In an era where company after company seems to be cutting corners, Serif surely deserves a mighty pat on the back. Its Home Creativity Suite 2008 pack not only comes in a sturdy box, but it proves to be packaging with a reason: two reasonably-sized companion guides are nestled within it, alongside the numerous discs that make up the pack’s software. When, upon installing said software, there wasn’t even an elongated serial code to enter, we nearly burst into tears of joy.
The pack itself brings together three applications: desktop publishing package PagePlus 10, image editing application PhotoPlus 9 and a pack of 100,000 graphics images. Register via the freephone number and you also get two more CD-ROMs, as Serif promises to send you PopArtPlus and Montage Plus as well.
PagePlus 10 isn’t the most recent version of the firm’s popular DTP package (we reviewed version X2 here), but it’s still a good piece of software. It’s also one of the few such applications in its sector that can genuinely claim to be friendly to novice and less experienced users, while still offering something for intermediates too.
From the off, it’s really straightforward to use: a starter menu pops up offering to let you use a pre-programmed wizard or start from scratch, and if you choose the former, you’re hand-held through the starting points of setting up a wide range of publications, from newsletters and posters through to cards, certificates and Web sites.
The wizard then allows you to customise elements of your choice and come up with a result of sorts within a matter of seconds. At any point you can jump in and play with the program’s more advanced features. We were particularly impressed with the BookPlus option that allows you to unite documents into one multi-chapter publication.
There’s an awful lot packed into PagePlus 10 and it’s undoubtedly the highlight of Home Creativity Suite 2008. But PhotoPlus 9 is no slouch either, and proves itself to be a good image editing tool, albeit one dwarfed by stronger competition.
To be fair, it mirrors much of the functionality of the likes of Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro, and the inclusion of Photoshop support in this version is a welcome boon. Also, for the majority of users, there’s more than enough functionality packed into the software, although it does lack the polished sheen at times of one or two of its competitors. It’s a good image editing package, with widespread file support and output options, and again, one that less experienced users – through the friendly menu system – will be able to find their feet with.
The package is then rounded off with the surprisingly good 100,000 graphics to implement into your projects, and while we can’t confess to have hand-checked every one, we found that the sample we investigated held up to scrutiny well. As with most of the package, it’s not for the high-end professional, but will serve everyone else well.
So, as long as you don’t mind not having the very latest editions of the applications in this box, then Home Creativity Suite 2008 is a wise and sensible buy. It’s friendly yet powerful and offers very good value for money.
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