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Software Review of:
Greeting Card Creator, v. 2002


Shari Lynn Parker is a free-lance writer, mini-entrepreneur and sometime do-gooder. Engaged, she is also a mother to five wonderful rescue animals. She is Alamo PC's newest (and the only female) board members.

From the November, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

I needed a greeting card… and fast! My "niece-to-be" (I'm engaged, and of course he's an Alamo PC member) had a birthday coming up fast. I wanted to make her a special card as this was her first birthday in high school. I had a card, but alas, one of my cats ate it (the same cat who tries to drink my Slimfast every morning). Luckily, I had this software to review, so I thought, "what the heck" and gave it a whirl.

ArcSoft's Greeting Card Creator does just that — allows the user to create a variety of greeting cards with little effort and in little time. I used the 2002 version. I received only the program CD and a piece of paper with installation instructions (details later).

Desktop publishing is my software of choice. Over 4,000 backgrounds, 1 million pieces of clipart, and 250 gazillion colors are my choices in most of the software I own. I didn't hold much hope for this little program. Yet, when I installed the program (which was a snap), I would soon change my mind, as the program made creating cards as simple as 1,2,3,4,5…6!

Once you install the program, the opening window pops up, and immediately whisks you away to the start of your greeting card. You have a blank work space area and to the left side, six boxes. . .the steps to making your card. 

Step 1: Select design. 
Choose from a variety of designs (birthday, animals, backgrounds, flowers, moving, holidays, etc…). On the left side, a thumbnail sketch allows you to scroll through the many colorful choices. I chose a retro-looking 50s bobbysoxer throwing confetti into the air (I'm sure my niece-to-be doesn't even know what a bobbysoxer is, but I'm the one designing the card, and due to my age, I do know). You may rotate, flip, enlarge, reduce or even change the brightness or contrast of the art. 

Step 2: Get photo. 
If you would like to insert a photo instead of or addition to your design, this is where you do it. I just popped a photo in my scanner (HP ScanJet), gave the picture a name and voila! The picture was on my card! Greeting Card Creator allows you to import, scan and save photos in an album. Make a mistake? Just hit delete.

Step 3: Add title. 
Putting a title or phrase on the front of the card is easy too. Colors, shadows and just as many fonts as in a standard publishing program are at your fingertips. 

Step 4: Import clip art. 
Much to my surprise, there were approximately 200 pieces of clip art available. Everything from birthday cakes, animals, signs, holiday icons, and much more were there. True, you have to be satisfied with only two clips of birthday cakes, but in a pinch, how many cakes do you really need?  And as before, you may rotate, flip, enlarge or decrease the size of the picture to fit your artistic whims.

Step 5: See inside. 
Look at the inside of your card. Once again, I had a great deal of pre-made phrases to choose from. I wanted to use my own creative juices, so I just simply unchecked the box for "Greeting" and added my own phrase. If you feel inspired, you may even add more text above or below the phrase.

Step 6: Print preview. 
Here's where I got the chance to see my creation without committing to using a piece of my heavy card stock. I looked at my card from the front, inside and even a quarter-fold view. I saved it to file, chose the number of copies and printed it. My masterpiece was complete! If I had wanted to, I could have e-mailed it directly to her via AOL or other MAPI compliant e-mail.

The experience with ArcSoft Greeting Card Creator was a joyful experience. But alas, with greatness, comes a rub. The program cd had no system requirements listed, so I can only tell you that it worked like a dream for me. I have a Sony Vaio with a 1.5 GHz Intel Pentium 4 Processor, and used my CD-ROM to install the program. Although, I am sure most Pentium computers could run this program with no problem. 

And now, for the bad news. I can't inform you about the price of Greeting Card Creator, nor can I tell you where to find it. After several attempts to locate it at the local software stores, online stores, and even ArcSoft's own Website, it was nowhere to be found! I e-mailed ArcSoft, and was informed that Greeting Card Creator has not even been released yet! Look for it around the month of November. ArcSoft declined to give me the system requirements, software specifics or suggested retail pricing. I guess it has enough confidence in the program that it doesn't have to let us reviewers know anything about the product. Tech support and customer service is available by calling 510-440-9901 (Monday-Friday 8:30am-5:30pm PST) Fax: 510-440-1270 

Even so, I would definitely recommend this nifty little piece of software. ArcSoft's Greeting Card Creator is still a nice and quick way to make that specialized card in a pinch, even for us desktop publishing geeks. So be patient my graphics gurus…November is right around the corner!

ArcSoft, Inc.
46601 Fremont Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94538.

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