Adobe Lightroom 6/CC remains a fine photo-editing and organizing tool, but the new version doesn't rise much past its predecessor.
A nice, but not necessarily must-have update, Adobe Lightroom 5 remains a strong program for working with raw images.
While there are a handful of new capabilities in the update to Adobe's entry-level image editor, the most noticeable is a more readable interface intended for middle-aged eyes.
A majority of home users will appreciate Corel Digital Studio's feature set, its interactive projects, and wide support for photo and video formats.
Despite some compatibility setbacks, Corel Home Office suite is useful for creating documents. Its conscientious size, small-screen optimizations, and attractive price make it a good buy for a Netbook office suite, or for saving space by shedding advanced features.
Apple iLife '09 is a great application suite for simple media organizing and editing, and the addition of features like face recognition, geotagging, and music lessons makes it worth the update.
Adobe CS4 Design Premium contains nearly every tool for editing digital images and layouts for print and the Web, as well as for crafting interactive animation and desktop apps. If you don't need video editing, pick this over the Master Collection and save $700.
Adobe CS4 Web Premium is a good deal for interactive designers who don't need tools for video editing and sophisticated print layouts.
While Adobe Illustrator CS4's most compelling new feature--pseudo-multipage support--can be frustrating to use, overall it makes CS4 a worthwhile upgrade for current users.
If you work with 3D, Photoshop Extended is a must-have upgrade; ditto if you think you'd use more of Standard's tools if the interface were less opaque, if you need to upgrade other suite applications, or if you qualify for an academic discount. All things considered, while Adobe Photoshop CS4 makes some improvements over CS3, it might be worth skipping this generation and waiting for the next.
Flash becomes friendlier and more fun to explore as CS4 introduces a faster approach to animation, making this a worthwhile upgrade for both beginners and seasoned programmers.
Best for coding and design pros, Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 is perhaps the sharpest, swiftest tool for developing and editing dynamic Web sites.
Adobe After Effects CS4
Adobe Creative Suite 4 Production Premium
This update should be worthwhile for security-minded businesses and creative firms. With Acrobat 9, Adobe brings new Web relevance to print-ready PDFs by enabling embedded video and animation. Forms, security, and overall ease of use are also enhanced.
Apple iLife '08 is a fine, affordable media-editing suite that should keep beginners and hobbyists happy when managing pictures, videos, songs, and podcasts, but those seeking to fine-tune movies should look elsewhere.
Adobe CS3 Production Premium is ideal if you handle a mix of design, animation and editing tasks for video, the Web, and mobile gadgets. However, beginners should think twice about the splurge, and film pros without deep animation needs should probably stick to Apple Final Cut Studio 2 or AVID.
Final Cut Studio 2 is a solid value and worthy upgrade for serious film editors who work on Macs. However, hobbyists should consider simpler software.