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Sandy Brown is a former journalist, editor and college Communication Arts instructor. The advent of personal computing and the growing popularity of the Internet coincided with her retirement, and provide a continuing learning experience and a favorite avocation.

From the October, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

PhotoBase is ArcSoft's new multimedia file-management application that has replaced its retail version of the popular MediaBrowser. The new program not only incorporates the finest features of MediaBrowser, but also offers many additional features for both the professional user and the amateur photography buff. It's obvious too that ArcSoft has taken feedback and "lessons learned" from users of MediaBrowser to heart, and while PhotoBase offers much more functionality, its interface is quite simple and surprisingly uncluttered. 

Screen CaptureSimply put, PhotoBase is a file-managing program that helps you organize and present multimedia files. It provides a way of quickly and easily creating slide shows, Web albums and video "postcards". There are some photo "correction" tools included, as well as the means to print contact sheets for quick image referencing. Those who've never had occasion to develop their own film might not be familiar with the term "contact sheet". In "hard-copy language", it's an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of photo paper on which photographers develop several strips of negatives, creating small (thumbnail) positives that they (or their editors) can see well enough to choose the best shots for publication. In PhotoBase, the term contact sheet still refers to a page, or file, of thumbnail images. 

The program allows you to acquire files from various sources, such as digital cameras, scanners, video devices and removable media. The unique "album" structure of the program makes it easy to organize, categorize and access all of your photo files. Just as with your old "hard copy" photo albums, you can create wedding albums, vacation albums, baby albums, etc.

Image acquisition and organization tasks in PhotoBase owe much of their simplicity to the "tree view". Similar to Windows Explorer, you can use it to browse all the drives and folders on your system. Notice the top folder, My Albums, which is where all your PhotoBase albums would be listed.

An easy-to-use toolbar near the top of the PhotoBase desktop allows you to manage albums; acquire images; e-mail images; transfer files to handheld devices; and create the slide shows, web albums and video postcards.  The Web albums can be shared with friends and family via a Web page. A video postcard is basically a video version of the familiar e-greeting card.

I could not find PhotoBase locally or anywhere on the Internet except at the ArcSoft online store, <www.arcsoft.com/store>, where it retails for $49.99. Not that much more than MediaBrowser's $30 price tag two years ago, especially when you consider the additional features it offers.

You can call ArcSoft (510-440-9901) or e-mail support (support@arcsoft.com).  The Web site provides an "email support" form that I used when trying to find MediaBrowser. I received a prompt, friendly response explaining why I couldn't find it, along with the name and link to the "similar" PhotoBase application as well as several other links to useful information. (Anyone wishing a forward of the response with hyperlinks included can email me.) In light of my own experience, I would say the quality of ArcSoft's tech support is exceptional.

Unfortunately, ArcSoft does not offer a trial version of PhotoBase. The online documentation is excellent, however. A detailed, illustrated PDF manual is available for download and provides an excellent overview of the program, including illustrations. The interface is surprisingly simple —unusual for a program with this many features. 

System Requirements:
Windows 98, ME. 2000, XP; Pentium II or equivalent; 64 MB RAM (128 MB recommended); 100 MB free hard disk space; 16-bit (or higher) color display; and Apple QuickTime 4.0 (or above) for MOV file support.

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