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archive:apple:sc4.review

SuperConvert 4, A Review

By: Rudy A. Guy

It was the late 1980's when I was first introduced to SuperConvert. I believe that the first version was shareware and had a version number of 2.1. It was a program that was ahead of its time. The conversion of graphics from other computer systems to an Apple IIGS was unheard of; heck unthinkable. Well, not to Jason Harper. Jason's SuperConvert 3.0 was perhaps the hottest software product of its day. Today, many years after the last IIGS rolled off the assembly line, SuperConvert is back. This time it's version 4. Gone is Jason Harper; in his place is Ian Brumby. Back is one of the best graphic conversion programs available for Apple IIGS users.

Ian Brumby and Seven Hills Software have put together a great graphics conversion program for the remaining base of Apple IIGS users. How big is this base? Who knows?! But, if you are one of the remaining faithful, get out your VISA or MasterCard and place your order. This latest incarnation of SuperConvert is at the head of its class in conversions. While it's not perfect, it's darn close.

Ian has added many new format conversions including:

New Print Shop graphics ThunderScan raw scan files Springboard Publisher Works of Art format ComputerEyes GS raw data files DreamGrafix SHR screens and 3200 color screens Windows BMP files Venture Publisher IMG and GEM files Sun Rasterfiles Portable Pixelmap files (PBM, PGM & PPM) Portable Network Graphics (PNG) SGI Iris formats (SGI, BW, RGB & RGBA) Improved PCX and MacPaint graphic files

Add to that a claimed 20% increase in the conversion speed of formats that appeared in SuperConvert 3.0. Actually, that figure appears a bit low. I tried converting 640 x 480 GIF files on both versions and the conversion time on version 3.0 was 80 seconds. Version 4 did the same conversion in 50 seconds. That's a 37.5% increase in speed. (Note: I am using a 10 MHz ZipGS accelerator in my GS. Your times may be different based upon your system configuration.)

Beside the new conversion formats available in SuperConvert 4, there are also a few new save options available to the user. They include:

Improved save format for Finder icons

A hex data save format Icon resource save option for HyperCard GS PNG format save

Most Mac and PC graphic programs include filters for manipulating graphic files. This is one feature that was either absent on Apple graphics programs or next-to-impossible to use without the aid of a computer guru. In SuperConvert 4, the filters are referred to as special effects.” Whatever they are called, they work extremely well.

Emboss - Helps to create a 3-D effect in a near greyscale environment.

Blur - Da! Would you believe that this option allows you to make an image less sharp? In other words, it blurs the image.

Sharpen - Makes an image less blurry.

Solarize - According to Ian, this filter tries to achieve an effect similar to that seen when exposing photographic film to light during the development process. I always wondered what that was all about. I expected the screen to turn bright yellow like the sun!

Find Edges - Detects edges of an image and highlights them. While doing this SuperConvert turns the rest of the image black. Even on a 10MHz ZipGS, this takes a long time to complete. Start the process and then go read War and Peace.

Increase Contrast - A no-brainer again! This option increases contrast between colors in an image.

Decrease Contrast - Just the opposite of Increase Contrast.

Left over from the prior version of SuperConvert is the Histogram equalization option. This filter attempts to balance out the intensity of color values in the image.

The remap options of SuperConvert were always the hardest to master. Graphic Mode selection was fairly easy; there are no changes there. Nor are there changes with the palette or rendering options. It's the Other Options that excited me. This is the area that aided in the rescaling of the image. Trying to keep the height and width aspects correct when rescaling a 640 x 480 image often proved cumbersome. Now, there is an Auto Aspect Ratio option that makes rescaling images a breeze. It's just too bad than Ian didn't add a Reduce to Screen option like Prism has incorporated. Oh well, maybe that can be added in a later version (if there is a later version).

A Monochrome menu option has been added for working with black and white (Mac) images. Now, images remain in black and white unless converted.

Finally, additional features have been added to the image window. A toolbar appears after an image has been loaded and converted. It provides control over the image type (true color, monochrome or screen image), the zoom factor (view from 1/8 to 8 times the size of the normal image) and the selection method. The latter option permits selection of a portion of the existing image for further manipulation. This area, according to the author, will be expanded in the future. (Version 4.1?)

One confusing aspect of SuperConvert is the mention of Babelfish. According to the help file, Babelfish is a tool that applications use to import and export (load and save) date without knowing anything about a particular data format. Babelfish is a Seven Hills product. I give up! Who or what is using this format? If you select the Babelfish load option you get an 'Unable to startup Bablefish' error message. The same message shows up when using the save options. Hmmm…. Why include an option that doesn't function?

Requirements

Apple IIGS running GS/OS 5.0.2 and later At least 1MB of memory One 3.5" disk drive All GS/OS-compatible printers are supported

[Note: I would highly recommend greater than 1 meg or RAM, a hard drive and an accelerator. If your system doesn't have these features and if you are converting color GIF or JPG files; lay in a few good video tapes to watch while the conversions take place.]

Price: $40.00

Here's contact information from Seven Hills from their website:

Fax: 904-575-2015, anytime

Phone: 904-575-0566, 9am-5pm ET, Monday through Friday

Mail: 1254 Ocala Road,

    Tallahassee, FL 32304-1548 

Ordering Information

When ordering any product we need:

Your name Your shipping address Your area code and phone number (optional) Your preferred email address if you have one (optional) A list of the items you are ordering Payment information

Visa/Mastercard/Discover credit card orders can be placed by email, fax, or regular mail. Be sure to include your card number and expiration date. You may also call and leave a voice mail message with the details of your order if our phone is busy. Just press "7" when you hear the greeting to leave your message. However we receive your order, we will fill it promptly.

We also accept personal checks and money orders by regular mail.

For all orders add $3.50 shipping and handling per order, not per item (foreign shipping is charged at actual airmail cost, minimum of $3.50, charged to a credit card unless otherwise arranged).

Florida residents add 7% tax.

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