Corel CorelDraw Graphics Suite X3
- Ease of use, Accuracy, Speed
- No Page layout program, Lacks features seen in competitors
CorelDraw Graphics Suite X3 is neither as complete nor as powerful as Adobe's Creative Suite 2.0, but graphic designers on a budget who don't need web design or layout applications would do well to consider this. X3 is a realistic option for professionals, but its real value remains as an easy-to-use application for business users. As such, it's certainly worth the asking price.
Price$ 749.00 (AUD)
Best Deals (Selling at 1 store)
CorelDraw Graphics Suite has spent the past few years overshadowed by more fashionable alternatives. But the design landscape changes quickly. With Adobe swallowing Macromedia, the oddly named Graphics Suite X3 has suddenly become the only serious alternative to Adobe's Creative Suite 2.0. The good news is that X3 more than lives up to its new responsibilities. Its main components remain the venerable CorelDraw, a line-drawing application, and Photo-Paint, a bitmap editor. Surprisingly, a third application, CorelRave, which created Flash-compatible animations in version 12.0, has vanished completely. Dockers strike Both Draw and Photo-Paint are simple enough for inexperienced users to get to grips with, thanks in part to a logical, uncluttered interface. Easily accessible palettes, called 'dockers', populate a thin bar at the side of the screen, using the space intelligently. Corel's selection of bundled clip art, templates and fonts is equally useful in helping designers with limited experience quickly create professional-looking illustrations.
Ease of use is further enhanced in X3 through a contextual Hints docker that displays information about the currently selected tool. For example, if you have Draw's Pick tool active, the Hints pane explains how to move, scale and stretch objects. It's both unobtrusive and helpful. The program - which is now 20 years old - has long featured powerful but unheralded functions, among them a criminally underrated barcode-creation tool. X3 adds capabilities that address some of the program's weak points.
The biggest of these is a much-improved bitmap-to-vector conversion tool (see Tracing Draw's future, below), which is at least on a par with the equivalent feature in rival program Illustrator. Other missing features make a welcome appearance: at long last Draw has a rudimentary bevel tool, while a Fillet/Scalpel/Chamfer tool that rounds and adjusts corners will appeal to technical illustrators.
There's also a handy docker that allows you to create multiple instances of an object, while changing its horizontal and vertical offset. Dockers are an efficient way of storing palettes, but they have one weakness: no real-time preview of their effects. As it stands, you have to click Apply to see changes, which is awkward if you're repeating changes.
Another, clever arrival is Smart Fill, which lets you apply colour fills directly to overlapping areas of objects. Draw detects the edges and creates a closed path so that it treats the overlap as a single object.
Although Corel owns the capable Ventura, it doesn't include a page-layout program with this suite. But Draw and Photo-Paint have both vastly improved the way they work with text. Some are simple enhancements, including better handling of text on paths and the ability to add formatting code, such as a non-breaking space, to text.
More significant is the way the Paragraph Formatting docker allows you to align and add drop-caps to text, while the Character Formatting tool, available in both programs, lets you kern and add character effects, such as uppercase and underline. Hopefully the next version will combine these two dockers, but at least Draw - which, unlike Illustrator, supports multiple-page layouts - now offers a feasible way to create text-heavy documents.
The Image Adjustment Lab, also available in CorelDraw, looks less impressive to begin with. Its main window provides a single place to correct colour and tone. What sets it apart is the way you can create snapshots of adjustments and store them as thumbnails at the bottom of the window, then switch between them for comparison purposes.
Aside from clip-art and fonts, the suite's bundled extras are of variable quality. Capture X3 is a workmanlike but no longer cutting-edge screen-capture utility. The welcome inclusion of Pixmantec RawShooter Essentials, an application to import and process RAW images, is tempered by one question: why isn't the ability to open RAW files better integrated?
PowerTrace, which replaces the standalone Corel Trace which appeared in version 12.0 of the Graphics Suite, works inside CorelDraw. It's fast, customisable and capable of producing markedly better results than its predecessor.
From the Trace Bitmap menu option you can choose a variety of conversion options, from a low-accuracy quick scan to a high-quality image if the source material is good enough.
As the bitmap is traced, the application builds a colour palette for the resulting vector illustration. Because PowerTrace makes it easy to reduce the number of colours in the palette or change those colours, you can produce dramatic vector images from otherwise ordinary bitmaps. Fortunately, PowerTrace's features don't come at the expense of speed. Scanning and converting a high-res image took only a few seconds on a mid-range PC, yet produced results that at first glance lost nothing of the original's detail.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Apple MacBook (early 2015) review: Almost a game changer
- 2 Microsoft Surface 3 Windows 8.1 tablet
- 3 HP Spectre x360 convertible laptop
- 4 Dell XPS 13 laptop (early 2015 model)
- 5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 compact camera
Join the PC World newsletter!
Best Deals on GoodGearGuide
Latest News Articles
- Microsoft tightens Windows 10's Secure Boot screws: Where does that leave Linux?
- Microsoft prepares Windows 10 for panoply of sensors
- Microsoft's Satya Nadella is picking March Madness winners better than Bing
- Twitter tests videos that play automatically
- Microsoft to support 8K video resolutions with Windows 10
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.