Corel Presentations 12
Corel Presentations 12 is a competitor to Microsoft's PowerPoint presentation software, though it's not available as a standalone product. It's part of Corel's WordPerfect Office 12 suite and fits hand in glove with the other applications. Corel Presentations 12 is slow and unwieldy--it can take up over a gigabyte of disk space with its wide variety of templates, media, sound, and clip art, and at $350 for the entire WordPerfect Office 12 suite, it doesn't come cheap. If you're already committed to using Corel's office suite for productivity tasks, then Presentations 12 is fine for the occasional project, but don't go out of your way to get it otherwise.
The Corel WordPerfect Office 12 suite, which includes Corel Presentations, comes on a pair of CDs, the second of which has audio files, photos, and clip art--perfect for those on a tight budget, though the art appears oddly outdated (it has an '80s feel to it that we think isn't intended to be "retro"). Unfortunately, there's no printed documentation, and we expect few will read the 435-page Acrobat-based manual from cover to electronic cover. To make matters worse, the program's help section is sometimes incorrect. For example, the entry that seeks to explain adding audio clips advises that only WAV files, MIDI files, or CD tracks can be used; in fact, MP3 and WMA files work just fine.
Users familiar with PowerPoint have the option of using Corel Presentations 12 to mimic the look and feel of PowerPoint's interface. While we applaud this ability to leverage peoples' experience with the Microsoft product, we think Corel's own interface is just as good as Microsoft's, if a bit different. Using the suite's PerfectExpert wizards, you'll find templates for creating everything from a budget review to a product launch. Unfortunately, none are shown visually. The interface is familiar because it uses standard Windows conventions, but it adds a pane on the left for customizing the look, and it has page tabs at the bottom.
You can get a running start with Corel Presentations 12 by using the outliner tool to start with a series of phrases that can be the basis of the slide show. While the program doesn't provide a media browser, as Keynote and PowerPoint do, the menu items make it easy to place images and audio and video items exactly where you want them. Annoyingly, sometimes they end up offscreen and need to be brought back onscreen. Both Corel Presentations 12 and Harvard Graphics Pro Presentations are able to grab images directly from a scanner or a connected digital camera, which is a great time-saver. The program balked at accepting our AVI file, something the company's tech support people were at a loss to explain. We used a WMA file, and it worked fine.