So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006
- Easy to Use, Good cataloguing and searching, Excellent look and feel.
- Image editing is cumbersome, No DVD output support
Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006 can be rather handy when organizing, editing and storing your photos and is a reasonable choice for amateur photographers
Price$ 169.95 (AUD)
If you are anything like us, chances are you have an overwhelming mountain of photos on the hard drive of your computer. With the prices of digital still camera constantly dropping and the quality of the image from those cameras dramatically increasing, the biggest problem people are having is in the realm of organization. Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006 has the answer with an all-in-one organization and editing suite. You can import pictures into the program, edit and enhance them and then throw them into a catalog complete with a star rating, keyword allocation and description.
Upon installation, Digital Image Suite scans the "My Pictures" folder and automatically catalogs whatever it finds using the Digital Image Library component of the program. While the focus is primarily on the "My Pictures" folder, the program can also be instructed to scan other directories on a PC too, if you have your images spread across your hard drive.
Image Suite is actually three programs, the Digital Image Library, Digital Image Editor and Photo Story 3.1. The library software is above-par and it is clear that quite a bit of effort has been made to make it look modern, attractive and slick. The photos are easy to access, label, group and search. Also, the animations while surfing between folders and the mouse over pop-up effects are very smooth and make the entire suite exude a sophisticated aesthetic.
We found that the cataloging was rather good and searching for photos was simple and easy to do with accurate search results. Naturally, the success of the searches is solely depending on the photos being correctly labeled when they are cataloged so if you don't make the effort to label your images properly you will probably still have a mountain of unorganized photos, even with this program.
The Digital image Editor program is the biggest let down for this suite. It is reasonable but not the simplest thing to use and fairly cumbersome. However, it does have a certain degree of hidden power, which becomes evident when converting a colour image to black and white. The Tone adjustment tools are very good and help to create high quality grayscale images. We found the Photoshop Elements 3.0 was far easier to use and more powerful.
The final program in the suite is Photo Story 3.1 and is used to create slideshows from your collection complete with narration. This program is very easy to use and is simply a matter of either selecting the photos you want to use or drag and dropping them into the timeline. Transitions and narration can then be added and then the entire project can be output to VCD. While most DVD players do support VCD discs, we would have liked the option to make DVD-5 or DVD-9 discs complete with menus. VCD seems to be an outdated format, especially when you consider that the cost of blank DVDs is so much cheaper these days.
Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006 can be rather handy when organizing, editing and storing your photos and with support for RAW format images from Nikon and Canon cameras, it is a reasonable choice for amateur photographers. However, if you are looking for something with a little more punch, Photoshop Elements 3.0 may be the program for you.
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