Design Visualization

CADALYST ALL STARS-Top Products in 2005

30 Nov, 2005 By: Sara Ferris Cadalyst

Cadalyst All-Star awards honor the best of the best—the most outstanding among all products that earned five-star Highly Recommended ratings from Cadalyst Labs in the past six months.

Dell Precision M70 mobile workstation (July 2005)

This power-packed unit delivered performance scores comparable to a three-month-old desktop system, which should put to rest any lingering fears that a portable computer can't handle the demands of CAD work.

HP Designjet 4000 (Sept. 2005)

HP's latest large-format printer incorporates a welcome innovation—an embedded print server that saves time in several ways. Anyone on the network can access the server via a browser to submit files, manage the queue, preview documents and check supplies. Images that have been processed for printing can be stored on the 40GB hard drive to be printed later, eliminating the need to set up the print job again. The Designjet 4000 outputs prints up to 42" wide in black-and-white and color.

NVIDIA FX 4500 (Oct. 2005)

NVIDIA's new high-end graphics card blasted the socks off our benchmark tests. It's expensive ($2,499) and fairly loud, but for those who want absolute top graphics performance, nothing else can compare.

3Dconnexion Space Pilot (Sept. 2005)

Motion-control devices from 3dconnexion are great favorites among those who model in 3D. The Space Pilot continues this tradition with "smart" technology that changes the button commands based on the application in use. It offers even more buttons than other models, and all are programmable to reflect the user's preferred functions.

Autodesk DWF Composer 2 (July 2005)

The second iteration of Autodesk's DWF Composer ($199) proved to be a marked leap forward from the initial release. The product enables users to review, mark up and measure DWF files. It also comes with a DWG viewer, Inventor View and DWF Writer. Though we would not go so far as Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz in calling DWF an industry standard, it's an attractive option for users of Autodesk products and continues to add support for other applications (see p. 25 for details).

SolidWorks 2006 (Sept. 2005)

SolidWorks 2006 came very close to earning straight As on our review report card. SolidWorks has been a a leader in adding extras to the core modeling package. This latest version addresses performance constraints with large assembly mode and several other enhancements. SolidWorks also plans to implement 64-bit support in an upcoming service pack.

@Last Software SketchUp 5 (Nov. 2005)

SketchUp earns a nod for its easy-to-use yet powerful conceptual modeling tools. This version adds tools for organic shapes and terrain modeling. Another nice development is the range of plug-ins that enable users to export SketchUp models to applications such as ArchiCAD, Architectural Desktop, ArcGIS and Google Earth.

About the Author: Sara Ferris

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