1. The $600 Intel Mac has a CD burner. The G4 with the burner was $550, which really is too close to make the savings worthwhile. I don't know if I'll ever do any burning on the Mini, but the option is there.
2. Latest OSX version. Last I recall, Apple's charging $129 for point-releases (which they justify by naming each point release after a jungle cat). I don't know what ships with the G4's, but I figured whatever I picked up at the Apple store would be the latest.
3. If I buy a new Mini, I could get a $100 HP printer-scanner thingy for free after rebate. Shelly wants one downstairs, so now she has one.
4. Our Apple store is about three miles away in Southlake. Our Micro Center with the closeout Macs is nearly an hour's drive away in Plano.
Speaking of which, I still wanna know what kind of strings Apple had to pull to get their store-design past Southlake's commercial-architecture-cops, but that's another story, because it'll need to be illustrated with pictures.
Anyways, I'm now the proud owner of the lowest-end Mac that Apple still sells. It is pretty pokey in the performance department, but I really need it more for testing than day-to-day use, so there's not much of a problem there.
It had no problem at all talking to my existing peripherals (Dell 2001 LCD monitor, MS Laser Mouse 6000, MS Ergonomic Keyboard 4000). In fact, they worked quite nicely with it. Thankfully, the Apple-store kid who sold me the machine understood the concept of a testing machine hooked up to a KVM switch, so he didn't go through much effort trying to sell me on a keyboard and mouse.
Speaking of which, Bryan's suggestion of using VNC was a good one, so my Mac's now running in a window on my XP desktop and I'll likely forego the KVM thing. In fact, I was quite pleasantly surprised at how seamless it is. Even stuff like the mouse-wheel works over the connection. FWIW, I'm using OSXvnc as a server and TightVNC as a client. Dunno if there's a better choice out there, but this combo seems to be doing the job.
The VNC display looks good and is only slightly "jpeggy" with gray halos around the text. Only problem is speed. The XP machine and the Mac are both talking over Wifi (despite them being just two feet apart), so there are lots of bits moving through the air to the router and back just to get the Mac's graphics to my XP client. So there's loads of shearing and waits for the screen to catch up. I could eliminate half of this traffic immediately by cabling the Mac directly to the router, but that'd cause a problem with sound, because the Mac's sound would then be happening from a room away.
I'm wondering if I can cable the machines together directly. Basically I'll shut off the Mac's Wifi, get a crossover cable, hook the unused ethernet port to the unused ethernet port on the Dell, enable connection-sharing on the Dell, and let the Mac connect through the Dell.
Doing that would probably slow down the internet connection to the Mac (because it'd be sharing Wifi bandwidth with the Dell), but it'd greatly speed the IP connection to the Dell itself (because it's now talking via a wire). Also, that'd remove the VNC wifi traffic entirely so I don't have to worry about VNC slowing down everybody else's connection.
Might be worth a try.
Two related notes. . .
It really is humorous how similar OSX and XP are. Apart from some meaningless graphical flourishes (i.e. The Mac's twisty effects vs Windows' astounding ability to change your GUI's colors) and the location of the menubar, they're damn near the same thing. Heck, if Mac's Finder could enable a folder-tree in the leftmost pane, they'd BE the same thing.
Those new Apple "chubby guy versus trendy guy" commercials are so bad as to induce douche-chills. Do they seriously want me to believe that there's a digital camera that exists somewhere on the planet that works on Mac but not Windows? Sheesh.