Now that my huge problem is solved, I can say what I really think of Snow Leopard: it’s definitely worth $29.
Technically, we got the Family Pack so it cost us $49. On that topic, I love Apple’s Family Pack option. It’s totally unenforced, I could have bought the $29 version and installed it on several computers and Apple wouldn’t know, but I don’t because they offer a Family Pack option and trust me enough to pay what I really should pay for it. So I do it. This is something no one at Microsoft can get their heads around so they have onerous copy protection that ends up annoying legitimate people (like me!) more than pirates who seem to have no trouble at all pirating Windows. And on the topic of price, Microsoft is charging outrageous prices ($240 and up) for Windows 7 which only exists because Vista was such crap — Windows 7 should be free and come with a handwritten apology from every developer of Windows to everyone who suffered with their screwups. To their credit, they are offering a Family Pack with discounted pricing, but I’m sure it has the same annoying copy protection that always gets in your way.
Back to Snow Leopard…
I gained 15GB of disk space after installing it. Apple claims people can get back up to 20GB, which is either impressive for Snow Leopard or shows how wasteful previous versions of OS X were. Nevertheless, when was the last time an OS upgrade gave you more disk space? I don’t think that’s ever happened for me, even Linux, the paragon of performance, gets bigger each version. That alone is worth $5-10 of the cost.
Snow Leopard is noticeably faster than Leopard. It’s not huge, 10% by some benchmarks, but it’s noticeable and appreciated. Apps seem to launch and run faster, waking up from sleep is faster, Dashboard is much faster, etc. This is not unusual, OSs are supposed to get faster with each release. Even Microsoft’s OSs used to do this: DOS 4, 5 and 6 each were faster than their predecessor and Windows 98 was much faster than Win95. Too bad Microsoft started getting lazy and relying on Intel to make computers faster.
Quicktime X is great simply because you can edit the videos without having to buy Quicktime Pro, which used to cost $30. I guess it has some fewer features than Pro does, but I never used them, I guess. And I love how it looks with the borderless window.
You can now have minimized apps get minimized into the Dock icon rather than to the right side of the Dock. I love this, I hated having a bunch of minimized icons sitting over there stretching out the Dock.
Exposé is easier to use, you just hold down the Dock icon and it shows you all the windows for the app. This is small but handy as I never got used to the F9 and F10 keys to do this.
The definitive review is much more in-depth.
Update: Apple just released the first update (10.6.1) and it makes my Canon LIDE 60 scanner work natively with Image Capture! I don’t need Canon’s drivers or their terrible software to scan documents now. That alone is worth the $29 for Snow Leopard.