capsule review

Corel Digital Studio 2010

At a Glance
  • Corel Digital Studio 2010

    PCWorld Rating

As a longtime user of Corel's Paint Shop Pro, I had high hopes for Digital Studio 2010 ($100, as of 9/20/09), a suite of applications designed to give novice users basic photo and video editing features, plus the ability to organize large media libraries, produce photo projects like calendars and greeting cards, and generate videos suitable for upload to YouTube or for burning to a DVD. While I can see the appeal of both its broad feature set and its clean, abbreviated user interface (intermediate-level tools and tweaks are just a mouse-click away in a sidebar menu), I found that the software didn't work particularly well.

The photo and video editing applications are straightforward enough. Lining the top of the window in the photo editing utility are icons that invoke an automatic picture-cleanup macro, plus basic tools for cropping and for adjusting contrast, color saturation, poor lighting, and red-eye problems. In the video editing tool, a timeline along the bottom displays thumbnails of still images pulled from the video's frames; you can put in music and do basic editing, including adding text and credits. Along the right edge, in both applications, a more-detailed set of menus let you make more-specific adjustments. But just getting into the editing apps was a chore: I had to first permit the program to find, index, and generate a metadata database entry for all the photos and/or videos that I wanted to work with--a slow process.

The DVD Factory program lets you burn your produced videos to a recordable DVD, complete with custom on-screen menus. And the Corel WinDVD player, in theory, can play back files in most video formats or discs. I found that it typically played XviD-encoded AVI files both upside down and reversed left-to-right, so watching these files play was like watching TV while hanging upside down looking at the screen in a mirror.

The suite's stated minimum system requirements--a dual-core CPU, 2GB of RAM, a 256MB graphics board--far exceed what I would expect to need for a low- to intermediate-level media suite. I tested Digital Studio on both a very high end workstation and a four-year-old homebuilt computer, and, oddly enough, it was more responsive on the latter (the older PC), though I wasn't thrilled with the performance on either machine.

All in all, Corel Digital Studio 2010 left me disappointed and frustrated.

--Andrew Brandt

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Pros

    • An interesting combination of tools
    • Streamlined user interface

    Cons

    • Bogs down on all but the most high end PCs
    • Performs a lot of functions, but doesn't excel
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