Review: Stuffit Deluxe 6.5

An emerging Mac OS X application that promises to continue a legacy (October 6th, 2001)

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Aladdin Systems

Price: $79.95

The Good

  • Takes better advantage of Mac OS X, Magic Menu now available.

The Bad

  • Still no contextual menu support, extraneous features.

With Stuffit Deluxe 6.5, Aladdin has delivered a sturdy Mac OS X compression package, unlike the sloppy Carbonized 6.0 release. Version 6.5 adds a "Magic Menu" for the Mac OS X Finder and tightens loose ends to render a worthwhile upgrade. However, as a Mac OS X application, Stuffit Deluxe still lacks some of the functionality contained in its OS 9 counterpart.

Installation of Stuffit Deluxe 6.5 is relatively straightforward, although users can run in to some complications when attempting to upgrade from older versions. The software's installer simply leaves behind all of the old Stuffit-based applications and components, confusing some applications that automatically access Stuffit (such as Web browsers) to expand files. Unless users delete the old copies of the software and re-assign helper applications, they will be using the old version of the program in some instances.

The Stuffit Deluxe interface remains simple and uncluttered, but becomes less relevant with addition of the "Magic Menu" in OS X. The drop-down menu makes compressing, decompressing, and encoding specific files a breeze. Unfortunately, the feature is only accessible through the finder, meaning users are forced to switch out of other applications to perform Stuffit functions.

Stuffit Express Personal Edition introduces some interesting, if not completely useful capabilities. With the newly added component, users can automate a series of taks including compressing/decompressing, e-mailing, FTP uploads/downloads and more. For users who must routinely download and compress files, Personal Edition offers the ability to create drag-and-drop processes with up to 26 steps. However, there is no integration between the Magic Menu and the Personal Edition component, making it a time-consuming option that lacks appeal to average users.

Version 6.5 of Stuffit Deluxe adds extensive support for Palm OS-based handhelds. The tool can now automatically compress or decompress files and move them directly to the HotSync folder for immediate transfer to the PDA. In our tests, this feature performed flawlessly and certainly helps to save time when attempting to move programs downloaded from the Internet on to a Palm device.

Stuffit Deluxe 6.5 also includes a component called "DropTar" which allows drag-and-drop compression of files encoded in the UNIX-based .tar format - a feature that should have been included in the first OS X-compatible release of Stuffit Deluxe.

Ironically, a tool that was originally conceived with the purpose of conserving resources has become somewhat bloated. Along with the hefty basic Stuffit Deluxe application, installation includes a slew of "drag-and-drop" apps, filters, and other components that will never be touched by the average user. Performance within the individual components under Mac OS X, however, is relatively snappy though still not on par with Mac OS 9.

Stuffit Deluxe's key strengths are universality and integration with the Mac OS interfance. With version 6.5, Aladdin Systems has made significant strides in both areas. For version 7.0, however, Aladdin should re-assess the target user base for the Deluxe package, and focus on making compression a transparent layer in OS X rather than a complicated set of separate components.

by Ben Wilson



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