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It's difficult to fault the Corel development team. For 20 years, the company has improved its star product with only a few bumps along the way, and the CorelDraw Graphics Suite X3 shows that the team listens to its audience.
The biggest difficulty in installing the suite is deciding what to install. The program discs include CorelDraw, the main vector drawing package; Corel Photo-Paint, an agile image editor; Corel PowerTrace, a fast and powerful raster-to-vector tracing program; Corel Capture, a screen-capture utility; Bitstream Font Manager, for viewing and organizing fonts; Pixmantec RawShooter Essentials, for converting raw camera format files; and a duplexing wizard, for printing two-sided documents. In addition, there are two CDs with 10,000 pieces of clip art and images, 1,000 OpenType fonts, 25 Windows Glyph fonts, and 100 templates, as well as help files, tutorials, and videos. And in case you think Corel is being stingy, there's a comprehensive user guide and a beautiful handbook showcasing stunning samples from expert users of this suite.
Power users gain greatly enhanced EPS and PDF import and export, color management, spot color support, and output. The toolbox gets five more tools, two of which are star makers: regular and complex; a Fillet/Scallop/Chamfer tool for CAD-esque curve shaping; a handy Crop tool for removing unwanted object areas; and a Smart Fill feature. There's a new Bevel docker, but it's a bit underwhelming. You have basically two choices--innie and outie--and objects may have only solid fills. The new Step and Repeat docker is more impressive, letting you set vertical and horizontal offsets for repeating objects.
The other big news in CorelDraw is the new and improved desktop publishing tools. First, new Character and Paragraph dockers provide easy access to text-formatting settings such as kerning, typeface selection, and justification. Controlling text flow is much easier as well, now that you can insert a variety of spaces, breaks, and dashes via the Text menu. The enhanced Fit Text to Path tool works more smoothly and intuitively, too.
We've never had much of a performance issue with CorelDraw, and X3 is no different. Even on a 1.1MHz machine with a complex document, the program runs fast with no stability problems. Photo-Paint's performance is much improved over that of earlier versions, and during our testing, it processed complex filter effects about 20 percent faster than Photoshop CS2.
Corel X3 is your basic terrific graphics suite. It's easy enough for beginners to learn but powerful enough for all vector and image design. The additional clip art, font, and image libraries and utilities make this package a bargain. Users of older versions will want this upgrade for the improved spot color, EPS, and PDF handling; the new tools; and the freshened clip art. In sum, this package is appropriate for any graphics task, be it vector drawing, image editing, or midlevel desktop publishing.