Best Buy
  • Price: 149.99

  • Company: Extensis

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

We’ve all been there. There’s an image that you absolutely, positively must use in a Quark document, but the client’s sent you a 300-pixel-wide Web image that’s going to look more pixelated than attendees at a beer festival. Here’s where pxl SmartScale comes in. Similar to Genuine Fractals Print Pro (reviewed in d 59), SmartScale enlarges images smoothly, without too much noticeable artefaction. SmartScale uses the PixelLive technology from Extensis’s parent company, Celartem – hence the pxl part of the same. PixelLive converts the image to vectors, scales the image and then re-interprets the detail. It can’t quite turn garbage into gold, but most designers will find it invaluable. The level of manual control is good. You’re not swamped with controls but the refinement controls in the Detail palette are useful for polishing your image. Overall sharpness, edge contrast, edge detail, and extreme edges all do what they say on the tin – and while it takes time to learn how to combine these to best effect, they can make quite a difference. Compared to Print Pro, SmartScale has a superior interface. Useful features, such as the Preview pane and the ability to scale using sliders, make finding the limit of your expansions more efficient. SmartScale isn’t good at everything, though. It seems strange that a tool that uses vector-based technology is poor at expanding vector art – especially anything with text in it, or logos – but when you see how the technology works, it makes sense.