Buying a Mac Mini just got a whole lot easier

Started Jan 8, 2012 | Discussions
Mateo Miller
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Buying a Mac Mini just got a whole lot easier
Jan 8, 2012

I have been going back and forth between an iMac and a Mini.

I want an optical drive (just call me old fashioned) and some additional USB ports but didn't really want a different monitor.

I sent Newertech an email about 6 months ago asking it they were ever going to update the MiniStack to the new (2010) Mac Mini format? "and by the way add an optical drive and you would sell a million of them"

ta da !!!! http://www.newertech.com/products/ministackmax.php

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SithTracy
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Re: Buying a Mac Mini just got a whole lot easier
In reply to Mateo Miller, Jan 9, 2012

Would be really cool if it interfaced with the new Mac mini over Thunderbolt.

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Mateo Miller
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Re: Buying a Mac Mini just got a whole lot easier
In reply to SithTracy, Jan 9, 2012

Yes, and Blu- ray too

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SithTracy
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Re: Buying a Mac Mini just got a whole lot easier
In reply to Mateo Miller, Jan 9, 2012

Mateo Miller wrote:

Yes, and Blu- ray too

Bah on BD... I agree with Apple that optical media is dying, but there is still enough of it out there to warrant the inclusion of a reader/ripper on a mini or the ability to install software from some small developer not willing to go to the app store.

Not meaning to hijack your thread, but Thunderbolt has been a bit of a disappointment. We are a year into the bus and so few consumer devices are available. Not ready to give up on it, but I'd like to see something come out that is affordable. A couple of announcements came out recently around external devices... we will have to see how much they cost, but the Thailand HDD disruption won't help costs much for storage devices... one of the things I am interested in.

I know I may pick up a mini this spring to compliment my MBP and give my kids a nice place to do schoolwork while not needing a big footprint like the existing Windows system they use (tower I built and I want back that real-estate). The ODD is not that important and I handle storage with a Synology NAS... But you can never have enough storage or backups.

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Mateo Miller
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Re: Buying a Mac Mini just got a whole lot easier
In reply to SithTracy, Jan 9, 2012

Haven't paid much attention to Thunderbolt: I know it daisy chains and has faster transfer speeds, but I don't think that is a huge selling point to most consumers.

But I'm prepared to be wrong.

I agree DVD's are dying but Blu-ray will extend it a few more years.

I think there are enough people with newish HD TV's who would be interested in adding a Mini to their home entertainment system (if it had a DVD player).

I can see why Apple wants to promote streaming (iTunes, Apple TV) but there is enough "legacy" disks where a DVD player could be useful.

In short Jobs blew it, IMHO, but perhaps that's how Apple "up sells" people to iMac's.

I think it was just a question of time before someone came out with a new form factor mini enclosure, it's a bonus that NewerTech saw fit to add an optical drive.
Perhaps "v2" will have Thunderbolt and Blu-ray.

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Tom_N
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Re: Buying a Mac Mini just got a whole lot easier
In reply to Mateo Miller, Jan 9, 2012

Mateo Miller wrote:

I think there are enough people with newish HD TV's who would be interested in adding a Mini to their home entertainment system (if it had a DVD player).

It would be nice if the Mini still had the built-in DVD player, but I believe that you can use the external bus-powered DVD burner originally made for the Air, on the Mini.

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Mateo Miller
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Re: Buying a Mac Mini just got a whole lot easier
In reply to Tom_N, Jan 9, 2012

Tom_N wrote:

It would be nice if the Mini still had the built-in DVD player, but I believe that you can use the external bus-powered DVD burner originally made for the Air, on the Mini.

Yes. That is true, I have one, but the form factor is different and it always seems to be in the way.
And it uses up a port.

The MiniStac actually adds a couple of USB ports and a drive for Time Machine, or whatever else you want.

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Tom_N
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Re: Buying a Mac Mini just got a whole lot easier
In reply to Mateo Miller, Jan 9, 2012

Mateo Miller wrote:

Haven't paid much attention to Thunderbolt: I know it daisy chains and has faster transfer speeds, but I don't think that is a huge selling point to most consumers.

For a laptop user, the potential for two-cable (power, Thunderbolt) docking could be a draw even without considering data chaining or high drive transfer speeds. Look at the ports that a MB Air/Pro gains when you plug it into a 27-inch Thunderbolt Display.

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Mateo Miller
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Re: Buying a Mac Mini just got a whole lot easier
In reply to Tom_N, Jan 9, 2012

Tom_N wrote:

For a laptop user, the potential for two-cable (power, Thunderbolt) docking could be a draw even without considering data chaining or high drive transfer speeds. Look at the ports that a MB Air/Pro gains when you plug it into a 27-inch Thunderbolt Display.

Excellent point.

I hadn't thought about that since I don't have a Thunderbolt Display, or anything Thunderbolt for that matter.

Maybe it is just too early in the Thunderbolt product cycle.

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Hen3ry
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That looks very interesting indeedd, Mat.
In reply to Mateo Miller, Jan 9, 2012

Thanks for the heads up.

Cheers, geoff
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Mateo Miller
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Finally....
In reply to Hen3ry, Apr 8, 2013
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RobBobW
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Re: Finally....
In reply to Mateo Miller, Apr 8, 2013
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Najinsky
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Re: Finally....
In reply to Mateo Miller, Apr 8, 2013

Mateo Miller wrote:

miniStack Max

What's the connection strategy?

If you connect via FW, presumably you get access to the drive, the optical drives and SDXC. Then presumably you also get the other FW port for chaining, but presumably not the USB ports; except perhaps just for charging not data?

If you connect via USB, presumably you use the USB B port to hook up, get access to the drive, the optical drives and SDXC. Then presumably you also get the other USB ports, but not FW?

If you connect via eSATA, presumably you get access to the drive, the optical drives and SDXC. But presumably not the FW or USB ports; except perhaps for charging not data?

Does that sound about right?

Looks like a good solution not only for Mini's but optical drive-less iMacs and MacBooks too.

BluRay read/write is cool too.

Just a shame it's not thunderbolt, single cable access to everything.

-Najinsky
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Tom_N
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Re: Finally....
In reply to Najinsky, Apr 8, 2013

Najinsky wrote:

Mateo Miller wrote:

miniStack Max

What's the connection strategy?

In sections "1.3.1 Optical Drive" and in "1.3.2 Media Card Reader", the owner's guide says "(Active USB connection required for optical drive to function.)"  I'd guess the card reader really does need a USB connection (when's the last time anyone offered a Firewire or eSATA SD reader?).  As far as the optical drive goes, if you're thinking about buying this product, you might want to check with the manufacturer.  Since the miniStack Max connects to optical drives via SATA, it seems possible that this USB "requirement" is a mistake in the manual rather than an actual connection restriction.

Section 1.3.3 says that Firewire and USB can be connected at the same time.  Firewire and eSATA can't (if you plug in both types of cables, eSATA will be disabled)

Newer Technology - miniStack MAX - Owner's Guide and Assembly Manual

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Mateo Miller
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Interesting point
In reply to Tom_N, Apr 8, 2013

In sections "1.3.1 Optical Drive" and in "1.3.2 Media Card Reader", the owner's guide says "(Active USB connection required for optical drive to function.)"  I'd guess the card reader really does need a USB connection (when's the last time anyone offered a Firewire or eSATA SD reader?).  As far as the optical drive goes, if you're thinking about buying this product, you might want to check with the manufacturer.  Since the miniStack Max connects to optical drives via SATA, it seems possible that this USB "requirement" is a mistake in the manual rather than an actual connection restriction.

Section 1.3.3 says that Firewire and USB can be connected at the same time.  Firewire and eSATA can't (if you plug in both types of cables, eSATA will be disabled)

Newer Technology - miniStack MAX - Owner's Guide and Assembly Manual

Interesting point.

Will have to send Newer Tech (or OWC) an email for clarification.

Didn't realize the potential for conflict.

Thanks for the heads up.

I currently have a MacBook2,1  2.16 GHz (2007)

Over the years I have upgraded...

The RAM to 2GB

The Hard drive to a 128 SSD

Replaced the optical drive with a 1 TB drive.

I have an external DVD player to watch movies but it takes up both USB ports and its always in the way.

So I will probably get the 1TB, Blue Ray version and use it has my backup drive.

Really impressed with the SSD upgrade. The system boots up in less the 17 seconds and Photoshop CS4 seems to run fine.

One has to be impressed that a 6 year old laptop can still perform admirably.

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Mateo Miller
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problem solved
In reply to Tom_N, Apr 8, 2013

1.3.4 Powering on the Newer Technology miniStack MAX

To use the Newer Technology miniStack MAX, connect your preferred interface cable(s) to the enclosure and the computer. Turn the power switch to the ON position, and verify the LED at the front of the enclosure is illuminated. Your drive should mount on your computer’s desktop. If you have a disc in the optical drive, an SD card in the reader or items connected to the hub, those mechanisms will also mount on your computer’s desktop. The card reader, optical drive and hub all connect via USB only. If a Firewire or eSATA cable is plugged in, the hard drive will mount over that interface instead of USB. Even if the hard drive is being used over FireWire or eSATA, the optical drive, card reader and hub will all continue to function properly over USB.


That's good enough for me.

I actually use CF Cards so the SD card reader doesn't really do anything for me anyway.

But it will be nice to have a couple more USB ports

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Glenn K
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Re: Buying a Mac Mini just got a whole lot easier
In reply to Mateo Miller, Apr 9, 2013

Here is another possible solution:

http://www.sonnettech.com/product/echo15thunderboltdock.html

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f8BeThereToo
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Re: Buying a Mac Mini just got a whole lot easier
In reply to Glenn K, Apr 9, 2013

I purchased a MiniStack last December and returned it to OWC for a full refund.

The new MiniStacks interfered with both USB 3.0 and WiFi when used with a Mac Mini. OWC blames the USB 3.0 problem on Apple's poor shielding in the Mini and now sells a kit to fix the problem. (Apple may have improved the shielding since then.) But there is no fix for the WiFi issue; the MiniStack killed my WiFi connection. It occurred when the unit was stacked with the Mini and when it was within a foot of the Mini. I didn't have a longer cable available to see if the problem persisted when the stack was farther away from the Mini.

I was replacing an older version of the MiniStack that died prematurely. Based on my experiences with MiniStacks I cannot recommend them; I replaced it with OWC Mercury Elite Pro enclosures which have a USB 3.0 "sleep" bug that still hasn't been fixed but at least they don't kill my WiFi signal...

I suggest using an external optical drive that will run between $30-$40 depending on the brand and where you purchase the drive.

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Mateo Miller
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Good to know
In reply to f8BeThereToo, Apr 9, 2013

I have the original ministack (probably over 7 years) and it is still operational.
Of course I don't either a new Macmini or ministack max so I can't verify your problem. It would seem if OWC already has a "fix" then obviously it was a wide spread problem.
Good to know. Thx.
I actually don't use wifi some I'm not sure how big of a problem it would be for me.

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f8BeThereToo
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Re: Good to know
In reply to Mateo Miller, Apr 9, 2013

Mateo Miller wrote:

I have the original ministack (probably over 7 years) and it is still operational.
Of course I don't either a new Macmini or ministack max so I can't verify your problem. It would seem if OWC already has a "fix" then obviously it was a wide spread problem.
Good to know. Thx.
I actually don't use wifi some I'm not sure how big of a problem it would be for me.

If I remember correctly my v2 MiniStack developed a problem with the Firewire port within a couple of years after I purchased it. I was doing a little Internet searching and came upon more than a few complaints about NewerTech enclosures... Since I got the MiniStack so I could "stack" the enclosure with my Mini it didn't make sense to me to stick with the brand since stacking it killed my WiFi signal.

The good thing about OWC is that they are decent about returns, so if it doesn't work out you won't lose your $$$.

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