What If – The Mac mini was a full size computer?

Heaps of praise is being cried out from every corner, from the hobbyist websites to CNN, and all of it directed at the Mac mini. Revolutionary is often heard; though the truth is there has been PC’s with a small form factor for many years now. (However, a tiny or portable desktop PC is never cheap, at least until Apple released the Mac mini.) Still, the good press is nice for a longtime Mac veteran such as myself. I clearly remember the last time Apple got this sort of good press, and it really did change the paradigm of computing: the release of the original iMac. Soon, every product under the sun was coming out in bold colored plastic cases. And it was the iMac that helped Apple turn the corner to profitability.

But I want to take a step back, and pose a “What-If” scenario for you. What if Apple released a sub-$500 Mac, but it was actually as large as the G5?

First, like the Mac mini, this new entry-level Macintosh has almost all the same specs. It is a 1.8GHz G4. It ships with 256MB of RAM and a 40GB internal hard drive. It does not ship with a mouse or keyboard. It is not metal or aluminum, but the same type of look and feel as the Mac mini, only in tower form. Unlike the G4 from two years ago, it does not sport “handles” or anything else of the sort. In fact, it is simply a smooth tower, no curves at all. A rectangle if you will, albeit with rounded corners like the Mac mini.

Unlike the Mac mini, it is fairly simply to upgrade, although Apple does not incorporate the drawbridge side door as it did with the G3 or G4. Instead, you remove the side panel as you do the G5; it simply slides up and away when you release a lever on the back of the computer.

It is quite, much like the Mac mini. It does have a Powerbook G4 type of fan, very small and only operates when the unit gets warm. It also sports all the same ports as the Mac mini, but it actually puts a USB and Firewire port on the front of the unit, right below a power button.

This new tower Mac G4 only has one memory slot. The processor is not a daughter-card, and it cannot be processor upgraded. There are no internal PCI slots. In fact, in the back of the unit is a slot for the power-plug, another USB 2.0 port, and a sound-out mini plug. And for the sake of questions later, it also has a front sound-out port as well, much like the G5’s.

So here is the crux of my question: would it be all the rage in the press as the Mac mini is? It would be much more simple for home users to upgrade either the RAM or Hard Drive. It would cost the same. It would look similar insofar as color and case materials. It would actually have ports on the front. It would ship with iLife ’05. There would be a $499 and a $599 option.

What do you think? This article is all about getting your reaction and opinion to the scenario I created above. Same basic machine, albeit a tower. Please post your opinions below.

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