Back to 10/96 Reviews SW: Timeslips Deluxe 7.0
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 10/96 Reviews SW: Here & Now 2.0

October 1996 Reviews TOC

10/96 Reviews SW: xRes

Speeding Up the Big Picture

By Lynn Ginsburg

Unless you happen to have a fast workstation crammed with RAM, editing large PC images requires the patience of a saint and a penchant for watching hourglasses. But Macromedia's xRes can speed those high-resolution graphics tasks.

An image editing program that makes use of proprietary task-organizing technology, xRes promises to speed a 500MB graphics file to 20MB performance levels. For the most part, it delivers on that promise.

XRes applies selective and delayed processing techniques for common graphics operations. The program first limits data selectively, letting you see only a manageable amount so that you can work in real time. When the program employs delayed processing, it first stores operations on an editing list, then waits until you've completed all other operations before it begins processing. I was able to save significant time over Photoshop operations.

A modest 28MB file that opened instantly in xRes on my Pentium 166 with 32MB of RAM took 30 seconds to load in Photoshop. I rotated the entire image 90 degrees without pausing in xRes, but waited 2 minutes and 13 seconds for the same rotation in Photoshop. A standard Gaussian blur finally made me wait-4 seconds-in xRes, but still took 1 minute and 40 seconds in Photoshop. An artist typically performs multiple operations like these in the course of his or her work on much larger files; the savings add up when you use this program awhile.

I was immediately at home in xRes' Photoshop-like interface, which features familiar tools and palettes. xRes is designed to complement Photoshop in the graphic artist's tool chest instead of flat-out replacing it. Although xRes does offer a solid array of image editing features, including natural-media tools that are meant to rival those in a program like Fractal Design Painter, I wound up using it only when speed was more important than the comfortable power and extended tools available in Photoshop.

XRes is by no means cheap at $329, but its dramatic edit acceleration makes it a good software-only alternative to installing more RAM in your PC. Whether your performance issue is handling very large graphics or trying to get the most out of your limited RAM resources for editing image files, xRes delivers the goods.

Info File
Pros: Speeds image editing; RAM-only alternative
Cons: Expensive; less-useful tools than Photoshop
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.1x, NT
Disk Space: 10MB
RAM: 8MB minimum (16 recommended)
800-326-2128, 415-252-2000
WinMag Box Score: 4.5

Back to 10/96 Reviews SW: Timeslips Deluxe 7.0
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 10/96 Reviews SW: Here & Now 2.0