It’s pre-order day for the iPhone 4 today but that’s not as exciting as the refresh to the Mac Mini line that was just announced. You may have heard of the Mini or even own one but there’s a big reason to take note of the newest version.
Four letters: HDMI.
This is the first product from Apple to feature HDMI and actually embrace a different method of video-out. For my fellow uber-geeks out there, you already know the importance. HDMI is the connection that 99% of us use to connect our blu-ray players, HDTVs, XBOX 360s, Playstation 3s, and all other high-end electronics. If you have some time, curiosity, and some technical skills, you can easily make the new Mac Mini your media hub for everything. For example, you can now show DVDs and all online content in your classroom using the Mac Mini and the simplistic Apple Remote. It can power presentations (using Keynote, a personal favorite of ours), videos, movies, live collaboration, video conferencing (time to host that class field trip to China), and do pretty much everything a full-size computer can do.
What You Need To Know
- You can now watch Hulu on your tv. No need for any other set top box. The Mini can handle hulu, netflix, and any other app that’s unveiled in the coming years. That’s because it’s a high-powered computer shoved into a small easy-to-hide box.
- If you don’t have an internet-capable blu-ray player or high-end video game system, you can now stream Netflix with ease at full high definition. (not all Netflix movies are high-def but it’s getting better) While Windows 7 lets you stream video to your TV, it’s not in the high-def quality that’s capable of a wired HDMI connection. You’ll notice the difference.
- Surfing the web from your couch (couch surfing?) just got much easier. You can use a bluetooth-connected keyboard and/or mouse or the Apple Remote for simple web browsing.
- It got a huge speed and graphics boost.
- It would be a great way to power the computers behind The Coolest Classroom Ever.
- It is the first Apple product to have removable memory this easy to change. Yes, this is actually a feature and it’s a good one. Time to not worry about your Mini aging. It’s going to be scalable with the times.
- It is expected to last longer than the Time Capsule. We’ve heard of issues with the Time Capsule and the Mac Mini is more computer while the Time Capsule is more server. That means it’s a totally different system.
How It Helps Cash-Strapped Schools
There are plenty of other new features on the Mac Mini and we could see it being a simple, cost-effective way to upgrade computers at your school. For example, if your school’s computer lab has plenty of monitors, keyboards, and mice…you can do away with the most expensive part: the desktop. With the new Mac Mini, it’s easy to connect, upgrade memory, and implement across large or small schools. Starting at $699, it’s cheaper and less bulky than ordering new iMacs or even most PCs for a new classroom.
There are drawbacks of course. If your computer lab is PC-based then this might be a problem. While the Mac Mini can run nearly all Microsoft products, it does have a different layout and operating system. It is also more easily stolen. These Minis will have to be tied down so they don’t get nabbed by some sticky fingers.