Review: Vector Designer

20 02 2008
VectorDesigner is exactly what it sounds like…a design program that uses vector instead of raster graphics. VectorDesigner is a nice little application developed by TweakerSoft that contains most every major feature you would want inside of a vector graphics program – all for just $69.95, or you can try the demo out at their site. Alongside the basics such as bezier curves, smart shapes and gradients, it includes much more. For one, it has a built-in Flickr tool which allows you to find pictures over Flickr containing specific objects, numbers or even colours. The colour feature is one of my favourites and is a must see to believe kind of thing. Also, it uses the Quartz composer capabilities to allow you to place filters on your
objects to make them more interesting. Included, is also a nice layers pallet similar to the one found in Photoshop which can come in handy when you are creating a very intricate object inside of VectorDesigner.
Some other neat features include being able to convert raster graphics into vector ones which can be manipulated as if you had drawn them, being able to import pictures directly from the iSight atop your Mac, wrapping text around or inside of objects, the use of Boolean tools which allow you to subtract or add two objects together and, finally, being able to sketch things, which is a nice feature if you aren’t very good with using the bezier tool.
I found no problems with using it and soon became quite comfortable with its simple user interface. Also, the creator appears hard at work because it seems as though every time I launch it, a new update has arrived with subtle but handy new features. Also worth noting is it received the “Best Of Show” award at Macworld this year – always a nice thing to have. Five stars.


Review: Pixelmator

3 02 2008

For those of you who are unaware, Pixelmator is an inexpensive alternative to Adobe Photoshop that includes many of the same tools and filters found in the aforementioned. The standard price of Pixelmator is $59 but recently had been included in the Mac Heist bundle for $49 as well as being on the Mac Update Promo for $29.

Almost every tool found in the younger versions of Photoshop such as the clone stamp tool, the magic wand and eyedropper are included in the package. Also things like levels, masks, hue/saturation and blend modes for layers are there as well. The graphical interface of pixelmator is quite stunning. Every pallet and toolbar is displayed on a HUD thats semi-transparent, which gives it a very modern look. There are a lot of subtleties throughout the program that make it quite visually appealing, even more-so than Photoshop, itself. An example of this is when you select a tool in the toolbar, its icon will become larger than the others, indicating that it is in use. Finally, almost every keyboard shortcut that is in Photoshop is identical in Pixelmator with a few exceptions.
Now that all of the good things are out of the way, it’s time for some of the bad things about Pixelmator. For one, there is no history pallet. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t save your history (you can always use cmd+z) but there is no visual way to go back to a specific point like Photoshop. Another gripe that i have is the fact that there is no polygonal lasso tool. The polygonal lasso tool is one of my favorites in photoshop and I miss it dearly in Pixelmator. Also the outline that is normally encompassing your brush or pencil is gone completely. I found that to cause choosing the correct brush size the first time quite difficult. But also don’t forget, Pixelmator is only at version 1.1.2 as of right now and will hopefully see many updates over the next couple of months.
Overall, Pixelmator carries a much larger bang-for-its-buck compared to Photoshop which retails for around $800. Hopefully, over the next little while Pixelmatr will see some updates that may very well bump this up to four and a half or even five stars. But as of the current program, I would have to give it three and a half stars.

Review: iHome iH5 (Old system but the new ones are almost identical)

3 02 2008

Today, I’ve decided to take a look at the iHome iH5, which I’ve had for about two years. If you’re looking for a system that lets you play your iPod through great sounding speakers, this is the system for you.

When I first got the iHome, I was pleasantly surprised at how excellent the sound coming from it really was. The iHome truly shines, though, when played ridiculously loud because it still continues to deliver spectacular sounding audio. I use my iHome as an alarm clock because it has a couple nice features built in. For one, you have the option to wake up to your iPod every morning to the song of your choice. Also, it has a FM antenna that allows you to pick up radio stations, which is quite nice, I find. Your final choice is a buzzer that gradually gets louder, which is a welcome feature in my opinion. Another nice thing that I found out about it was that when your iPod is plugged in, it will charge it, as if it were a regular dock, but without the ability to connect to your computer. Finally, the sleep function allows you to either listen to the radio or your iPod while going to sleep and it will turn it off at a set time ranging from 120 minutes to 15 minutes.

iHome is a fantastic audio company that pleasantly surprised me in every way and just recently, my whole family has switched their alarm clocks to iHomes as well. Since there is nothing bad that I could find about the iHome I would have to give it five stars.

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