Review: Landscape Design 3D Software

Landscape Design 3D is a program which lets users place objects like trees, flowers, and fences on a piece of land in 2D, then walk through the landscape (or use a helicopter-view option) in 3D. This program is a substantial improvement upon the original “Expert Landscape” program from Expert Software, which only had two-dimensional graphics and a smaller variety of objects. Landscape Design 3D can be found in two different versions, but the newer CD-ROM version was tested for this review.

Some useful features of the program include the ability to move back and forward in time, seeing how much different plants will grow, and the ability to have objects automatically overlap each other at different levels. For example, a tree can have flowers or a stream placed directly under it without any problem. A wide variety of plants, structures (walls, fences, buildings), land features, and accessories (cars, boats, wheelbarrows) can be placed. Many objects can be re-sized or have their color changed. The appearance of the sky and terrain can be altered as well.

The quality of the graphics depends upon the type of object. A few items (like cars) have rather non-descript images, while others are fairly detailed (trees, buildings), and some of the smaller items can be quite detailed and fairly realistic, such as flowers. The program is generally easy to use, although it takes longer to figure out some features than others.

The system requirements for this software are relatively minimal by today’s standards. The requirements listed on the CD case indicate that it will work in Windows 3.1, 95 or 98. The other requirements are somewhat different depending upon the operating system being used. For Windows 3.1, only a 486DX processor and 256-color (or better) VGA is required, whereas in 95/98 a 90 MHz Pentium and a DirectX-5 compatible SVGA video card are needed. 16MB of memory (RAM) is required, but 32MB is recommended; almost all computers in use today have at least 64MB of memory, so this is unlikely to be a problem.

After installing it on a computer with Windows 98 from a CD, there was initially an error, but this did not occur again and the program worked fine otherwise. The computer’s Pentium II processor handled the program very well and the walk-through feature could run very quickly if set in the fast mode. On some newer computers it may be necessary to set the helicopter/walk-through features to slow speed so that they won’t run too quickly for the user to have a good look at the landscape.

An earlier version of “Landscape Design 3D” was sold in a box and had 3.5″ disks instead of a CD-ROM. You might still come across this, although it is less common than the newer version on CD. The older version had somewhat different graphics and not as big a variety of objects, but was similar in most ways, and still a major improvement over the original “Expert Landscape” it was based on. The earlier version had somewhat lower system requirements and would work on a 386DX with VGA graphics and 4MB of RAM at minimum.

This software can be easily found on eBay.com, especially in the eBay Stores section. Prices for this program are often surprisingly reasonable, and shipping costs are usually low.

Expert Software has existed for many years and produced other titles such as “Home Design”, “CD Labeler” and “Resume Writer.”

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