The New Mac Mini is Still Best Choice for the Living Room

Over the years, I've tried to find the best device to connect to my television and enjoy entertainment. I've gone with the Apple TV, Roku set-top boxes, the TiVo, and countless other products. But when it was all said and done, I decided that Apple's Mac mini was the best option for me.

The Mac mini is a cheap computer that lacks much of the power found in other Apple products. But what it lacks in power, it makes up for by delivering Web browsing and entertainment opportunities through iTunes. In many ways, it's an ideal companion for any HDTV.

[aquote]Do you really need another drive in the Mac mini?[/aquote]

But with a new Mac mini on store shelves, some folks are undoubtedly wondering if the new device can deliver the same level of usability in the living room as its predecessor. The critics say that the new Mac Mini's lack of a DVD drive is enough to get it disqualified as a worthwhile home-theater PC.

As far as I'm concerned, the latest and greatest Mac mini is just as good as its predecessors. Sure, it lacks an optical drive, which could prove troublesome for those who like to pop a favorite movie in a player and watch it, but let's face it: just about every device has a DVD drive nowadays. And as long as you have an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or a DVD player, do you really need another drive in the Mac mini?

In the slight chance that you actually do, Apple points out that you can still access the optical drives of other PCs or Macs. The computer also works with the MacBook Air SuperDrive.

What's more, the new Mac mini is far better looking than many of the competitors it faces, and would be a fine choice for anyone who wants more style in the living room.

[aquote]Apple's latest version of the computer offers the best of both worlds – computing and entertainment.[/aquote]

But more than anything else, the Mac mini's true appeal from the very beginning has been its software. After plugging it into their HDTVs via HDMI, the Mac mini welcomes users into the world of OS X. With the Mac mini, they aren't limited like they are in the Apple TV, and they can perform all the same tasks on the device as they normally do on their notebooks or desktops.

Just as with older versions of the Mac mini, Apple's latest version of the computer offers the best of both worlds — computing and entertainment.

Now, I should note that this entire discussion has left out another key component in the Mac mini's appeal to people like me who consume a lot of entertainment in the living room: it's cheap. For just $599, you can buy the bare-bones Mac mini and get all the features you'd likely need to improve your entertainment and productivity in the living room.

So, I'm not displeased by the new Mac mini one bit. The latest update still delivers the functionality we're all looking for in a top-of-the-line home-theater PC, and it does so at a price we should all be able to live with.