Geekalicious – Mighty Mini is still marvellous

About the size of a paperback book (if paperbacks were square) this mighty midget packs a full computer into its cool aluminum chassis.

The mighty MacMini

As the last of the cherries are being picked off the trees (Hey, get out of my yard!), one’s thoughts often turn to expansion of the mind at one of our wonderful post-secondary schools.

In our special Education section at the front of the paper, we highlight some of these brain-tuning courses, but thoughts of school also delight the inner geek with new gadgets.

Now, it’s difficult to argue against a new laptop as the ideal choice for students of any age. They’re portable, light and contain everything one needs for both work and play. But what if after a techno-lapdance, you feel like watching movies or playing a game of Limbo ($4.99 in Apple’s App Store, and worth every penny for creepy, puzzle fun) on a big screen. Sure there are cables to hook up your laptop (or buy an Apple TV for just over $100 and use a little AirPlay witchdoctory to mirror your screen on an HDTV), but I’ve become awfully fond of one of the forgotten Apple gems, the MacMini.

About the size of a paperback book (if paperbacks were square) this mighty midget packs a full computer into its cool aluminum chassis. Kind of like Dr. Who’s Tardis, its functionality is larger on the inside than it appears on the outside.

I actually bought the original MacMini when it was introduced back in the early 2000s. At that time, its size seemed almost inconceivable compared to the large PC hamster cages most people were lugging about to LAN parties. Back then, being mini took some guts and the ability to withstand unprovoked attacks on one’s masculinity.

But just as the size of a man’s dog has nothing to do with the size of his, err, ego, neither does the size of his computer. But still, it’s nice that as times moved on, mini became cool.

Since I hadn’t looked at one of these little beauties in awhile, I decided to plug in the latest model and see how it stacks up.

The cheapest MacMini ($599 Cdn; apple.ca) comes with a 2.3GHz dual-core Intel i5 chip, 2GB memory, a 500GB hard drive, Intel HD Graphics 3000 and Apple’s latest operating system, OS X Mountain Lion. Or in layman’s terms: it has the speed and capacity to run every program you need it to.

Sure, as a geek, I’d add more RAM, but I always add more RAM. Can never have too much of a good thing.

The Mini is designed to replace your existing computer, which means it doesn’t come with a monitor, keyboard or mouse. I like this. It means if I’ve got a mouse I like or an expensive HDTV or monitor, I don’t have to replace it. I simply plug the Mini in and I’m ready to work.

Light, silent and powerful, the Mini can be tossed in a bag to take to the cabin. Designed for both work and play, it can hold and play all your digital movies and games, plus all of your important files for that last-minute report. With no need to compromise, I find it to be an essential part of my home-tech arsenal.

•••

Ever since my wife started reading books on her new Kindle, we’ve had a problem. Not with the Kindle, itself, but with reading books on it at night.

See, the Kindle and its brothers in eBook arms, the Nook and Kobo, are fantastic for reading outdoors. I love my original 1st Gen iPad, but the glare off its screen makes it an indoor reader only. However, where the Kindle shines outdoors, it sucks in the dark.

We tried all sorts of clip-on lights to make bedtime reading more enjoyable, but nothing worked — or didn’t work for very long. But then along came the SolarKindle ($79.99; solarmio.com) that delivers a perfect pop-up LED reading lamp for up to 50 hours without draining the Kindle’s main battery. And it recharges itself when you’re reading outdoors via its built-in solar panel. How clever is that?

And as a bonus, the 1,500 mAh rechargeable battery also provides extra reading time for your Kindle, too.

Love it. M

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