RealTime IT News

Apple Puts Intel Inside Mac Mini

CUPERTINO, Calif. -- Apple's CEO Steve Jobs took the wraps off a few of what he called "medium-scale" announcements at an event here at Apple's headquarters.

On the Macintosh side Apple added to its Intel-powered lineup with a Mac mini based on Intel's Core Solo processor and also a version based on Intel's dual-core Core Duo.

Jobs said both systems are faster than the earlier Mac minis based on the PowerPC G4, 2.5 times faster for the Core Solo unit and five times faster for the Core Duo-based Mac mini, according to industry Spec benchmarks he referenced.

Mac Mini
The Intel-powered Mac mini
Source: Apple

The Core Solo Mac mini, with 512 MG of RAM, is priced at $599 while the Core Duo system is priced at $799. Both are available now.

Jobs noted that with the latest Mac minis, Apple has now moved 50 percent of its product to Intel processors since January. Apple intends to move all of its desktop and portable systems to Intel processors by the end of this year.

The Mac minis now come with Apple's Front Row software for easy access to various media such as photos, music and video.

Front Row also includes "Bonjour" software, part of the company's push into the so-called digital living room. Systems loaded with Bonjour recognize each other automatically, wirelessly or wired, and can share files.

Jobs demoed how he could update his play list of songs by simply accessing another nearby computer. The Mac mini also includes Apple's latest iLife 06 creativity software suite.

The new Mac mini, a square box that measures the same 2.5 inches high by six inches wide as the original, is a bit quieter and loads faster.

For iPod fans, Apple introduced the iPod Hi-Fi, a "home stereo quality" speaker system for the iPod.

"It's home stereo reinvented for the iPod age," said Jobs, who is a self-described audiophile.

The iPod Hi-Fi includes a universal dock for connecting any of the iPods shipped to date. The dock is built into the top of the iPod Hi-Fi, a rectangular unit, which is slightly bigger than a toaster.

The iPod Hi-Fi has an integrated power supply so there is no separate brick hanging off the power cord. The iPod Hi-Fi, available now, is priced at $349 and can run on six D batteries.

iPod Hi-Fi
iPod Hi-Fi
Source: Apple

"It's a nice product," Mike McGuire, Gartner analyst, told internetnews.com. "Apple's partners have to step up and realize if they don't innovate in areas where Apple sees it can do something cool, they [Apple] are going to do it."

Intel and Microsoft have big initiatives to capture the digital living market, which has been slow to take off, in part because of the expense and complexity of offerings to date, and lack of compelling applications.

"Microsoft likes everybody to have every feature they can think of and be able to do it three different ways. And there are people who like that," said Baker.

"Others like Apple say 'we're going to give you one way to do things and make it really easy."

Apple's systems, for example, feature a six-button remote control versus the dozens of buttons on the remote used with Media Center PCs.

"We think this is a pretty big deal; we're moving media around the house," said Jobs, referring to both the Mac mini and iPod Hi-Fi announcements.

While Apple's new offering is price-competitive with the high end of the speaker market, iPod users got no breaks on another accessory.

Jobs announced a new iPod leather case from Apple is now available for a whopping $99. But they won't be available until mid-March.