Hypercritical


About My Mavericks Review

I reviewed OS X 10.9 Mavericks for Ars Technica. I’ve been reviewing OS X since 1999, and this is the tenth major release. There are several ways to read my review.

Here are my thoughts on the various reading options. This is mostly a repeat of last year’s post about Mountain Lion, with some sections carried over verbatim, but there is some new information.

The Web Version

The web version of my review is the canonical version. It has the best formatting and the most features. It's also the most up-to-date. I believe that good writing for the web includes many links. A web browser is the best place to inspect and follow those links.

This year, all the images in my review are Retina resolution. To see all the detail in the images, read the review on a Retina iPad, Mac, or other device with at least around 1,400 “native” pixels of horizontal resolution. (The “full-width” images are 1,280 pixels wide, presented to the browser with a width value of 640, but there are also margins around the content column.)

The free web version has ads, and it’s split up into multiple “pages” (which are usually much longer than a single printed page). This kind of pagination annoys some people. I actually like it for very long articles because it helps me keep my place across multiple reading sessions. I can remember I was on page 8 instead of remembering the exact point in a very long, scrolling web page.

That said, I also really like how an Ars Premiere subscription eliminates all ads from the Ars Technica website and gives me the option to view any article on a single page. I use single-page view on very long articles when I’m searching for some text using my web browser’s “Find…” feature. I use it all the time on short articles.

Some people think Ars Technica forces me to break my article up into many tiny pages. That’s not the case. I choose how to paginate the article. I like to break it up on logical section boundaries, which means that the “pages” vary widely in length. I do try to keep any single “page” from being too short, however.

The eBooks

For the first time, my review is available on Apple’s iBookstore as well as Amazon.com. The new iBooks application bundled with Mavericks means you can also read the iBookstore version on your Mac.

The Kindle and iBooks readers for OS X and iOS have their own strengths and weaknesses, but I think the iBooks version of my review has a slight edge over the Kindle version. Amazon adds a “delivery” charge of $0.15 per megabyte (varying a bit for different countries). This can really eat into the price of a $4.99 book. Like the web version, both ebook versions include Retina-resolution images this year, making them much larger than in past years. To control the size of the Kindle ebook, I used JPEG images throughout. (Last year’s Kindle ebook used a mix of JPEG and PNG images for the same reason.)

Unlike Amazon, Apple does not charge a per-megabyte fee in its ebook store. Since both ebooks are the same price, this means I make slightly more money from each iBookstore purchase than I do from each Kindle purchase. But there’s something in it for you, too. The iBookstore version of my review uses lossless PNG images throughout. (Kindle version: 5.5 MB; iBookstore version: 30.5 MB.) In practice, I doubt most people will be able to tell the difference between the JPEG and PNG images, but I know which one I’d choose.

The Unknowns

This year is the first time I haven’t known the price and release date of a major OS X release well in advance. The lead times dictated by the ebook stores (anywhere from 12 hours to a week) meant that I had to submit the ebooks before I knew how much Mavericks would cost. The ebooks are now updated, but Amazon in particular does not make downloading updates easy or convenient. Updates to the web version are visible instantly, of course.

The Stats

My sincere thanks to everyone that reads the review, in any form, in whole or in part. You’re the reason that I’ve been doing this for the past fourteen years.