Defecting to the Shiny Side

5 Sep, 2005 | ComputersTdp

I’ve split this into several articles because it was getting ridiculously long.

Until a week or so ago I had used an Apple computer roughly three times in my whole life. Once at Uni, for about five minutes (the time it took me to get confused and abandon it), once when I was working in IT support and I had to change the number the modem dialled (most of the IT department didn’t even realise that we had an Apple in the building) and once when a friend of mine wanted me to see if I could fix a problem with his iBook (I think I ended up blaming his ISP, correctly as it turned out). It will come as something of a surprise then, to know that I recently bought a Mac Mini.

I’ve been after a new computer you see. I didn’t really need more processing power (my computer is used for web development 90% of the time, not exactly processor intensive), I just wanted something smaller and, most importantly, quieter. I couldn’t find an off-the-shelf PC that fitted the bill so I was preparing to build one and then, all of a sudden, it dawned on me that a Mac Mini would do the job nicely. I did some research and couldn’t find any negative views from people who had switched, so I took the plunge.

Obviously my use is limited, but so far impressions are very good. Aside from being tiny (I was shocked how tiny, it’s barely bigger than a stack of 5 CDs), it’s ultra-quiet, you can see why people sometimes forget it’s on. Okay, it’s not a power house, coming with a 1.42 Ghz CPU and 512 MB of RAM (on my version), and it certainly lacks in the upgradeability stakes (although what you can’t buy as an external attachment these days probable isn’t worth having), but my view on computers has changed of late. No longer do I wish to spend days tinkering and switching components, sourcing parts from a dozen suppliers and putting them all together, then tinkering with the settings to get it all working perfectly. Now I just want something I can use out of the box, that works well and that will stay out of the way and let me get on with doing what I want to do. One of the benefits of buying the Mac was that I would get OS X, Apple’s operating system, which has been getting rave reviews for looks and usability. Add to that the increased security (no more worrying about viruses) and a decent price and I was sold.

To be honest, given time to reflect, if I was willing to take the drop in processing power, I probably could have stuck with my laptop, or a barebones PC system, which would have made the setup quick and easy as I had all my apps to hand. I’ve also spent the last week sorting out apps and learning how to do things, so ‘just work’ might have been overstating it. Having said that, most people won’t want apps to do all the things I do.

Installation was a snap, from opening the box to making my first post on a forum took about 30 minutes, it integrated with my windows machines and wireless network flawlessly. Then came the mass of downloading and my first surprise: installing applications.