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ATPM 9.08
August 2003



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Review: Two Books on Using iApps

by Kirk McElhearn,

iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD Bible

Author: Bob LeVitus and Dennis Cohen
Publisher: Wiley, 2003

Price: $40

Trial: 2 sample pages at Amazon

Teach Yourself Mac OS X Digital Media

Author: Robyn Ness et al
Publisher: Sams, 2003

Price: $30

Trial: 99 sample pages at Amazon

One of the advantages of the Macintosh is the suite of multimedia applications included with each Mac: iTunes, which lets you rip and play MP3 files, burn CDs, and purchase music on-line; iPhoto, which lets you import, edit and store digital photos; iMovie, which lets you import and edit digital video; and iDVD (included only with Macs that have a SuperDrive), which lets you author and burn DVDs using your videos, photos, and music.

These powerful tools are relatively easy to use, and, in their latest incarnations as the iLife suite, offer tight integration. Yet as with all such programs, many users only scratch the surface. Good books help them discover functions that they might not be aware of, and offer tips that make using these programs easier and more powerful.

The two books reviewed here examine the iApps, and the Teach Yourself book also looks at Photoshop Elements, a low-priced program that gives you a great deal of power in working with photos and other graphics.

iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD Bible, by Bob LeVitus and Dennis Cohen offers thorough coverage of all four of the iApps, working through the basics and more advanced functions of each program. Their coverage is complete, well-written, and clear, with lots of concrete examples of using these programs alone or together. After looking at each of these programs individually, a chapter examines how they work together, and another chapter talks about programs that go even further than these four programs (such as Final Cut Pro, for advanced video editing, and DVD Studio Pro for professional DVD authoring).

Teach Yourself Mac OS X Digital Media, by Robyn Ness is really a compilation of material from Sams’ Teach Yourself series. This has advantages and disadvantages: the book opens with a 200-page section that is a general introduction to Mac OS X. If you are already familiar with the operating system, you’ll find this superfluous. It then examines the iApps in about 200 pages; much less than the LeVitus and Cohen book, and in some cases this coverage is inadequate. It is true that iTunes is a simple program, but Teach Yourself Mac OS X Digital Media spends a mere 14 pages talking about it, whereas the Bible devotes just under 100 pages to it. The same is the case for the other programs; the Bible goes much deeper into using these applications, and takes the time to give thorough coverage of them.

Teach Yourself Mac OS X Digital Media offers what is almost an entire book on Photoshop Elements, which is an excellent program that many users will find essential if they want to go beyond iPhoto’s more limited retouching tools. However, I find it annoying that there is a mixture of OS X, OS 9, and Windows screen shots throughout this section.

The iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD Bible delivers on what its cover says: it is a bible for these four programs, nothing more, nothing less. But Teach Yourself Mac OS X Digital Media is not as clear: it spends 200 pages on Mac OS X, yet offers a good presentation of Photoshop Elements. So, if you want a book that covers only the iApps, the Bible is probably the better bet. If you’re a more general Mac user, and don’t have any books on Mac OS X, you might find the Ness book more useful in the long run. In addition, if you want a book that helps you with Photoshop Elements, this is a good compromise. Whichever you choose, these are both clear, well-written books. If price is an issue, it’s true that the Ness book gives more bang for the buck; at $10 less you might be tempted to choose this book, especially with its higher page count. But think carefully about your needs before choosing; the books may look similar but cover Apple’s iApps in very different ways.

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