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Review CornerSoftware
The Print Shop Deluxe 11
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
Ease of use, all-new tutorials for novices, and a healthy range of projects and templates make this package an excellent choice for a family’s printing and publishing needs.
Award
Ages: 9 and up  Subject: Utilities and Reference  Brand: The Learning Company/Broderbund
Review Sections: Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Design  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview

This versatile and essential software program should take care of many families’ basic design and print needs–from creating a report cover for a school project to producing a last-minute birthday card for a friend. The CD-ROM set is brimming with project starters and graphics that go above and beyond the standard greeting cards, calendars, letterheads, and banners we’ve come to expect from print programs. These basics are covered well. And, you’ll also find predesigned templates for creating photo albums, T-shirt transfers, fax cover sheets, gift tags and wrap, labels for things like bottles, CDs, and videos, and a whole lot more.

This is a well-organized program. Its main menu presents the broad categories of projects, filtered into those for business purposes and those with home and community themes. Selecting Home and Community, for example, will pull up a list of all of the project types (cards, banners, etc.) available for personal use.

Print Shop Deluxe 11 boasts an extremely user-friendly interface that should never intimidate novices. Let’s say you want to create a banner to welcome home mother and new baby from the hospital. You’ll start by selecting Home and Community, then Banners, a theme (in this case, Occasions), and then you’ll browse through the thumbnails. Selecting the Welcome Home Mother and Baby template reveals a Preview button. If you like what you see, you can click on the Matching Projects button, which shows Labels and Posters with the same theme and design. Once you make a selection, you are taken to the Design Center, where the banner can be tweaked and personalized to satisfaction.

Users can also start projects from scratch. The program provides access to 185,000+ images that can be inserted and manipulated. Users can also work with 3D headlines, plenty of fonts, and a variety of special effects, such as drop shadows and glows. Projects can be saved and viewed in a personal project gallery for future reference.

This program is well integrated with Expressit.com, where users can find additional art and projects, as well as help, tutorials, and community support, online. An online photo center is available here as well.

Those interested in creating basic Web pages can turn to the easy-to-use Web page templates, most of which have business themes. The Matching Projects feature makes it easy, for example, to create fax cover sheets, business cards, letterheads, and brochures that match the design of your Web site. Web site hosting with 11 MB of free space is offered for a limited time.

Special features include the abilities to store frequently used personal information and to browse projects by categories or to search by keyword with its excellent advanced search option. An address book and mail-merge feature facilitates bulk mailings, and the program’s event reminder is handy.

Work with photos is exceptionally easy with the included and integrated Print Shop Photo Pro Express software. This is a powerful and straightforward photo-editing program. Users can manipulate their photos in a variety of ways, play with them in the program’s Photo Novelties projects, organize them into digital photo albums, create photo collages, and more.

Coordinating sets are plentiful, and a Stationery Set Wizard makes it a snap to create sets of letterheads, fax cover sheets, and envelopes that match your business cards. Also new to this version are the Design Center and the ability to easily insert word processing files into projects. A custom/full install option allows users with lots of free hard-drive space to put more of the CD content onto their hard drives for extra convenience.

No matter how well a print shop is designed, the range of its options and functions is so vast that tutorials help open up possibilities even for veteran users. The new multimedia tutorials are an excellent add-on. Here, short instructional movies can be viewed at leisure, and step-by-step instructions can be printed. Besides the basics, tutorials cover the use of layers in projects and show how to lock layers of a design together. Online help resources are also available.

One of our complaints with the program has to do with the names of the project template thumbnails. Some of these are straightforward, for example, "Anniversary Postcard" or "Baby Update." However, others try too hard to be clever and some are downright cryptic. For example, an "I Love My Dog" poster is labeled "How Could You Not," and a thank-you card with a picture of a clown on it is labeled "I Will Make You Laugh" when "Thank You — Clown" would have saved everyone a little time. Another small criticism is that the program defaults to Business instead of Home themes, when this package seems most appropriate for home use. Small business owners will find some suitable projects in this package, but Print Shop Pro Publisher might be better suited to their needs.

After surviving the installation and the sizable hard-drive space requirements, users should generally be pleased with the program. Its main screen provides an easy, clean way to pick projects. The tutorials are helpful for novices, and they are useful as well for print shop veterans who may have overlooked some features and functions. Print Shop Deluxe Version 11 is well put together on the whole. We were especially pleased with the abilities to preview project templates and to show quickly the matching templates in other project categories.

Families who think they would be more inclined to use a print program for fun paper projects and crafts might consider PrintMaster Platinum 11, which is slightly less expensive and is geared more towards these creative crafts.

Technically Speaking
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98/2000/NT4, Pentium 133, 32 MB RAM, and 4X CD-ROM. Note that the program requires a whopping minimum of 490 MB of free hard-drive space.

Design
The interface is especially easy to understand, and the program is replete with tutorials and help functions that simplify its use even further. The graphics are well organized, and advanced search options are helpful. The disks come in a sleek CD wallet instead of a clunky jewel case.

Dollar Value
This program carries a suggested retail price of $50 U.S.

Released: 2001
Reviewed: May 2001