starter

Serif PhotoPlus Starter Edition

Serif's PhotoPlus Starter Edition is a freeware image editing and photo enhancement suite that competes with Photoshop and similar tools. Although PhotoPlus Starter Edition lacks some of the dedicated tools of the pro version, it still does a lot, including adjusting, resizing, retouching, and modifying digital photos and other images.

Pros

A lot for freeware: PhotoPlus Starter Edition has most of the pro tool's main features, such as layers, histogram, effects, and a full tool palette.

Help is there: Perhaps more importantly, the freeware has nearly all the onscreen and background help, tips, instructions, and examples as the … Read more

CES gets a look at Belkin's bright idea

Consumers with a budding interest in the smart home have a few new reasons to consider Belkin this year, as the company wasted little time in announcing several new smart devices at CES today. Perhaps most intriguing among them is the WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set. Consisting of a pair of the newly announced WeMo Smart LED Bulbs and a "WeMo Link" plug-in hub to help control them, Belkin's first step into smart lighting will cost $129, with additional bulbs retailing for $39.

The LED Starter Set will join WeMo's existing line of automatable light switches, … Read more

Meet our new favorite home security system

Do-it-yourself home security options seem to be growing more numerous by the day, and we've tested a lot of them. None of them have left us quite as impressed as SimpliSafe. With its wide variety of easy-to-install sensors, SimpliSafe protects your home in a way that's comprehensive and yet also remarkably user-friendly. The system is totally wireless and designed to keep running even if the power gets cut, and unlike most other DIY security kits, SimpliSafe features both live monitoring and a cellular backup. If something's amiss at home, you can count on your system to keep … Read more

Insteon's Starter Kit can't keep up with smarter kits

If you're looking for a start in home automation that's free from fuss -- and, more importantly, free from monthly fees -- then you might want to consider the Insteon Starter Kit, available for $119 exclusively at Best Buy. Insteon claims that with its line of automation products and its free smartphone app, "your home is with you wherever you go."

You should temper your expectations here, as the Starter Kit, with its two LampLinc dimmers and the router-esque Insteon Hub, will only allow you to automate a pair of lamps. Automating just two lamps is … Read more

NoFlo's crowd-funding effort helps coders go with the flow

Anyone who has done any amount of programming has drawn flowcharts, either detailed diagrams or rough sketches, outlining how one thing leads to another in software works. Now a project called NoFlo has surpassed its $100,000 fund-raising goal to build the idea into programming tools.

The NoFlo team members raised the funding to build a user interface for the approach, which has been around for decades and is called flow-based programming. Generally, flowcharts are design tools that don't make it beyond the mockup stage, but NoFlo is designed to be a crucial part of how people construct programs … Read more

Keep your valuables in check with Kensington's Proximo monitoring system

I'm no stranger to losing things. From leaving my bag on a park bench, to sifting through all my coats in the closet just to find the one pocket I last left my keys in, it's common for things to go by the wayside.

To help with this, Kensington's Proximo Proximity Monitoring System provides a way to keep track of valuables via Bluetooth. With its key fob or tag attached to your items, you can monitor and locate your belongings via an iPhone app. Likewise, you can use its key fob to make your handset sound off … Read more

Start menu resurfaces on Samsung's Windows 8 PCs

Windows 8 users who still miss the Start button will find an alternative on Samsung's new lineup of computers and tablets.

Buyers of Samsung Windows 8 PCs and tablets will be able to download a free Quick Starter program, which adds a Start button and a toolbar to open your files and applications.

The S Launcher program that lets Samsung users access the Start menu replacement was initially supposed to come with new PCs and tablets. But a Samsung rep confirmed to ZDNet in August that the launcher would not appear in the final products. Instead, it will be … Read more

Must-have apps for Windows, Mac, and more

Download.com has been bringing you collections of "starter kits," the best downloads to get you going on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, since 2008. Along with semi-regular updates to our picks, we've also given the collections a new look so they're easier than ever for you to use.

Best apps for Windows covers the free basics such as Web browser, e-mail, music, image editing, and social networking.

Best security apps for Windows collects must-have free tools to keep you safe online, from antivirus and anti-malware to privacy protection and encryption.

Best utility apps for WindowsRead more

Launch your apps with Program Starter

Program Starter by A-B Tools is a freeware program launcher. It lets you organize your most frequently used apps in a customizable tree view menu for superquick access, and it launches tools very quickly with a single mouse click. It handles both installed and portable apps and even launches programs from desktop shortcuts.

Program Starter's interface is about as simple as they come: a compact dialog with a plain white background and a tree view displaying the icons of some of our most popular tools under folder headings such as Audio/Video, Internet/Downloader, Messenger, and Other tools. Clicking … Read more

Best apps for iPad

If somebody was nice enough to get you an iPad for the holidays, make them proud by decking it out with all the best apps.

We've rounded up our favorites so you don't have to wade through hundreds of thousands of apps in the iTunes App Store.

There's no question that the iPad is a great entertainment device, but there's more to it than just games if you know which apps to get. In this collection of Best apps for iPad, we've got several categories of apps to choose from, including productivity, entertainment, social networking, … Read more