Price When Reviewed: 315 . 60
Pros: Offers powerful and accurate polygon modelling in a single 3D view. Perfect for fast, no-frills realization of objects in 3D.
Cons: Doesn’t handle curvy objects well, though the Sandbox tools help here.
SketchUp is a focused and excellently crafted 3D program designed primarily with the architect in mind. The original incarnation of the program was a sketching tool that allowed designers to realize objects in 3D quickly and with the minimum of fuss. It’s not a CAD program as such, as it’s based on polygon modelling and OpenGL rendering.
As the program has matured and expanded its feature set, it has also widened its appeal to more general-purpose 3D work, though it’s still best suited to building hard mechanical objects such as buildings and machinery. It doesn’t have subdivision surfaces, NURBS, or other parametric fussiness. The power of its simple polygonal toolset comes mainly from the inspired inferencing system, snapping and referencing features that allow you to construct freely in a single 3D view with a great degree of accuracy and confidence.