The one accessory the Mini needs

Monday, April 25 2005 @ 01:13 PM EDT

Contributed by: Admin

Ever since the Mac Mini came out, the one thing I wished it had was more ports, especially on the front of the unit. The few ports on the Mini are inconveniently on the back of the unit and very crowded. I envision a base station, shaped like the Mini and maybe an inch tall.

The MiniMate is about half of what I want. My perfect base would be this: FireWire, USB, and audio inputs on the back; two FireWire ports, two to four USB ports, and stereo out on the back; and the same on the front.

My idea is to have lots of ports--some on the back for permanent items and some on the front for temporary items. For example, on mine, I would have the audio-out on the back go into my stereo and the one on the front would go to my headphones. The FireWire ports on the back would go to my external hard drive and DV bridge, and the ones on the front would go to my iPod and DV camera. Same with USB: keyboard connected to the back, digital camera card reader connected to the front.

Good options would be integrated storage (which the MiniMate has but it's not optional) and a firewire-to-5.1 audio setup like this.

Update: NewerTech has introduced the miniStack. It has the same number of ports as the MiniMate and similar drive offerings, plus they offer a drive-less version for just $69 that you can put your own HD into which is the option I chose. Mine arrived today and it looks like a very nice piece of gear. The miniStack has a more crowded back panel but that's due to the fact that it has a fan, which the MiniMate lacks. It also has a finned heat sink on the drive caddy, another nice touch. No audio, and still no ports on the front, but I plan to turn it sideways to partially alleviate the latter problem. The miniStack is 6.5x6.5 inches, of course, and 1.5 inches tall. It takes some careful squeezing to get the drive in but it looks like a great unit overall.

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