I'm very disappointed in that a rack-mountable mixer was released without the actual mounting ears. I, too, waited until the mixer was back in stock, a couple times, before I placed my order. I would have hoped by that time, the ears would have been available. I have a rack where most everything is already patched except for a few 4-ch snakes. Now, if I want to use the new mixer at the show, I have to patch/unpatch my entire mixer at every show. Meanwhile, I'm burning through my one-year warranty and I haven't even used the mixer at a show. The only reason I purchased the mixer before the ears were available is that I got a great Memorial Day discount and couldn't pass it up.
I'm overall pleased with PreSonus equipment. (This mixer is replacing a seven-year-old 1642.) However, from what I have seen in articles, videos, etc, Presonus' theme is "...coming later this year."
"We'll sell you the car, now, but the seats will come later."
I haven't taken a close look at removing the side panels. It's possible they are merely cosmetic and I could fabricate my own ears using the ones from the 1642. However, if removing the side panels leaves the internals open to the elements, it kind of blows that solution. I read a FB comment that some guy removed the panels to better fit his home studio desk. He didn't go into details, but said there were lots of screws. I think I'll ask him for more details.