My first Mac Mini was an Intel Core Solo 1.5 ghz model. It was purchased from someone who used for only 6 months. The previous owner also bought a dvi to video adapter for connecting to a LCD television and a set of first generation Apple Wireless Keyboard and Wireless Mouse.
This purchase was actually due to my Black MacBook Core Duo 2.0 ghz giving some problem with random shutdowns. It was a problem that plagued the first generation Intel MacBooks. Having had the MacBook fail on me just before the semester ends left me with unnecessary stress. So the used Mac Mini was a backup system for me as it was small enough to bring along with me to University and takes up little space in the dorm room.
It was particularly powerful compared to the G4 Powerbooks and this was evident when running the iTunes visualiser. It was a lot smoother with faster frame rates. While serving as a backup for studies, it was also used to connect to the television for watching movies. This was particularly useful during parties and gatherings.
Upon starting full time work, the Intel Core Solo Mac Mini was largely left unused. The Black MacBook was also mostly deskbound and used for checking emails and facebook. The Mac Mini was subsequently sold away. The new owner wanted to replace the Core Solo processor with a faster Core Duo. So it’s use would probably be extended for a while longer.
When the Mac Mini was updated in 2009 with a better Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics card vs the old Intel GMA 950 and the Server model introduced, I was really tempted to order one. As I was in the midst of moving to my own apartment, finances were tight and I held of the purchase.
In the middle of 2010, Apple introduced a totally revamped Mac Mini. The form factor was finally revamped to be in line with the rest of the Apple product line. The enclosure was a unibody machined out of a block of aluminium. The memory slots are now easily upgraded with a twist of the bottom cover. This time around, I really wanted a Mac Mini for my living room. I did not have a DVD player and so a Mac Mini was a good choice over other products such as an Apple TV.
In the end, I found a used early 2009 Core 2 Duo 2.0 ghz Mac Mini with 4gb of memory and included a Snow Leopard upgrade disk. It was a good deal and it is now connect to a 42 inch HD Ready Samsung plasma television. I used a Belkin dvi to hdmi cable to link the video output. The dome shaped Airport Extreme wireless base station was retired as the Mac Mini now shared the internet via it’s built in wireless card.
Some of the software installed includes Plex which is similar to Apple’s Front Row but plays a wider range of file types. OSX Mame is also installed for a bit of retro gaming.
The Mac Mini is controlled via VNC (Screen Sharing) through an iPhone or other Macs in the house. With a dynamic IP updater installed, it can also be access over the internet from my office. It is also currently hosting a simple website.
Plans for the future will be a USB TV tuner to record television programmes and an external hard drive for storage of media.