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Friday, January 02, 2009, 05:50 am PT (08:50 am ET)

Apple's next-gen Mac mini to get dual display support

Bringing its least expensive system up to par with features in the rest of its lineup, Apple is due to revamp the Mac mini with multiple video outputs, AppleInsider has learned.

Those familiar with the company's plans say the small form factor desktop will have both the Mini DisplayPort connector first introduced on unibody MacBooks but also a Mini DVI connector.

The reason for the addition is unclear, though it would potentially give the budget Mac dual display support that it has lacked since it was introduced as a PowerPC G4 model in 2005. All other current Macs either already include a built-in display and only need one video output or else use full-size video cards, such as the discontinued Power Mac G5 or today's Mac Pro.

Such an update is helped in part by details that Apple itself has unintentionally confirmed through software leaks, which show the Mac mini using the GeForce 9400M chipset in a significantly new model that would, as a result, have the faster video performance and support for DisplayPort that are both missing in the current model's Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics.

It also indirectly supports notions of a more flexible design that in past leaks has suggested might include the option of replacing the optical drive with a second hard drive.

People aware of the update, however, contradict claims of a partly black plastic enclosure and say that none of the material seems visible on the design, suggesting it won't quite fit the black-and-silver color scheme of the iMac or other current Apple computers.

The new model is widely expected to bow at Macworld and may be accompanied by a new iMac at the same time.