Adobe CS4 Master Collection – The Most Alluring Digital Toolbox

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master CollectionPros: Adobe CS4 Master Collection offers sleek interfaces and incorporates almost a dozen of highly enticing applications. The applications include designing and editing web pages, images, animation, film and mobile sites. Another attractive feature of the Master Collection is that it supports up-to-date digital formats.

Cons: It is expensive, difficult to master, take longer to install and require more space and powerful hardware.

Review: Adobe Creative Suite 4 is available in five versions. The Master Collection stands out among them for its array of attractive features. In fact, it is packed with applications like creating and editing graphics, animation, video, web page and print layout. The content produced can be altered to suit mobile devices.

Its predecessor, Adobe Creative Suite 3 had already combined the various Macromedia products like Flash for the convenience of the users. With the release of CS4, Adobe has made the experience more satisfying and ironed out the snags faced by users in Adobe CS3. The CS4 is faster and prompt than the earlier version. The convenient drop-down menus have preset styles that help the user to change layouts easily and fast.

The CS4 Master Collection is very expensive at $2,499 for the package. It will cost $899 for upgradation from the older version. For users of other older suites, it comes to $1,599. Those with two older suites need to pay only $1,199. The total cost of the individual applications of the CS4 Master Collection will set you back by a whopping $6,290. The same would cost $2,000 for upgrading from the CS3 versions.

When comparing the cost of CS3 and CS4 suites, there is no change in price for individual applications. However, for those with limited budgets, Adobe CS4 Master Collection is not their cup of tea. It is beyond the reach for many due to the high price. Students and artists may find it extremely difficult to afford it.  If you are not going to use all the tools in the suite, you may consider other affordable alternatives like CorelDraw graphics suite.

The CS4 Master Collection is worth buying if you are regularly using at least three of the incorporated applications. If this is the case, Master Collection comes cheaper than buying the individual applications.

Installation and Interface

Adobe installer and updater have the notorious reputation of making it difficult and cumbersome for the user. Many a time, Adobe lives up to this reputation as well. Before installation, all Windows application installers ask the user to close down all open windows to avoid data corruption. This may be ignored in majority of the cases. You may not encounter any problems at all. You are asked to do this as many programs in the suite like Acrobat, may corrupt the open windows. As the time taken for installation is considerable, closing down all the applications, including browser and other files, will leave you with a Solitaire or Minesweeper to while away your time. You are left with no choice but to waste your time in front of the computer, while installing the suite.

When updating, the situation is slightly better. Again you will receive the ‘close all applications’ warning at regular intervals.  You may either pay heed to this or just ignore it; it is your choice. The installation bar will keep you entertained with its monkey leap of ‘forward two steps and backward one’ sequence. The installation bar doesn’t show any connection to the work in progress.

During trials, it took almost two hours to install Adobe CS4 Master Collection on Windows XP and Vista operating systems. For those who had installed CS3, this comes as no surprise. Users who are new to CS4 Master Collection will find this too long and tedious. The surprising fact is that CS4 installs faster than CS3. Adobe gives you the privilege of selecting the components for the suite. However, there is no provision for migrating the custom tools and settings.

The hardware requirement for the CS4 Master Collection is demanding, as the application is heavy-duty. For Windows XP and Vista users, a processor with minimum 2GHz is required. If you are planning to work with high-definition videos, it is better to go for 3.4GHz. The other lesser alternatives of CS4 like Photoshop natively support 64-bit Vista. Aftereffects, Premiere, Encore, Soundbooth and OnLocation come certified for 64-bit Vista.

The other requirements for CS4 are 1,280×900 pixel display and graphic card compatible for OpenGL 2.0. If you are planning to work with video, Shader Model 3.0 support is also required.

For Mac users, the requirements are listed here – Mac OS X version or newer, Intel multi-core processor, minimum 2GB RAM and 26.3GB hard-disk space. The installation for Mac users is done with the help of a DVD. Further details are available in the Adobe web site regarding this.

Functions and features

For Adobe aficionados, CS4 Master Collection is worth the investment. You should also consider whether you need all the tools regularly. When compared to CS3, CS4 is a worthwhile upgrade.

While CS4 offers some features not seen in other comparable products, you should go for it only if you will be using the particular tool on a regular basis. For instance, for those not interested in 3D features, Photoshop gives equal results for lesser price. Illustrator is able to manage multi-page documents at last. With Flash, you will be able to trim a few steps, while creating animation. Soundbooth and Premiere can translate audio into text. Premiere is capable of batch encoding and accepts video from tape-less camera.

Other improvements seen in CS4 are autofill search for projects and timelines in AfterEffects. There had been an effort to enhance the roundtrip function among the applications by avoiding content rebuild. CS4 has achieved a higher level of assimilation among the various applications and there is a smoother blending of one application with the next. For example, it is possible to export designs from Fireworks as CSS and incorporate them in Dreamweaver. Moreover, CS4 supports the latest formats for websites and mobile devices. This includes Adobe AIR applications.

Customer Service and Support

Adobe tech support is double-edged with excellent personalized help going together with prohibitive cost. However, this is not the case with Adobe alone as the entire software industry seems to be favoring paid customized assistance instead of the free help offered in the earlier days.

The Adobe Online Help serves the user through the first 90 days, giving assistance with ‘Getting Started’ for installation and other minor issues. The Help file is exhaustive with self-help choices of embedded and online searches and text and video tutorials. Adobe also has improved the self-help and peer support section online.

The Adobe Support portal now demands login and a password. Newcomers to Adobe family can get the right information from the interactive tutorials and third-party web sites or even books. The best place to look for hands-on advice would be Internet forums and the Community Support in beta testing.

With Adobe banging doors on pirated or borrowed softwares, you are rendered helpless without a registered serial number. As mentioned earlier, the live personalized customer support of Adobe comes pretty expensive. With each passing year, the options in customer support pricing are getting fewer. The Bronze level of customer support is priced at $175 for five pre-purchased incidents. The Unlimited Silver Support is very expensive at $1200, which is almost three times the cost of applications like Dreamweaver. This is clearly not meant for individuals and aimed only at big organizations.

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