Could The iPad’s Biggest Competitor Be… The Mac Mini?

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Ok, so they are completely different products, but if you had to choose between the iPad and the Mac Mini, which would you go for?

With the Apple iPad riding high, commentators are looking around to see what could compete with it. Despite the devices being designed for completely different purposes, a lot of users may be choosing between the iPad and the Mac Mini.

Apple’s budget Mac, the Mac Mini, has just been upgraded, and the new version is  just became a worthwhile alternative to the company’s iPad. The new machine, costing from £649 to £929 at the UK online Apple Store includes better graphics functionality and a new design. While the device is undoubtedly well-built, it comes without a keyboard, monitor, or mouse.

In order to use a Mac Mini, consumers are forced to buy those peripherals before they boot it up. That said, it’s not such a big deal. The Mac Mini is mostly designed for the living room where users can plug it into an HDTV. And since it comes with Bluetooth functionality, connecting a wireless keyboard and mouse to use from the couch is quite easy.

But there is more to the Mac Mini than meets the eye. The device might seem like a simple alternative to a Mac, but it’s actually a fine alternative to the iPad, as well. Apple’s tablet is being marketed as a device for those that want computing functionality in the living room or while they’re away from home, and is selling very fast.

Admittedly, the Mac Mini can’t match the iPad’s mobility factor. But for those folks that want to have a computer to use while home, the Mac Mini easily bests the iPad on practically every front.

Here’s why:

1. It’s cheap

Although the low-end model of the iPad costs less, the Mac Mini is offered at a surprisingly affordable price. UK users have to pay more than those in the US of course; it starts at £649, here compared with $699 in the US, but at this price,   customers get a fully-equipped computer, complete with a 320GB hard drive, Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics, and much more. Apple’s tablet, especially the versions featuring more storage, are expensive compared to the Mac Mini. If it’s value that consumers are after, it’s difficult to go with the iPad over the Mac Mini.

2. It’s simple

One of the best aspects of the Mac Mini is that it’s designed to be the simple alternative to all the other Macs on the market. In essence, it’s a cheap, small box that can be connected to any display. It allows users to surf the Web, check e-mail, and perform basic computing tasks. It certainly won’t provide the power that other Macs will, but it’s not designed for that.

By comparison, the iPad is not meant to be a MacBook Pro. It’s basically a big iPod Touch. If customers just want to choose a simple computer, customers need to decide which. Considering the Mac Mini offers more functionality, it seems like the better choice.

3. Mac OS X

Apple’s iPhone operating system, iOS, might be appealing to those who need a simple operating system while they’re working away from the office, but it pales in comparison to Mac OS X from a productivity perspective. Thanks to Mac OS X, Mac Mini owners can install more programs, have a more robust browsing experience, and run Microsoft Office. The iPad is lacking in all those areas.

4. Bring your own keyboard, display, mouse

Although some might prefer to have a device that comes with a touch screen, others like having the ability to choose how they will interact with a computer. That’s precisely why Apple’s decision to offer the Mac Mini without a keyboard, display, or mouse is so interesting. If folks have a favorite Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, it will work with the Mac Mini. Plus, the device is designed specifically to be connected to an HDTV. For many use cases, consumers would choose a 50-inch plasma to display Web content over a 9.7-inch touch screen.

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