Recently I got the chance to look at the new 2.0 versions of Live Interior. I’ve noticed that it recently spent some time up at the top of the charts on the Apple.com site. After using it, it’s understandable why. I had to review my original post to check in on some of the differences in the new software and get a handle on the improvements.
Here’s a quick tour of what I found in the new software. The first and most important change, is that Live Interior has now been broken up into two versions. The first version is the ‘Standard’ version. I think of this one as ‘the ordinary homeowner’ version. It has all the key features needed for planning your interior spaces, less of the complex tools needed by the average person. The second version is the ‘Professional’ version, which includes the whole package. The great thing about the different versions is the price difference. The Standard version runs $49.99 and the Professional version is $129.99. I don’t think you can get a better deal on a Windows machine, plus you get the great advantages of color and clarity on a Mac.
The product still has all the features it started with. You can create a 2D floor plan, add from the huge library of items, move objects around, tweak sizes and settings and easily change from architectural plans to 3D mode. In the 3D mode, you can still add colors and textures, change the lighting and walk around with a camera to see a walk through of your rooms. Beyond that, some of the improvements made in the program are interface improvements. It seems easier to toggle from the tool bar at the top, the Inspector window or the project manager on the left. The tool bar is customizable and now by default, sports a direct link to the Google 3D warehouse. We are also treated to an start up window of room templates, that are also available in the file menu. In fact, there is a real iWork look to the Live Interior interface, that makes it familiar to some Mac users. My biggest complaint in the original review was that it was difficult to manipulate objects in a plan. This problem has been improved on, I’m happy to say. Since this new version is post Multi-Touch, it is very easy to get around your document. In 3D mode, the moving of objects is also improved and there is a neat little close up preview window where you can scroll around smaller objects. The lighting controls have been bumped up to include real world location settings. This means I can compare colors in Florida sunlight and Maine winter light. In the Professional version, they have made the same interface changes and improvements to the software.
Taking a look at the Professional version, here are the differences between the two versions. First, in the standard edition, you are limited to two stories. In the professional version, you can add light sources such as lamps within rooms. There is also support for customizable walls, with support for niches etc. There is closer integration with Google Sketch Up in the Pro version, as well. You also get more adjustment tools for the Material Editor. Finally, you can get near HD picture quality with the Pro version, which is useful for many things, including presentations. Overall, I am impressed with BeLight’s software improvements. I think it was very smart to break the app up into Standard and Professional versions. The price difference is certainly a huge bonus. I’m also enjoying the interface improvements and the little tweaks BeLight has done to make the user experience easier. Originally I suggested this program may be for professionals only; now I think it would be handy for the average homeowner as well. As a bonus for the average user, Belight’s Live Interior site includes forums and Quicktime videos to help support the software.