1. Technology

Corel PaintShop Pro X4

Windows Photo Editor Review and Rating

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 2 Star Rating (35 Reviews)

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Corel PaintShop Pro X4

Corel PaintShop Pro X4

© Corel
PaintShop Pro offers a great deal of flexibility with features that rival much pricier photo editors. It's affordable without being overly simplistic or limiting.

While the previous version (X3) was plagued with stability and performance issues, Corel seems to have made a concerted effort to turn that around with version X4, seeking out user feedback from early in the development cycle. They've also made progress in streamlining and modernizing the user interface. If you were burned by PaintShop X3, consider taking version X4 for a spin--with the risk-free 30-day trial, of course!

Pros

  • Affordable, yet full-featured and flexible; offers a nice mix of fun and serious tools.
  • Combines photo editing, retouching, painting, drawing, and image management into one package.
  • Learning Center and training videos help new users learn the software and accomplish common tasks.
  • Manage, Adjust, and Edit workflow tabs streamline the photo editing process from the review stage to the finished photo.
  • Easily copy and apply multiple adjustments to many photos in a batch process.

Cons

PaintShop Pro X4 Edit Mode

Corel PaintShop Pro X4 Editing Workspace (click to enlarge)

© Corel
  • Menus, dialogs, and tool options tend to be crowded.
  • User interface is a patchwork of old and new with some aspects of the program not meshing with others.
  • Performance can be slow in some aspects of operation.
  • Menus are crowded with options and some of the tools are gimmicky and unnecessary. (For instance, Add/remove noise has 10 different commands under it.)

Description

  • PaintShop Pro is an affordable yet flexible and powerful photo editor and graphic design tool.

  • Offers photo enhancement tools for correcting color and tone, red eye, noise, and other common problems.

  • Draw and paint with gradients, textures, and patterns in vector, raster, and art media layers.

  • A mix of fun and serious tools; hundreds of special effects, distortion tools, frames, art brushes, and quick fixes.

  • Integrated photo organizer, camera raw converter, screen capture, optimizer, multiple image printing, and batch processing.

  • Includes Web tools for image slicing, image mapping, and coding image rollovers and buttons.

  • Options to customize toolbars, save personalized workspaces, save effects presets and share them with others.

  • Record automated scripts that can be replayed and shared; batch process, rename and convert images.

  • For Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7.

What's in a Name?

Corel PaintShop Pro X4 Manage Workspace

Manage workspace in Corel PaintShop Pro X4 (click to enlarge)

© Corel
In my X3 review I griped about all the name changes which have been imposed on this product since Corel acquired it from Jasc. Once again, Corel has changed the name! However, at least this time they have gone back to the product's roots, dropping "Photo" from the title, and simplifying with PaintShop Pro. Let's hope it stays this way! The standard version of the editor is simply PaintShop Pro X4, but an Ultimate and Video version are also offered, each bundled with some extras.
  • PaintShop Pro X4 Ultimate includes all the features of Pro, plus Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 filters, royalty-free images from Fotalia, a custom photo book from Blurb, a collection of premium Picture Tubes.

  • Photo & Video X4 Ultimate Bundle includes all the features of Ultimate, plus VideoStudio Pro X4 Ultimate.

Installation and Performance

I had no issues with the installation of PaintShop Pro X4, and the performance was considerably better than the previous version. I still felt that the start-up time was a bit slow, and switching between the 3 workflows (Manage, Adjust, and Edit) was slow and glitchy, but I did not experience any crashes during my test period. Browsing network shares with the integrated photo organizer was extremely slow.

Continue to page 2 for my comments on the new features and conclusion...

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