Mac OS X / 10.8 – Initial Thoughts

11/07/2012


 

I just purchased a Mac Mini, and I’d like to share my initial thoughts. I’m pretty stoked about the purchase, as my other desktop computer has gotten too old to run the newest version of Pro Tools audio software. And that old (2005) Dell computer is just cramping my style in general. Comparatively, the Mac Mini is so small and sleek looking, but let’s really get into the review:

INITIAL START UP TIME:
I made a leap from OS X 10.6 on my laptop to 10.8 on the Mini. Starting up the computer for the very first time took a while. It wasn’t like that with the laptop at all. Maybe the operating system has grown, although one major goal Steve Jobs had was to significantly speed up the start up time. That happened, but now maybe things are starting to go the other way. But whatever, it’s all good. I was just getting antsy about wanting to play with the new computer and had to twiddle my thumbs while it started up.

PROCESSING SPEED:
My first thought is that is seems, well… a little slow. This version of Mac Mini has an I7, 2.7 GHz processor, but maybe some of its speed (or lack thereof) is my imagination. Right off the bat, the internet connection definitely was slow. It didn’t matter if it was a wired connection or a wifi one, pages loaded…….very…..slowly…… Then again, Time Warner’s internet service around here is reliably known for being unreliable.

DESKTOP:
This is a big-time complaint I have, though fixable… I was wondering where the heck the hard drive icon was, which, of course, is normally found on the desktop. Actually, there was NOTHING on the desktop when the computer was first booted up. Maybe it’s because Apple wants to keep things looking completely sleek, but I really need to get into the hard drive and keep all my sound samples and assorted audio files organized. So if you want any type of useful icon to show on the desktop, you have to simultaneously hit CMD + Comma to bring up the Finder Preferences window. From there, you can select to display “Hard disks,” “External disks,” “DVDs,” etc. on the desktop.

GRAPHICS:
The resolution looks sharp, realllll sharp. Seriously, I am blown away by how crisp video looks these days. I love high definition… and that makes me glad I’m not an actor! Taking a photo of a screen doesn’t truly do it justice, but this, at least, gives you an idea of how awesome it looks:


 

SCROLLING:
I hate to potentially turn this into a complaint fest, but there are some weird, quirky things about OS X 10.8 that I just don’t get. You know how you operate a scroll wheel – you scroll “down” (or towards you, rather) to make the page, ya know, scroll down? Well Apple decided to change this up. Now, you scroll up/forward to make a page scroll down. It’s suddenly like “no” meaning “yes” or figuring out which way to push the yoke to gain altitude while flying a plane upside-down.

To be fair, you can go into the “mouse” settings and turn off the “natural scrolling” direction, in favor of the direction you’ve always used.

TEMPERATURE:
Even after some simple operation, the computer case feels hot to the touch. It’s a little disconcerting because heat kills computers and hard drives. Without proper ventilation, the failure rate for electronics climbs right up. If this continues, I might have to keep a small fan pointed at it during processor-heavy operations.

DVD / CD SHARING:
I wish Apple wouldn’t have abandoned the optical drive so soon. DVD sharing is a pretty cool thing, I must say, but it takes some setup and figuring out to get DVD information to transfer from one computer to another. I use an audio program called Reason. During installation for that, I got the first disc to read on the Mac Mini but, unfortunately, the installer wouldn’t register discs #2 and #3 when prompted to put them in. So without having an actual DVD drive for just the Mac Mini, I can’t proceed with installation. I contacted Reason’s manufacturer, and the response was that they’ve seen that issue before and that I’m just going to have to buy a cheap USB optical drive.

THE BOTTOM LINE:
This new Mac is going to take some getting used to. Change is hard, and sometimes we grow complacent (see Nov. 6, 2012). So maybe all these new features and the different layout wouldn’t have seemed so drastic if I would have gone through OS X 10.7 first. I’m sure the computer will end up working out great, though there is still much to do. As for now, I am working on making the operating system as efficient as possible for professional audio use by eliminating the frou-frou things like animated windows and disabling modes like “sleep” and screensavers.

TO COME:
-additional hard drive (via upgrade kit)
-16 GB RAM (official specs put max. at 8 GB, but Other World Computing has determined 16 GB is capable)

CURRENT SPECS:
Apple Mac Mini
Model No.: A1347
Processor: 2.7 GHz i7
Hard Drive: 500 GB, 5400 RPM
RAM: 4 GB total (2x 2 GB sticks)
Ports: HDMI (x1), USB 2.0 (x4), Thunderbolt (x1), FireWire 800 (x1), SD card slot, audio in/out, Ethernet
 

Lots o’ Cables

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