When you are ready to purchase the most recent release of your graphic design or desktop publishing application to get the latest and greatest tools, make sure you know what you're paying for. We've taken a look at some of the most popular titles and provided a list of reviews from around the Web. Before you head off to the computer store, find out if the upgrade is worth the price or whether you might want to wait until the next version.
Adobe Acrobat 6(designer-info.com)
A major overhaul of the creation and review of PDF files and new high-end design capabilities add to Acrobat's existing strengths.
Adobe Creative Suite CS4(macworld.com)
"Big" doesn't quite cut it when it comes to describing the size and scope of Adobe's Creative Suite 4 updates. With CS4, Adobe is updating its entire roster of high-end applications for print, Web, and video pros - 13 apps in all, not to mention 14 integrated technologies and seven services. It's a massive undertaking on Adobe's part - and chronicling all these changes is almost as demanding.
One of the biggest changes users will notice right away is the new tabbed interface for applications in CS4. Adobe has given all of its applications the ability to use tabs, so you can have multiple tabs open at the same time, but still be in one window.
Files and objects can be shared across tabs by clicking and dragging them and holding them on a new tab. Of course, if you prefer the multiple window interface of the old Adobe products, you can still use that too.
Adobe Dreamweaver CS4(macworld.com)
Adobe Dreamweaver has a couple of interesting new features in this update, highlighted by the addition of Live View. This new view allows designers to see what their layout will look like under real-world browser conditions
Adobe Fireworks CS4(macworld.com)
Fireworks is a graphics design tool used to aid in building and cutting up Web sites. According to Adobe, Fireworks CS4 features faster document opening and saving times when using large files.
Adobe Flash CS4(macworld.com)
Perhaps the biggest change in Flash CS4 is the tight integration with other applications in the Creative Suite.
Adobe Illustrator CS4(macworld.com)
Among the applications updated in Adobe's Creative Suite 4 is Illustrator, the company's oldest software application. While a lot of effort was put into further integration between Illustrator and the other CS4 apps, Adobe also focused on several new features for the latest version of its illustration application.
Adobe InDesign CS4(macworld.com)
The newest version of InDesign is a nice update, but not an essential one. Much of what's new in this sixth version of the page-layout program is under the hood, with new underlying file formats based on the XML standard and programming hooks that over time should make it easier to use InDesign files and functionality in automated publishing environments. But those under-the-hood enhancements won't do anything for today's designers, so they're not reasons to get excited about the new version.
Adobe Photoshop CS4(macworld.com)
Photoshop CS4, Adobe's flagship product, has been updated as part of the release of Creative Suite 4. The latest versions of Photoshop and Photoshop Extended offer a variety of new features aimed at helping users get the most from everything, whether it's 3-D imaging or traditional image editing.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0(macworld.com)
Those who have Photoshop experience may just conclude that Elements 2.0 has all the digital-imaging power they need, at a much more affordable price.
CorelDraw Graphics Suite X4(about.com)
The CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X4 is a value leader, providing capable, professional tools for just about any graphics task. The Suite includes CorelDRAW for vector-based drawing and page layout, PHOTO-PAINT for image editing and photo retouching, and several supporting utilities. While Graphics Suite X3 was a significant upgrade, going to X4 from X3 is a more evolutionary step and users will have to decide if the (primarily page layout oriented) new features will impact their workflow significantly.
CorelDraw Graphics Suite X4 Upgrade Matrix (PDF)Download this PDF to compare this to previous versions of the Graphics Suite.
Microsoft Office 2008(amazon.com)
The latest version of the industry standard for productivity software on the Macintosh platform, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac is more powerful and easier to use. Office 2008 combines Microsoft Word for Mac, Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac, Microsoft Excel for Mac, Microsoft Entourage for Mac, and Microsoft Messenger for Mac and lets you easily create high-impact documents and seamlessly share your ideas with others, whether they are on the Mac or Windows platform.
Interface updates make the program easier and more streamlined to use; easier document sharing; new hanging-characters feature.
Interface changes are only partial; few brand-new features; new features are of limited utility for most users.