Each week, as I put together the Mac-Forums newsletter, I look over the latest posts — many from folks who are not only new to the forum, but new to Mac. Some of these self-described newbies grew tired of the constant changes and security threats to Windows.
And many of these “switchers” ask essentially the same question: What’s the best Mac to start with? Here’s one answer that I rarely see.
Mini size; maximum value
Years ago, I wanted to replace a failed Mac but couldn’t justify buying a relatively expensive MacBook or iMac. After a bit of research, I chose a Mac Mini. I already had spare keyboards and monitors, so a few hundred dollars for the computer seemed like a good deal.
That model was pre-Intel; it had an optical drive but only two USB ports. Fortunately, I found a Belkin add-on that added four more USB ports (plus a couple of Firewire ports I didn’t need). I still have the box and it still works! But because it’s not Intel-based, almost nothing runs on it — not even Netflix or a halfway current iTunes. Anyone have suggestions for putting it to good use?
Recently, my daughter’s MacBook Pro bit the dust and, in a case of déjà vu, she couldn’t justify the thousand dollars for a new notebook. So she settled on a new Mini. (By this time, an iPad was sufficient for her portable-computing needs.) And about the same time, I acquired a fairly new Mini, too.
Today’s models (more info) start at just U.S. $500, and they’re not short on power. An optical drive is, of course, long gone, but the base model comes with a 500GB drive, 4GB of RAM, HDMI, and four USB ports. Best of all, the Mini takes up almost no space on the desktop. I use a wireless Apple keyboard and mouse with my Mini, but you can use almost any USB mouse and modern flat-panel display.
So the next time any would-be Mac user asks what to start with, or if you’re looking for a backup system, consider the Mini. It’s small and simple, but it’s also far more than just training wheels for Apple.