I don’t think I have ever wanted so many Apple products in a single season as now: the new iMac, the iPad mini, and of course iPhone 5 that is still to see release here in Korea. I even want Mac mini and iPod touch in the (quite likely) event that I can’t afford their bigger and better brethren.
On the subject of Mac mini, it’s been quite a proposition the last couple of years: an Intel Core i5 desktop the size of a hardcover book, running Apple’s latest OS X and with RAM that’s user-upgradeable, with Bluetooth and Wifi support, at almost than half the price of Apple’s next most affordable Mac hardware. Whether or not you have Apple’s wireless keyboard and mouse or not, it’s one of the most clutter-free way to set up a home computer, and while Mac mini is clearly more expensive than do-it-yourself desktops, the no-fuss benefits it provides is well worth the extra cost. At $6-700, it’s not like you’re paying an arm and a leg either. I get the argument that with that money you could build a robust gaming machine, but if you’re not a gamer, you couldn’t ask for a simpler and easier computing solution. Certainly, when I had the 2011 edition for a few months earlier this year, I never lacked for power or performance in my daily entertainment and office usage.
The Late-2012 Mac mini isn’t particularly tempting other than the support for USB 3.0. But the more I use my MacBook Air, the more I feel constrained by the lack of enough storage and the extra steps I need to take to set it up for proper home use (hooking it up to a display and accessories, etc) after coming back from work. I bought a Synology NAS (Network Attached Storage) to alleviate this problem, and while it does solve it to a significant extent – and is a cool tech to boot – the fact that you cannot directly connect an iPhone or other devices to it can be a cumbersome barrier. Mac mini is tempting because it can be a much more effective point of contact for various gadgets than MacBook Air or any NAS can be. You could in fact argue that MacBook Air is closer to being an iPad than an iMac, with even more significance placed on portability, ease of use and speed than any other computers, even from Apple.
I had set out to re-think and re-consolidate my tech options last month, opting to sell iPad and MacBook Pro so that I could make use of the 7+ hours of battery life in the 13-inch MacBook Air. On the portable side of things, it’s worked out great. I am carrying the Air around with me everywhere, its extremely thin profile and light weight making it almost as effortless to bring outdoors as iPad. Where MacBook Pro had the advantage, however, was that it bridged the gap between portability and home use very effectively. The 500GB HDD meant I could use the Pro as my iTunes storage, while the user upgradeable RAM allowed me to put 8GB of memory in it and run Parallels and other sundry apps with barely a drawback. It was a little too heavy for me to readily take it to work everyday, and was slow to open applications, but I never had to think about setting up a separate desktop when I had the Pro.
Of course, MacBook Air is fulfilling its primary role – portable writing and, ahem, cafe prop – so well that I am nowhere near thinking about replacing it with anything else. With the Retina MacBook Pros prohibitively expensive (and with storage that just isn’t enough for my needs), having a Mac mini to complement the Air is an attractive idea which I find myself pondering more and more (and together they would still cost over KRW 300,000 less than the new 13-inch rMBP).