Adobe CS4 Design review: Adobe CS4 Design

If you rely on Adobe software for print layout work alone, we'd recommend the less expensive Design Standard package, or not upgrading from CS3 or earlier at all. On the other hand, if you need to make round trips among software for print and interactive designs, CS4 is worthwhile, especially for the new animation model in Flash. Dreamweaver beefs up tools for CSS sites and feels more stable than its predecessors. Integration among the applications includes the capability to export Fireworks designs as CSS, then bringing them into Dreamweaver.

At the same time, there's not much to wow users of Photoshop who don't work with 3D content. At least Illustrator finally manages multipage documents. InDesign offers many enhancements for interactive designs, such as for managing Web-ready links and JavaScript rollovers without coding by hand. And it can export SWF files for the Flash Player as well as content in the new XLF format for Flash.

Service and support
We almost hate to rate Adobe's tech support as excellent due to the extreme expense of live, personalized help from the company. However, the software industry has been moving away from free customized assistance for years. At least Getting Started help for installation issues and other speed bumps lasts for 90 days. Adobe's comprehensive, self-serve options include embedded and online look-ups, tutorials, and excellent videos. Also, the company has expanded its help-yourself and peer support online. The new Adobe Support Portal requires an Adobe log-in and password. Newbies would be wise to get up to speed with the interactive tutorials and maybe even third-party books and Web sites. Web-based forums with other users, as well as the Community Support in beta testing, may be the best bargain for getting hands-on advice.

Don't bother trying to seek extra help without a registered serial number; the days of "borrowing" copies of heavy-duty Adobe software from friends are long gone. Help with a live Adobe representative continues to be expensive. Each year we find the pricing options ( harder to find on Adobe's Web pages. The Bronze level of support, for five prepurchased incidents, is $175. Unlimited Silver support costs $1,200, three times the price of some individual applications. Such pricing is clearly set for corporations rather than freelancers.

  Price if bought separately

Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional
$449/$159 upgrade
Bridge CS4 n/a

Dreamweaver CS4
$399/$199 upgrade

Flash CS4 Professional
$699/$199 upgrade

Fireworks CS4
$299/$149 upgrade

Illustrator CS4
$599/$199 upgrade from CS, FreeHand 9+, or CorelDRAW

InDesign CS4
$699/$199 upgrade

Photoshop CS4 Extended
$999/$349 upgrade from CS3/$899 upgrade from 5 or 6

Adobe Creative Suite 4 packages
  Price: Full Price: Upgrade

Creative Suite 4 Master Collection
$2,499 $899 (from CS3); $1,599 from other CS3 suites; $1,199 from two older suites

Creative Suite 4 Design Premium
$1,799 $599 (from CS3); $599-$799 (from Studios or CS 1-2)

Creative Suite 4 Design Standard
$1,399 Special upgrade pricing available

Creative Suite 4 Web Premium
$1,699 $599 (from CS3); $599-$799 (from Studios or CS 1-2)

Creative Suite 4 Web Standard
$999 Special upgrade pricing available

Creative Suite 4 Production Premium
$1,699 $599 (from CS3); $599-$799 (from Studios or CS 1-2)

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Where to Buy See all prices

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium

Part Number: 65021566 Released: Sep 22, 2008
Low Price: $1,195.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Sep 22, 2008
  • Category creativity application
  • Compatibility PC