Review of Photoshop CS3 Beta

Photoshop CS3 is released as a public beta with a few new features but most importantly Intel support on the Mac. Here's a review from a Mac-based web design perspective.

Something for free

Good news - if you have got a license for Adobe Photoshop CS2 you can get your hands on a Beta version of Adobe Photoshop CS3. It is a hefty download at over 600MB but go and grab a copy. If you have a got an Intel based Mac do it now - you will notice the difference straight away.

At last - Intel performance for the Mac

The immediate thing to notice is an improvement in performance. Photoshop CS3 is now Universal Binary and there will many Mac users who will breathe a huge sigh of relief. Early tests show excellent results from the new version. Documents open more quickly, and the speed of the program seems zippy in comparison to CS2.

New interface

Photoshop CS3 has a new interface design. Adobe have concluded that design professionals have wider and longer screens so there is no need to have two columns in the tools menu. You can switch back to two columns but I like this approach.

Photoshop CS3 Tabs
Photoshop CS3 Tabs
Photoshop CS3 Menu
Photoshop CS3 Menu

I also like the improved dock management. This has has been greatly improved with tabbed navigation making it much simpler to access information on your document, as well as keeping things tidy when you want to work on your document. This is a good improvement in UI and one which will make my working life easier.

I can only assume that the new icon for Photoshop is a beta logo - it looks like something you could knock up in ten minutes!

New features - a bit thin on the ground

One of the criticisms of the last upgrade was that there weren’t enough new features to justify the new release. This might well be an accusation that is pointed at this release. For the web designer in particular there is little to excite. A comprehensive document on the new features has already been written. From a web perspective the Quick Selection tool will be useful although is not a must have, the clone source palette and options are a minor improvement and the UI will make working easier. But there is nothing that makes me think ‘This is a real improvement on CS2’.

Worth an upgrade fee?

Is this version of Photoshop worth another upgrade fee? For Intel Mac users I would suggest yes - you are likely to make the money back quickly in the time you will save from the processing time. For Windows of Mac PPC users it becomes a question of features. On the web design side there are not a great deal of new features and I would suggest that many users will skip this version. The new UI is an improvement but it is not a must have.

Overall this is a great version for Intel users solely for the fact it is now Universal Binary. But to date the new features don’t offer much that isn’t already available in CS2.


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