In a market crowded with software for editing and managing photos, why should you choose Roxio PhotoSuite? On the plus side, it's amazingly easy to use, has decent photo-management skills, and comes with a cool stitching tool for creating panoramic views. If you can take a picture with a digital camera or at least scan one into your computer, you can create a project in PhotoSuite that's worth sharing with friends and family. However, the program's excessive hand-holding may drive more-experienced digital photographers straight into the arms of Adobe Photoshop Elements. But if you already own PhotoSuite, definitely upgrade--you'll love the new PhotoDoctor and batch-editing tool.
We found installation a bit sluggish. In fact, it took a good 15 minutes for PhotoSuite to copy all the necessary files onto our Windows XP test machine. We wasted another 10 minutes waiting for the program to grab all of the photos--about 100--stored on the hard drive. However, once up and running, PhotoSuite zips along. One additional note on the install: If you want access to the app's image library, you'll have to choose "Copy content files to system" or else keep the CD in the drive when working on a project.
It's easy to change the look of your image by choosing from PhotoSuite 5 Platinum's broad array of special effects. Be warned, though that the preview may not necessarily match the final results.
Our favorite feature in 5.0 is Multi-Photo Enhance, which is essentially a fancy name for batch editing. If you have a number of photos that suffer from the same problem, this time-saver corrects them all at once. Another noteworthy feature is the Stitching tool, which allows you to map together a series of photos. First implemented in version 4.0, this tool calculates the 35mm-equivalent focal length of the photos you selected for stitching, automatically aligns them, and blends them together. The results are impressive.
In addition to your basic slide show, you can create collages, calendars, greeting cards, gift tags, posters, and even postcards using PhotoSuite's built-in templates. Sharing is simple; e-mail, burn to CD, print, or shunt your pics off to an online photo service from within the program. If you decide to burn your projects to CD, you have the added benefit of using the bundled Label Creator.
Aside from the What You See Is Not What You Get previews, our chief complaint with PhotoSuite is that it holds your hand a little too tightly. We wish the program afforded more flexibility. For example, the search tool won't let you hunt through your files against multiple queries, and you'll have to walk through a few steps to run your request. Roxio should trust us a little more. The program's integrated help system is fairly detailed and easy to search. From Roxio's Web site, you can browse additional FAQs, a searchable knowledge base, and user forums. However, if you need to talk to someone at Roxio, you'll have a tough time. For the first 90 days from the day you register your copy, you get free e-mail; after that, good luck. If you can't find your answer online and your 90 days are up, you'll have to pay a pretty penny for telephone support. It costs $30 per incident--half the price of the product itself--and it's a toll call. Ouch.