feature for a media hub.
* WiFi and Bluetooth standard. I use both technologies a lot, so this is only a plus IMO.
* Front Row & Remote. Moves the mini toward the ideal media hub. Now, if only they could address the DVR market directly...
* RAM "needs" to be in pairs. OK, so the old mini only had one DIMM slot anyway. However, from what I can gather, one needs to upgrade the RAM in pairs. This point is somewhere between good and bad, but I think it's less than optimal so it goes here.
* HD Expansion pricey. OK, so they are limited due to what's available, but the drive upgrading is not cheap, and you can't expand it all that much. Better performance and higher capacity can be had for those willing to use a 3rd party external drive offering.
* Wimpy graphic processor with Shared Memory. They traded a decent graphics card (ATI Radeon 9200 chipset) for the anemic Intel GMA950 graphics processor with 64MB of SDRAM shared with main memory. No! NO!!!! I wish I had saved the old mini page - one of the selling points on the graphics page was the fact they didn't take the same route that Wintel box manufacturers took and use a wimpy graphics chipset that borrowed memory from the system. Now, they've gone and done it too! This one fact alone is enough for me to entirely abandon any consideration of upgrading/sidegrading to this new model. There is NO WAY I will use or buy a system like this. They have effectively (pardon the analogy) castrated the machine's performance in the name of saving a few bucks. From what I understand, the Intel part runs OEM's about $7. The 9200 runs about 3 times that. Hey, I'll PAY another $15-25 for decent 3-D performance. You know - something I can actually play games with!? Bad Apple - no biscuit (or sale)!!
Looking at the list above, it would seem at first glance that Apple has made a decent improvement to the mini. However, for me (as I stated above), the paltry video will keep me a 10-foot-pole's distance away from this model. I could probably ignore the other issues if it weren't for this. However, I find the video setup inexcusable for Apple, of all vendors. Although I've been an Apple owner since 1985 (a "Fat Mac"), I honestly hope that this model sells poorly. Hopefully, Apple will "get it" and re-design the video subsystem correctly.