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Mac mini refresh, what's new?

I'm a big fan of the Mac mini: a surprisingly capable machine in an impossibly small size. There have only been a few major snags for me in the time I've owned Mac minis, and most of those were cleared up this morning. I know some will be disappointed to lose the FireWire 400 port, but I'm ecstatic about the FireWire 800 replacement. Second, I've always had to put a 4-port USB hub on my mini, and really only ever needed one more port ... I'm apparently not alone, as Apple added a fifth USB port as well.

The graphics boost will be a great upgrade for my media center. I'm still waiting for the Apple TV/Mac mini mashup to happen, but for now the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics card with Mini DisplayPort and Mini-DVI video out will do nicely. Have you been waiting to run 2 monitors on your Mac mini without expensive additional hardware? That Mini DisplayPort should open up new possibilities.

The memory in the new minis can be expanded up to 4GB, and the 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo is more than capable of handling any daily computing task. Sure, you might want to look at the new Mac Pros if you're doing some serious video editing or CPU-intensive work, but I've found the Mac mini makes a great machine for tethered photography, writing, office work, development, even running my home web server. The refreshed mini comes in two models, the major difference being RAM and hard drive space: 1GB of memory and 120GB HD will run you $599US, and for $799US you can double your RAM (2GB) and almost triple your drive space (320GB). With the FireWire 800 port, I'm more than happy running large external drives, and I'm not shy about putty knives, either.

It appears that the leaks/rumors we saw yesterday were spot-on. It's not an explosive update to these rugged little computers, but it covers a few bases I was hoping for and proves that, for now, the Mac mini is not dead (despite rumors from the not-too-distant past).

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