For simple materials, it's very close to final rendering. Obviously it lacks precise lighting calculations, but it may be ok in many situations.
With the advent of animation, it will be able to create animations in realtime....
As explained in the main post, this is the foundation for the next generation, and it's not just rendering.... There is modeling too (for who may be interested), there is more specialized materials (for example there is now a specialized Metal Flakes material type -- no more crazy texture lab for that, and more will come).
May not be obvious for non developers, but it's like a house..... you may renovate it and renovate it, until you reach a point where you may only do limited improvements. At some point you have to tear it down and rebuild it.
And that requires an incredible effort, but then you can do much more than before.
And that's what we did.
And then there is the UI.....
Some have already stated their (un-)appreciation.... We have experienced Thea Studio users that have grown liking this UI, and we are confident that after a while most people will like it too.
BUT, we are always open to constructive suggestions, based on practical issues and use cases.
Just ranting "this UI sucks" doesn't help much... If we have specific, precise examples of things that are difficult or not productive, we can make things better. We welcome suggestions, if you really want this product to grow on your needs, you can do that.
Let's work together, that's the spirit of the beta program. It's NOT a showcase of a closed product.