Today's Best Tech Deals
Picked by Macworld's Editors
Top Deals On Great Products
Picked by Techconnect's Editors
LightWave 3D 7.5
3.5 mice; NewTek, 210/370-8000, http://www.newtek.com; $395; upgrade from version 7b, free
In our review of NewTek's Lightwave 3D 7b (mmmh; Reviews, April 2002), we noted that one of the 3-D- animation system's major shortcomings was poor integration between layout and animation modules. Although version 7.5 doesn't address this problem, it does offer worthwhile enhancements.
The revised Motion Mixer, which blends multiple animations into a single choreographed piece, is easier to use and offers better control over the weighting and blending of motion sequences. An X-ray mode allows you to display objects with semitransparent shading, making it easier to work with skeletal deformations.
Rendering is also enhanced: We liked the new version of the Virtual Darkroom, which allows rendering that resembles images on photographic film, and the multiple-bounce radiosity solutions, which improve the quality of what was already one of the most realistic renderers available. Support for matte objects and alpha properties allow quick rendering of scenes in multiple passes -- useful for postproduction and compositing tasks. Even better, you can save multipass renderings as Adobe Photoshop layers, so storing and working with multiple frame sequences is a cinch. -- Sean Wagstaff
12.1-inch model: 4.0 mice; $1,499;
14.1-inch model: 3.5 mice; $1,799;
Apple Computer, 800/692-7753, http://www.apple.com
Introduced in May 2001 with a 500MHz G3 processor, the all-white second-generation iBook keeps improving on the inside while remaining unchanged on the outside. Powered by a 100MHz bus and a 700MHz processor, the latest iBook is the fastest yet.
The 700MHz iBook scored 128 on our Speedmark tests, placing it a hair behind a 667MHz PowerBook G4 in overall speed, although it lagged behind G4 systems when it came to data-intensive Adobe Photoshop and Apple iMovie and iTunes tests. The iBook excelled only in our Quake III test, thanks to its built-in Mobility Radeon graphics accelerator. The bottom line is, the appeal of the iBook remains its size -- especially the 12.1-inch version's -- and price. -- Jason Snell
Ex-tend-it VGA to ADC
3.5 mice; Gefen, 800/545-6900, http://www.gefen.com; $399
Gefen's Ex-tend-it VGA-to-ADC conversion box enables owners of Titanium PowerBook G4s to extend, but not mirror, their desktops on Apple's LCD displays. The latest PowerBooks are equipped with DVI connectors, so there are other options that, because they don't require analog-to-digital conversion, are less expensive. Connecting an Apple ADC display to a computer's VGA graphics port is no easy task, as is evidenced by the amount of hardware required -- a converter box, a large power supply, and four cables.
Our 17-inch Apple Studio Display could not display multiple resolution modes when connected to the VGA-to-ADC converter; it would operate only at its native resolution of 1,280 by 1,024 pixels at 60Hz. This inflexibility and the lack of adequate documentation can make the initial setup tricky. We were able to use the monitor in OS 9 and, with the help of Gefen's tech-support staff, OS X.
Given these limitations, unless you're a die-hard fan of Apple's display designs, you may prefer to apply the converter's $399 price to a larger analog display. -- james galbraith
Dave 3.1.1 A E
4.5 mice; Thursby Software, 817/478-5070, http://www.thursby.com; $149; upgrade from version 3.1, free
Dave 3.1, the first OS X version of the program that lets you share files and printers on mixed Mac and PC networks (mmmmh; Reviews, April 2002), left out one important feature: support for OS X access to PostScript printers on PC networks. Version 3.1.1 remedies this omission and adds support for PC servers (including Samba servers) that require clear text passwords. Dave 3.1.1 also adds support for LMHOST files. But as useful as the PC printer-sharing feature is, the PDF documentation supplied with the update doesn't mention it (Dave's online help has instructions). While getting the feature to work is straightforward if you're familiar with the program, this omission may confuse new users. -- Shelly Brisbin
4.5 mice; Digital Fried Chicken, http://www.digitalfriedchicken.com; $20
Computer Cuisine Deluxe 3.1 A E
3.5 mice; Inaka Software, http://home.pacbell.net/inaka; $20
Two of the programs we mentioned when we showed you how to use your old Mac to help with your cooking tasks, CookWare and Computer Cuisine Deluxe, have since grown up to include OS X support (see "Old Mac, New Tricks: Kitchen Assistant," http://www.macworld.com/2001/05/14/ howto/kitchen.html). Both let you search, print, and e-mail your recipes, as well as convert measurements, and both come with recipes, so you can get started right away. But Computer Cuisine Deluxe's interface needs improvement before it can become our recipe-organizing software of choice.
CookWare 7.9's interface is right at home in the Aqua environment, with large, clearly marked buttons for quick navigation. It also has a field for entering a rating after you've tried a recipe. You can search any field, and a new spelling checker ensures accuracy for easier searching. Extra recipes are available via Digital Fried Chicken's Web site, at an additional cost.
Computer Cuisine Deluxe 3.1 lets you catalog recipes with ease, but it's not quite a joy to use. The program's recipe cards are larger now, which improves readability. However, the interface is difficult to navigate, the default font is tough to read, and the e-mail feature works only with Qualcomm's Eudora.
Neither program automatically adjusts your recipe's serving sizes and measurements to the number of people you're feeding, features we hope to see in upcoming releases. For our $20, though, we'd go with CookWare 7.9. -- Jennifer Berger
FileMaker Mobile 2 A E
3.5 mice; FileMaker, 800/325-2747, http://www.filemaker.com; $49; upgrade from version 1.0, free
FileMaker Mobile's potential is quite tough to live up to: the idea of synchronizing a database with your Palm handheld calls to mind myriad possibilities. The first version of the program, released last December, was a bit disappointing: it included no value lists or menus, it offered a mere handful of fields, and synchronization worked only with single-user databases.
Thankfully, version 2 is here. It delivers a far more functional List View, as well as interface niceties such as pop-up menus and check boxes, which FileMaker fans will appreciate. It also includes OS X support and can handle up to 50 fields.
The feature most desired by developers has been multiuser support. It's there, but only for local files, meaning that you need to sync on the host machine. The program simply synchronizes the found set from a desktop database with the Palm.
The average businessperson will still find plenty to work with -- FileMaker's ease of use makes it entirely possible to set up a database on your Palm. However, developers looking to deploy an extensive system of offline, "in-the-field" databases may find this upgrade wanting. -- Scott Love