The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320


May 20, 2005

Ergonomics

After two days in the office with my new Mac mini, I think I learned that what I always suspected was actually true; I learned that Apple products are not so much about performance (although the G5s are pretty good in that department, too), but instead all about ergonomics.

I had this suspicion first when I touched the click-wheel iPod for the first time at the Apple Store in London last January: I had never really wanted an MP3 player before, but the user interface was so compelling and straightforward, so simple yet allowing for so much functionality that I was instantly hooked (not to forget the beautiful enclosure). Other MP3 players may have better tech specs, but you cannot match the iPod's elegance and simplicity both in design and user interface.

The Mac mini is not the world's fastest computer. It is, however, fast enough to never appear slow or sluggish during anything an average user is likely to do on a regular basis. The slower processor not only allows for a lower price, it also generates less heat, so that this computer does not need a fan.

I cannot stress the bliss of a fan-less computer enough. Image working in silence. Like, total silence. The absence of that annoying humming sound that everyone associates with offices these days, this is ergonomics for you (I also suspect that the metal box design co-functions as a cooling device for the processor, but I'm not sure about that). The form factor, which is only marginally larger than the CDs and DVDs that you can read and burn in it, can hardly be surpassed in simplicity and elegance. Don't get fooled by the pictures on the Apple website: it's infinitely more beautiful in real life. Everybody who comes into my office stares at it in awe and can only barely believe that this is a full-fledged computer.

When you switch the Mac mini (and apparently every other new Mac) on for the first time, it asks you to connect it to your old Mac with a Firewire cable. All your user data, applications, documents, preference settings are then transferred to the new computer. Within less than 30 minutes, I had an exact copy of my old computer without any need of further configuration at all. I could resume working on the Mac mini exactly where I had left off on my old G4, just as if there hadn't been a hardware change at all.

The difference being the silence and a computer about five times faster than my old one, of course.

Posted by Horst on May 20, 2005 01:44 PM to the body electric | Tell-a-friend
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We received this ping from Rakeman on May 20, 2005 02:17 PM:

Silence!: Funny how sometimes the same topic will arise a the same time in different places. In this case, Speaking Aardvark's Horst Prillinger raves about his quiet new Mac Mini. Alternatively, he could simply have dipped his old machine into... [more]

Comments
arved said on May 20, 2005 03:46 PM:

The Mac mini has a fan. You only hear it on rare occasions, but it is loud enough to prevent me from sleeping next to it.

Steve said on May 20, 2005 05:37 PM:

I'm sure Apple products are wonderful (and if I ever need a laptop there's a good chance of it being from Apple) but it's quite possible to build (and probably buy) PCs that are silent for all intents and purposes. I built a system from spare parts a while ago and I made sure to select a quiet and high quality hard drive, power supply and CPU fan (all of which are virtually silent even under full load).

Horst said on May 21, 2005 10:16 AM:

Steve: The question is not about technical possibilities, but rather why nobody other than Apple has thought about actually selling a computer like this.

arved: I know the Mac mini has a fan. Mine just hasn't switched itself on yet.

arved said on May 21, 2005 12:57 PM:

In the PC Market the closest to the Mac Mini are the VIA EPIA Systems, they are ok, but not as sexy as the Minimac :-)

Steve said on May 21, 2005 02:11 PM:

I would say that Apple's marketing department succeeded in creating a certain hype around their products. There are a lot of very quiet (note: silence is impossible as long as there's a hard drive) and small PCs that can be readily bought. Here are a couple of reviews. Of course none of them come with all the great software the Mac Mini comes with.

Horst said on May 21, 2005 06:11 PM:

Hmmm... having had a look at all of these PCs, I'd say Apple had no problem at all creating that hype about the minimac considering how ugly the other products are.

laura said on May 23, 2005 02:41 AM:

Speaking of ergonomic, this ad copy is very spare and effective. It makes me want to buy one immediately. You have a future in brochure writing, I think.

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