Nothing fancy, but something to eventually replace my current desktop, which is slowly failing after a PSU went "phut", let out the magic smoke, and took out a chunk of the motherboard. It still works, but there's going to be a day soon when it finally kicks the bit bucket.
We wandered down to PC World, where we picked up a small Athlon 64 machine. The specifications weren't too bad: 2GHz 64 bit processor, on-board ATI Radeon graphics card, and 512 MB of RAM, a dual layer DVD burner, 160GB of 7200RPM SATA hard disc, built-in gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 ports, firewire, and a whole pile of media readers. It's quiet and small, and in a reasonably attractive mirrored black case. The days of the beige box are long gone.
Not bad pricing, either. Including VAT it cost us around £360. We didn't need a monitor (they'd have sold us a 17" LCD for another £100).
That's over £130 cheaper than a Mac Mini, for a machine that's significantly more powerful - and with enough expansion capability to turn it into a nice little media box, too. (I have made one change, dropping in an extra half gig of RAM, but I'm currently using it to run a beta version of Windows Vista, with lots of debug code still in place, and it's performing comparably to a hyperthreaded Pentium 4 machine.)
With Apple rumoured to be announcing its Intel Mac Mini in a week or so, it's going to need to seriously consider its pricing structures. People are going to walk into PC World, look at the specifications of a hypothetical Intel Mini, and compare it with a generic Intel or AMD PC. It's going to be (as they say) Apples to apples - not G5 to P4. In which case, prices are going to need to come down some. Sure, Apple will be able to initially have some uplift thanks to the brand name, but the days of high margins on branded hardware will be behind them, and the market will force them to parity with the HPs and Dells of the world.