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IntroductionCorel's first claim to fame came decades ago with its easy-to-use Corel Draw software. The company continues its tradition of creating simple, accessible creativity tools with one of its newer offerings, Corel Photo Album. Version 6 of Corel Photo Album lets you view, categorize, and do minor touchups to your photographs. This program's simple user interface, use of wizards, and extensive how-to guides make it an ideal product for people who have little computer experience.
The first time you fire up Photo Album, it'll ask if you would like the program to find all of your photos on your computer and collate them. This feature is great if you've never had a system for organizing your photographs--Photo Album manages them for you. Once it finds all of your photographs, you can categorize them in a variety of ways, such as by date, keywords, favorites folder, collections, or by recent downloads. In the course of my review of this software, I discovered how easy it is to do small things such as cropping a photograph. Cropping removes parts of the photo, such as one or both sides, giving it a different aspect ratio. (Cropping can also be called "trimming.") Once you hit the crop button, a small selection window pops up with the dimension of the photograph you are cropping. You can also choose the size of the photo. Some standard sizes are included such as 8 x 10, 4 x 6, 5 x 7, a square, APS C, APS H, APS P sizes, and so on. Choosing these predefined sizes makes life much easier if you're going to send the photos out for printing. Photo Album also includes the ability to create projects with your photographs. You can create CD labels, e-cards, calendars, collages, certificates, and even a magazine with your photos. And the software includes an easy-to-use wizard that will help guide you through these projects. Sharing your photos with your friends online is a snap with Photo Album. The software includes many different web templates, from a basic slideshow to a web page that contains captions or short descriptions of your photos to send to your friends. Another cool feature allows for automatic tracking; Corel calls it PhotoSafe. This feature tracks which photos that have been burned to a CD and which haven't. Additionally, it'll automatically remind you to back up your photographs. All in all, Corel Photo Album 6 is the perfect product for people who are new to using their digital camera and want an easy way to view, organize, and share their photos with their friends and family.
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Price to ValueRating What's Hot: Corel Photo Album 6 is very reasonably priced for what you get: $29 for the full version.
What's Not: Although Corel Photo Album 6 is rich in features, some competing products in the photo organizing sector have more powerful features at a similar price point.
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Installation & SetupRating What's Hot: Installation of Corel Photo Album 6 was straightforward, with one little hitch: the install asked if I wanted to install the Yahoo Toolbar. It does give you the choice of saying no, but I personally don't like third-party vendors bundling their products with software that I paid for.
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User InterfaceRating What's Hot: Corel Photo Album 6's user interface is extremely well thought out. All buttons and tabs are clearly labelled with little icons illustrating what the buttons do. The layout is also clean and not cluttered with too many extra buttons that would make the user frustrated while trying to manage their photos.
What's Not: Although the user interface is easy to use, there seems to be a lot of empty space. Perhaps a few more options or buttons could make the interface a bit more useful: Sometimes basic can be too basic. Other than that, Corel Photo Album 6 really hits the mark!
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Product FeaturesRating What's Hot: A new feature to version 6 of Corel Photo Album is the Photo Download, which automatically downloads the photos from your camera or memory card and rotates them for you. Photo Download also includes settings that let you delete your images from the camera or memory card, leaving you ready for the next time you go out and shoot. Another cool aspect of Photo Download is that it can create a slideshow from the downloaded photos immediately. This is very cool if you're in a hurry to show off your photos to your friends and family.The software's photo editing tools do what they're advertised to do. The one-click Quick Fix lets you auto-correct the color, contrast, and brightness of your images. Additional editing features include a panorama stitching tool (which was fun to use), cropping, a Thinify tool that makes your object or subject "thinner," and black and white or sepia options.Photo Album is feature-packed with different methods of organizing and categorizing your photographs. I really liked the project-creation wizards that are included. Not only was I able to create calendars, collages and additional projects, but each project has many different layouts to choose from.
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PerformanceRating What's Hot: Corel Photo Album 6 runs smoothly. In the five days I tested the software I didn't run into any performance issues and the software never froze up on me.Photo Album will automatically back up its database after x number of times you run the program. This is a nice feature, as you don't want the program to back up every time you run it, but allows you to control when to run a backup. Photo Album also allows you to choose to which directory you want to back up the database, which could be a lifesaver if you back up to another hard drive and your main hard drive fails.
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Security & PrivacyRating What's Not: This software doesn't offer any security features, so, for example, you won't have the ability to secure your photos or to limit access to them.
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Help & SupportRating What's Hot: Photo Album's guide to getting started and its use of wizards make this a very user-friendly product. The use of animation and the automation links in the getting started guide allow first-time users to actually see their own photos being organized. The help files are also easy to navigate and offer clear instructions for new users. Photographic terms are also described in the help files, just in case a new user doesn't understand what some of the features do. Corel really did a nice job with the help and support functions in this program.
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Suggested FeaturesThe user interface seems a bit sparse, and as users like having more things they can do, how about adding a few more features?
Another welcome addition would be compatibility with more image formats.
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ConclusionCorel Photo Album 6 was very refreshing to use, from its easy installation process to its excellent array of features for viewing, searching, sharing, backing up, and posting photos online. The user interface is clear, with buttons and options laid out in an organized fashion. The software's features for minor touch-up of photos, such as its basic red-eye remover, are easy to use, and Quick Fixes automatically fix basic photo problems with a single mouse click. A big plus for me: Corel Photo Album 6's feature for automatically tracking photographs that are already backed up onto a CD, and for tracking those that haven't been backed up yet. I would recommend this software for users who have no computing or digital camera experience.
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Related ProductsMicrosoft Digital Image Pro, ACDSee Photo Manager