The big news to come out of the product introduction session for reporters at the Apple campus is that 50% of the Mac product line has gone Intel in just about two months. Although the lowest-priced version of the Mac mini is now $100 more, there’s a lot more value attached to it. It includes a 1.5GHz Intel Core Solo processor, gigabit Ethernet, 512MB RAM, a 60GB SATA hard drive and Combo optical drive. As with its other MacIntels, Apple has added Front Row and the tiny Apple Remote to the package, now listing for $599. A new feature of Front Row is the ability to access your shared music libraries in iTunes, and that update will be available to other Macs that already ship with the application. A high-end version of the mini sports a 1.67 Intel Core Duo processor, 80GB SATA hard drive, and a SuperDrive, and will cost $799. Apple’s Web site has all the specs, so I won’t bore you with any more numbers here, except to add that graphics have apparently been downgraded to include an Intel GMA950 graphics processor with 64MB of DDR2 SDRAM shared with main memory. That’s the way things are handled on low-cost PC boxes, but in other respects the Mac mini seems a great value for the price. I suppose we’ll just have to wait for the reviewers to get their hands on these units, which are now shipping, to see how they function in the real world. The other product of note is the iPod Hi-Fi, a $349 boom box with three speakers, which can be run via the iPod’s screen or the supplied Apple Remote. The other product introduction consists of a line of $99 leather cases. On the whole, the rumor sites got part of it right. But there was no iBook replacement, another widely-anticipated product. However, it’s always possible we’ll see that and more in time for Apple’s 30th birthday on April 1st. Or maybe not.
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