Sunday, March 1, 2009

Adobe’s CS4 Master Collection is the Full Monty


By David Gewirtz

Having all your dreams come true in the middle of a Thursday afternoon is a strange experience. It happened when I reached into my reviews in-box and pulled out Adobe's Creative Suite 4 Master Collection.

OK, maybe I should clarify that "all your dreams" thing. After all, I'm already married to my dream woman -- and we're probably not going to completely transform the financial world anytime soon. And as much as I might wish it, the global surface temperature probably won't drop 2.0 degrees this year. Nor, sadly enough, will we likely get to see a parka-clad Sarah Palin in an Alaskan spinoff episode of Surreal Life opposite Erik Estrada, Flavor Flav, Vern Troyer, and Mikey Teutul.

"If graphics is how you make your living, CS4 Master Collection is not just an essential tool, it's the essential tool."

From a professional perspective, though, where I use a whole lot of graphic software, getting the CS4 Master Collection is about as close to winning the lottery as it's likely to come.

Let's first discuss all that comes in this amazing package:

  • InDesign CS4: page layout
  • Photoshop CS4 Extended: digital image editing
  • Illustrator CS4: vector graphics editing
  • Acrobat 9 Pro: create PDFs
  • Flash CS4 Professional: create Flash animations
  • Dreamweaver CS4: create Web sites
  • Fireworks CS4: optimize Web graphics
  • Contribute CS4: upload Web content (without being a programmer)
  • After Effects CS4: special effects for video
  • Adobe Premiere Pro CS4: edit digital video
  • Soundbooth CS4: edit digital audio
  • Adobe OnLocation CS4: shoot video direct to disk
  • Encore CS4: produce video for DVD and Blu-ray
  • Adobe Bridge CS4: browse and manage your creative assets
  • Adobe Device Central CS4: preview and test mobile device content
  • Dynamic Link: eliminate intermediate rendering of video assets
  • Version Cue CS4: centrally manage shared projects

Can I have a "holy cow"? Like I said, this is an amazing package. The key reason you'd buy the Master Collection is to get everything you'll ever need, for one price. At list price, Master Collection is $2,499. Meanwhile Photoshop Extended alone is $999.

If you use even a few of the other Adobe products, you'll start to save a bundle -- probably about 60% off the amount you'd pay if you bought all the elements separately. In fact, the bottom line for this package is that for the price of a moderately powered computer (or a relatively anemic Macintosh), you can get yourself all the creative tools you'll ever need in one package.

What about Photoshop?

We don't have anywhere near the space in this article to review each product in CS4, but if you're reading Connected Photographer, you have a passing familiarity with each. Because most of you are most interested in Photoshop, I'll take a moment to list some improvements to CS4 over CS3.