Is it time for the MacBook mini?
Thu, 04 Sep 2008
I recently returned from the sausage-eating and tech slavering extravaganza that is the IFA Show in Berlin, and the lasting impression I got was the almost omnipotent presence of the small laptop.
Ever since ASUS found itself the sudden darling of the tech industry with its cheap, and frankly interesting, Eee PC, everybody – and I mean everybody – is making the same laptop. It's roughly 9in in size, has a keyboard (some good, most bad); it is powered by an Intel Atom processor, 80GB hard drive and 512MB or 1GB of RAM. The OS of choice is either Windows XP (but not Vista) or – more interestingly – a version of Linux. They're either called Netbooks, UMPCs, MIDs, mini-notebooks or sub-notebooks, but they are all the same thing. Each one costs between £300 and £400 although Aldi now has a Medion Akoya Mini 10in on sale for £279.
Everybody except Apple that is. They weren't at the show, and even if they were I'd be surprised if they revealed a new laptop – which they didn't
Now, obviously this is the company that likes to 'think different', and I recently joined in on a heated forum discussion that went along the lines of "Apple doesn't do cheap, and is enormously successful, and we don't see any reason for that to change".
It's time for the MacBook to become cheaper and smaller
And charging £300 for a laptop isn't really anything new (after all, PC World ads have been offering fairly nasty looking laptops for around this amount for a while now). But the combination of small, lightweight and cheap is something new.
I can't help but get the nagging feeling that Apple is set to miss out if it doesn't join this particular boat. This laptop looks ideal for students, it can be thrown in a bag and – because it doesn't cost the earth – taken down the pub after a hard day spent listening to lectures. I love my MacBook Air, but I'll be the first to admit its £1200 price tag is a barrier to taking it down the pub.
Now, the rumour is that Apple is about to release a new laptop range. This brings me to the Mac mini. Let's face it – the mini isn't the most stellar Mac on earth. It's always been last to be updated, it's never managed to be cheap enough to take on the Dells of this world and – aside from making a great home server or functional alternative to the Apple TV – I find it hard to find a real place for the mini that wouldn't be better served by an iMac.
So now's Apple's chance to sort out two problems. Replace the Mac mini with a MacBook mini. The price is roughly right at £399 and, from what we hear, OS X runs pretty well on a hacked MSI Wind (in my opinion the best of the current range of sub-notebook/netbooks).
But a MacBook mini would certainly be a better option than running a netbook with an old version of Windows, or a custom version of Linux.
Posted by: Mark Hattersley
totally agree, apple must do this AND keep the price low-imagine a itsy-bitsy macbook air!! oh, and keep the mac mini as a seperate product.
I'm here in a coffee shop uploading pictures and editing video on my 12" powerbook - it's getting a little slow but I guess I'll continue to be using this until Apple force my hand by bringing out something smaller - or better still, a tablet mac
I also agree. My 12" Powerbook travels all around the planet with me. The metal case is dented (plastic would have disintegrated) but it still works fine and does everything I need when away from the office. It would be good to be able to replace it with a similar but faster device one day.
I work freelance in tech support part-time and many folk are fed up with Windows, afraid of Linux and would love to change to OS X. They drool over my MacBook Pro but faint at its price. Even the MacBook is too much at £699. What Apple needs to do to capture this market is produce a cheaper laptop and the suggested MacBook Mini would be ideal. At £399 it would sell by the shed load and soon I would be out of work supporting PCs that require anti-virus, anti-spyware software and the dreaded BSOD. I'm praying Apple finally get the plot.
It would need to be roughly the same size as the latest Asus Eee PC 1000 - ie.10" screen, 80GB HD, really only a few cms smaller than my 12" iBook & retailing for under £350 - & I'd buy one! As things stand, if there's nothing from Apple here, I'm probably getting the said Asus before Xmas (which, FWIW, would also be my 1st PC). For writing & basic computing on the cheap away from home, it'll be almost ideal for me... though an OS X version from Apple would be even better!
What's the white thing she has her left hand on? Bet the computer's a dog!
That's the MSI Wind. It's pretty good, just a shame that it runs Windows XP not OS X. Unless you do some hacking and replace the internal WiFi card.
If I didn't have an Air I'd seriously consider it. But the missus would kill me.
"Ever since Acer found itself the sudden darling of the tech industry with its cheap, and frankly interesting, Eee PC"
Ummn, isn't that ASUS?
A great little device that I use when travelling and I don't want to carry my MBP.
*cough* sorry, my mistake. But you know what I mean. I've fixed it.
I'd buy one tomorrow, if only for airports and planes.
I wonder if that MSI Wind uses matte or glossy screen? I'm afraid glossy on a netbook (or laptop) is virtually a deal-breaker for me -hence why I'd even look at buying another iBook (be it 2nd hand) before a new MacBook! Thankfully for me, the Asus Eee PC 1000 has a matte screen.
Visited one of their forums: the MSI Wind has a MATTE screen... so definitely a contender for me, along with the Asus (assuming Apple continue to ignore this market).
Something like this would be just what's wanted by roving lecturers. It should be powerful enough to carry large Hi Def Keynote presentations. Much nicer than lugging a larger machine around.
I bought an EEE PC purely because I need something small when I am on the move. My Macbook pro with power pack and external hard drive is just too much weight and too big to use on cramped trains etc. The Air is light, but still too big and certainly not cheap enough for my needs.
The EEE sits nicely on one thigh and although it takes a little getting used to, it is perfect for writing on cramped trains - when power and high performance are not necessary.
while I agree generally, does anyone remember the eMate?
Well I would like to see an eMate based on a 3G iPhone, rather than a Newton.
That gets you the touchscreen, and all the remote connectivity you want. To make calls you would need a bluetooth headset.
Good shout, Apple really need to exploit this market where they have no presence yet.
They should then merge the MacMini into the AppleTV to make the AppleTV a web-browsing, email-collecting home-multimedia powerhouse hub.
When Apple dropped Computer from their name that was confirmation that they had lost interest at the expense of ipods. Now Apple plods way behind the Asus and frankly I have begun to "think different" and look see what else is available.
I'm looking longingly at these and hoping Apple will come up with something, but it doesn't look likely now, does it? The iPhone, while a great phone, is not a subnotebook, and my eMate has lost it's connectivity over the years. Problem is too many makers are joining the market with the same product, and Apple won't do that, they'll want to put their own spin on it, whilst all I want is a cheap, light cut-down iBook.
My money waits for a MCBookAirette.
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