While the editing tools are more than passable, the program's real value lies in postproduction. You can upload photos and projects directly from Corel to Flickr and Facebook, e-mail them to a friend, or burn them to a disk. Uploading is a common feature of multimedia suites like Roxio Creator 2010 and Apple's iPhoto and iMovie. On both our test computers, the Flickr log-in screen hung up and we were not able to upload; Corel has told us this bug is highly unusual. YouTube and Facebook uploads ran smoothly.
As with competitors, Corel Digital Studio 2010 provides templates for helping you make slideshows, greeting cards, collages, and photo books that you order through Corel (see pricing below). As with the editing process, creating photo projects is intuitive. Turning pages in the photo book creator adds a layer of rich interaction, while dragging and dropping images around the pages and to and from the media tray keeps production practical. It's too bad that the program doesn't quote a price before you upload a batch of photos or a book to the Shopping Cart. It's the least Corel could do for channeling users to purchase projects through its online store.
You'll be able to print photos at home or order prints online to be mailed to you. The 15 cents per print is a comparable price to other online printers, like Shutterfly.com, but pricier than Snapfish.com, which sells 4x6 photos for 9 cents apiece. Unlike independent online services, you can only order through Corel and its behind-the-scenes printing partner in your global region; you can't choose your print provider and can't pick up the photos or other creations like calendars and cards at a local store.
Printed items are available for customers in a variety of global regions. Photo books start at a minimum of 26 pages, with about $2 for each additional set of 2 pages. They cost $32.95 for leather binding and $28.95 for linen. Both come in a variety of colors. Calendars go for about $15, collages for $3.25, and 5x7 cards for about $1.50 a piece. Prices are comparable with competing services.
Corel PaintShop Photo Express 2010 supports incoming images in BMP, PNG, JPEG, GIF, TIFF/TIF, RAW, PSPImage, JP2, and JPC formats. It outputs images as BMP, PNG, JPEG, GIF, and TIFF/TIF.
Corel VideoStudio Express 2010
Photo editing may be the suite's bread and butter with most camera owners, but the video studio is where Corel hopes to ingratiate itself. The commonly used tools in the editing view are to trim or split a video and take a still shot. The tool menus adjust white balance and brightness, and reduce noise and shake, both useful for videos captured with point-and-shoot cameras. But again, the best features are the movie maker and the sharing buttons that post videos to YouTube, Facebook, and Flickr.
Corel's built-in movie maker presents templates for a more polished look, but you can also make a more basic movie on your own. If you pick a template, Corel's application inserts a musical score, titles, and transitions, which you can later change from the slide-out Settings menu. You can also record a voiceover. Corel movies save for standard or wide screens, and in standard or high-def formats. As with other movie makers on the market, video clips and photos can sit on a movie timeline side by side; you could also make a movie from photos alone.
The app accepts video in AVI, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, HDV, AVCHD, M2T, MPEG-4, H.264, QuickTime, Windows Media, MOD (JVC MOD format), M2TS, TOD, BDMV, 3GPP, and 3GPP2 file formats. It produces videos in DV, AVI, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, QuickTime, Windows Media, 3GPP, and 3GPP2 formats. And yes, FireWire fans, it does support 1394 FireWire cards (for DV/D8/HDV camcorders.)
Corel DVD Factory 2010
Corel DVD Factory is the burning app of the suite, the practical workhorse that creates video, audio, and backup disks of your media. It also copies collections and projects to a mobile phone or to your external storage device. You can print, share, and import content, and you can edit photos or videos one last time before you burn them to disk.
Things get more hands-on as you burn your content. For instance, as you make a video disk, you can still choose a soundtrack and stylized templates. There are also options for burning to DVD video or to the high-def AVCHD format. You'll have a say over various other format and audio settings, which is especially useful if you're creating a disk to play on the TV. In audioland, you'll choose between creating an audio or MP3 disk, again choosing from a handful of setting in the slide-out menu. Copying is quick and seamless. A click of a button returns you to a DVD's main menu or root menu; another click ejects the DVD for good.
Corel WinDVD 2010
DVDs and other videos played crisply in WinDVD 2010, Corel's DVD player, with movies looking clear in full screen on a 17-inch monitor. As with similar players, the navigation bars vanish while the video plays and rematerialize after jostling the mouse. In addition to playing movies, Corel's player can open an optical drive, file, or folder. There are more powerful tools, besides, to tweak playback enhancements (like audio and color), or even record from a playing video or capture a still shot of the screen.
We also appreciate the bookmark tool that flags a certain spot on the timeline, so you can easily return to the clip. Corel WinDVD 2010 will support AVCHD video, which you can also play on a Blu-ray player. However, it won't play back your Blu-ray DVDs. For that you'll need to upgrade to the Pro version, which costs about $100, minus a 20 percent discount for Corel Digital Studio users. This doesn't strike us as much of a bargain, but the app is sometimes known to go on sale.
At about $100, Corel Digital Studio 2010 fits into the price slot of one of its strongest competitors, Roxio Media Creator 2010 (which we have not tested in depth). Corel's slimmed-down multimedia suite for consumers is missing some of Roxio Creator's extras, like robust music tools and archiving TiVo shows. However, Corel's offering is easier on the eye and may be less daunting to novices. Those looking for a more powerful, professional media suite on the market should consider a different package.
It is possible to cobble together the elements of Corels' digital suite for free, but the studio's intuitive work flow, exciting photo and video projects, and effortless copying to devices will serve most home users well. The top-notch WinDVD 2010 player, which costs about $80 on its own, also adds value, though that value decreases if you need to buy the Corel WinDVD Pro upgrade in order to get Blu-ray support. Although there are still a few other rough patches, like photo-editing tools that are a tad weaker and slower than we'd like, the pros in Corel Digital Studio 2010 definitely outweigh the cons.