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Photodex CompuPic Standard - Doesn't Impress

written by: Marshall Harrison•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 9/19/2008
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Photodex CompuPic Standard is for anyone who has batches of digital images cluttering up their hard drives. CompuPic Standard gives you the means to organize those images, as well as clean them up and distribute them to your friends.

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    Introduction

    Photodex CompuPic Standard combines an image organizer and an image editor. It does a decent job of allowing the user to catalog images and do some minor editing. If you need to get to your images in a hurry and you are looking for a reasonably priced software package to do this, CompuPic Standard will fill that need.

    CompuPic Standard also has tools to create a slideshow and what it calls a Maxi-Show, which is a slideshow that displays multiple images on the screen at once. It comes with a large repertoire of transitions (over 100) that allow you to construct your slideshows as you see fit. Steps such as renaming your images, converting them, or changing their timestamps can all be done in batch mode. Printing is also very easy, but you don't get a lot of control over printing. Some operations, such as creating a picture index, can be done either to a printer or to a file. CompuPic Standard will even do this in the background while you keep working

    Since I’ll be reviewing CompuPic Standard and a few other imaging packages, I needed a standard way of testing them. What I came up with was a list of problems that normal users may find in their images. With that in mind, I took some pictures that had problems and proceeded to try and fix the images. I’ll be using this same process (with the same images) for all of the reviews.

    One last thing, the review will not be a tutorial. I’m not going to give you step-by-step instructions on how to fix these problems or how to organize your images. Fixing up images as well as how you organize them is more of a personal thing, therefore, I’ll leave that to you. Instead, I’ll just tell you if I was able to fix them and how hard or time-consuming the process was. I’ve limited myself to spending no more than 15 to 20 minutes solving a problem. I’m sure, given enough time, that all of the imaging packages could solve these image problems, but I’m too lazy to spend that much time, and I don’t think most users will spend any more time than that either. As for organizing images, I’ll tell you my likes and dislikes and I’ll also note if there are any problems with organizing the images.

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    Performance

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    I saw no performance issues. I ran Photodex CompuPic Standard under Microsoft Vista on a box that has 3 GB of memory. Speed was no issue at all. CompuPic Standard loaded quickly and the entire image-editing process was fast and smooth. CompuPic Standard allows you to quickly review your images full-screen (at 62 percent on my monitor) and you can move through the images by simply rolling your mouse wheel. I was amazed at how fast and smoothly the images were displayed. I’m not sure if it is using some kind of caching algorithm or what, but it was a joy using this feature. The function of the mouse wheel can be quickly changed so that it zooms the image in or out (Alt-Z).

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    Price to Value

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    For the $40 that CompuPic Standard costs, you can’t go wrong. It allows you to organize and catalog your images and it does it in a way that is very intuitive. It allows you to correct, enhance, and print or distribute your images quickly and easily. For the price, I don’t think you can go wrong with CompuPic Standard if you are looking for a way to organize and share your images.

    What's Not: 
    I downloaded CompuPic Standard for this review and I was disappointed that I didn’t have a manual. I know that is common. I don’t know if one would be provided if you were to buy CompuPic Standard from your local retailer.
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    Installation & Setup

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    The installation of Photodex CompuPic Standard was pretty straightforward. It was a simple 3 MB download of CompuPic Standard from their website and the installation was a piece of cake. I just double-clicked the executable file. There was nothing difficult about the whole process.

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    Help & Support

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    I did not try to call tech support as I really had no need to call them. However, I did make extensive use of the CompuPic Standard help files. The help files were very good but aggravated me in two key areas. First, there was no way to search them, or at least I couldn’t find a way of searching. This sometimes made getting help a little more difficult. The help contents were good but finding what you need wasn’t as easy as I would have liked. Secondly, the biggest problem I had was that once you open the help it wants to stay on top of things. This made it a little difficult to read the help and accomplish the editing at the same time. Luckily for me, I have dual monitors, so I just moved the help window to the other monitor, but I can see how this could be a frustration for some users. CompuPic Standard also allowed me to open as many help windows as I wanted to instead of just giving an open help window the focus. This isn’t the acceptable way for a Windows program to work.

    What's Not: 
    The non-standard way that the help works really distracted me from the content of the help files. Because of that, I didn't rate CompuPic Standard very highly in this category. The help was just too frustrating to use.
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    User Interface

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 

    The user interface is very intuitive, though I did have some minor problems in a couple of areas. The biggest problem I had was with assigning images to categories. Once I had assigned an image to a category (i.e. family, pets, landscapes, etc.), it disappeared from the viewing area. This made it difficult to assign images to multiple categories. You have to assign an image to all of the categories it belongs in at once. After all of the images were assigned to categories, there was no way to see all of the images again without scrolling down the directory list and choosing the proper directory again. This was a real nuisance as the categories were part of the directory list and were at the top of the list. My image directory was way down the list, forcing me to scroll down. This was very frustrating and time-consuming.

    Now let’s take a look at how the interface is laid out on screen. When you first open the program, you get something that looks a lot like the regular Windows File Explorer. On the left is an area that contains your favorites at the top and below that is a list of categories and the directories on your hard drive. At the bottom of the left side is a preview window that will show the selected image. The middle and right-hand side of the screen is devoted to a list of the images in the selected directory. The list can be set to show details or thumbnail views of the images. At the top of the screen are the normal menu and quick access icons.

    If you double-click an image in the list view, you are presented with a view of the image that is almost full screen. There are only a menu and some small icons at the top. I should stop here and mention that CompuPic Standard is not multi-monitor aware. This view and the help windows open on the default monitor, even if you have the list view on a second monitor. Anyway, from this large view, you can quickly move from image to image using the mouse wheel. From here, you can zoom in on, edit, or crop the image, as well as adjust the exposure, fix red eye, or even delete or rename the image. This is probably the best part of the whole program, as you can quickly move through your images, processing them using the keyboard hot keys, the menus, or the icons at the top of the screen. While this is a very fast and intuitive way of processing your images, I was disappointed in the lack of tools (no tools for fixing blemishes, for example) and I didn’t like the way the auto exposure worked. I really like this concept, but I wish they would add more tools and give you more control.

    CompuPic Standard has lots of options for printing and viewing your images, and these tasks were easily accomplished, though I didn’t go into them too much. Why? Because I don’t have any need for slideshows and printing is very subjective, depending a whole lot on the printer you are using. It did seem limited in the ways you can print. For example, I couldn't find a way to print multiple images on a page.

    There were also several things you could do involving emailing and sharing under the Internet menu item. There was even a web page generator for creating thumbnail galleries, but it wouldn’t work. CompuPic Standard kept telling me the target disk was full even though I saw no way of selecting a target disk, and my hard drive had of 20 GB of free space.

    When all is said and done, the user interface is very easy to use and the tools are laid out logically and are easy to find. I found the interface very intuitive and easy to use, though I did find myself wishing for more functionality in the tools and an interface that is more like other Windows applications.



    What's Not: 
    In some areas the tools seemed incomplete, and in at least once case, the tool just would not work.
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    Images

    User Interface layout
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    Suggested Features

    I would like a view that shows all of my images regardless of the tag assigned. The help file really needs a search feature. It should be fixed so that you only open one instance of the help and it doesn’t stay on top of other windows.
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    Conclusion

    For the money, Photodex CompuPic Standard isn’t a bad package, but it leaves me unimpressed. I get the feeling I’m using some kind of shareware or a freeware. It's as though CompuPic Standard is trying to do too many things and it doesn’t do any of them very well. I am left with the feeling that the software is not finished. I have no problem with the feature scope (though I have no use for a lot of the features), but I do wish they would fix the rough edges.

    For example, I would like better facilities for cataloging my images. CompuPic does have the ability to categorize images, but I would like to see some improvement in that area. You can drag selected images to a category, but you can't drag a category to an image, which is something most other programs will allow you to do. Also, assigning images multiple tags was sometimes tricky, and viewing images in multiple categories created duplicate views when an image was in more than one category.

    I would also like to see more control over the image editing. For example, I didn’t find any way to straighten images that didn’t require extensive cropping, and I couldn't find a way to fix blemishes in an image. As for correcting exposure, there were too methods; one gave me too many options and the auto correct method made bad choices that seemed to lighten the images too much.

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    Related Products

    Microsoft's Digital Image Suite, ACDSee 9 Photo Manager, Corel Photo Album 6