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But here's the rub. While we're able to forgive the mini for not having room for a TV tuner internally, at least , the sudden and unwarranted departure of the optical drive is downright baffling. We know -- too many people will simply write this off without a second thought, rationalizing it as Apple just killing off something that's on the way out, but it's a decision that we wholeheartedly disagree with. Losing the floppy drive when you have a smattering of other options is one thing; but spiking the optical drive?

On a desktop computer? It's a terrible, terrible decision, and the truly ludicrous part is that Apple didn't even shrink the size the chassis to make up for it. As much as Apple would love to have you believe that nothing worthwhile will ever ship on a physical disc again, the HTPC argument alone rebukes that. Last year's mini could easily play back any DVD rental read: the only reasonable way to get newer movies at home , install applications that shipped on physical discs, rip your CD collection, and even burn back content and homemade movies.

Gee, thanks for the option. In reality, Apple spiraled off in the wrong direction here. Instead of downgrading the mini from optical drive to slotless, it should've swallowed its misplaced disdain for Blu-ray and finally offered the clear next-gen format victor as a build-to-order option. It's not only senseless, it's laughable. In case it's not crystal clear, Apple has made it effectively impossible for us to recommend this as a media PC, but those dead-set on making it one will be glad to find that multichannel audio output is supported over HDMI, and finding the proper resolution to fit one's TV is a lesson in simplicity.

So, for those content with a streaming-only HTPC option, this one's about as gorgeous as they come, but we'd definitely recommend a phone-based remote option. Wrap-up It's not often that Apple products take a turn for the worse when a new revision comes out, but there's no question that the design of 's mini is superior to the design of this guy. For whatever reason, Apple's made the new mini even less useful than the last, and while a Benjamin off the sticker is appreciated, it hardly puts it in a new class in terms of value.

Upgrade Your 2011 Mac Mini To 16GB Of RAM

It's also eerily quiet, power efficient and cool, and it's everything the average college student or studio apartment dweller needs. Apple dumbs down the back panel so the DIYers among us can't access the hard drive, but selling a computer without three essential peripherals monitor, keyboard and mouse ensures that the target market will be one that's at least remotely familiar with technobabble. In isolation, the Mac mini is a fine computer. It's quick on its feet, and it's happy both beside your TV or in the office.

As with all Macs, there's an elusive premium that comes with the overall software experience, and those placing a high value on OS X and the bundled iLife suite may find the compromises here acceptable. But imagining how stellar this bundle of joy could have been with a Blu-ray drive or any drive is an impossible vision to shake. Perhaps it's just getting more difficult to logically recommend a Mac desktop, particularly one that's underpowered for serious AV work and near impossible to upgrade. Apple has fine-tuned its laptop options in such a way that makes the revamped mini look underwhelming -- grandiose thoughts of an entry-level MacBook Air docked to a reasonably priced inch Thunderbolt Display continue to find their way into our brains.

If you're still fixated on the beauty here, our honest recommendation is to pick up last year's model as it inevitably drops in price and in turn, increases in value.

Apple Mac Mini Summer Specs - CNET

We've been looking long and hard for an ideal use-case for this guy, and sadly, we've yet to find it. Buyer's Guide. Log in. Sign up. The next Apple Watch may come in titanium and ceramic models. Korg Volca Modular synth review: As weird as it is affordable. Latest Reviews. Apple takes a complete product life cycle approach to determining our environmental impact.

Learn more. Mac mini is designed with the following features to reduce its environmental impact:. Or read our Product Environmental Reports for detailed information on the environmental performance of every Apple product. Recycling Apple takes a holistic view of materials management and waste minimization. Learn more about how to recycle your Mac or PC.

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2011 Mac Mini goes Sandy Bridge: Specs, details and our thoughts

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