Apple introduces Intel-based Mac minis, iPod Hi-Fi

— 3:32 PM on February 28, 2006

Apple introduced a handful of "fun" new products today, including a couple of iPod accessories and Intel-powered Mac minis. The new base Mac mini offers a 1.5GHz Core Solo processor, 512MB of DDR2-667, a 60GB Serial ATA hard drive, Intel GMA 950 graphics, 802.11g Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, S/PDIF audio output, and four USB ports. There is also a dual-core unit available with a 1.67GHz Core Duo processor, 80GB hard drive, and a DVD burner. Both machines include Apple's Front Row software and accompanying remote, but neither includes a composite or S-Video output, forcing home theater PC enthusiasts to cough up an extra $19 for Apple's DVI to Video adapter. While the new minis have managed to retain the same enclosure and dimensions as their predecessors, prices have gone up to $599 for the entry-level model and $799 for the dual-core version.

Although the new minis are certainly impressive, one can't help but think that Apple's "bring your own monitor, keyboard and mouse" policy is a little out of place with a $799 system, especially one that can cost upwards of $1,000 if you opt for a 120GB hard drive and 1GB of RAM. Apple may be straying too far from the mini's intended purpose of being a cheap entry-level system designed to lure PC users away from the Windows platform, as even $599 will buy plenty of PC.

In addition to showcasing new minis, Apple also introduced the iPod Hi-Fi, a $349 all-in-one speaker system with a Front Row-style remote and built-in dock to accommodate the company's iPod products. Speaking of iPods, Apple also unveiled a collection of $99 leather cases for the iPod and iPod nano. Oddly, though, the cases don't appear to allow access to the iPod's controls. The leather cases won't be available for a few weeks, either, but the iPod Hi-Fi and new Mac minis will apparently ship within 24 hours.

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