It looks like the Safari that comes with the new Mac mini is slightly newer than the one that was rolled out to my new
iMac in the recent surge of updates, and as a result, my favorite little Safari helper, Saft, isn't working. This,
again, is no big deal, and in fact is not even a glitch in the Mac mini, but just something that I thought worth noting
for the curious amongst you.
The real disappointment with this device is Front Row's performance. Although you may be able to install
Front Row on any Mac, I'm not sure if you'll want to. All the shows I purchased from the iTMS play fine streaming
through Front Row, as do all the video podcasts I've downloaded, but absolutely none of the other iPod and
iTunes compatible videos in my iMac's iTunes Library—which by the way play fine on my iPod, in iTunes, and even
on the new Mac mini if I go to the trouble of manually transferring them over to it—will stream over the much
praised magic of Bonjour savvy Front Row. Instead, the screen goes blank, and if I am lucky after about 30 seconds to a
minute a screen comes up saying that the server couldn't play this particular file. If I'm not lucky, I have to hit
Option Apple ESC to jump out of Front Row and find iTunes spiraling a multi-colored beach ball of death. I then
have to force iTunes to quit. The problem could be associated with the miniscule 512MBs of RAM included with the Mac
mini, but these files vary from the easily managed 3 minute clip from a local news affiliate featuring my father-in-law
all the way to full length DVDs that I own and have ripped to be viewable on my iPod, so it would appear to be some
other problem. Why does the $1.99 purchased episode of Lost stream fine, but an episode of Arrested
Development that plays fine locally in iTunes and on my iPod not?
This is not unique to videos. iPhoto
streaming has some pictures coming through fine, while others just return a black screen. Also, Front Row cannot
connect to any of this media if you don't have iTunes and/or iPhoto running on the machine hosting the media and
actively sharing the media. You'd be better off to fake it all with something like a Linksys
NSLU2, a large USB hard drive, and a SMB share.
On the upside, World of Warcraft, though not as fast as
on the iMac, is playable on the Mac mini, and better yet the small form factor of the Mac mini means it can sit nicely
underneath my 32-inch LCD TV and I can play via my bluetooth keyboard and mouse in large, while reclining on my couch.
Overall, I'm disappointed, and hoping that there are some Software Updates in the works that will fix these problems
before I end up returning the Mac mini. I want to keep it. I mean, I already have VNC up and running and have started
testing a few ports of things on it. It works well as a nice little UNIX-based box for me to experiment with away from
my production machine. Unfortunately, if Front Row continues to languish with these problems, why would I keep this
more expensive model, when I could buy a PPC version on the cheap for a good $200 or more less?
tuned, as I intend to do a full video review of the device over the next several days to show you all the problems and
cool bits I've discovered.
Update: I forgot another image in the original post. As you can see, it
depicts Internet Connect clearly showing the Mac mini connected to my Airport network while also saying that I am
connected to the Internet via Ethernet. That plus the Core Duo misreading make me feel a bit uneasy about the hardware
in this mini.