Adobe Labs delivered an early Christmas present to all Mac users who use Intel-based Macs: a beta release of Photoshop CS3. This new version is a universal binary, so it runs natively on both PowerPC and Intel Core systems, but the beauty is that I can finally run Photoshop at a decent clip on my Mac mini.

So far, the testing has revealed a very capable product. Launch times are quick, and all the tools run very, very quickly. Before I installed the CS3 beta, I was purposely running an older version of Photoshop – version 7.0.1 – to minimize any slowdown from Rosetta emulation. And while that was fine, I missed out on many of the improvements that make Photoshop CS2 such a great application. So now I have all of the cool tools without the speed penalty – what’s not to like?

Well, is there’s one gripe it’s this: the CS3 beta takes up a great deal of hard disk space, so it’s likely that I’ll need to install a new hard drive in the mini sometime in the not-too-distant future. Granted, I installed every available bell and whistle, so I could’ve whittled down the disk load a bit.

And this is a beta application, so there are bound to be a few spanners in the works. So I’m keeping Photoshop 7 installed on my mini, just in case, although I haven’t read about any major deal-breaker problems with this beta.

I’ll keep folks posted as my testing continues.