Obligatory Tiger review

tigerOSX 10.4 Tiger has graced both my mini and iBook, for about 72 hours now, overall I couldn’t be happier with 10.4, with one exception, but I’ll save that for last. I opted against the whole Apple store at the maul routine, for one I wasn’t feeling very crowd’y and secondly Fry’s electronics was selling copies for 99 dollars, yeah I’ll drive 30 miles for 30 bucks, any way I kept notes from my install process, through experimenting with the first couple of apps, so here goes.

Installing Tiger:
The initial install process seemed simple enough, pop in the DVD click the big X and reboot. On said reboot I was met with a graphic instructing me to remove the batteries from my Apple Bluetooth mouse, ok I suppose Tiger wanted to re-sync with it, after a few tries mission was accomplished and I was back on my way.

From there it was the typical language choices etc, nothing groundbreaking here, just everyday ol’ installing the worlds most advanced operating system type stuff.

This has been stated elsewhere, but its worth repeating, especially with a hard drive as small as the mini’s. Unless you really feel you need 1.4 GB’s of printer drivers hogging up your hard drive, by all means select custom install and carefully read your choices. In addition to the printer drivers there are a few other items you may feel aren’t necessary.

Ok now the installation was getting underway, I went ahead and skipped past the “Check my installation DVD” I had faith all was well, after all if it wasn’t I’d know soon enough.

Fait Accompli:
My installation took about 40 minutes, give or take and went as smooth as glass. The first thing I wanted to try out was Spotlight, but not so fast Lone Ranger, the first time you run Spotlight you’ll need to wait for it to index your hard drive, no biggie in my system as I only keep the basics on hand, Delicious Monster, Matinee, Fire Fox and alike, so my entire index was handled in about 25 minutes or so, although I have to say it felt much longer.

Spotlight works pretty much like you saw in the last Steve note, although not quite as fast, I’m sure it’s even more impressive on a G5. Spotlight will undoubtedly be very beneficial for recent switchers, who aren’t the tidiest of file keepers. Overall I’d say Spotlight is an incredibly useful tool, and from what I’ve heard (and thankfully never experienced) a vast improvement over prior OSX search utilities.

The second must see on my Tiger tour was Dashboard, Konfabulator comparisons aside, Dashboard is not only supremely handy, its just plain cool, if eyecandy is what your after Dash Board offers it in spades. If you frequent public Wi-Fi spots, by all means grab the JiWire Wi-Fi hotspot finder off Apple’s site, tre’ handy.

I can see down the road relying more and more on widgets, it just makes a sense to have a collection of commonly used tools all arranged together, instead of hunting them down individually.

The reworked Safari was actually a pleasant surprise, first off it seems a little faster, and makes better use of cascading style sheets. The included RSS reader would make a great introduction into news feeds for the uninitiated. While I still slightly prefer Fire Fox as a browser, and a stand-alone newsreader to Safari, I can say Apple has made significant improvements to their browser.

Quicktime 7, H264 and the mini bummer:
Ok I’ve got a few complaints, hey nothing’s perfect right, first off Quicktime 7 lacks full screen play back with an unregistered version, no biggie, just annoying. Ok I gave in and bought a license, Apple wasn’t done with my wallet that day I guess.

Ok license in hand err in app, I went back and grabbed some of the new QT7 high definition movie trailers, this one was a major bummer, granted if I had read the QT7 HD requirements ahead of time it wouldn’t have been such a let down, but it still felt anticlimactic. In case you had any guises of your mini handling even 720p QT7 files here are the recommended hardware requirements straight from Apple.

For 1280×720 (720p) video at 24-30 frames per second:

* 1.8 GHz PowerMac G5 or faster Macintosh computer
* At least 256 MB of RAM
* 64 MB or greater video card

For 1920×1080 (1080p) video at 24-30 frames per second:

* Dual 2.0 GHz PowerMac G5 or faster Macintosh computer
* At least 512 MB of RAM
* 128 MB or greater video card

Now surely there are exceptions to these guidelines but they pretty much match my experiences, 1080p not surprisingly was unplayable, not even close. The 720p files were in the ballpark but I still noticed mild stuttering. I’ve played a few other 720p files with success on the mini (DivX comes to mind), so I find it a little odd that Apple’s own QT HD files wouldn’t be more optimized for the mini. But the hardware recommendations for QT7 hi-def speaks for itself, I’m still holding out hope for some sort or graphics hardware accelerator compatible with the mini.

Hardware deficiencies aside, Tiger on the mini was still impressive. Spotlight and Dashboard alone are well worth the upgrade, and as mentioned elsewhere there are 198 other improvements or updates left to explore.


7 Responses to “Obligatory Tiger review”

  1. xSmurf Says:

    Is it only me of the boot dvd is blazing fast? Well kinda normal, correct me if I’m wrong, the throughput of a dvd much bigger than with cds.

  2. errolbert Says:

    My mini plays the smaller HD content just fine, if that’s all I’m doing. However, the best I can get 1080p files to do is about 60% of their frames without audio hiccups.

  3. B.Greenway Says:

    errolbert, I’m running Tiger on 1.42GHz mini with 512MB of ram, no other apps of any consequence are open and or running, and I get noticeable frame loss on the 720p files.

    Is there something about your setup that differs significantly from mine? If not I cant see how your playing the QT7 720p files just fine, that is unless your speaking about other 720p files, like I said in the article, DiVx played back fine, even some 720p mpegs.

  4. Riot Nrrrd™ Says:

    There’s a Usenet newsgroup where people post HDTV clips/movies. I’ve tried to play 1080i stuff like the OutKast-on-the-Grammys clip that’s floating around out there, or an IMAX movie called “Ocean Oasis”, on both my 1 GHz AlBook and my dual-1.25 GHz MDD at work. The AlBook (using VLC) can’t play either of them, too much stuttering and pregnant pausing. The MDD can just about play the “IMAX Ocean Oasis” movie, however. But it’s clear to me in either case that if you really want the HD experience, you gotta get a new dual-2.7 GHz G5 … so I’m saving my pennies.

    Guess you better abandon the “Mac Mini HTPC” concept, eh 😉

  5. B.Greenway Says:

    Far far from it, I used mine to stream a DVD out to my projector just last nite. Audio and Video isnt the problem, high definition is.

  6. Jeefus Says:

    I’ve tested QT7 Pro on both my shiny new dual 2.7Ghz Powermac running Tiger and my handy little 1.33 Ghz 12″ Powerbook with some of the H.264 HD files. The Powermac (unsurprisingly) has no issues whatsoever… I can still interactively scale the window or pop in and out of full screen even in 1080i content with no slow down whatsoever. Truly astonishing stuff. Despite all the gripes about the recent Powermac upgrade, Apple’s top of the line is truly a beauty. The Powerbook pretty much reflects your experiences… fullscreen 720p content runs with the odd frame dropped and a bit of stuttering, and 1080i content is a no go area. I wouldn’t expect the Mini to be able to handle it.

  7. Worldboy Says:

    I can get 24fps 720p full screen on my iMac 1.6 512MB with only one or two moments in the Batman HD trailer when it drops to 15fps for like a second. This is only seen in the Movie Info screen because you can’t tell just watching the movie, it’s so smooth.

    1080i is another story. I tried the BBC HD download file in 1080i and it stuttered all the way skipping entire scenes. Unwatchable. This all matches what Apple is saying.

    However all is not lost for the Mac mini. People are suggesting that Apple should put an HD decoder in the Airport Express and a video or Firewire output so the mini owners can stream HD from iTunes to the Airport Express to the TV.

    This sounds like it might just work.

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