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MGI PhotoSuite 8.0 opening screen

MGI PhotoSuite III, Platinum Edition

Digital photo manipulation for "just plain folks"

MGI software has been positively tearing up the affordable digital photo manipulation software market over the past few years, and with its latest PhotoSuite product it gives the "ordinary consumer" more power, flexibilty, and fun, than ever before.

MGI says the application is aimed at novices and experts alike, but it's newcomers (or people who can't be bothered learning the likes of PhotoPaint or PhotoShop) who'll most benefit from its streamlined interface and wealth of easy to use features.

Sure, you can do familiar things like easily take redeye out of photos (we need something that'll do this in real life, too!), remove scratches and mess around with the colors and brightness, but PhotoSuite III Platinum also lets you do neat stuff like stitch photos together, which is a nifty way to create your own panoramic images - or just fix up torn originals you've scanned into your PC.

There's also a new "PhotoTapestry" feature with which you can tile up to 1500 images, matching them by texture, shape, color, or whatever. The final result of such playing about can be quite neat, though I doubt this is why most people will buy the package.

The PhotoSuite interface is straightforward and very easy to use. Besides the usual "File, Edit, etc." menus you get a series of buttons that let you load (from hard disk, digital camera, or wherever), prepare (rotate and crop, touch up, add effects, etc.), compose (create a project like a layout, calendar, etc.), organize (sort your masterpieces into easy to find albums), share (send via e-mail, as web page, etc.), print and browse (related web links).

When you click on one of the above choices, a series of big, secondary buttons appears down the left side of the screen, offering you access to the various "subfeatures" where you wreak your virtual havoc (or work your virtual magic!) on your images. Another series of icons include undo/redo, zooms, pans, touchups, clones, etc.

In all, it's well thought out and works very well.

"Extras" include a second CD that includes 1200 templates as well as hundreds of "props" and fonts. You can use these to create such mundane things as business cards and stationery, or more fun stuff like family newsletters or what have you.

MGI got into this market at just the right time, before digital photography took off like it has over the past few years. This gave the company a chance to build its name and work out many "marriages of convenience" with hardware and software vendors that see versions of MGI applications bundled with other products.

Now the market has caught up, and MGI finds itself at the front of the wave, "virtually hanging ten" as it grows.

MGI is also trying to help spur the "digital VCR" market of tapeless TV recorders with its PureDIVA product.

Smart company, making what appear to be smart moves. It should be an interesting ride.


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January 31, 2006