You've retired your old Kodak Carousel, but you still want to create slide shows that you can easily share with family, friends, or clients via a PC or television. Photodex's specialized utility ProShow Gold is up to the task, as it offers a broader range of tools for making custom digital slide shows (for output to CD or DVD) than do other applications with slide-show creation capabilities.
I tried a shipping version of the latest iteration, the US$70 ProShow Gold 3.0. It adds a host of enhancements over the last version I reviewed (2.6), beginning with the startup screen, which walks newcomers through setting up projects. Given the complexity of the program, I applaud anything that makes it easier to use; however, I would have preferred to see an optional project-oriented wizard to help me on the right workflow path. Beyond this addition, the interface has changed little.
ProShow Gold gives you the tools to craft professional-looking slide shows, going beyond the comparatively rudimentary controls of applications that do not focus exclusively on the task. You're in the driver's seat, creatively: You can drill down to adjust minutiae such as captions and transitions for individual photographs, for example, and you can seamlessly intermix images with video clips in a single slide show by using a drag-and-drop timeline. Among the slew of new features are enhanced editing tools (including image and video cropping and red-eye removal for photos), animated caption effects, motion effects (such as panning through, zooming in, or rotating a given image) that you can apply to a specific image or video, and improved tools for synchronizing audio with images.
In addition to existing support for output to (dual- and single-layer) DVDs, CDs, VCDs, SVDs, Web pages, and self-executable files, this version brings the ability to output to the YouTube-friendly Flash Video (FLV) format, as well as to the Windows Media Video and QuickTime formats. Unfortunately, it will not output to Blu-ray Disc -- an oversight the company expects to correct in future updates.
If you're serious about generating photo/video slide shows, ProShow Gold 3.0 remains the app to beat. It's not the right software if you just want to create a quick-and-dirty slide show with little creative input; but if you value control over your creative work, this upgrade is worthwhile.