I have been offered a position with a company. They tried Civil 3D and didn't care for it, and went with Carlson instead.
My experience is with AutoCAD exclusively. I have many years experience with Land Desktop, and the last two years with Civil 3D. They feel that, with my LD experience, I should be able to learn and adapt to Carlson pretty quickly. They say Carlson is very LD-like. I don't necessarily doubt this, but I would like to get kind of a "heads up" for what some of the differences and similarities are. (I have not accepted the position yet, but probably will)
In searching I found this thread... http://forums.autodesk.com/t5/AutoCAD-Civil-3D/Car
...and it has a great wealth of information, but it is also 3.5 years old. A lot can change in 3 years. Is the info contained in that thread still pretty accurate? Or, has the gap narrowed? Changed in any way?
Last summer I worked at a survey firm that used Carlson, after 3 months I quit because of it. Now on Carlson defense it was a 2004 version of Carlson and a locked version at that, no way to run lisp or create macros. After using current versions of Civil3D and Map3D there was no way to going back to an outdated software and being happy. So I suggect before you take the position find out what version of Carlson they use, if you are used to all the new features in C3D and AutoCAD you may have a hard time adjusting as well.
I haven't kept up with Carlson's development over the years so I can't offer any opinion in that regard. They do post lots of videos demonstrating the functionality of the various modules.
What I want to say is, you should take into account your career path in making this decisiion. If you move over to a company that is not using Civil 3D you will find yourself out of the running for jobs that require Civil 3D skills down the road. Just look at the civil job postings on the web and you'll find that the majority require Civil 3D skills. Autodesk is the Microsoft of the design world so you pretty much have to keep current to stay viable in the job market.
That said, I'd prefer working with a product that is efficient and enjoyable to work with vs. being trapped in a life of tedium just to stay viable in the job market (that's not meant to be an endorsement or criticism of either product).
From what I've seen and read Carlson software is aimed at the survey community, and it is very popular there. Excellent tools for importing, processing and analysis of survey but perhaps not so much for civil design. The software is available in either an Intellicad or ACad version so you may want to find out which one you'll be using.
I believe that you can get a trial download also.
From what I've seen and read Carlson software is aimed at the survey community....
...and Mining, and law enforcement.
To the OP:
Be sure you are comparing apples to apples too. As Murph mentioned, Carlson sells a standalone version built on AutoCAD OEM, which to keep this brief, is a lot like AutoCAD LT.
You can't compare Civil 3D to that, nor would I try to compare C3D to the full version of Carlson running on IntelliCAD.
What will you be doing with the software? That makes a huge difference when you are comparing the two.
You all make excellent points. Especially regarding potential future considerations and which platform. If all goes as planned I will be receiving a formal job offer tomorrow (Monday), and thus will have a chance for follow-up questions.
Run, you will not like it, it is like land desktop when it first came out, very old school, no intelligence, gets the job done but not in a logical way, still has commands embedded from dos days, Would you like to use the puck or turn your tablet on? crashes. if you run a earthwork or cross section etc and you need to change somethng, start over it just puts dumb lines in the drawing. no one i have talked to could ever explain the scale to me? you cant use annotative text and the settings exist in every menu but are all a little different so you will have no clue what is what, it is a mess of lisp routines thrown together for companies who cannot afford real software. Run