The Mac Mini isn't a bad computer by any means, but you're definitely paying for looks, size and brand versus speed. Ten years ago Apple systems did have a big advantage when it came to graphic design software
, but at this point both Windows and Apple have very comparable utilities that come packaged with the operating systems and 99 percent of third-party specialized software
like Adobe Photoshop is available for either operating system and works the same way on both.
If you're just a casual user and don't plan to be doing any high-definition video editing (which the Mini would have a helluva time doing anyway), I'd say just go with a cheap
or even a netbook.
Laptops use far less power, and they have a built-in battery
backup. The newer 10" ASUS netbooks that run about $400 are boasting a battery
life of up to 10 hours these days. They can be moved around the cabin
or closed and stowed in seconds. If you want a bigger screen for watching movies, most have a plug
for that. Then you'd only have to run the power-hungry screen every once in a while.
The laptops/netbooks with solid state drives also add reliability
because there's no moving parts
to wear out. Some notebooks and portable hard drives have a drop-detection system in them, which stops the hard drive from spinning when it senses a fall, so that it reduces the chance of damage. Of course, this shuts off your computer. In stormy, choppy waters, I don't know what it would take to cause this, but it might be another reason to go with solid state.
All of them will do word-processing and Internet
surfing at about the same speed. A netbook is going to be a little slower with photo
editing, but most dual-core laptops and the mini should run about the same speed for that.