I researched the heck out of the mac mini. Once everything looked good I gave it the go. I have worked on macs at school, then worked solely on pc's at home. So I was finally able to buy one for school/freelancing (graphic/web design student).
(disclaimer here for pc user skeptics: Even though I think highly of mac's and their os interfaces, I am no mac but slave. This is so you can know that this review is coming from someone who has had experience in knowing the truth about macs and pc's. That they serve different purposes. Pc's are for server/standardized setups/do it yourself junkies (which I am :D), and macs are made to be real work horses for graphic/multimedia work. Everything about the os is made for a high productivity rate.)
Appearance: Just opening my amazon box to getting it all set up (which only took about 5 minutes) is just amazing even in it's presentation. Apple packages the product very nicely. The product is more beautiful than I had thought it was even from pictures all over the internet. It's so very small, and beautiful. I thought the older mac mini's were good looking, but this goes along with the stream lined look of the unibody mac's/macbooks.
Ports/jacks: The back of the machine is gorgeous as well, with the black face. HDMI is pretty cool, I do wish there were more ports on the back, but then again I don't mind at the same time because I got a D-link 4port powered usb hub where I plug most things in. I would actually suggest this to anyone as it not only saves the life of the mini's internal power supply, but also saves wear and tear of the usb ports on the back of the unit. Slot drive is awesome as well, no clunky tray slamming out like on my old 05 pc.
Setup: This mac is perfect for anyone who already has a keyboard/mouse/monitor. I would even recommend this to ANYONE not doing professional video editing for a living. This mac is plenty powerful for anyone's needs, and it is a SIGNIFICANT amount cheaper than any of the other macs, excluding macbooks ect. because if you need mobility, then you need mobility.
Performance: So far I have been nothing but impressed with this machine. My stats are the 2.4ghz processor with 2gb or ram. I have been able to run indesign, photoshop, flash music player, flash video, all in different spaces at the same time. And with all that it hasn't been laggy. Boots up in maybe 20-30 seconds, shuts down and goes to sleep almost instantly. For someone who only uses internet, word processors, photo, home video editing; I would say 2gb is fine. But if you are like me and use a lot of graphic intensive programs like me. You would want to slap in 4 or even 8gb of ram. I plan to put in 8 as I have a hobby of working with AfterEffects, and Premiere.
If anyone is curious, I have Adobe Master Collection installed on my mac mini, Have not noticed one bit of slow down with all those behemoth programs on the system. Also, if anyone is curious, I have not played around with premiere really yet on it, and have only spent about 10 minutes with after effects. To test it out, I opened a large complicated after effects file, and it did pretty well. I would seriously suggest though to anyone wanting to do heavy video editing that you install 8gb of ram. I would even say that you could use this machine as video student, if you have some patience. Think about it, people who were doing video editing professionally maybe 5 years ago were working on portable macbook systems that were not far off from the mac mini. If you really need a speedy machine on a budget, along with upgrading the ram, you could replace the internal 5400rpm drive with a 7200rpm or even solid state drive. Another option is to get an external firewire 7200rpm or solidstate drive for file working/scratch disk drive. Even with all that it would still be cheaper than other macs.
Other thoughts: I also have a pc, and now the mac mini. The mini is so small that I just put it on top of my desk right beside my monitor. Then I bought a trendnet kvm switch (base model). So now I can use one keyboard/mouse/monitor, and push one button to switch. Although ever since I got my mac, I have only used my pc for word, a couple games, not very often.
OSX: Love the user interface, the entire reason I bought a mac. Spaces, expose, and everything else makes osx highly productive. Took me awhile to learn how to install programs on a mac because it was so plain simple. Instead of going through tons of setup windows, you just drag the program icon into the applications folder and it's done. One step. The mini comes with iLife, which I have absolutely no need for. It gives you some basic programs to work with making a web site, photos, video, mail, garage band, calendar, ect. I Just don't use them because I am going into the field of graphic/web/multimedia, so I just use my kick-A Adobe master collection, lol. For anyone who is just a general user in these areas, they actually are pretty good, especially imovie which is so easy to use.
Conclusion:I have been so happy with my purchase. And if you're going to buy the base 2.4ghz model, you might as well buy it from amazon to save yourself the appletax price as well as regular tax and get free shipping as well! Great Deal. I would recommend this computer to anyone who is willing to try out the mac world, who is a graphic/media student, or to anyone making motion pictures, OBVIOUSLY. Great snappy little machine.
Amazon: as far as amazon on this purchase, Amazon exceeded my expectations by delivery. Arrived two weeks early! How's that for great service.