For the most part your Mac just works, but for some of us, we want a little more information on how well our Macs are working and what's doing what, when. That's where apps like the mainstay of the Mac monitors, iStat Pro and iStat Menus come in. Today we'll be taking a quick look at a small, US$2.99 Mac App Store iStat Menus alternative called Translucent.
Translucent sits in your menu bar, just like iStat Menus, providing real-time information on processor utilization, memory and disk usage (including USB mass storage), as well as network activity. You can customize what's shown, the color, the number of CPU cores displayed and a disk activity indicator.
The problem with Translucent, however, is that it takes up between 3 percent to 8 percent of your CPU capacity on its own. Now 3 percent isn't a lot, but if you're interested enough to monitor your computer utilization on a minute-by-minute basis, then you're unlikely to want anything taking up unnecessary resources. The other thing is that because it sits in the menu bar constantly, you're going to want it to look good. It's not that Translucent necessarily looks bad, it's just that the icons and activity monitors don't look sharp and contrast heavily with most of the other well designed icons I have sitting in my menu bar.
While aesthetics come down to personal preference, other donation-ware options, such as the iStat Pro Dashboard widget or the more fully featured $16 iStat Menus, offer more options, look better and use less resources. Translucent is not bad for the price, but there are better alternatives out there.