Among the latest raft of releases from budget software specialists GSP come these three applications, courtesy of a team-up with Ulead Software.
First, there’s Burn.Now 1.5 SE. The clue here is in that ‘SE’ suffix, as while it’s a decent enough CD and DVD burning application, it is a very limited one. For example, it won’t deal with video at all, so DVD movies and video CDs are straight out of the window.
Then it had an unhelpful tendency to crash the two test systems we tried the software on. Not always, granted, but more successfully than Nero could ever manage. And finally, it’s battling the fact that slightly older versions of Nero can easily be picked up for about the same price, and it’s a complete no-brainer as to which is better value.
On the upside, Burn.Now’s interface is clean, it’s very easy to find your way round and it does happily simplify the task of music and data disc creation. There’s little real reason to buy it, though.
So onto the next on the list, PhotoImpact XL SE. It’s that ‘SE’ suffix at work again you’ll note, and it does contradict with the box’s bold claim that the program offers “Total Image Editing for the PC.” But there are no worries here that you’re not getting your money’s worth, as this is still quite an adept and able image manipulation program, if a little confusing.
Far from the wizard-driven luxury of the modern day image editor, PhotoImpact XL sports a cluttered, at times confusing interface. Fortunately, once you’ve spent a little while getting to use to its methodology, it is straightforward to use.
It allows you to bring in an image from a variety of sources and adjust it, apply effects, colour correct and export in a format of your choice (with Web output fully supported). And then there’s the likes of 2D and 3D effects, adding text and applying filters too. In short, it is – in spite of its SE status – a comprehensive set of tools. There are friendlier applications of this ilk available, but there’s little doubting you’re getting some quite powerful software for your money.
Less successful is My Scrapbook 2, an application that’s designed to be a virtual scrapbook for your digital photographs. The idea is that you make up scrapbook pages by placing images of your choice onto them, and then you have the option of printing them as and when you choose.
Sadly though, it’s not intuitive stuff, and at times far more confusing than you’d expect. Whilst you can put together photos with special backgrounds and in a journal if you wish, it’s rarely easy to know exactly what you need to complete each job. And although the photo manipulation tools are really quite good, the program struggles when doing exactly what it should be doing. In short, it’s a disappointment, and there are shareware applications that do this sort of thing so much better.
So in spite of the ten quid price tag for each of these three applications, only PhotoImpact really excels. But if Ulead and GSP continue their union, here’s hoping for similar cut-price software deals in the near future.
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