I have to say that I am quite impressed with the new Mac mini, though I suspect that the headline price of US$499 is not what most people will be paying after they have added on everything they want (bigger hard drive, DVD writer, etc.). Nevertheless, it does seem much more affordable than previous Macs.
I have steered clear of Macs thus far, for two main reasons – the price and the availability of software. This seems to fix the price issue (there’s an interesting article here comparing the Mac mini with a basic Dell PC), so we are left with the question of software. It seems that the Mac mini comes with a reasonable bundle of software, and I suppose that now Microsoft have adopted their more restrictive licensing policy it isn’t possible to transfer Office to a new PC (is it?) so that takes away one reason to stick with the PC platform.
I’m no expert on operating systems, but I suppose Apple has an advantage here. Not so much with stabilty (XP is a big improvement on earlier versions of Windows) but with viruses, spyware and popups, all of which are real aggravations for Windows users. Yes, you can install tools to protect yourself, but they usually seem to almost be more trouble than they are worth, severely restricting what you can do or just being inconvenient to use.
The small size is a real advantage in Hong Kong, where space is at a premium, and prices for monitors and keyboards are very competitive so a quick trip to Sham Shui Po (or Wan Chai computer centre for the posh people on Hong Kong side) will soon have that sorted out.
I’m certainly tempted.