Mac mini should shrink down into a keyboard

Mac mini should shrink down into a keyboard


Next Mac mini should be just a keyboard
A future Mac mini should look like this.
Photo: Apple

There’s no reason the Mac mini has to take up unnecessary desk space. Apple can and should build the entire computer into the keyboard. The result would minimize clutter, making it an ideal computer for anyone living in tight quarters. And it would be quite portable.

It’s completely possible with tech Apple has now. Here’s how.

Future iMac mini: A blast from the past

Some of the earliest personal computers were built into a keyboard. That includes a Commodore VIC-20, a computer released in 1980. And the followup, the Commodore 64 from 1982. We moved away from that design, but it’s become practical again.

And a Mac mini in a keyboard wouldn’t be nearly so chunky as those early models. To understand why, consider the very slim 2022 MacBook Air:

X-ray of 2022 MacBook Air with Apple M2
Remove the display, batteries, etc. and what’s left of the MacBook Air fits easily under its keyboard.
Photo: iFixit

Remove the screen, batteries and trackpad and the entire computer would fit under the keyboard with room to spare. And there you go: a Mac mini in a keyboard.

Note that the lower half of the laptop’s clamshell is 0.3 inches thick so the similar macOS desktop would be about as slim as the standalone Apple Magic Keyboard, which as 0.43 inches at its thickest.

Consider the advantages

You don’t often hear people say, “My desk is too big. I wish there was more junk on it.” It’s usually quite the opposite (as you well know). A Mac mini combined with a keyboard is one less thing on the desk. And that’s a real bonus for those living in a dorm room, cube or small apartment.

And while the keyboard/computer isn’t as portable as a MacBook, it’s still very easy to carry. Someone with displays at home and office could move their Mac between them in a backpack or briefcase.

There wouldn’t be sacrifices in the new design. Everything the Apple M2 processor needs fits in the slim 2022 MacBook Air, and (as noted) the proposed Mac mini is a modified version of that notebook. They both use Apple’s chip designed for consumer-oriented computers.

Plus, the top edge of the theoretical macOS desktop would have plenty of room for USB-C, USB-A, HDMI and Ethernet ports. And these would be more easily accessible, rather than being hidden behind the computer on the edge of your desk.

Not that the design is perfect: there’d probably be more cables stretched across the desk. But every product has a few drawbacks.

And there are companies that mount the current Mac mini on racks in server rooms who won’t like this design change. Perhaps Apple can keep the old form factor around for this group if there are enough sales to justify it.

Think about it… Apple is

If your reaction to this suggestion was “This is such a terrible idea that Ed must have brain damage,” consider that Apple might already be working on a Mac mini with exactly this design. In early 2022, Apple filed a patent application for a desktop computer that’s also a keyboard.

The super-slim but powerful new MacBook Air proves that the company could take the design off the drawing board and make it a reality.

It not only could, it should.


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