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Roxio's PhotoSuite 7.0 Platinum is a collection of applications and utilities for managing images. Sad to say, it's kind of a train wreck--your basic confusing mishmash of underpowered modules. Although the press piece sounded good, we found ourselves consulting the help files to perform even the most rudimentary tasks.
The documentation claims that the easiest way to approach the suite is by using the home page that appears when you click the PhotoSuite icon. From here, you can choose among the various tasks: import, edit, print, e-mail, capture, create labels or projects, offload to removable media, and access online services. Frankly, we found the panel poorly designed. The functions seem arbitrarily assorted into random categories. For example, the capture utility is in the Tools list, but the media manager is listed under Applications. Our novice guinea pig was just befuddled by the disorganization ("Do I want to use the Import Photos, E-Mail Photos, or Projects?"), and after an hour spent trying to e-mail an image that resided on his digital camera, he surrendered.
Some programs have interfaces that need a good makeover, but the tools are so powerful that you accept some goofiness. This is not one of those programs. Let's take the "get the image from the camera and e-mail it" scenario. With a program such as Canon's ZoomBrowser, you click the Acquire Images button, select the photo you want, click the Email Images button, and fill in the blanks. We timed the process from beginning to end: 11 seconds. In PhotoSuite, you first click Import Photos and wait for the component to load (15 seconds). Then you wait to select your input device and wait--and wait and wait some more--for the thumbnails to appear. Unfortunately, all we got were big placeholders instead of thumbnails, until we deleted all but six images from the media card.
After PhotoSuite downloads the images, it asks what you want to do next. Well, e-mail isn't one of the choices--you have to return to the home page or load the PhotoSuite component. Then you hunt for your image, add it to the main window, click Next, make some more choices, click some more, and finish. Oops--we forgot to open our e-mail program first! Back to the home page to do it all over again. You get the idea.
After this depressing experience, we plodded through the other modules. PhotoSuite has to load the relevant component each time you want to do something, so there is an agonizing sense of getting nowhere fast.
If you're looking for a good set of editing tools, you probably won't be too unhappy with PhotoSuite 7.0. You can autofix, crop, rotate, fix red-eye, and add text in the basic mode and access more advanced tools by clicking the Show All Features button. Here, you'll find features for adding drop shadows, fixing wrinkles, assembling photo collages, creating cutouts and masks, and adjusting image quality. The tools are pretty rudimentary and require you to plow through a bunch of textual explanations so that you can select the appropriate choice.
If you enjoy projects, PhotoSuite offers a good selection: collage, album, card, gift tag, magazine cover, postcard, and poster. By the way, don't try to click the Create Greeting Card on the home page--PhotoSuite will freeze. You have to access this feature through the Projects link.
If you want to make a CD label, you have to load a different module, but it's actually the best part of this suite: it has a straightforward interface, attractive templates, and a rich feature set. You can scan in an image to add to the label, have LabelMaker autofill the project by looking up information online, and whiz through the entire process using the Instant Label Creator wizard.
On-Line Services connects to the Roxio online shopping page (powered by Snapfish). From here, you can upload and share images and order prints. This service features unlimited online photo storage so that your friends and family and family can view your pics. If you sign up, your first 20 prints are free.
When we tried to run the slide show, video CD, and DVD builder modules, we were informed that our display adapter doesn't fully support DirectX 9.0 3D features. To this we say, "So what?" We just finished reviewing 13 other image-editing/organizing packages, and not a single one had any trouble producing a slide show, a DVD, or a video CD. We wouldn't have minded so much if the program hadn't hung trying to load the component after displaying the error message.
We always try to find some aspect of a program that makes it worth purchasing, but in this case, we're stumped. The label creator is very nice, but the suite is overpriced at $29.95--even freeware such as IrfanView works better than PhotoSuite. If you're looking for a simple and inexpensive image-editing/management program, try SimpleStar/Nero PhotoShow Elite, Ulead PhotoImpact, or Adobe Photoshop Album.