Review – Mac OSX 10.5 – Leopard

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Apple’s latest OS update is here. It’s name is Leopard – but you probably already know that. The latest version of OSX features a number of upgrades and enhancements – the question is, are those updates and enhancements worth your $129.

Hmm…let’s take a look and see.

Installation

First things first, you have to install this puppy – so, how complicated is it? It really couldn’t be simpler. You insert the install disk, click on the icon, and it goes to town. It restarts the computer, asks you what language you speak, finds your hard drive, and the update begins.

On my Macbook Pro the upgrade took about 40 minutes (I skipped the disk check). On my 1st generation Mac Mini the upgrade took between and hour and an hour and a half (I skipped the disk check on this one too). There wasn’t much pain involved in either upgrade process.

Score: 5 out of 5

Installation of software doesn’t get any easier than this.

How does it run on a 2.16 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro with 2 Gigs of Ram?

Pretty darn good. Everything feels snappy and opens quickly. It doesn’t feel significantly faster, but thankfully it doesn’t feel any slower.

Score: 4 out of 5

How does it run on a 1.25 Ghz Power PC G4 with 512 Mbs of Ram?

Now, these stats – while not QUITE the bottom of the barrel for Leopard minimum system requirements – are pretty close to the slowest system you can run it on…and I have to say, it runs pretty well here too. Obviously everything isn’t what you would call “snappy”, but Cover Flow works well in the finder, even playing video previews, and applications open just as well as they did in Tiger on the machine.

Although, I would still suggest to people that are on machines this old that it might be time to upgrade the hardware before spending the cash on Leopard.

Score: 3 out of 5

Key Features

The Desktop

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I have read lots of grumbles about the new Dock…but I don’t agree with those grumbles. I like the new Dock. I love the 3D effect, and I even like the little cross walk looking separator. What I don’t like, however, is the transparent menu bar, and I really, REALLY, wish I could turn that off and make it solid. The transparency ads nothing to it for me, and is actually a little distracting. I’m sure I’ll get used to it – but I don’t like it.

Score: 3 out of 5

Finder

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The new Finder isn’t perfect, but it’s close. I love the iTunes like interface, and I have found Cover Flow to be extremely useful when searching for images. Also networking has been really simplified for Leopard, and I love the fact that my other Macs are just sitting right there in the Finder.

The searches are nice, and immediate access to spotlight and Time Machine are great for finding things that you’ve lost, but there is one thing that REALLY wanted in the Finder that I didn’t get…TABS. I hate having multiple Finder windows open, and while I feel this will be minimized by the new look and feel of Finder, I really wish their were tabs that would allow me multiple windows in one space.

Score: 4 out of 5

Quick Look

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Quick Look is a fantastic time saver. It does exactly what it says it does. It allows you a quick look at just about anything you want to see. Being able to play video without having to launch an application is great. So is looking through PDF files. If I need a small piece of information from a document, I don’t have to waste time opening it up.

This is one of those “little” things that, after you have it, you can’t live without it. I expect it to be in every operating system from now on.

Scrore: 5 out of 5

Time Machine

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How the heck did backing up files become fun? I’ll be one of the first to admit that Apple isn’t being “revolutionary” by adding a back up utility to Leopard. It’s been done before and there are dozens of third party applications that will do this as well. What Apple has done, however, is make it fun and super easy. If you have an external drive – even if half of it is full of all your “legal” video content you’ve been downloading off the web, you can simply select it, and Time Machine will go to work backing up your stuff.

You can tell it to skip certain things, so your wife won’t find that stuff you’re hiding from her, and still never have to worry about losing an important file ever again. The interface is completely over the top, but in a good way.

Score: 5 out of 5

iChat/Photobooth

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I mention Photobooth in the title as well because you can do all of the effects and background trickery that’s in iChat 4.0 in Photobooth as well. In fact, I might even start messing around with this and video podcasting. It’s fun.

Screen sharing, iChat Theater and the new background effects all work really well. I’m not surprised that screen sharing and iChat Theater work as well as they do – but I am surprised that the background effects work. Now, you really do need to be sitting in front of a blank wall or screen, but it’s a very cool live effect.

Tabbed chat is now here, but I can’t find a way to customize the color of the bubbles of people I’m chatting with – and that could be a problem. I don’t want to get confused as to who I’m talking to. (If anyone knows a way to do this, leave it in the comments below, and I’ll update this).

iChat is filled with fun features – but most of it, has been available from other means for a long time. It is nice to see Apple catch up with some of the other 3rd party IM clients out there.

Score: 3 out of 5

Spaces

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I don’t like Spaces. They’re just not for me. I’ve tried to get used to them, and use them for organizing my workflow (having all the podcasting related apps in one Space, and internet apps in another Space for example)…but I find them to be more trouble than their worth. I think the concept was executed well, but I just don’t have a use for it.

Score: 3 out of 5

Stacks

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As much as I don’t care for Spaces, i DO care for Stacks. I find Stacks to be very helpful, and a feature that I’m going to be using constantly. Its another minor enhancement, that is really going to be a time saver. I’m a much bigger fan of the grid layout than the fanning, but both are very helpful.

Score: 4 out of 5

I have had some minor problems with Leopard. For example, I cut out several web widgets to make Dashboard useful for me, and they worked great, until I left Dashboard, then returned to it. Now they’re just big white squares, and I can’t seem to get them to work.

No operating system is going to be perfect right out of the gate, but I think Apple has done a great job with Leopard. We’ll continue to talk about it here at Apple Gazette extensively over the next several weeks (and really, until 10.6 comes out). So if you’re new here, you might want to grab the RSS Feed and stick around.

All in all, I’m very happy with Leopard. It’s not a revolutionary update. Most of the new features are excellent, though, and I truly think it’s worth your $129.

Final Leopard Score: 4 out of 5

Comments

  1. Thanks for that! Sounds great I can’t wait it to test it out.

  2. Hurm. Gotta think this through I suppose. I have two MACs, I have a dual CPU Powermac (PPC) with a 1GB RAM (although the video’s only 64mb); It’s pretty much a gimme that I’ll put Leopard on it, but my laptop dogs a little bit. Old Powerbook, 1GB, 512 RAM. Upgrading isn’t really an option.

    I’ll be waffling on the subject of whether or not to put leopard on the powerbook for a while I suspect. Have to figure I won’t be backing it up – Time machine will be on the big one, and I’m not anticipating much need for coverflow and quicklook. Hurm. Have to think about it I guess. Would be nice to use the improved networking.

  3. The Wizard says:

    Awesome Michael. Congratulations. Can’t wait to get mine running on my mac mini.

  4. I can’t help but be skeptical about reviews so quickly. These enhancements, like Spaces, are designed to improve your workflow and productivity and take time to adjust to. Just think about how many ways there are to get to the desktop from a crowed screen, (4?) and Spaces just adds to that list. But who knows? Maybe Hide, [Quit], Expose, and Minimize, just does not do it for some people, but Spaces will. Or switching from the PC where Hide wasn’t an option, and now 3 years later I finally use it more than anything else instead of F11 all day. Point is you have to may have to change your workflow to take full advantage of Spaces, as with any of the new features.

    Though for the record, I think Spaces is a terrible idea. I need closure to what I’m working on, and with Spaces it would…never…end…

    Of course we are all expecting the Fox News-like continuous over-the-top looping reports on what you clicked on that day (its what you do best), so there should be some room for a change of mind :) Let us know when you do, and thanks for the review!

  5. @Blair

    I’ve been using Leopard for much longer than just today. I can assure you, the review is how I feel about Leopard as a whole. What came in the mail today was the final version of Leopard (1.0, at least)…not the first. :)

  6. Ah.. I was going to say… that was quick.

    Is that the WordPress Admin I see in the background of the screenshot? Do you use Ecto or Mars even as an editor for a few blogs?

  7. @Blair

    Yup, that’s WordPress.

    :)

    I I have tried both Ecto and Mars and I just couldn’t get into using them. I really like the WordPress UI, so I’ve just stuck with that. I’m not opposed to editors like Ecto and Mars – I just couldn’t get interested in them.

  8. “I really like the WordPress UI, so I’ve just stuck with that.”
    That’s what I did.

    By the way, every mac blog has to have at least one use who doesn’t have a mac yet…but wants one, so that’s me. :D

  9. I posted this yesterday already but I got in your Spam-Filter….
    This program should let you turn off the transparency of the menu bar:

    http://www.eternalstorms.at/utilities/opaquemenubar/index.html

    Couldn’t try it though, since I don’t own Leopard.

    Sorry for any language mistakes, Im from Germany ;-)

  10. Coverflow is very good for porn :-)

  11. hi just want to ask, being that i don’t own any apple devices/ computers except for an iPod, have you found all 300+ new features? I’m just wondering… peace.

    The price is a lot cheaper than “ehemm vista ehem”.. and thats for full featured os…

  12. Is it just me or is anyone having issues with Mail not remembering account passwords when you restart it? Its driving me mad, and it only seemed to happen after using Service Scrubber.

  13. @Steve

    Did you download the keychain update for Leopard yet? If not, hit the software update and maybe that will fix it.

  14. Cael Kuhlman says:

    I wouldn’t get Leopard if you use Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro for your video production workflow. I have had a variety of problems with these two apps ever since installing Leopard, this biggest of which is that Compressor completely stopped working. If Apple can’t come up with a solution for me soon, I’m afraid I may have to somehow downgrade my OS… what a pain :(

  15. I think that as the reviews are coming in, many of those are about personal preferences. No one can actually say 100% that it’s good or bad. But as long as the OS meets our needs, I think that’s good enough. As for Leopard, Apple has done it again :D

    I’m upgrading my Core Duo MacBook now as I’m writing this.

  16. Last Friday night at 10:00 I installed Leopard like so many others. At 11:00 my system restarted itself as I waited in anticipation for my first look. My system got stuck on a blue screen while trying to load for the first time. I tried rebooting and had the same problem. Apple support was great and recommended an “archive and install”. By 12:30 everything was up and running. I found my initial experiences slow and buggy. Saturday I had more than 15 error messages, needless to say I was a bit discouraged. Sunday I did an “erase and install”. Ever since I have been jumping for joy. I am using Time Machine to bring back all my files as I need them. And I am loving everything included in the new OS. Thanks for the site Michael.

  17. Hi Michael
    You mentioned installing Leopard on your MacBook Pro and your Mac Mini. Can you do this OK with 10.5? I noticed that $129 buys you one license but you need to pay more for five? I have a whole collection of Macs and I’ve always liked the way Apple have kept their OS free of registration numbers and authentication codes etc – unlike another OS I could mention. ;-)

  18. @John

    No, $129 is for one computer only, you’ll need to buy a family pack which is $199.

  19. OK I have been running Linux on my laptop, a Dell Latitude D800 pc 1.4 GHZ with 125 gig ram. Can I load Leopard on it?

    I have a G3 and love it altho it is slower tan molasses…

    Kevin

  20. Am I the only person out there thinking that Leopard is the most buggy product Apple ever released? I am using Macs since System 8.6. While I was using Tiger my System never quit neither did most of the Applications.
    I switched to Leopard and suddenly the system just freezes two or three times a day, applications are crashing faster than you are able to reboot them… Not quite happy.

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