Aopen to launch Mac mini look-alike PC

Chicago (IL) - Aopen today confirmed that it will introduce a mini PC closely resembling the design of Apple's Mac mini in time for this year's Christmas season. The device will sell in two versions for $399 and $499 and deliver more performance than the Apple original, the company promises.

It's no secret that the Wintel industry has been caught by surprise by the success of Apple's Mac mini and has been working overtime to catch up. Numerous prototypes of Mac mini clones have appeared in keynote speeches and tradeshow floors over the past 8 months. Now the first production-ready model has been announced.

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Mini PCs (from top to bottom):Mac mini, Aopen mini PC, GoldenGate

Aopen said it will ship its mini PC code-named "Pandora" to US retailers in time to make the Christmas season. While there were no details available on product specs, the prototype shown for the first time at Computex in May of this year, integrated a Pentium M processor, 256 MByte of system memory as well as a 40 GByte harddrive. According to Aopen, Pandora will be "smaller" than Apple's Mac mini, which currently ships with a 1.25 GHz G4 processor, 512 MByte memory, a 40 GByte harddrive and a mobile Radeon graphics chip with 32 MByte of memory.

In contrast to Intel's Mac mini clones, the Pandora most likely will include a single-core 90 nm Pentium M chip with Dothan core. Intel most recently demonstrated a bright yellow device, code-named "GoldenGate," during the Fall developer Forum in August of this year. The mini PC was equipped with a next-generation dual core Pentium M processor that will be announced during the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2006.

Analysts earlier this year had doubt, whether Aopen may be able to match Apple's $499 price point - and as it turns out, the company will sell complete systems without a monitor for exactly that price with Windows pre-installed. There also will be a Linux version, which will sell for $399, according to Aopen.