I can’t write a simple review of Mac’s latest OS without acknowledging that there are already mountains of evaluations and opinions out in cyberspace for people to access and learn from. Why is another one needed?
Well, like many Mac users, I’m not an expert in computers…I know just about enough to make myself dangerous. In terms of computing experience, I’m more of an “Average Joe” contestant than “The Bachelor.” Just with a lot less drama.
I had asked for OS X Tiger (10.4.3 is the current iteration) for Christmas, having been seduced by Apple’s main selling points, and was ecstatic when I unwrapped it and carried it home from the main family gathering. Rather than explaining in great detail all the benefits and liabilities of Tiger, I hope to answer the simple question the median Mac user currently running Panther might ask: Is the upgrade worth it?
I really feel like I approached Tiger as a typical user might. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time reading manuals; I wanted to insert CD, install, and enjoy! Unfortunately, the enjoyment was short of my expectations. Much as a Big Mac never looks like the one on TV, Tiger’s features left a lot to be desired.
Perhaps the best new feature Tiger offers is its amazingly fast search engine called Spotlight. With a small omnipresent icon in the upper right corner of the screen, a speedy search of your entire computer is only a click away. Spotlight even sorts the results by applications, files, etc.
As far as “cool” factors go, the Dashboard wins on many fronts. The Dashboard holds an assortment of free Widgets, or small programs that you can call up with a click of the mouse. Everything from flight trackers to stock tickers can be downloaded from Apple’s website. The list continues to grow each day, as developers release new offerings and programming-savvy individuals tackle new ideas. The “coolest” part is the ripple effect that cascades out from the Widget as you drag it onto your desktop. Unfortunately, adding and subtracting Widgets is not entirely intuitive. And some...such as the Cocktail Widget, which had not heard of a Hurricane drink, or the TV Listings Widget, which I still can’t figure out...are quite useless.
Big in concept, the new version of iChat allows users to multi-conference with one another. Unfortunately, it only works with other iChat users, of which I know a scarce few. Besides, I’m still trying to figure out how to successfully webcam with one PC user…much less three!
Aside from a few cosmetic updates, Mail seems to run more or less the same, though it also benefits from Spotlight’s blazing fast search feature.
Similar to a macro, the Automator allows you to program the computer to complete a variety of repetitive tasks. The problem is, I can’t figure out anything to use it for yet. Any suggestions?
RSS, Quicktime 7, Mac Sync, Voiceover and Parental Controls complete the rest of Tiger’s top features, but I’ve yet to find a reason to use them.
Upon reflection, Tiger doesn’t seem to offer all that much that its reliable predecessor couldn’t handle. While Spotlight is actually handy, the rest of the upgrades seem more nifty than practical. Perhaps underneath the spiffy graphics, Tiger has made my system function more efficiently and effectively (though, I should note that compatibility can be an issue. Norton Anti-Virus 9.0, for instance, is not fully compatible and its Auto-Protect feature will not function in Tiger), but as an average user, I don’t see that side of the computer, nor am I particularly enticed to explore in that direction.
Ultimately, however, each user has their own goals and expectations for their computer, and one might take a feature I immediately glossed over as unimportant and find it mission critical. I suppose that’s the ultimate lesson with Tiger and with any major purchase. Spending the time upfront to research and learn about a product will help ensure a smart decision...which is hopefully why you’re reading this piece. So perhaps another review in the mountain of others isn’t such a bad thing after all.