Adobe® Creative Suite® 4 Design Premium PC Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Installation 8.0
Ease of use 8.8
Productivity 9.5
Value 9.5
Distributor: Adobe
Review Date:
Feb '09
Reviewer:
A. Bowman

9.3


Adobe® Creative Suite® 4 Design Premium

Adobe® Creative Suite® 4 Design Premium (CS4) is the ultimate digital design software compendium which allows users to create a wide range of creations, whether print, web or mobile media with a variety of different design programs and utilities. Although version 3 of Adobe® Creative Suite (CS3) was quite a revolutionary step, the latest incarnation once again goes beyond its predecessor, offering a variety of new features, improved interfaces and ultimately, quicker design times.

Adobe® Creative Suite® 4 Design Premium contains the following powerful design programs and tools;

  • InDesign CS4

  • Photoshop CS4 Extended

  • Illustrator CS4

  • Flash CS4 Professional

  • Dreamweaver CS4

  • Fireworks CS4

  • Acrobat 9 Pro

  • Adobe Bridge CS4

  • Adobe Device Central CS4

  • Version Cue CS4

The Differences

Depending on your design needs, Adobe have four versions of CS4 available to the user which include Design Premium, Web Premium, Production Premium and the Master Collection. This review however will focus on the Design Premium version and a full list of differences can be found at the end of this review.

Improved Performance

Probably one of the most noticeable features of Adobe® Creative Suite® 4 Design Premium is the speed of the programs contained in this bundle that boasts a noticeable speed difference from CS3. Best of all, those with 64-bit multi-core processors will now feel the difference as CS4 Premium performs even better on this popular and powerful range of processors.
Match that with “Pixel Bender” technology, it makes rendering and calculations even faster, as this technology directly accesses high-end graphic cards.

Interface & Cost

CS4 also has a new slick interface that is more streamlined and easier to navigate which will assist in the overall creations of graphical designs. The tools are more accessible in the suite, whether its adjusting palettes or using the new context-sensitive scaling tool which prevents graphical errors, Adobe have truly done their home work with the latest version and it's not just a "patch" over its predecessor but rather a new intuitive system.

Although targeted for designers, Adobe® Creative Suite® 4 Design Premium is a relatively affordable software suite that retails for around $3,500AUD and of course can be found a little cheaper if you shop around. The upgrade costs around $2,600AUD which we feel is a little expensive, however it does allow upgrades from Adobe Photoshop version 7 to Adobe Photoshop CS3 for example which is a decent scope and is good news for users of older software packages. However before purchasing this program, you definitely need to check whether your version of Adobe software supports CS4.

Installation

The installation of Adobe® Creative Suite® 4 Design Premium is quite a lengthy process which of course is dependent on which parts of the suit you choose to install. With this in mind, the entire installation took a couple of hours, however that was for all software suites. Needless to say, once the installation was completed, we were greeted to a rather impressive interface for all above mentioned programs.

Although this review is for the PC, Adobe recommends a 2GHz processor or faster with 1GB of RAM, however in reality I would err on something a little more powerful. For the review, the product was reviewed on a Phenom II CPU, AMD/ATI 4870X2 graphics card and 8GB of RAM, 500GB Sata Hard Drive and needless to say, we performed a variety of design options from vector graphics to interactive web designs and it was definitely faster than CS3.

PC minimum system requirements

  • Windows

  • 2GHz or faster processor Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 2 (Service Pack 3 recommended) or Windows Vista® Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise with Service Pack 1 (certified for 32-bit Windows XP and Windows Vista)

  • 1GB of RAM or more recommended

  • 9.3GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on flash-based storage devices)

  • 1,024x768 display (1,280x800 recommended) with 16-bit video card

  • Some GPU-accelerated features require graphics support for Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0

  • Some features in Adobe® Bridge rely on a DirectX 9capable graphics card with at least 64MB of VRAM

  • DVD-ROM drive

  • QuickTime 7.4.5 software required for multimedia features

  • Broadband Internet connection required for online services*

Mac minimum system requirements

  • PowerPC® G5 or multicore Intel® processor

  • Mac OS X v10.4.1110.5.4

  • Java? Runtime Environment 1.5 required for Adobe Version Cue® Server

  • 1GB of RAM or more recommended

  • 10.3GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional hard-disk space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on flash-based storage devices)

  • 1,024x768 display (1,280x800 recommended) with 16-bit video card

  • Some GPU-accelerated features require graphics support for Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0

  • DVD-ROM drive

  • QuickTime 7.4.5 software required for multimedia features

  • Broadband Internet connection required for online services*

Although the previous version was quite "connected" with its individual elements, CS4 supports even better connectedness within its programs and easily allows you to swap and change between programs and design methods and final formats.

The suite also focuses on online communication such as Adobe ConnectNow which allows three users to work on the design simultaneously and is great for sharing ideas or those based remotely. Of course, the Adobe Community has always been quite strong and once again Adobe focuses on their online community, giving users access to a wide variety of information through its central depository.

Adobe Photoshop CS4

Adobe Photoshop CS4 is the latest edition of this powerful image manipulation program that features a modified interface, making it easier to access tools. There are some great workspace options thanks to the new Application Frame which now uses a tab feature to display your documents or you can move your tools to another screen or virtual screen, ensuring increased workspace.

If your opened documents do become messy, you can use the arrange documents options to tidy things up which is great for comparing various photos or designs. There is a new application bar at the top of the screen that gives the user one-click access to a wide variety of useful tools such as zoom or rulers.

Although probably the most revolutionary change to the system is the rotate canvas option which is ideal for designers who need to twist and turn their creations. Even though the previous version of Photoshop did have some "3D" manipulation, this has been thoroughly incorporated into the program now that is performed in real-time and offers a variety of tools for manipulation.

Manipulating photos is also considerably easier, whether it's accessing the hues or colours through the new "de-cluttered" interface or importing and manipulating RAW images, Photoshop is truly the new delight for designers. The only issue that we can see with the latest version of Photoshop is that it will require users to rethink the way they use this program as it does have a higher learning curve. Needless to say, it's definitely a huge improvement if you can believe over its predecessor.

Adobe InDesign CS4

InDesign CS4 is still the perfect program for creating layouts such as magazines or humble pamphlets with the interface receiving a new CS4 look, although when compared to the vast majority of tools for this suite, InDesign CS4 is probably the most minimalist to change. Thankfully InDesign CS4 gets the new tabbed document windows which makes for a cleaner and more productive "on-screen" workspace.

The biggest change to InDesign CS4 that I feel is the inclusion of smart tools which gives the user a whole new world of accuracy and allows for in-depth movement capabilities from positions to dimensions of objects.

Rotating objects and their sizing has never been easier and the new version of InDesign CS4 gives more control to its users with their complex designs. Adding cross-references and even the ability of Flash in your documents are just some of the new inclusions to this powerful design software package. Adobe have definitely improved InDesign with the latest look, feel and improved productivity of CS4.

Adobe Illustrator CS4

Probably one of the backbone products of Adobe, Illustrator is still one of the world's most widely used design programs. The first thing you will notice about Illustrator CS4 is of course the interface that is more streamlined with access to the tools and menus slightly more structured and easier to access.

It features the new application bar that allows you manage your tools and workspaces without your workspace becoming too cluttered like previous incarnations. Moving items between documents is now a flawless experience and gives you more control over your designs as does the new and improved isolation mode that offers the user a series of "snapshots" of your designs, allowing you to click on certain aspects.

Designers who wish to have more access to documents will be pleased to know that Illustrator now supports multiple artboards in one single document for improved design systems as you are not continually opening multiple documents. In its essence, it's like having multiple documents in one document.

From my design background, Adobe have introduced a clever feature to Illustrator CS4 called the blob brush that is like a live drawing tool which adds a uniqueness to the shapes or designs created that of course can then be modified as an illustrator tool.

If you wish to look at your final designs or just preview them, the new separations preview is a great feature and also allows you to review your designs to ensure that nothing will be out of place when you go to print or send your files, definitely a very handy utility.

Adobe Flash CS4 Professional

The definitive Flash CS4 Professional receives a CS4 makeover that once again reorganizes the workspace of this powerful Flash program. Of course with the new interface, the user will need to re-think the way they create designs which is not a negative thing, however does increase the learning the curve.

Existing users may find the move of the central workspace moved to the top a tad confusing at first, however as you begin to design, hopefully you will appreciate the revamped design.

Creating animations in Flash is similar to Illustrator's use of vector paths that does create improved design structures and usage. Another example is the new motion editor panel which at times is reminiscent of Adobe After Effects and does give the user a variety of special effect options.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4

Dreamweaver is still the ultimate web authoring tool that offers users access to all standards which include HTML, CSS, PHP and Javascript to name a few. Dreamweaver CS4 boasts some great new features that will assist designs such as the new Live View mode which displays your web designs as how they would appear to users or those surfing the internet. This is a great feature for programmers who use java or other HTML programming languages.

Although Dreamweaver is a WYSIWYG interface, it has access to powerful coding facets that assists programmers with any errors that they may make. My favourite aspect of Dreamweaver CS4 is the web-based service InContact Editing which allows web designers or IT professionals to give certain users or clients access to certain rights to modifying their websites such as text fields.

It's probably the small features of Dreamweaver CS4 that make the product considerably more user friendly than previous incarnations and as the internet becomes one of the most preferred mediums worldwide, this is definitely a good move by Adobe.

Adobe Fireworks CS4

Fireworks makes another huge splash in Adobe Fireworks CS4 that boasts a clutter free and easy to navigate interface and workspace. The new Smart Guides and Tooltips adds to improved productivity and designs plus when matched with the new align panel is great for placing objects when distance is a priority. Of course there are a variety of new and enhanced tools in Fireworks such as the colour palette to assist with your creativity and of course, sharing your files with other users.

Acrobat 9 Pro

The world’s most definitive PDF program was successfully integrated into CS3 and CS4 features a variety of tweaks from the previous version. Acrobat 9 Pro still allows users to create interactive or static PDF files that include animation, music and even video. The interface is extremely easy to use and computer users of all levels should have no issues in creating PDF files. Best of all, it's easy to translate any of the formats in this suite to a workable PDF file.

Adobe Bridge CS4

Adobe Bridge CS4 once again returns in CS4 that is the perfect “visual” tool for designers that  allows you to easily organise, sort and view a variety of different creative designs and formats.

Whether you’re organizing your extensive photo collections or by applying non-destructive image modifications to RAW images, Bridge CS3 is the definitive previewing and sorting software.

The newest features in the CS4 edition is the ability to preview mobile content that include images, animations and audio and allows you optimize these formats for that particular mobile device.

Add in the ability to create workgroup file structures, this is great for easy access to designs and keeps a track of all changes and even allows for PDF previews and reviews.

Lastly, Adobe have cleverly added the ability to centralize your colour settings that basically standardizes your colour settings for Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat which means when you are previewing or accessing your designs, it will come from a centralized colour palette.

Version Cue CS4

Designers will appreciate Version Cue CS4 that is the perfect compendium for creative teams and is basically a server based file management system for the CS4 suite of software. What this allows you to do is to centralize your creative designs and work in unison with other creators or designers that of course allows you to track the changes and add comments. It may sound humble, however it's a very powerful design tool among colleagues.

Final Words

In conclusion, Adobe® Creative Suite® 4 Design Premium is easily the most definitive range of creative software available on any platform at the moment which includes the PC and the Mac. Although aimed at the commercial world of creative designs, other versions are also available, depending on your needs, costs and designs.

With a plethora of new changes, CS4 boasts some great interface changes and workplace improvements that will increase your productivity and management. Adobe have once again moved in the right direction and one can only dream of what changes will occur in CS5, however for now CS4 is a highly recommended software suite that we cannot fault.

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Differences

Design Premium

  • InDesign CS4

  • Photoshop CS4 Extended

  • Illustrator CS4

  • Flash CS4 Professional

  • Dreamweaver CS4

  • Fireworks CS4

  • Acrobat 9 Pro

  • Adobe Bridge CS4

  • Adobe Device Central CS4

  • Version Cue CS4

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Web Premium

  • Dreamweaver CS4

  • Flash CS4 Professional

  • Photoshop CS4 Extended

  • Illustrator CS4

  • Fireworks CS4

  • Acrobat 9 Pro

  • Soundbooth CS4

  • Contribute CS4

  • Adobe Bridge CS4

  • Adobe Device Central CS4

  • Version Cue CS4

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Production Premium

  • After Effects CS4

  • Adobe Premiere Pro CS4

  • Photoshop CS4 Extended

  • Flash CS4 Professional

  • Illustrator CS4

  • Soundbooth CS4

  • Adobe OnLocation CS4

  • Encore CS4

  • Adobe Bridge CS4

  • Adobe Device Central CS4

  • Dynamic Link

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection

  • InDesign CS4

  • Photoshop CS4 Extended

  • Illustrator CS4

  • Acrobat 9 Pro

  • Flash CS4 Professional

  • Dreamweaver CS4

  • Fireworks CS4

  • Contribute CS4

  • After Effects CS4

  • Adobe Premiere Pro CS4

  • Soundbooth CS4

  • Adobe OnLocation CS4

  • Encore CS4

  • Adobe Bridge CS4

  • Adobe Device Central CS4

  • Dynamic Link

  • Version Cue CS4 






 
 



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