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Out of the box, the Fire TV lacks the ability to stream media from your own network, so if you’ve a NAS box crammed full of your music and video files then you’ll be frustrated here. Roku provides a simple media app that supports most formats apart from .AVI. The Fire TV has a Squeezebox player, among others to can overcome these shortcomings but overall, this level of compatibility could be much more refined.And talking of refinements, surprisingly, there is no access to the Amazon Store, which looks like another missed opportunity and particularly annoying for those seeking some instant gratification music purchases.While Amazon provides plenty of content to view on the Fire TV some of it is going to be below par, which is where user reviews can come in handy. However, browsing movies on the Fire TV gives no access to user reviews, which isn’t very helpful. Go to Amazon’s site, for example, and you can browse 1,170 reviews for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. On Fire TV, nothing.To add to the list of gripes, account management is a problem, too, as the Fire TV can only connect to one Amazon account. By default, everything on that account is available to any user of the device, including the ability to make purchases. You can limit this to some extent with parental controls, requiring a PIN to make purchases or blocking access to photos, but it is not fully thought through.

In use you get the impression there is plenty of promise here. Fire TV is a neat and well-specified device. On this score it easily beats Apple TV, Roku 3 or Google Chromecast in memory and processor. The out of box experience is good, especially for Prime members who mainly have streaming video in mind. Voice search and photo sync are decent extra features. Add to that the potential of the device as a budget games console, and you have a worthwhile and good value box.The frustration is that Fire TV could be so much better. There are too many feature gaps, some down to immaturity and a weak ecosystem, some caused by Amazon’s desire to promote its own content services, and some which are hard to explain, like lack of support for Bluetooth headphones. Certainly the Amazon Fire TV is a better proposition than a Fire Phone but it really needs to evolve before it can earn a full recommendation. Mac OS X isn’t quite the RAM gobbler that Windows is, but since the Mini uses integrated graphics, that’s a big chunk of RAM nabbed before you’ve even started running applications, especially if you’re using multiple displays or even a single screen with a greater-than-HD resolution.

The Mini I have here has 8GB of RAM and I would‘t take anything less. Mac OS X Yosemite, pre-installed on the new Mini, demands rather more memory than its predecessors did — more daemons, more backgrounded apps, more memory leaks. Even with only a handful of basic applications open, this Mini is already consuming just under 7GB of the installed eight.Trouble is, I can’t do anything about that. I can’t assess my memory usage on a new platform and then expand the memory as necessary. Who cares if no other Mini user wants to do this. I do. For the sake of perhaps five dollars for the memory slot and the tooling for the removable base, Apple has made its little machines far less attractive for anyone not seeking an appliance. And surely those people are among the iMac’s natural constituency, not the Mini’s?If you do open up a 2014 Mac Mini, it’s still an engineering marvel. All kitted out in silver and black, it’s as attractive on the inside as it is on the outside, as the iFixit disassembly pics on here reveal. Better than anything I can take, these shots will show you exactly how accessible the new Mini isn’t. Getting to the 5400rpm 500GB hard drive (in the base model; others have bigger drives and even a Fusion Drive SSD cache) is a chore, but doable.

In use, this box, based on a 1.4GHz dual-core Core i5-based 4260U CPU feels fluid, and unlikely to trouble any but the most power-hungry users. As I say, it’s the lack of memory expansion that’s the problem here.There’s a problem for users with Firewire peripherals too: Apple has dropped the Firewire 800 port it had placed on the back of the 2012 model. In its place is a second Thunderbolt port which will come in handy if you’re driving your monitor off the other one. The new Mini, like the old, has HDMI, but that limits you to 1920 x 1080. Thunderbolt drives my 2560 x 1440 Dell display very well.The Mini still has a useful four USB 3.0 ports and the SD card slot. Once again, the PSU is built in; no brick hanging off the back here. Gigabit Ethernet rounds off the new Mini’s port array; the internal Wi-Fi has been upgraded from 802.11n to 802.11ac.For Apple Boot Camp aficionados, we also installed Windows 7 and fired up the PCMark 7 and 8 benchtests. The former test wasn’t impressed by the Fusion drive, producing a distinctly mid-range score of 3,500 points. However, the PCMark 8 Creative Suite focuses more on video and graphics work, where the Radeon graphics card helped it to achieve a very respectable score of 5195.

The Boot Camp installation was painless, and the only oddity we noticed when running Windows 7 on the iMac was that the Windows display was limited to 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160. Discussions on Apple’s support forums suggest that this is a limitation of AMD’s video drivers, but we doubt that Apple will be losing any sleep over that.The 5K iMac doesn’t offer the same range of configurations and upgrade options as previous models, but you can upgrade the £1,999 base model to an Intel quad-core 4GHz Core i7-4790 processor for a further £200, while a Radeon R9 M295X also adds another £200.Unlike other recent Apple updates, the 27-inch iMac models do still allow you to upgrade the memory yourself, so you can avoid expensive Apple Store upgrades such as £160 for an extra 8GB of memory. The intrepid souls at iFixit were able to dismantle the entire unit in order to reach the Fusion drive, but that’s most definitely not a task for the faint-hearted.

Less nerve-wracking but more expensive, the Apple Store will allow you to increase the Fusion drive to 3TB for £120, or swap the standard 1TB Fusion drive for 256GB of Flash storage. It turns out that that option doesn’t cost anything extra. Sure, it will give a boost to overall performance, but if you’re planning on keeping the Mac for a while, 256GB will soon feel rather small for multimedia projects.Lest we forget, the 5K iMac now includes two Thunderbolt 2.0 ports, so you can add high-speed Thunderbolt drives for maximum performance but for a price, or simply use one of the four USB 3.0 ports to add cheaper storage options.It’s certainly not the home computer that it used to be, but the iMac with Retina 5K Display will have designers, photographers and video-editors chomping at the bit. Most of them won’t actually need the 5K display and will be able to work perfectly well with the non-Retina iMac models that are still on sale.

However, an all-in-one machine that offers a 5K display and high-end graphics workstation for £2K is a mouth-watering temptation. And, just for once, your accounts department won’t be able to point at a cheaper PC alternative. Its clock speed was almost twice that of the Haswell CPU in the new model and with a slightly higher (3.0GHz to 2.7GHz) Turbo Boost speed. The previous Mini was tested with Geekbench 2 which generated results not directly comparable with those of Geekbench 3, but numbers from the database of the benchmark’s developer, Primate Labs, put the old model on averages of 2630 (single core) and 5418 (multi-core).So the new model, with a lower average clock speed, is delivering very slightly better performance. But it’s not a stellar increase, and certainly no reason to sell off your 2012 Mini for a new one. Indeed, given the upgradeability of 2012’s model, you might even prefer to seek one out second-hand and spend the difference getting yourself an SSD and a big memory boost.

The former, in particular, will be a noticeable improvement as you reduce the ‘lag’ of the 5400rpm HDD thanks to faster start-up times and application loads.The one piece of good news here is that Apple has knocked £100 off the price tag. The base 2012 model would have set you back £499; today’s entry level Mini is £399. Price reductions are nice, but in this instance it’s small compensation for the loss of a memory slot: most of that £100 will go on a measly 4GB build-to-order upgrade.Spending £170 more than the base price gets you the 2.5GHz Core i5 version, 8GB of memory and a 1TB HDD if you need the space. A further £230 (total: £799) buys you a 2.8GHz Core i5, 8GB of RAM, 1TB of HDD plus a 256GB SSD. Both the latter versions include Intel’s Iris Graphics; the baseline model has Intel HD Graphics 5000.The cores are the same; the Iris just has a higher clock speed than the 5000. It’s more a nice-to-have than a must-have, especially if you’re not gaming. Two years on, my ageing copy of Doom 3 steps from 44fps to 54fps at 1920 x 1080.

The Mac Mini remains a stylish, very compact desktop with the ability to drive greater-than-HD displays. It’s no games machine, but it does make for a very nice general productivity box. Thanks to OS X’s foundations, it’s a great Unix machine too thanks to wide access to both open source and commercial software.I’m going to get one to keep in the office, to save me carrying a laptop back and forth. I just think I might see if I can find a discounted 2012 model, its initially wobbly HDMI output now long fixed, rather than the current one and grab some extra memory for it. A legal firm has launched a class action against Apple over claims the 2011 MacBook Pro suffered from random bouts of graphical distortion, system instability and system failures.In the legal complaint, the plaintiffs said the computer was described by many as a dud and defective from inception.The laptops in question went on sale in February 2011 and were sold until May 2012. The issue at the heart of this case relates to the two graphics chips used, which were made by Advanced Micro Devices and Intel.

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