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Corel Print House Screen

Corel's Personal Publisher Grows Up

Print House Magic a good bet

Corel Corporation seems as intent on making its mark in the consumer graphics market as it has in the professional graphics field.

Corel Print House Magic (for Windows 95/NT 4.0), contains Print House 3 design/publishing application, Photo House 2 bitmap editing program, and Family & Friends "mini-PIM." That’s a lot of stuff for the price – and Corel also throws in its usual extras, like some 25,000 clipart images and Netscape Navigator 3.

Corel has done its homework; Print House 3, which competes directly with products like Broderbund’s Print Shop, is head and shoulders better than was Version One.

Print House comes with about a thousand samples, including pre-written greeting cards, banners, stationery, and other projects. We used a greeting card sample to create a Christmas card, easily replacing Corel’s generic copy with our own, and the final colour printout was very nice – though on one of our cards the text ran off the edge, which was a pretty annoying example of operator error.

Photo House lets you do lots of neat tricks to your favourite bitmaps, including touchups, artistic effects like embossing & blurring, and the addition of text. You can also use masks, crop, flip and rotate images, and use a "clone" tool to recreate part of the image on another part of it.

Corel Photo HouseThe latter is nice for covering up flaws in the original image.

There’s even an "image sprayer" tool borrowed from Photo Paint that’s an easy way to add supplementary images to your picture. We’ve used this feature a couple of times (albeit in Photo Paint) to add fake pine trees to photographs we were transforming from summer shots into Yuletide scenes. You don’t get as large a selection of image lists in Photo House, but otherwise it appears to work exactly the same as in its big brother application.

"Family & Friends" is a scaled down database that includes an address book, calendar, and "list book" that tracks everything from recipes to personal contacts. It interfaces with Print House as well, so you can drop addresses into your greeting cards or do a mail merge with the two apps.

Corel has done a nice job of making Print House Magic easy to use. The programs are laid out in a point and click "Wizard-like" step-by-step approach that walks you through the process in a non-intimidating way that’s quite intuitive.

Even accessing clipart from the CD-ROM’s is child’s play: the programs automatically go off a-hunting when you tell you want clipart, and prompts you for the correct disk if the don’t find it. And the thumbnails are now big enough to see easily – a major improvement over the original version of Print House.

While Corel Print House Magic’s applications are admittedly stripped down (for instance, Friends and Family is definitely no Paradox or Access), they offer excellent features & value for the home user who’d never in a million years use all the features of the bigger versions.

 

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January 31, 2006