TECH FICTION

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Tech Fiction with an expiration date: Ultra-short stories about technology news-of-the-day

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Moving Pictures ('05)


A band of Garage CGI Spielbergs, a Machinima movie and Hollywood's establishment

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Trojan Horses ('03)


P2P networks, portable digital media, the MPAA, Brooklyn Technical High School, the US government and terrorism

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The Art of the Possible. Commentary. Writing. Miscellany.
- - - - - - - - - - - -=[ Tuesday, March 14, 2006 ]=- - - - - - - - - - - -
 
QUICK REVIEW: Intel Core Solo Mac mini

The hard drive in our five year-old PC gave up its ghost this week, which we saw as a sign to give the new Intel Core Solor Mac mini a spin, with a concentration on its media sharing/consuming capabilities, especially as they relate to our recent Xbox 360 experience. Here's what we found (incl. video).

Out of Box: Precisely what you would expect from Apple, right up to the point where the Dell LCD monitor we're using decided it wouldn't display any video. Had to hook up another monitor to discover that refresh rate had to be reset down to 70Hz. Score: 3 out of 4.

Operating System and Apps: Haven't had much time with it all, but OS experience and iLife apps are extremely well-done. You didn't need us to tell you that. Performance overall is very responsive. As for the Rosetta situation, we did detect a noticable performance difference between the (presumably) Intel-native Safari and Firefox. Score: 4 out of 4.

PC/Mac networking: Not nearly as seamless as one would like. Still haven't been able to discover the PC Shared Files on the Mac, and setting up the Mac's Workgroup is no more intuitive than doing it on a PC. Oddly enough, Front Row did find the Shared iTunes music from the PC even with all these issues (could be because we installed Bonjour for Windows on the PC, but with so little Bonjour info, it's impossible to tell). Score: 2 out of 4.

Wireless: The Mac mini's AirPort antenna/radio situation appears to be substantially worse than the average notebook. While the Mac drops out intermittenly, and sustains less than a quarter of the connectivity bars, IBM and Dell notebooks in the same physical location sustain well over half their bars. WEP was an even bigger problem, as regular passphrase entry yielded no success, and even hex entry had to eventually be abandoned just to make things work. Score: 1 out of 4.

Front Row and iTunes Sharing: Well done. The interface itself, smartly borrowed from the iPod, is marginally slicker than Windows Media Center Edition. Where this experience really differentiates itself is:
  • The seamless integration of sharing the iTunes library--ripped or purchased--from the PC. This is also the gigantic difference between the Mac mini and the Xbox 360 (see our earlier review), which is shut out of offering this integration for purchased iTunes content). Here's video of the media sharing in Front Row:


  • Apple's much-celebrated six-button remote control

Score: 4 out of 4.

Overall: Very small. Very quiet. Good performance. Easy and fun to use. Good "10 ft" experience and around-the-home media sharing (and presumably only getting better as iTunes TV/movie selection improves). Weak wireless. Score: 3 out of 4 if you need wireless. 4 out of 4 if you don't.



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