3D Alternatives

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Click here to download Google Earth.

We feel that, while we are of coursed biased in favor of Google Earth, you should have all the information at hand regarding all your options before downloading Google Earth.  This applies to any download or purchase.  It's always best to do your research.  And we encourage you to do just that.  We've also listed some information about alternatives to Google Earth for you, to give you a head start on your research into 3D Mapping Software.   You already know we favor Google Earth, but that's no reason to deny you the full information.  We think you'll come to the same conclusions we did anyway.  That said, here are your options.   

Microsoft Virtual Earth

Microsoft has created a 3D Globe program to rival Google Earth called "Virtual Earth".  There are similarities and differences in the two programs.  Both offer maps and 3D searches.  Microsoft's details of buildings are quite stellar, but the software lacks the clarity in the land formations that Google Earth has.  

The first and only problem we noticed in our own reviewing of the software is that it defaults to a 2D view.  This means that when you click on "3D" you get the following message:

"To use this feature, open Live Local Search in Windows Internet Explorer version 6 or 7. For more information, and to download the latest version, visit the Microsoft Internet Explorer website...". This is problematic for anyone who doesn't want to use Microsoft IE.  We use Firefox and don't necessarily want to be forced to use a different browser just so that we can use this particular product.  However, for an IE user this would not be an issue, and as mentioned before the buildings do have amazing clarity and are worth a look.  If you'd like to see Virtual Earth click this link.

Here are links to articles reviewing Google Earth VS Microsoft's Virtual Earth.

Ogle Earth Blog review

James Fee Gis's review

sKatterBrainZ World review

GlobeXplorer - This isn't actually competition for either Google Earth or Microsoft, but it's a related company and may be of use to you. GlobeXplorer boasts "the World's Largest Online Library of Aerial / Satellite Imagery and Maps." These images are all available for purchase. So the site isn't free. There are a lot of options they have to incorporate satellite imagery and mapping for printing and projects. You have to call them for a quote. So they do seem to offer a lot, but none of it is free. Just so you know. You can check them out here.

NASA World Wind - NASA's 3D program is actually quite spectacular.  This program is in a class all by itself.  It's not competition for Google Earth or Microsoft Virtual Earth, but something completely different.  On the upside you can see a lot of additional information that just Earth like Mars, the Moon and Jupiter, plus atmospheric layers, weather layers and temperature layers.   World Wind is a 3D Globe program created from the viewpoint of the people in charge of our Space Program.  It's software about space.  It does, however lack a lot of the types of information included in Google Earth, mainly because it was created for a different public.  You won't find the specifics of every cafe, restaurant or hotel in the world, for example.  It's just a very different approach to much the same type of thing.  So it really depends what kind of information you're looking for when deciding on this one.  But it is DEFINITELY cool to look at, that is for sure.