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Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection review: Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection

Workflow improvements to CS4 include autofill searches for timelines and projects in AfterEffects. Adobe aimed to improve the options for making round trips among the applications without rebuilding content. For instance, you can export Fireworks designs as CSS and bring them into Dreamweaver. There's greater integration from one application to the next, with support for the latest formats for Web sites and mobile phones, including desktop Adobe AIR applications. Please find links to reviews of individual applications in the chart below.

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 lookups, 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 applications, like Dreamweaver. Such pricing is clearly set for corporations rather than freelancers.

Applications in the Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection
  Price if bought separately

Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional
$449/$159 upgrade

After Effects CS4 Professional
$999/$299 upgrade
Bridge CS4
n/a

Contribute CS4
$149

Dreamweaver CS4
$399/$199 upgrade

Fireworks CS4
$299/$149 upgrade

Flash CS4 Professional
$699/$199 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

Premiere Pro CS4 with Encore CS4 and OnLocation
$799/$299 upgrade/$699 upgrade from Premiere Elements

Soundbooth CS4
$199/$79 upgrade


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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