Paint Shop Pro Version 9
NOTE: Corel have now released Paint Shop Pro X, an upgrade of PSP 9. I have a mini-review here
Software reviews are hard to write. Either they tend to be superficial "sales pitches" or they get so long and detailed that you might as well be writing a manual! I'm going to attempt to pitch this review somewhere in the middle, so that it covers major features, but doesn't attempt to cover everything (in which case it would take so long to write that I'd never finish it).
First some background. My original image editing software was Micrografx Picture Pro. I forget the version, but I bought it back in a time when it was probably better than whatever version of PhotoShop existed then (10 years ago maybe?). It had a clone tool and an image browser, neither of which Photoshop had (indeed, PhotoShop didn't get an image browser until version 7.0). I was quite happy with Picture Pro and even eventually upgraded through version 8.0, but shortly after that Corel bought out Micrografx and axed Picture Pro, so I was left with an image editor written in 1997. It was still good, still fast, I still used it, but it showed its age with a lack of some features like transparency and masking for layers. It was time to look around for something else.
Now I had PhotoShop 6.0, which I'd gotten for a particular project I had worked on, but I didn't like it much. I'd also used PhotoShop 5.5 which wasn't my favorite program either. I also had various copies of PhotoShop Lite and PhotoShop Elements (I and II), but they weren't what I was looking for either. I've never liked the PhotoShop interface, and even more I've never liked the PhotoShop prices, either for the full program or the frequent updates. I'm not denying that PhotoShop is the ultimate image editor and graphics program, just like I don't deny that the Hummer H2 is the ultimate SUV. In some ways they are alike. Both are big, expensive, hard to use, expensive to maintain and overkill for 95% of their owners! However if you really NEED their capabilities, then they're the best.
So what does that leave? Well, for me, after looking around, I decided to give JASCs Paint Shop Pro a chance. At the time version 8.0 was the latest, so that's the one I got and the one I've been using for about 6 months now. Recently version 9.0 came out and I've been playing with that for a few weeks now. Much of it is the same as version 8.0, but it does have some nice new features which I'll describe later.
For those who like to read the last page of a book first, my conclusion is that I like Paint Shop Pro a lot. I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking for a very capable image editor and who only has $110 or so to spend. It's now the image editor I use most myself. I know that's heresy to Adobe PhotoShop priests, but that's the way it is!
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