Apple's view is "these days, you don’t need one" and the blurb goes on to say “...removing the optical drive gave us room to do one more thing with Mac mini: lower its price.” Considering the previous models housed chips that were a couple of generations old, they were just too darned expensive anyway. So I guess this is one way of maintaining the margins.
According to Apple you don't need an optical drive
Incidentally, you’ll need an optical drive if you want to use Apple’s own Boot Camp software to run Windows on the Mac Mini, as Boot Camp requires you to download various Windows drivers and burn them onto DVD. It’s safe to say that I’m not yet convinced of the imminent obsolescence of the DVD burner.
Thankfully, this year’s models do still include an HDMI interface for your TV, along with an HDMI-to-DVI adaptor in the box, so that you can hook it up to a conventional monitor. They also gain Apple’s new Thunderbolt interface, although given the paucity of compatible gear out there, in the short term at least, I doubt that’ll have much appeal for the home users that are the Mac Mini’s primary audience
I’ve always liked the compact design of the Mac Mini – which is still streets ahead of most of its PC rivals – and the much stronger performance of this year’s i5 models is a welcome improvement. However, cost-cutting decisions such as the removal of the optical drive mean that the Mac Mini still seems overpriced for what is, after all, meant to be a low-cost ‘affordable’ Mac. That said, if an optical drive and gaming graphics performance are not your concerns, then the entry-level model looks a much better deal. ®
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Apple Mac Mini 2011
No longer a media server
Apple's removal of Front Row from Lion and failure to replace it with anything means that the Mini is much less use as a media server than its predecessor.
Given that everyone I know who has a Mini uses it as a combination AppleTV/PVR/Music Server, I can't see who Apple think will buy this now.
It sounds weird to say this, but Apple appear to have completely lost the plot when it comes to media playback. The AppleTV is rubbish without storage if you don't have a rock-solid fast network connection, the alternative of using a Mac Mini instead is now blocked off because they've dumped both the optical drive and crucial piece of software.
I don't know where they're headed, but it looks like a complete dead end.
The Mini's always been a great idea let down by a price tag that's just too fucking silly for the hardware you get. Removing the optical drive from a home box like this and then offering you a Superdrive (the most over-priced USB optical drive I've ever seen) is just par for the course, sadly.
"I've not used my DVD drive in my desktop PC in probably 3 or 4 years."
Good for you.
However, basic level home users that are likely to be buyers of such a device may well want/need one.
Why would I need to pay £66 for an external Superdrive when I can pick up a standard external DVD for about 15 quid? Any external USB DVD drive will play nicely with a Mac.
In fact I can even burn Blu-Rays on my Mac even though as far as Apple is concerned Blu-Ray does not exist and anyone who says otherwise smells of wee.
The Mini was released a MONTH ago. It took you that long to say the exact same things everyone else said on release day?