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Lunch » Tags » Software » Reviews » Corel Digital Studio 2010 » User review

Irritating, Obnoxious, Buggy, Simple, and Pushy

  • Oct 22, 2009
  • by
Rating:
-1
I decided to take extra time to review this product, because my immediate reaction to it was dislike. I got this product from the Amazon Vine program a month ago, and played around with it, and I immediately disliked it. I had a knee jerk reaction to write a 1-star review for it, and throw it in the trash. But, because software can be multi-layered, and sometimes if you are patient with it, and give it a chance, you can gel with it, and suddenly "get" it -- so I decided to give it a chance. Sadly, that did not happen in this case.

For those of you who do not like to read in-depth reviews, here is your executive software summary:

PROS:
1.) Simple & easy to use
2.) Relatively cheap

CONS:
1.) Annoying
2.) Intrusive
3.) Buggy (it crashed on me, several times)
4.) Cost Vs. Benefit does not justify cost
5.) Difficult to use for anyone who has any skill or training in any sort of more advanced software, at all (this includes: Microsoft Movie Maker, Microsoft Paint, Apple's iMovie, Apple's iPhoto, etc!)

OK, for everyone else not looking for an executive summary, read on.

***Feel free to skip this next section (encased in square brackets) if you do not care what my background is, or where my opinions or bias are coming from***

[Full Disclosure: I have a certain bias against this TYPE of software. I have no bias against Corel themselves or their products, but I generally do not like "dumbed down" software "for the masses." If a customer is going to shell out the money for software to edit photos and videos, and play them back etc., then the software SHOULD be easy to use, but the more advanced features should be AVAILABLE (maybe hidden, but accessible) for when they are READY for them. I *DO NOT* like it when software tries to do all of my thinking for me, and basically relegates me to the role of clicking the "yeah I like that" or "no I didn't like that" buttons. I am aware that there is a market out there for this type of software, but I am not in it.

Qualifications & Experience: I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science with a Minor in Information Security and Computer Forensics. I have extensive experience with: Nero Burning ROM Pro [v.8], Adobe Premiere 7 (and 3), Adobe Photoshop 7, Adobe Photoshop CS3 (full version), JASC Paint Shop Pro 8 (this was before Corel bought them out and started dumbing the software down), and Microsoft Movie Maker/Paint]

There are 4 main components to Corel Digital Studio 2010, and I am going to give each component a different star rating inside this overall review, and also review them individually. Overall, I stand by the 2-star review for the entire software package. However, if all you want this for is one of the components, then your mileage may vary.

Here is an additional "executive summary" of each component's individual stars I would give them, were I able to do so individually in this review process.

Corel PaintShop Photo Express 2010: 2 stars
Corel VideoStudio Express 2010: 1 stars
Corel DVD Factory 2010: 2.5 stars
Corel WinDVD 2010: 4 stars

I am going to review each component separately. But first, I want to talk about the install process, and features/bugs that the entire package have in common.

[Before I begin, the system this software was tested on has the following main components: Intel 945P LGA 775 Motherboard with an Intel Pentium 4 540J Prescott 800MHz FSB 1MB L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor with 4 GB of CORSAIR XMS 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM with an eVGA Geforce 7800GT GDDR3 PCI Express x16 graphics card. The system is running Windows XP Professional, 32-bit.]

Why have I labeled this software package, "irritating, obnoxious, buggy, and pushy?"

I have labeled it thus, mostly because of the decisions the PR and marketing and executive people made when they finalized this product for market (I guarantee you the software programmers did not dream these obnoxious features up on their own, they were forced to put them in, I am quite sure). The executives and powers that be at Corel decided that they were going to try to sneak a bunch of stuff by you, right off the bat during the installation process, then they decided to bother you every single time you ran the software after that, and if your security tries to override or block their obnoxious behavior (such as dialing home to check for updates even though you expressly told them not to do that during the install process), then sometimes their software will just flat out crash.

During the installation process, once you have entered the serial number, you will see an "install" screen, with an "install now" button (in bold) asking you to click it. It will be many people's instinct to immediate click that button. RESIST! The screen will have pre-selected where it thinks you are in the world (presumably to determine what file types and export formats to load), and you can install from this screen. However, if you do, you will be giving the program free rein to mess around with your system. The main installation screen has some carefully obscured/hidden tabs at the top. See those extra two tabs faded into the background? They are important! Unless you click on those faded tabs and change the default settings, be prepared for Corel's Digital Studio 2010 to hijack all of your video, image and audio file association settings, and to start annoying you with "update notices" (not that they stop anyway! -- more on that below) and installing software you didn't ask for. (I have included screen shots of this behavior in the "customer images" for this product, look for them above under the main product image.)

I unchecked ALL of the options, and then let the install complete. That was the irritating part. I could have forgiven them that, had that been the end of it. But it wasn't, and that is what led to the "obnoxious" label.

Here is a list of the most obnoxious things the software does across all of the programs:

1.) If you do not allow the software to associate itself with ALL of your video files, then the software WILL NOT allow you to associate JUST MTS/M2TS files with WinDVD using the standard Windows File Type associations wizard (at least, not in Windows XP Pro, 32-bit, maybe in other versions though?). So, if you want to view a raw AVCHD video file by itself, just to organize your files, or play back a video, and WinDVD 2010 is the only software you have capable of playing it (and you didn't let it associate itself with all of your video files upon install), expect to have to open the program first, wait for it to finish its EXTREMELY LONG start up procedures, and then wait for it to allow you to browse to and open the file. Instead of just being able to double click the file and then work on something else while it loads.

2.) The installation process will install (without you getting any say in the matter, what they call the "Corel Quick Start Guide" on their product review page here on Amazon, but they call their "Corel Quick Start Gadget" in the actual program menu. It is a little widget that loads on start up (slowing your start up down) which sits in the upper right corner of your screen, giving you hot links to the programs in the software package. You can close it down, and prevent it from loading again by right clicking on it, but it is still obnoxious).

3.) Even though I told it not to during installation, EVERY SINGLE TIME I load up one of the programs, my firewall immediately tells me the program is trying to get online and dial home (presumably to check for updates) -- I always forbid the programs access to the internet when the firewall asks me about them. The programs still load up (they don't wait for an answer from the attempted internet connection), but they are trying to get online anyway, every single time they launch. Speaking of program launches, all of their programs, without fail, take anywhere form 30-45 seconds to load up and actually respond to your mouse clicks and button presses. More on this below.

4.) When you close a program, an obnoxious little window will ALWAYS appear and tell you there are updates waiting to download and install (which is fascinating that it knows this, since it never got permission to go online and check) -- and sometimes when you close these little reminder windows, their software will hang (presumably because it is trying to do something online, which the firewall is preventing it form doing) and then crash. Yes, crash. I sent the little "report this crash to Microsoft" report and everything, TWICE!

5.) To add insult to injury, the software package comes loaded with a registration wizard which CANNOT BE TURNED OFF. You can either: register, or be reminded to register in 7 days. You cannot tell it to "never register" or "I have already registered, this is a re-install on a new computer." You can use complicated computer knowledge to override this behavior, but for normal users, you choice is: register, or be nagged forever.

6.) Finally, in the obnoxious list, the program strews icons for EVERY SINGLE ONE of the individual programs in the package across your desktop (again, without asking you -- they want to make SURE you can find your way back to their software!).

That list of obnoxious traits, right off the bat makes this a bad product in my eyes. Dear software company executives, this kind of behavior was obnoxious in the early 1990's, can you IMAGINE how sick of it we are in the late 2000's? KNOCK. IT. OFF!

But wait, it gets worse! Now let's talk about the programs themselves.

Like I said in my disclosure above, I am a heavy user of competitor products, and quite experienced with all of them, so I have a clear bias. Keep that in mind.

Before I get into the programs in specific, you should know one final complaint I have about all of them (yes, ALL of them). They. Are. SLOW! The programs refuse to let you just open a file menu and then open a specific file. No, instead, they are doing the iTunes, Picassa, Kodak Gallery, Zune method of file management -- wherein they will automatically (without your approval or ability to override!) dive right into your "My Documents" folder and begin indexing, grouping, and generating thumbnails and previews of all of your: music, movies, pictures, and anything else which catches its fancy. You. CANNOT. Override this behavior. Nor can you tell it to stop indexing the main directories of: My Pictures, My Videos, and My Documents. You can ADD other directories, but you CANNOT un-add those main ones. So ... if you have work photos you don't want indexed, or stupid photos of your pet in there, you will want to move them elsewhere, so you don't accidentally load them into a project you didn't want to load them into. As a matter of fact, the user options in most of the programs are limited to: I want to tweak this, or brighten that, or change the sound level of whatever.

Because of this constant indexing behavior, opening the programs themselves is SLOW. For comparison, Paint Shop Pro 8 opens and responds to me in 8 seconds on the same system, and Adobe Premiere 8 opens and responds to me in 13 seconds. BOTH Corel Video Studio Express and PaintShop Express 2010 take over 30 seconds EACH to start actually responding to you. First they have a splash screen which runs for about 10 seconds. Then the main program window launches (but won't respond to you) and that takes about 10 seconds and then it starts displaying whatever videos, or pictures or content it thinks you might want to browse through and that takes about 10 seconds. It will still be doing that after about 30 seconds total, but at that point it will finally start responding to your commands (albeit slowly). From the time you launch the program, until the time it will respond to your inputs and actually let you open a file, it takes over 30 seconds for ALL of their programs on my machine. I am sure if I a was running a Windows 7 machine on the latest quad core i7 Intel processor for a 64-bit CPU with a screaming fast new graphics card and at least 8GB or RAM, that the programs would probably boot in about 10 seconds. But, my system isn't exactly ancient, and it can run modern games and applications (such as Adobe CS3) just fine. So, my money is on the excessive (and non-interruptible or overridable) indexing and browsing behavior these Corel products are trying to do, which slows them down. Even the DVD burning and DVD playback programs are slow like this (which makes no sense, because neither one of them are expressly the types of programs one would use or need to browse or index through content).

OK, so, on to the specific programs themselves.
**************************************************
Corel PaintShop Photo Express 2010: 2 stars
**************************************************

This is basic photo editing at the lowest level. It even tries to hide the basic editor from the user. To edit a photo, you have to drill down to it in the various folders the program auto displays, and then right click on it and choose "edit in express editor." There are no handy dandy buttons for that one, you have to go hunting for that option. The editor does not have (which I could find) any tools for self cropping, or image resizing (two of the most useful tools in most image editing programs). The basic tools available to non-technical users are at the top of the screen and they include (and I kid you not) the options of "fast fix," "straighten," "fix red eye" and "zoom." The "fast fix" from what I could tell, just makes the picture grainier, and brighter with a hue saturation on color. "Straighten" tries to horizontally level a photo (leaving ugly blanks in the corners it was rotated out of) -- note, you cannot fine tune this control, either the program figures it out, or it doesn't. And lord help you if the photo is at like a 99 degree angle or something, as that really confuses it. "Fix red eye" is the standard red eye tool you get in most image editors these days. And the zoom slider does exactly what you would expect it to, it zooms in and out.

If you want additional tools, you have to find the little hidden panel to the right which will pop out when you click it. It has several tabs of various tools you can use, including (again, I kid you not) a "clean up" tool kit which consists of (again, I am being serious) a "toothbrush" and "blemish remover" and "suntan" tool. The tools themselves do what you expect them to, they whiten teeth, mask/copy skin tone over pimples (or whatever else is on the skin you want to hide), and change skin-tone. There are also some tools for controlling color hue, making the pictures black and white, adding frames, and digitally altering their edges. That is about it for the editor. As for things you can do with the projects in this program, you can do things like create greeting cards, calendar, collages, etc. The system will literally, step by step, hold you hand through the whole process in a shopping cart type of behavior. First you pick the project, then you title it, then you choose the photos you want to use, then you place them, then you can caption them, and trim them, etc. And then you publish/save/print your project. Granted, the calendar and greeting card functions will probably be a lot of fun for some people. I have no objections to that. I have objections to how dumbed down the options are, and how limited the choices are. You get 5 total themes and layouts for all of the various projects and tools. I am sure you can go to Corel's website and order/download more for a price though.

I tested this function with the following image formats: JPG, JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIF, & BMP. The system the software was installed on and tested is my main desktop system which stores the main digital files for all of my digital videos and photos. There are over 20,000 images in the digital photo albums alone. It choked on trying to index them all. Even after running for hours, it still hadn't finished creating all of its little image previews and it still loaded everything up slowly (presumably because it was still trying to index it all).

2 stars because it never crashed on me (unlike the video editor, below)

**************************************************
Corel VideoStudio Express 2010: 1 stars
**************************************************

This software basically allows you to do the following: open a video, string together video clips, cut clips, trim clips, add background music, and add caption cards to scenes. That is about it. The timeline is a joke, there is no stage, no ability to put in section breaks, no ability to mix sound, no ability to transition frames, no ability to set key frames, etc. This is bare bones editing, at its lowest. For more advanced options, you can open the options menu, and change some constants such a brightness, sound levels. Etc. On top of that, the preview functions for the editing mode are SLOW. So, expect to take forever doing all of this. I tested this function with the following video files: old saved Quicktime MOV format movie file from an old 8MP camera. Old saved AVCHD movie format from an older Canon HD (1080i) HD camera. Newly imported AVI format movie file from new 14MP camera, and newly imported AVCHD movie format from new Canon HD (1080i) camera. It was able to open all of them, and edit them, and play them back. I will give it that. But besides that and what was mentioned above, that was about it. The software also crashed on me when I tried to load 10 AVCHD stored video clips at the same time. It hung, stopped responding, and then crashed to the desktop. When it did work, it did it all SLOWLY. To add insult to injury, to burn your projects to disc, you have to load a different program (instead of it just being integrated like Adobe Premiere) -- more on that below.

1 star (would have been 2, but it crashed on me)

**************************************************
Corel DVD Factory 2010: 2.5 stars
**************************************************

The DVD Factory is a DVD/AVCHD disc burning program. You will find similar programs built right into competitor programs, like Adobe Premiere, or Apple iMovie. But, for Corel, it is an entirely separate software package (so they can charge you more, I am guessing.) This is basic DVD authoring, which everyone who has ever used a computer a burned data to a disc has used. Nothing special. I am lowering its star grade because of 2 things: 1.) you get 5 (count 'em, 5!) themes to use for your menus. That is pathetic. At least Adobe Premiere can use Adobe PhotoShop to make more, and they also provide free downloads of more. For Mom or Grandpa wanting to use this software, only having 5 options is just pathetic. 2.) You don't get a lot of options with this software, you can burn to disc for most things, or the hard drive as a file (not AVCHD though). You cannot save complicated projects with moving menu objects, video clips, etc. and I saw no way to custom author break points in the scene line for movies. I think you get just a basic "every 5 minutes" chapter break, or a break whenever a new clip is encountered in the time line.

2.5 stars.

**************************************************
Corel WinDVD 2010: 4 stars
**************************************************

The WinDVD product is actually fairly decent. I have owned the full retail versions of two of the predecessors of this product, and it works well. It plays movies, either in disc form, or from the hard drive if in a supported format. More importantly, it supports and plays back those HUGE MTS and M2TS AVCHD native files. This is important for keeping track of and ordering your saved HD video clips. I docked it a star because they, unfortunately, put in the slow start up and indexing functions here too. You cannot just open a file menu and go get a file, you have to use their "open" main function, and then drill down in a tree view to your file, and get it that way, and it is SLOW (I am going to re-install it, and let it take over the video associations, just so I can start double clicking to open files)

4 stars.

So, that is the whole review. Overall, the software is: irritating, obnoxious, buggy, simple, and pushy, and frankly, for the money you are spending on it, you should just drop a couple more $20's down, and get something like Adobe's combined Premiere and PhotoShop product [Amazon ASIN: B001DMBX7S] and get a LOT more bang for your buck. Those programs are easy to use as well, and you can start off slow (and they come with video tutorials, and everything!) but you can eventually build up to using the software almost like a real pro. The ONLY people I can see valuing this software, are people over the age of 60, who are afraid of computers, don't like computers, and want to spend as little time as possible working on projects like this ( and yes, I am aware that there are a large number of people out there like that, and to them I say, "good on you, and I hope you enjoy your programs." ^_- )

If I made any factual errors in this review (and I might very well have, nobody is perfect), please let me know in the comments, and I will endeavor to correct them.

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More Corel Digital Studio 2010 reviews
review by . October 15, 2009
I will start this by saying I am a home user and by no means a professional. However, I have been using photo editing products for years and unfortunately am partial to another. With that said, I am always looking for new and different ways to edit pictures etc.   I loaded this when we received it and it took FOREVER! Also, it locks up so frequently that I hesitate opening it.  The photo editing was very basic and might be good for first time editors, but anyone with a little …
review by . October 15, 2009
Video and picture editing programs are great, trouble is trying to find one in the vast sea of them, well Corel is always a good brand and I haven't been disappointed with it yet. This is a fun and easy to use program that lets the user tweak and perfect pictures without doing major surgery on them. I haven't used the video edit yet but for pictures this a real pleasure to use.
review by . October 03, 2009
New from Corel is Digital Studio 2010, a unique way to easily store photo albums and create dynamic videos from your camera to your tv screen. Included programs: Paintshop Photo Express, Video Studio Express, Win DVD (in my opinion, the best program in the bundle) and DVD Factory which offer photo and video editing, sharing and DVD playback together in one dynamic experience. Innovative techniques allow you to capture and enhance photos, even add music.     Easy-to-use tabs make …
review by . September 24, 2009
This is not software for highly-skilled pros. In fact, if you have some elaborate editing plan in mind, you are going to be frustrated by it. It isn't designed for you.    If you want to be able to put together fun family videos and slideshows, share your hobbies on YouTube, or add video to your blog, this is exactly what you need. Digital Studio lets you make simple edits and fun effects quickly and easily.     I had a little trouble with installation -- …
review by . September 23, 2009
The Good:    *Friendly Interface  *Calendar Maker/Slide Show makers in Photo Studio are fun  *Upload your videos to Facebook and YouTube right from the program  *Limited Video Studio tools are useful      The Bad:    *Punishing System Requirements  *Video Studio doesn't feel complete and far inferior to Photo Studio part of the program  *Feels a bit cumbersome and installs a widget …
About the reviewer
R. McAdams ()
Ranked #421
Computer programmer and information security and computer forensics professional. Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a minor in Information Security and Computer Forensics.      … more
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Wiki

Do you take photos and videos with a point-and-shoot digital camera? Then Corel Digital Studio 2010 is perfect for you. This fast and simple digital media suite is designed to let you edit photos fast, and turn video clips into movies in minutes. Plus, you get everything you need to create stunning photo books, slideshows and DVDs.

It's your story to tell, so make it unforgettable with Corel Digital Studio 2010.

Corel Digital Studio 2010 is the easiest photo, video and DVD burning software you'll ever use.

Organize
Automatically capture digital media from virtually any device to get started quickly. Then view all your photos, videos and music in one easy place. Organize by folder, album, date, rating or keyword tag to find files fast.

Edit
Fix it fast with one-click photo-editing and video-editing tools. Quickly crop, rotate, sharpen, remove red-eye and more to bring out the best in your digital photos. Trim, combine and enhance video clips in seconds. You can even edit, burn and share your HD videos.

Create
Get creative with professionally designed templates that help you capture your memories in style. Create stunning photo books, slideshows, calendars, cards and more. Make a polished movie in just minutes with easy movie making tools. Or, bring your favorite photos, videos and music together in one amazing piece.

Share
Give friends and family the front seat to the show of your life! Upload photos and videos to Facebook, Flickr and YouTube. Copy videos and movies to iPod,...

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