I encountered no problems installing the program onto my test system and found the interface intuitive and easy to use. The interface is flexible and may be customized to suit your specific design needs. If you wish, for example, you may create separate workspaces as well as toolbars and palettes that relate to specific tasks, and save the configurations for later use. The documentation was well organized and helpful.
First-rate integration among the suite's programs lets you seamlessly work with the features of each. For example, when I used CorelDRAW to create a flier, I only had to click on an embedded bitmap image to bring up the editing tools in Corel PHOTO-PAINT in order to modify the digital picture. And when I returned to my flier, CorelDRAW displayed the final, adjusted digital image.
The program offers an assortment of handy templates, fonts and attractive clip art for use in designs, as well as educational materials, including a video training CD and tutorials. Powerful utilities include CorelTRACE, a tracing program that converts scanned or manually created bitmaps into vector images; Corel Capture, a screen capture program that converts images and onscreen video into files; Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications, an object-oriented programming language for creating macros that automate tasks and the Kodak Digital Science color management system.
Pricing and Availability
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12 is available at the suggested retail price of $399 for the full product, $179 for the upgrade product, and $99 for the education version. Corel offers a free trial version that may be downloaded from the company's site.
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12 requires Windows 2000, Windows XP or Windows Tablet PC Edition; a Pentium II, 200 MHz or greater; 128 MB RAM (256 MB or more recommended); 250 MB hard disk space and a 1024 x 768 resolution monitor.
At press time, Corel was making changes to its customer support program that will take effect on March 1, 2004. Registered CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12 customers receive Classic technical support that consists of unlimited free 24/7 e-mail and knowledge base warranty service. Corel will no longer offer free phone support to customers.
Phone-based technical support will be offered for a fee ($2 a minute, first three minutes free; $25 per incident; or $149 or $299 annually for unlimited support). Paid technical support calls are offered via a toll-free line. Premium support is a paid-for subscription-based or contractual high-level technical support offered to medium and large businesses.
When it comes to creating logos, advertisements, technical drawings and illustrations, as well as work with digital photographs and Web-based graphics, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12 offers a wealth of design tools for designers and graphics professionals. Business-oriented users, on the other hand, will find Microsoft Publisher, and even more basic, Broderbund's PrintMaster, easier to use but with far less power. And if you're looking for a cost-effective alternative to Adobe's expensive offerings, you won't go wrong with CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12.
Over the last ten years, Wayne Kawamoto has written over 800 articles, columns, and reviews about computers, new technologies, the Internet, and small businesses. Wayne has alos published three books about upgrading PCs, building office networks, and effectively using and troubleshooting notebook computers. He may be contacted through his Web site at www.waynewrite.com.
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