Death of a Mac mini


Last week, my wife had to reboot our Mac mini, and she got… the blinking file folder icon. For the uninitiated, the blinking file folder is the OS X equivalent of the blue screen of death. I spent an evening trying all the tricks on Apple’s support pages and trying to get it to boot from the OS X install disc, but no dice. 

So today the Mrs. and I took a trip up to the Apple Store to get a Mac Genius opinion. The verdict was what I suspected: the hard drive is dead. Fortunately we don’t keep a lot of critical data on the hard drive (the iPod has all our iTunes stuff, and our photos and movies are on an external drive) so the data loss is not catastrophic. We could possibly replace the hard drive, but we’d be looking at spending $400+ on parts and labor to fix a computer that’s four years old and was showing its age. So we’re declaring the Mac mini deceased. 

It looks like we’ll be replacing it with the low-end current model of iMac. We’d get another Mac mini, but after seeing the iMac’s gorgeous monitor up-close, both my wife and I suddenly couldn’t deal with the 8-year old CRT we were using as the mini’s monitor. Just the 20 inch size for us — after spending all my time on a 17-inch laptop monitor I kind of got lost in all the space on a 24-inch monitor. 

While at the Apple Store, we got a good look at the Macbook Air. It’s not the machine for me — I need more stuff on my laptop than the MBA has — but it is certainly very impressive and visually striking. It is so light, you’d almost think it was not a real computer at all but just a prop. 

And the Apple Store itself is something of a marvel. While so many mall stores are foundering and depressingly empty, there were at least 100-150 people in the Apple Store and they were all buying stuff. (Well, we weren’t.) It was crowded, loud, and active — more like an exclusive club on a Saturday night than a mall store on a Saturday afternoon. I think Apple, as a company, is in pretty good shape these days if this is the pace of their business. 

5 Comments

Filed under Apple, Technology

5 responses to “Death of a Mac mini

  1. virusdoc

    Why not just buy a cheap replacement drive from newegg and then replace the drive yourself? Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough, requiring nothing more than a phillips screwdriver and a spatula:

    http://www.macworld.com/article/42237/2005/01/macminiinside.html

    It’s just a standard 2.5″ parallel ATA 9.5 mm laptop hard drive. You can pick those up for about $60 for an 80 GB 5400 rpm format.

    If you’re not going to fix it, I might be interested in buying it from you and doing it myself. My son could use a cheap mac.

  2. I think it boils down to, we were sort of looking for an excuse to upgrade the Mac to something newer and (especially) faster. The Mrs. is running a home business now and I am doing some of the creative work for it (brochures, etc) and we were really feeling the limits of the machine.

    However, I might try this anyway, (1) because it’s the financially wise thing to do and (2) if we get a new Mac anyway, we can replace the WinXP machine that we have setup in the girls’ playroom.

  3. virusdoc

    I like option #2. Anything that gets a windows box out of your house is a good thing!

  4. virusdoc

    Forgot to mention: while you’re inside it, max out the RAM if you haven’t already.

  5. bookhling

    Certainly apple seem to be having some sort of renaissance these days. The apple stores in NYC is always packed to the brim, and it’s winter! Once the weather gets warm people will probably flock around the free wifi hotspots provided by apple.

    Is this simply an after impact of ipod sales or sign of some bigger change in consumer tastes? Hmm.