I've had the opportunity to look at a few fractal programs, and "Mandelbrot 3" is the neatest one I've seen. It's fast, and the best part about it is that it fills the entire screen with a rough pattern, and then fills it in with patterns of increasingly higher resolution. This makes it nice to locate and zoom in on interesting areas without waiting for the program to paint the pattern sequentially from the top of the screen on down, like most other programs do.
Another "goody" here that I haven't seen in other programs is the "walker" option, a time- saving feature that assumes areas between sets don't need calculating. It's fun to watch the little walker dot leave a windy multi-colored slug trail.
The user interface is slick and the well-written manual is basically unnecessary (unless you want to read about basic fractal theory).
Don't let the low price hornswoggle you into believing that this is a kludgey hunk o' shareware. "Mandelbrot 3" is important enough to warrant my keeping it on my always- crammed 20 Meg hard drive. (Kick in an extra $10, and they'll send you "Kaleidoscopes," a disk with five neato graphics/chaos programs. My fave is the Fractal Landscape program, which generates one alien planetscape after another.)
Midnight Beach Software
1805A Felt St
Santa Cruz, CA 95062