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Software Review of:
Paint Shop Pro Version 7
Tenth Anniversary Edition

 

Larry Grosskopf, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist at the San Antonio State Hospital, with a quite long and very strong interest in computers. He and Marta, his wife, are raising two terrific children, Zoë, age 9, and Jackson, age 7.

From the November, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

Jasc has come a long way in 10 short years. Those of us who remember the early days of digital photo editing know that it left a lot to be desired. Since that time, many programs have come and gone. There have been many companies and competitors that have fallen by the wayside or were gobbled up in a feeding frenzy of corporate acquisition. Several major players remain, and that is good for consumers and for the industry. What happens when there is legitimate competition is good for everyone. No one gets complacent, they are working hard to maintain success and to bring more to their products than their competitors are offering. That being said, Jasc has successfully navigated its way through those challenging and often choppy waters for a decade. My hat is off to them for that and for providing a fine product for consumers to use to edit their digital images. 

They describe this as the 10th Anniversary Edition and they have incorporated some extras in the box. To begin with, there is of course Paint Shop Pro 7, the newest update of the flagship of Jasc Software products. Recent versions have also included Animation Shop and it (Animation Shop 3) is integrated as well as Media Center Plus, an application that is quite versatile. Media Center Plus is the new kid on the block in this package. It is usually sold as a separate program for about 20 dollars by Jasc, but is included in this Paint Shop Pro 7 Anniversary box. They have gone out of their way to add value to this special package. Media Center Plus allows you to include multiple file types from digital photos to MP3 and WAV sound and music files to AVI or MPEG video files. Media Center Plus is a very nice addition; because it lets you fetch your media files to build albums which can immediately be viewed as slideshows. Besides giving you the ability to organize and arrange your media files as you choose, its slideshow feature will play a variety of media files you select, in whatever order you determine, from photos to MPEG video files to WAV files. Not only can you manage files in albums and play slideshows with this application, but you can also export your album files to HTML with ease. 

Also with this edition, there is the new Paint Shop Pro Product Tour, a standalone series of tutorials that cover a side variety of features of the program. In addition there are 10 more advanced tutorials that are provided in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format that can be accessed through the Help menu within Paint Shop Pro 7 or from the Start Menu. Finally, a bonus group of plug-in filters are provided for you to use to enhance your digital images. These include Eye Candy 3.1, 3 fully functioning Eye Candy 4000 filters and demos of many more, which only work if you buy the Eye Candy 4000 program and some Virtual Painter and Flaming Pear filters.

Jasc supplies both a 143 page Getting Started Guide and a 501 page Reference Guide for Paint Shop Pro 7 and Animation Shop 3. Along with the tutorials, the Getting Started and Reference Guides should present the user with an array of educational tools to learn to use this software. One of my main gripes with many software products, especially true over the last few years is that they do not provide much training or data on how to make use of the program and major features of the program. That complaint cannot be made about this software product. The novice user has an armament of educational materials to help them learn how to do digital image editing and the expert has a multitude of advanced tools to hone their skills. 

Whatever your skill level, there is value in this package. Once I finished delving into and through the extra and support materials and began to actually use Paint Shop Pro 7, I found the interface not significantly different from that of Paint Shop Pro 6. There are some changes, but the appearance was quite similar. Most users will probably meet the minimum requirements, but recommended systems will have at least a 300 Mhz Pentium processor, 128 MB of RAM and 32 Bit Graphics with 1024 x 768 screen resolution. 

If you have used earlier versions of Paint Shop Pro, then you might agree that it is more than a no-nonsense high-quality graphics tool. It may not do as much as some very high end (professional) image editing programs, but it will certainly succeed as a full-value graphics tool for most home users. The learning curve seems less steep than some other programs I have used, but to be fair, that may be because I personally find it easier to use and easier to understand. You can work with images at many levels in Paint Shop Pro 7, adjusting the contrast, colors, and adding special effects. You can use any of the three types of layers in Paint Shop Pro 7, even working at the pixel-level. I conceptualize raster layers as pixel-based data at the images molecular level. Vector layers provide necessary data for creating and drawing vector lines, text and shapes. Adjustment layers make color corrections to alter the appearance of the underlying layers. There are numerous ways to edit, add filters, and use the aforementioned layers, and now there are automatic (smart-program) corrections for color balance, contrast enhancement, color saturation, scratch removal and red-eye removal (See Figure). JascTaking digital photos is great fun for me, especially of my children, but I am often plagued by the dreaded “red-eye” look. Having a tool as easy to use as this one is to remove red-eyes is an excellent supplement to this program. Finally, you get to spice up your images with 30 new picture tubes, picture frames and fun shapes, which is a terrific tactic to use to add emphasis to any digital image or web creation project.

Last, but not least for you animators out there, Animation Shop 3 is now easier to use as they have truly integrated it into this Paint Shop Pro 7 edition. It has the same or a very similar interface to Paint Shop Pro. Honestly, I am not an animator, but I took some digital MPEG videos (short, 15 second movies, using my Sony Mavica FD85 digital camera), of my son at Junior Karate camp and used those frames to make an animation that I can add to a web site, if I choose to do that. Before this version, I didn’t think I had the skills to do animation, but I know now that I can at least do basic animation using this tool.

Paint Shop Pro 7 10th Anniversary Edition is available locally at computer stores for $99.99 and was advertised to include a $30.00 mail-in rebate offer. It was offered on the Internet for less, with $79.99 being the most inexpensive price (and the rebate was also available there) but some of these Internet vendors have shipping and handling charges that increase the price significantly. Just be careful of that if you choose to order it online. If you are prudent, you can find that Internet buying will decrease your cash outflow, with the downside being that you have to wait for it to be shipped to you. For this program, I would offer that even if you had to wait for it, it would be well-worth the wait.


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