Today’s a new computer day. New computer days are always good.
I seem to have a new computer day about once per year at this point. I don’t plan it that way, it just happens. There’s always a good reason for the new computer. Really.
This year it’s one of the new Intel Mac Minis. The Mini scratches two itches: it serves as a media hub via Front Row and iTunes and it gets me into an Intel Mac. The latter wasn’t an immediate must-have, but it made the purchase easier to justify.
Difficult to justify, at least initially, was buying the Core Duo version. It was pretty easy to rationalize buying a Mini to connect to my TV and serve as a backup server when I thought I’d be paying $500 or $600. Within a few days of the announcement it was pretty clear the Core Duo Mini was going to be a lot faster than the Core Solo, so I decided to suck it up and pay the extra money for the Duo. Ideally Apple would allow you to configure the machines à la carte, but they know better. They’ve got me right where they want me.
So I’m sitting on my couch browsing through my PowerBook’s music library on my old Mitsubishi TV via Front Row on the new Mini. There’s no keyboard, mouse, or monitor attached. I do the media stuff via Front Row; when I need to do computer-type stuff I connect to the Apple Remote Access service using Chicken of the VNC.
Sharing via Front Row over my wireless network is pretty fast and the tunes sound great. I tried one of the Lost videos I bought from iTunes, too, and it worked pretty well. Setting all this up was ridiculously simple, even with the firewalls enabled on both the Mini and PowerBook. I configured iTunes to share, enabled iPhoto photo sharing, and was running.
Browsing and playing music is intuitive and so far it’s got all the features I need. The only annoyance is for some reason I can’t adjust the volume via the Remote when streaming through AirTunes on my Airport Express. I haven’t dug too deeply into this issue, though; there may be a solution. As I said above the videos from iTunes seem to work fine on my old TV.
The photo sharing is pretty useless. The photos are too slow to load (this may be because my photos are high res) and there’s no straightforward way to control the browsing order. I assume Apple will add thumbnail browsing and fix the performance problems before too long.
So, no regrets so far. I’ll post more impressions as I spend more time with the new Mini.