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Software Review of:
PrintMaster
Platinum 12

 

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William Hunsicker is a retired computer scientist. He has been a member of Alamo PC since 1994.

From the November, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

PrintMaster is intended to help you blend text and images into exciting visual projects. Whether you are designing a personalized greeting card, an invitation, a school project, a brochure or a Web page, PrintMaster has templates and tools to speed your creation. 

This version of PrintMaster provides lots of ready-made templates pre-formatted with columns of text, headings, and graphics. Design your own or simply choose a project style you like, and then replace the sample words and graphics with your own. Their newsletter templates are really ideal for quickly creating newsletters, and other multi-page documents for personal or professional use. A really nice advanced feature I discovered includes creating a master page template of your own for your newsletter so you can maintain a consistent look and feel across multiple issues.

Earlier versions of PrintMaster were rather glichy and the controls were often obscure and difficult to find. Some previous versions had so many problems, they would cause my system to crash. So, although, my wife has used PrintMaster for a number of years, I have in the past, refused to load it on our main machine. 

Platinum 12 has a much-improved API and the glitches all seem to have been fixed! During my testing it was very stable in both Windows 98se and Windows XP. It even accessed files across our local net without a hitch. Broderbund has done a lot of quality work in order to clean up this software and make it user-friendly. You can even turn off the annoying Flash screen at the beginning. I highly recommend whether you are a veteran PrintMaster user or just a first timer — get the Platinum 12 version. The new version is smooth, clean, glitch less and also comes with over 230,000 images, more than 14,000 project templates and numerous new features.

In fact, there are too many new features to list. These additions include Photo Image Repair and Quick Fix tools which have the kind of smooth, clean “touch and feel” you might expect from a major image software package like PhotoSuite or PhotoShop. The first new feature, however, that caught my wife’s eye was the upgrade to a single DVD for an additional $9.99. She spotted that even before we had finished opening the box. We called and ordered the DVD upgrade the next day. It arrived 4 days later from Broderbund.

Another new feature is the ability to enhance your projects with both sound and video. Users can quickly create a multimedia birthday (or any other occasion) card and send it electronically while including sound and/or video. You can use your own video clips and WAV files or simply select from what is provided. Also new with this version are the Decorative Letters and Numbers which can really dress up a project. 

The Web page development capabilities have been greatly enhanced. With PrintMaster Platinum 12 you can create your own Ready-Made or Brand New Web Pages (or site) without having to learn HTML! Just build the Web project the way you want, then PrintMaster will convert the Web Project to HTML pages for you. You can include graphics, text, hyperlinks, animated graphics, and even sound and video on your web pages. You customize your Web project by modifying, or adding text, photos, borders, graphics, and pages just as you would in any PrintMaster project. You can also add hyperlinks, hotspots or, animated graphics from the Art Gallery. Then, when you are done, simply click on “Finish Project” (left side of screen) and select from six options (Save, Print, Professionally Print, E-mail as attachment, Publish Locally, or Publish to Web).

For me one of the slickest new features was the ability to define and save new form shapes/sizes. You can even define round CD label forms for that pack of CD labels you bought that doesn’t work in your current CD Labeling software!

But, best of all, are the excellent tutorials provided. I found them both easy to use and very informative. And PrintMaster users that have a DVD reader on their system can eliminate CD swapping forever while saving substantial disk space. 

The only imperfection I though I found had to do with some jumpy video tutorial sound that after further research turned out to be caused by a slow hard drive in my wife’s system — not a software problem at all. Needless to say she is now the owner of a brand new Lite On DVD reader too. The install time from DVD on a 1.6 MHz Athlon was a total of 6.5 minutes. When re-installing from DVD, I chose the minimum install (327 MB) and ran direct from the DVD — Result: very smooth video tutorials. 

PrintMaster Platinum 12 sells on Amazon for $29.99 with a $9.99 DVD upgrade option inside. Best Buy has it already on DVD for $39.99.

Equipment required
Operating System (OS) For Windows XP: CPU: Pentium II 300 MHz or faster, RAM: 128 MB RAM or for Windows 95/98/2000/Me or Windows NT 4.0: CPU: 166 MHz Pentium processor or faster, RAM: 64MB of RAM. Hard Drive: Advertised 555 MB minimum hard disk space (Actual - Minimum required 327 MB and Full used 635MB on my machine), Video: 800x600 minimum display, 16-bit color, Printer: Works with most Windows compatible printers.

Vendor information
Broderbund publishes and distributes consumer software under brands such as The Print Shop, PrintMaster, 3D Home Architect, and Family Tree Maker. They can be contacted at www.broderbund.com on the Web; or at Broderbund LLC, 1 Martha's Way, Hiawatha, IA 52233; Tel: (319) 395-9626; Fax: (319) 395-0217.


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