Cadalyst All Stars 2006-Cadalyst Labs Salutes Best Hardware, Software31 May, 2006 By: Ron LaFon
Cadalyst All-Star awards recognize the most outstanding products among those that earned Highly Recommended ratings from Cadalyst Labs in the past six months.
Kubotek • KeyCreator • www.kubotekusa.com
May 2006. As a nonhistory-based modeler, Kubotek KeyCreator (formerly CADKEY) doesn't follow contemporary trends for modelers, but it does allows users to do things to their models that they otherwise might not consider. Fast and feature rich, Kubotek KeyCreator has continued to evolve with changes in modeling, drafting and assemblies. Many of the new features that have been added are the direct result of customer feedback, a good sign that Kubotek has been listening carefully. KeyCreator is a nonparametric application that can be a great timesaver when you're on a tight deadline.
With KeyCreator, users can apply zebra stripes to a model to determine how its surface smoothness affects light.
Adobe • Acrobat 3D • www.adobe.com
April 2006. Adobe Acrobat 3D takes a big step beyond the 3D capabilities found in Acrobat 7 Professional by adding support for a wider range of CAD files. A separate 3D Toolkit imports more than 50 file formats and saves them in the U3D file format adopted by Adobe in Acrobat 7. Acrobat 3D enhances collaboration by allowing users to insert and publish 3D designs from major CAD applications in PDF documents. With its focus primarily on the manufacturing industry and such niceties as creating 3D PDF files that you can mark up and comment on in the freely distributable Adobe Reader software, Acrobat 3D should prove helpful to CAD, engineering and manufacturing professionals.
Acrobat 3D lets users publish, share, review and mark up 3D designs.
Autodesk • AliasTools • www.autodesk.com
February 2006. Thirteen may be unlucky, but v13 of Alias Studio Tools (which has since become Autodesk AliasTools after Autodesk acquired Alias this spring) is the "best effort yet," according to reviewer Mike Hudspeth. This industrial design stalwart focuses on ease of use with separate workflow interfaces that show only the commands that are active and appropriate for the task at hand. For example, the Paint shelf holds tools for 2D design, and the Modeling shelf is for 3D wire-frame and surface modeling. For conceptual design, AliasTools' dynamic shape modeling lets users change the model by pushing and pulling it, a quick way to generate multiple design iterations. The rendering capabilities are excellent and happen almost in real time, so designers aren't slowed down. Correction: Alias Studio Tools is now called Autodesk AliasStudio.
Perennial industrial design favorite AliasTools (formerly StudioTools) delivers powerful visualization capabilities.
Sepialine 6.2 • Sepialine • www.sepialine.com
January 2006. Keeping on top of office printing and faxing expenses can be daunting, but the Sepialine Cost Recovery Suite captures, analyzes and reports office activity—including print, copy, scan and fax output—all from an easy-to-use interface. Its workflow is feature rich and well thought out, without being a distraction. In addition to being flexible and accurate, the Sepialine Cost Recovery Suite 6.2 is scalable to any office size. You can track production from either a single printer or groups of printers, and track expenses on a per-client basis. Sepialine can help you get a handle on printing and faxing expenses and aid in billing clients.
Sepialine v6.2 monitors all printing devices and groups of printers.
@Xi Computer • MTower 64SLI • www.xicomputer.com
March 2006. @Xi Computer is no slouch when it comes to producing top-performing workstations for the CAD and engineering markets. A winning combination of sizzling performance, reliance on high-quality components and expandability—all at a moderate price point—makes the MTower 64SLI system we tested a real standout. The Asus SLI motherboard provides options for using a second linked graphics card, and connectivity options abound in this well-designed workstation. Combine this features with good warranty coverage and an excellent return policy that protects your investment, and there's little wonder why we consider this system one of the best of the best.
The Xi MTower delivers speedy performance for demanding users.
NVIDIA • Quadro FX 3450 • www.nvidia.com
January 2006. Excellent performance and a moderate price makes the NVIDIA Quadro FX 3450 an outstanding buy, especially when combined with the 16x PCIe bus and 256MB of GDDR3 memory onboard. In case one is not enough, you can use two Quadro FX 3450 cards in tandem in an SLI configuration. Memory bandwidth is 32GB per second with geometry (triangles per second) at 150 million, and fill rate (texels per second) of 5.1 billion is a big increase over its predecessor. The new FX 3450 is faster but at the same time uses less power—only 83 watts. Add to this dual DVI-I connectors (dual-link DVI-capable) as well as a stereo connector, and you get a no-nonsense high performance graphic card that's great for CAD and other design work.
The NVIDIA Quadro FX3450 is a PCI Express workstation-level graphics accelerator with 256MB of onboard GDDR3 memory.
Eizo Nanao • FlexScan S2110W • www.eizo.com
February 2006. The FlexScan S2110W 21.1" monitor is a standout both for its innovative design features and an onscreen image that is close to perfection. The S2110W is based on a wide-screen 16:10 S-PVA panel and has a native resolution of 1680x1050, a rated dot pitch of 0.27mm and a response time of 8ms—very good for a panel of this size. The mounting mechanism is stable, and the monitor detects and automatically compensates for brightness changes caused by surrounding temperatures and the passage of time. The brightness and contrast on this display are both excellent, as are the panoply of characteristics we typically test. It's not the least expensive monitor around, but the quality is excellent and the innovative design elements help make it easy to live with.
The Eizo Nanao FlexScan S2110W 22.1" LCD offers some welcome design innovations.
Dell • UltraSharp 2405FPW LCD display • www.dell.com/monitors
February 2006. A 24" 16:10 wide-screen aspect LCD display that has a native resolution of 1920x1200, the Dell 2405FPW monitor includes lots of extras, including four downstream USB ports and reader card slots that support CF 1&2/Microdrive, Smart Media and MMS/MSPro/MS Pro duo. Its 12ms response time is particularly good for a panel this size. Its display is noticeably bright and crisp with outstanding color purity. Given its design, careful attention to detail and impressive on-screen image, the Dell 2405FPW is an excellent display with a justified price.
Dell s UltraSharp 2405FPW 24" LCD offers an impressively large image at an excellent price.
The Best of Cadalyst Daily
The print issue of Cadalyst is not the only place where we publish product reviews. They also appear regularly in our latest e-mail newsletter, Cadalyst Daily. This new publication will allow us to greatly increase the number of products we review. This time around, we just want to draw your attention to the Highly Recommended products reviewed in the daily to give you a sense of what we've covered so far. Next time we'll include them in consideration for the All-Star awards. Read more at www.cadalyst.com/dailyreviews. To receive Cadalyst Daily, sign up at www.cadalyst.com/newsletters.
LinkFixer Plus (www.linktek.com). If you've moved an AutoCAD drawing only to find that you've messed up the numerous xref links to other files, LinkFixer Plus for AutoCAD can help with this headache. It scans your drawings for broken links outside of AutoCAD and repairs them in a batch process. It also lets you move or rename files outside AutoCAD in a batch process, automatically updating the links.
PhotoModeler Pro (www.photomodeler.com). PhotoModeler Pro is a Windows-based photogrammetry program that lets you create accurate 3D models of existing objects by digitizing common points in sets of photographs of the objects taken from different vantage points. In all, PhotoModeler Pro is one of those rarities—a sophisticated tool that is relatively easy to use, useful for a broad range of applications, and is moderately priced.
VizUp v2 (www.vizup.com). Translating and converting a complex drawing down to a manageable size for repurposing as an illustration for a Web page or a VR demonstrations can be a complicated task with lots of headaches. VizUp software can help you balance both detail and file size to simplify the process via polygon reduction.
Dell 3007WFP LCD monitor (www.dell.com). The Dell 3007WFP 30" LCD monitor is impressive both for its sheer size and its display quality. It provides WQXGA resolutions of 2560x1600 when combined with a graphics card that includes DVI-D dual-link connectors. It features niceties such as a 9-in-2 card reader and four USB 2.0 slots.
Intuos3 12x12 Tablet (Wacom, www.wacom.com) . Tablet lovers will be thrilled by the Wacom Intuos3, which offers improved resolution and a variety of cordless pointing devices.
Intuos3 tablets have 5,080lpi resolution.
Samsung SyncMaster 204B TFT-LCD monitor (www.samsung.com). This 20.1" display provides a default resolution of 1600x1200. Response time is a relatively fast 5 ms, which is apparent when working with fast wire frame and shaded rotations.
ViewSonic VP2330wb monitor (www.viewsonic.com). This LCD display features a 23" color TFT active-matrix panel with WUXGA resolutions and an optimum resolution of 1920x1200. It posted fine scores on the Displaymate testing and provides excellent onscreen controls.
Ron LaFon, a contributing editor for Cadalyst, is a writer, editor and computer graphics and electronic publishing specialist from Atlanta, Georgia. He is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta.