Technology & Gadgets

Mac Mini review

OK, my Mac Mini arrived on Friday, and I spent the weekend playing with it. Overall, a good little machine, with a really sexy user interface, and a lot of power under the hood. This is my first time using a Mac in almost 5 years, so a lot has changed (including Mac OS X)

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Here’s some notes, on my use of this machine to drive my 16:9 plasma (Panasonic, 852×480 real resolution, VGA input) and home theatre setup (Yamaha RX-V1400, connected optically):

  1. They really, really should have made the 3.5 mm audio plug be the dual use analog/digital audio plug like the Apple Airport Express.
  2. They really need to work on uninstallers and the device driver interface. Take one step beyond a basic installer, and you’re typing unix SUDO commands at a command line.
  3. My M-Audio Transit is still not working, because it’s not streaming AC-3 audio to the optical out port.
  4. I ended up buying the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard (very nice), but I had to pick the non-bluetooth RF Gyration mouse.
  5. Sync for Palm is built into the OS, but sync for PocketPC isn’t. I had to buy the $40 Missing Sync program to do this. (I have an iPaq 1945)
  6. Sync for my Motorola V600 phone is built right into the OS.
  7. For wish list, I wish the device had a 1000BASE-T port.
  8. Strangely enough, OpenOffice sucks on the Mac. It uses the X11 server software (free), so it looks like a bad port onto the Mac. I’m going to try out NeoOffice which claims to solve this huge discrepancy, but (gasp) I may be forced to use Office:mac to do the heavy lifting.
  9. The resolution I like best is 1024×576 (native 16:9) but the Mac reverts to a much higher resolution every startup. Don’t know how to fix this.
  10. Maybe a little too much of the power of this Mac is hidden under the hood. I wish some things were a little more configurable, or a little less rigid.
  11. Safari is a very fast browser: I tried IE, Camino, Firefox, and they’re all slower.
  12. Windows Remote Desktop Client works great on Mac OS X
  13. All those cool expanding application dock animations are turned off by default.
  14. Natively, Mac OS X can read PostScript, and even interpret it for non-Postscript printers. (I’m told it can also write)
  15. Fire, a multiprotocol IM client for Mac, blows Messenger,etc, out of the water.
  16. I managed to get my PostScript laserprinter up and running, but to my consternation I had to enable AppleTalk on it to make this work. I’m sure there’s another way, but I haven’t figured this out.
  17. I have not got shared printing onto my Canon i9900 working on the Mac, even though I can apparently print to a printer connected to a PC.
  18. File sharing to the PCs works like a dream, and is really easy to use.
  19. I don’t like the Tomato BitTorrent client, I’ve been recommended to use the shareware Acquisition, but may try something cheaper like mlDonkey with the GUI mlMac, which is apparently fairly good (and free!) and supports a huge variety of protocols.

That’s all for now….