Apple has always been famous for its hardware designs. Now, maybe its purchasing department should win some praise.
AOpen said this week that it plans to showcase a dual-core version of its Mac Mini clone at the Intel Developer Forum this week. The problem is that it's about $100 more expensive than the Apple version, which uses similar hardware.
Under the hood of the MiniPC MP945-V will be a Core Duo, Intel's dual-core chip. Although AOpen did not disclose all of the features of the mini, the company did say that a fully-configured version of the MiniPC will cost $899, about $100 more than a full-featured Apple mini that also includes Intel's dual-core Duo chip.
AOpen also said that a version of the MiniPC using a single-core Intel Core chip, the Solo, would cost $699. Apple charges $599 for the same box.
But users may also be getting more for their money. AOpen did not disclose critical considerations such as the speed of the microprocessor, the amount of memory, the size of the hard drive, and other features.
The MiniPC is AOpen's second offering in the small-form-factor PC space; the hardware maker, known for its add-on cards and motherboards, shipped its first MiniPC just before Christmas 2005. At that time, AOPen offered the systems for $499 for a Windows-based box, and $399 for a Linux-based system.
Now that Apple has adopted the hardware that the PC world uses, some direct price comparisons can be drawn between formerly disparate competitors.
One of the arguments Apple proponents have historically used is that high-end Apple hardware serves a stylish, developer-oriented niche, and that the company could afford to price its machines at boutique rates. Meanwhile, products such as the iMac and eMac offered low-cost, somewhat stripped-down alternatives to consumers who wanted more basic computers.
Apple also secured whopping discounts from flash partner Samsung, with estimates that it had purchased up to 40 percent of its available supply in mid-2005 for its Shuffle and nano MP3 players, the latter launching in September.
The new MP945-V MiniPC has a 6-inch by 6-inch footprint and weighs less than five pounds, AOpen said. A motherboard design houses a Pentium M socket, Intel 945GM core logic, DDR2-SODIMM memory banks and a mini-PCI expansion slot. The AOpen MiniPC also includes a built-in S-Video port and audio-in.
The MP945-V features infrared sensors for remote control functions, Gigabit Ethernet, DVI, Firewire and USB 2.0. A SATA riser allows the 2.5" hard drive and slot-loading DVD burner to easily detach and reattach to the motherboard, the company said.
It wasn't known whether the AOpen system included a copy of the Windows operating system or supplementar applications, as the Mac mini does.