Adobe Creative Suite 4

Adobe’s Creative Suite is a collection of content creation and manipulation software and is now in its fourth iteration

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Adobe Creative Suite 4
By  Jason Saundalkar Published  March 24, 2009

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Key Specs

HD space: 9.3GB
Licence: 1
Memory: 1GB
Number of users: 1
OS: Windows Vista SP1

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Adobe’s Creative Suite is a collection of content creation and manipulation software and is now in its fourth iteration. The version on test here is the Design Premium edition and includes InDesign, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Flash Professional, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Acrobat 9 Pro, Bridge, Device Central and Version Cue.

Installing CS4 Design Premium is fairly simple and though there is product activation involved, what really lengthens the process is the sheer amount of data that has to be installed to your hard drive. In all the process took 19 minutes to complete and our hard drive was down on storage capacity by nearly 9.5Gbytes.

Beyond its healthy appetite for space, you’ll need a quick CPU, a decent amount of memory and a capable graphics card to really take advantage of the new software. One immediate advantage here is that some of the CS4 apps -such as Photoshop - are designed with multi-core processors and 64-bit operating systems in mind. As a result these apps should be far quicker to work with when it comes to tackling massive files.

Each of the apps included in this bundle sports a new and, we’re glad to say, improved interface. The older versions of Photoshop or InDesign were far from tricky to use but Adobe has managed to freshen and simplify this further. At the same time, if you were a hardcore user of any one of these apps, the new changes aren’t going to take long to get used to. As a result, you’re likely not to lose any real productivity time if you upgrade from an older version to CS4. Great stuff.

One feature that will no doubt help boost productivity and simplify workflow is the new tabbed documents support; now when you open multiple files – be it in InDesign, Photoshop or Illustrator – the documents will each open in a new tab automatically. This is very similar to the tabbed browsing experience offered by Internet Explorer and Firefox and saves you from having to minimise and juggle documents.

Another very useful feature that Adobe has added to Photoshop is the ‘Content-Aware Scaling’ tool. This does just what its name suggests in that with this, you can resize an image without worrying about the content becoming stretched or squashed. Loading a couple of pictures into Photoshop, this tool worked a treat. In our first photograph, we resized an image horizontally and pleasingly, the people in the photo retained their proportions, as did trees and other background images. With the second shot, we were able to resize an image vertically without added a few inches or completely ruining the person’s vertical proportions. A very useful tool then but it does have limits in that distortion does creep in if you’re going for serious shrinking or enlarging.

For: 64-bit support, optimised for multi-core CPUs, intuitive interface, Photoshop's Content-Aware scaling works a treat.
Against: Package is a tad expensive.

Verdict: Although CS4 Design Premium commands a mighty outlay, the improvements to the interface, coupled with improved hardware support and a long list of features make it worth its price.

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