I took advantage of the Apple Store’s 14 day return policy and traded up to a 20" iMac ($1,299 Cdn). I returned the Mac Mini that I purchased two weeks ago.
I’m using the Mac as an iPhone App development platform. The Mac Mini just wasn’t quite enough for my needs.
The Mac Mini was gorgeous on, and took full advantage of, the 1920 x 1200 screen resolution of one of my 24" Dell monitors.
But, you cannot extend the Leopard desktop to a a second monitor with a Mac Mini.
[Update March 3, 2009: The new Mac Mini that came out in the beginning of March 2009 supports dual monitor setups with a Mini DVI port and Mini DisplayPort on the back. With this change it now makes the Mac Mini more suitable for iPhone development. Here are the full new Mac Mini specs.]
I am used to having my Vista desktop extended across four monitors. Having just one monitor on the Mac Mini (even a 24" monitor) was just too small for comfortable application development.
You can extend the iMac desktop to a second monitor and that’s exactly what I’m doing. The iMac has a mini-DVI port on the back for this purpose. I purchased a mini-DVI to VGA dongle and extended the iMac desktop to my second Dell 24" monitor (I switch that monitor back and forth between my iMac and my Dell XPS PC as needed – its my furthest right Dell monitor and to the left of my iMac). For now my XPS Vista machine is plugged into that 24" Dell monitor’s DVI input.
Bigger Hard Drive
While the Mac Mini easily found and accessed my Drobo over my home-office network, the Mac Mini’s internal 80 gig hard drive was too small to be useful. I had it almost full after just 2 weeks of use. [Update March 3, 2009: The smaller new Mac Minis come with 120 GB drives.] Also, the hard drive on the iMac is faster at 7200 RPM compared to the 5400 RPM drive on the Mac Mini.
Considered the 24" iMac
While the 24" iMac looks sweet, to me it wasn’t worth an extra $600 just for:
- 4 more inches of screen real-estate – given that I’m extending its desktop to a 24" Dell desktop;
- a slightly faster processor (2.8 Ghz vs. 2.4 Ghz); and
- double the RAM (2 Gigs vs 1 Gig on the 20" iMac)
The slower processor (1.8 Ghz) and 1 Gig of RAM on the Mac Mini was fast enough for what I needed, so the still faster processor on the 20" iMac will be enough extra gravy for my needs. (see here for the various current iMac spec comparisons). I can always add an extra gig in the future if I need it.
But, I’ll have another 14" days to test this iMac and reconsider the 24" iMac.
I also like the 802.11n WiFi integration. Now that I’m a happy Apple TV user, this may come in handy.
Kudos to the Apple Store
I have to give big kudos to the Apple Store in Toronto’s Eaton Center. I was expecting restocking fees and a third degree interrogation. There was none of that. They happily made the exchange without a single question asked. Now that’s service!