Leopard Impressions

Once I'd got my iMac I unboxed it and set it up. If you've ever unboxed an Apple product before, you'll know that the box is a neat, clean design, and the product itself comes covered in plastic. Setup took about 2 minutes, with a particularly nice feature being that the power lead is flush with the back of the unit. Because I'd ordered the iMac immediately after the release of Leopard, it came with Tiger installed, and an upgrade DVD in the box. I had a five minute play with Tiger, but was itching to see whether Leopard was as good as I hoped it would be.

My impressions of Leopard are purely those of a new user to OS X. I'd not used a Mac before, other than a quick play around in the Apple Store at the Bullring, Birmingham. However there had been plenty of noise about the new features in Leopard, with some of them being positive (the new features), and some of them being negative (the new look).

But before I could have a look at them I had to install Leopard. As I had no data on the Mac, I decided to do a wipe and install, so stick the DVD in, reboot, and hold down the C key to boot from the drive. One of the nice options you have is to check the DVD media before installing from it. I've not had a problem with unreadable installation media for years (I think it was Windows 95!), but it's nice to have the check done for peace of mind. You get asked what wireless network you want to connect to at the start of the install, a few more questions, then go away for an hour, come back, and find it installed.

Once started, I discover that the new features don't really mean that much to me, as I'm not used to using the Mac anyway, but some elements of the new look I do have an opinion on.

Leopard has new default wallpaper. I don't think it's that pretty, but that doesn't bother me as it's usually covered up. However the wallpaper does have some bright spots on it. We'll come to those spots later.

The 3D dock is new in Leopard, with a reflective base. The 3D-ness of it doesn't add anything to the user experience. However, the reflectiveness actually reduces the usability. The first time you put something bright behind the dock, it gets reflected and the icons in the dock become harder to see. Another change is that if an application in the dock is running, it's indicated with a bright spot beheath it's icon. The problem is that that spot isn't immediately noticable, and it looks a bit like the spots on the default wallpaper, which may be reflected. On previous versions of OS X there was a black triangle insteada, which would seem to be much more noticable.

Also new in Leopard is the transparent menu bar. I can't see the point in this, as it's not like you care what's behind there. To make matters worse, the default wallpaper has a bright spot just behind the menubar. It sounds trivial, but it's mildly annoying, once you've noticed it.

Also new (I think), is transparent menus. Once again I can't see what the point of this is. You know what's behind the menu because you only opened it a second ago. Transparency can only make the menu less easily readable!

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