Apple set to axe Mac Mini?
Apple's diminutive Mac Mini is due to be discontinued, it has been claimed, quite possibly the victim of the even smaller but no less Mac OS X friendly Apple TV.
According to an AppleInsider report, Apple sources claim the Mini's for the chop - maybe after a near-term upgrade, or maybe sooner.
If the allegation is true, it's no great surprise. The Mini was launched essentially as a compact, living room friendly Mac, and almost immediately Mac fans began to wonder how they could use it as a TV-centric media playback machine. Apple's apparent unwillingness to bundle the box with a TV tuner and DVR software - despite many rumours that it would - left the Mini as just a smaller, cheaper Mac.
Having an enormous power brick didn't help - something that Apple would eliminate with the Apple TV, which, TV tuner aside, is in essence the device that so many punters wanted the Mini to be.
And since Apple clearly wants you to get your TV shows by downloading them for a fee from its own iTunes online store, a TV tuner does not seem likely to become part of the package - of either the Apple TV or the Mac Mini - at any time in the future.
The Mini has certainly languished of late. It's the only consumer Mac yet to be upgraded to Intel's Core 2 Duo processor technology, so it's specs are looking increasingly out of date. While the Apple TV's specs may be even more pre-diluvian, but it can nonetheless run the full version of Mac OS X - with a bit of tweaking - so is arguably just as good a living room Mac as the Mini is. Connect a USB keyboard - or, better, a USB Bluetooth dongle to drive a wireless keyboard - and you'll be surfing from your sofa in no time.
I've been using a Mini as my home PVR, DVD and general media player for a year now, and I've been very pleased with it. There are a few issues:
*EyeTV (the most commonly used PVR software) is rubbish, for reasons that have been discussed on El Reg in the past
*Matroska (.mkv) files won't play cleanly in FrontRow - although the guys working on Perian (www.perian.org) are doing a great job at trying to fix that.
*No Windows-DRM support for things like 4OD - although the PVR catches everything I want to watch on real TV.
..but aside from these the hardware is excellent. With more effort on the software it could easily be a Sky + beating package without a subscription charge. None of this is going to earn Jobs a dime though, so I can understand why its being dropped..