Monday, September 04, 2006

Ongoing Mac Mini Review Part IV

It seems to me that perhaps my past notes on the Mac has been quite negative, so on a positive note, here's what I found good about the Mac Mini I bought in April. First of all, the second Mac Mini has so far been working out quite a bit better than the first. It's very quiet (so much so that my external hard drive is by far the noisiest part of my desk), nicely fast, and the UI has been growing on me. The downside is incompatibility: the Logitech USB cam I got isn't quite fully compatible with it (though it works well as a microphone, so I can finally do voice chat on it reasonably well), and of course, I still have to boot into windows to run Quicken or play any kind of decent games, or run Picasa, which is still my favorite photo management software. Until Photoshop has a Universal binary next spring, I'll also boot into windows to run Photoshop 6 (which surprisingly enough isn't really snappy on my fancy new Mac).

I did replace my Panasonic KXP-7100 with a used Brother HL-1270N I bought from someone else at work, so now I can print over the network from both the Mac Mini and Lisa's laptop, as well as the Mac Mini running windows. I do miss automatic duplex, but it doesn't seem like anyone else manufactures good duplex printers at this price point, so I'm stuck.

By far the best thing about the Mac Mini, however, was something I didn't discover until today: the Mac Mini is by far the best machine you can buy for a LAN party. All I do is unplug the Mac Mini and the External Hard Drive (which you can omit if you install all your games on the Mac Mini's hard drive), bring along a USB keyboard and mouse, and I was over at my brother's place where we could play Icewind Dale side by side. (He had a dual-screen setup, so he just sacrificed one of his screens) It was a lot of fun watching my Mini boot up with a 1900x1200 screen, and we had fun. I wouldn't have even considered doing this with my old Tower PC (and forget doing this with a Mac Pro!). Now, the graphics card in the Mini isn't anything to scream at, so you probably wouldn't be running Quake 3 or anything that requires amazingly high frame-rates, but for RPGs and RTSes, the Mac Mini would be what I'd be willing to tote around. You just can't beat the convenience! Now ask me again after I've done this a few times to see if the Mini dies after being toted around a few more times!
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