Apple recently updated the design of their Mac Mini desktop computer for the first time, well, ever. It is now all aluminum, and much shorter, with a somewhat larger footprint. It is finally easy to get to the RAM — no more paint spreader — though still difficult to get to the hard drive.
It’s available in two configurations, a user desktop for $699 (higher than I’d like to see it) and a server at $999. The server is the overwhelmingly better value; it has a faster CPU, more RAM, and two hard drives, each of which is larger and faster. And, it comes with Apple’s Mac OS X Server software, which normally costs $499; but if you want the regular desktop version, you can buy Snow Leopard for $29. What the server version doesn’t have is an optical (DVD) drive; that can be rectified by adding the external SuperDrive for MacBook Air.
So if you need Mac OS X Server, it’s a great value, and there are lots of possibilities for this machine (either version) as an entertainment center, as it is the first Mac to feature HDMI out, for direct attachment to a television (it comes with an adapter for DVI), and it also has a Mini DisplayPort.
Even as a desktop machine, I would rather get the server version and replace the installed Mac OS X Server with the standard desktop Snow Leopard. That would be a pretty cool little Mac.