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IntroductionThink back to the early days of computing, or to your earliest home PC memories. I had the privilege as a child of owning an Amstrad CPC-464, and I thought it was the bee's knees. A gray monitor with gray keyboard and integrated tape deck--woohoo! The classy green screen (GT65/66) and its awesome 576 KB of memory was just perfect for playing CodeMaster’s ingenious Dizzy series. The predictable but comforting blips and bleeps and the early technological-style "music" that was more robotic than R2D2 all contributed to a fantastic childhood computing experience.
But that was 20 years ago--nostalgia for the old technological-styled blips and bleeps is all well and good for a couple of minutes, but it wears off quickly. So I was very surprised to download CaptureEze Pro and discover a user interface that brought back that nostalgia--but not in a good way. [See image 1] If I were basing this review on just features alone, CaptureEze Pro would get top marks. However, the interface looks like it came in with the Iron Age with respect to color and buttons and overall appearance, and the two simply don't match.
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CaptureEze Pro screen capture software is laid out in a very simple but early technological style that wears off quicker than a promise from Mr. Bush. Immediately upon starting the program, irritating noises began to emerge from the dusty depths of my Altec Lansing 60w sound system.
After several minutes of letting my mouse run over the buttons so I could make a choo-choo train noise, I became bored and quickly searched for the "Sound Off" button (which, incidentally, is in the preferences section off the main window, just in case you need it).
Despite the simple and, if appearances don't count, easy-to-use user interface, I quickly began to appreciate which bit did what. Finding the screen capture bit is easy.
Overall, the features of the user interface are great, but its appearance is sadly lacking.
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Installation & SetupRating Download was fast but installation was faster, and set up was simple with no hitches on a dual-core 32-bit Vista machine.
Aside from the visual scare I received and the memory-jogging sounds CaptureEze started to make, I decided to give it a test run.
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Help & SupportRating My first task was to read the "help me" file. It took me several long seconds before I realized it had to be opened with either Microsoft Word or Adobe Reader--no nifty Notepad file for this baby.
I reviewed the contents of the "read me" file only to find no link anywhere to customer service; no telephone number, no email address, and not even the slightest hint that the people who had created this thing still existed, until I reviewed the User Agreement. That’s right, the information wasn’t included in the customer service tab, but at the very bottom of the end user license agreement in tiny tiny words, almost as though they wanted to hide. I cannot imagine why.
I did notice, however, that there was a handy little link for consumers to install the latest updates--guess where? Yes, that’s right, on the customer service tab, which took me to the website, where I could view the support options. Applications Technique, Inc., actually does provide 9-to-5 support via telephone or email, which I found oddly reassuring.
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PerformanceRating Although optimized for Windows XP, CaptureEze Pro ran very well on 32-bit Vista. There were no hitches or glitches during download, installation, setup, or general use of the software. Performance was nice and smooth and CaptureEze Pro used very little in the way of resources.
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Taking a screenshot with CaptureEze Pro is fairly easy. [See image 3] You can customize the key you want to use for the screen capture so it doesn’t interfere with any other shortcuts--a necessary feature, I think. However, when I decided to try out the screen-capture facility, I was very disappointed to see it take nearly ten seconds to go over my 22-inch screen and turn it into what looked like a photograph negative (I had to click somewhere onscreen to turn it back to normal color). I had imagined, somewhat foolishly perhaps, that the simple user interface and the speed with which CaptureEze moved through its screens would make for a fast capture, allowing me to take more than five screenshots per minute. This was not so."Capture and Auto-Print" is another surprisingly nifty little feature of CaptureEze Pro. It worked very well and even I could command it to do my bidding. It gives options for U.S. and European settings (which I thought were pretty good, as there are distinct differences most people don’t appreciate), so it saves work there. "Capture and Auto-Save" is compatible with a plethora of image formats, including JPG, GIF, BMP, LBM, MAC, PCX, PNT, PZI, and RLE.
Once you’ve captured the image, though, it’s amazingly easy to replace color and add filters, masks, shadows, frames, and a lot more. [See image 4] This little program is starting to look quite tasty, and I find myself beginning to appreciate why it takes so long to capture. I remind myself that CaptureEze Pro can take a full web page captures.
"Work with Existing Images" is another snappy little feature that allows you to play with images you already have rather than relying on the slow but steady screen capture. It is very easy to use the simple edit tools, convert images, or print. In fact, the amount of features CaptureEze Pro offers really is quite extensive.
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Price to ValueRating For just under $40, CaptureEze Pro is a good value for your money--provided you don't mind the sound effects. For what you get feature-wise, above and beyond its screen-capture capabilities, this software is worth it.
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Suggested FeaturesI'd like to see:
- A new look for the user interface.
- An upgrade for the customer service options (bring a button to the interface or something, as they're only visible when hunted for through the "read me" file).
- A faster sceen capture for those who need to do more than five per minute.
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ConclusionCaptureEze Pro is a nifty little piece of screen capture software, with surprisingly large capabilities. OK, so I don't like the look of the user interface, but for what this program does, I'd put up with the UI to use those features.
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