Workhorse gets a makeover

It doesn't have all the pixel-pushing prowess of its pricier competitors, but this easy-to-use art tool offers plenty of reasons to flex your artistic muscle without breaking the bank.

What you get with the latest version of PaintShop Pro is a midlevel photo editor with a low learning curve and some very nice editing and output features. The easily navigable interface puts photos front and center and surrounds them with tools and menus. It doesn't have all the pixel-pushing prowess of its pricier competitors, but PaintShop Pro X3 does add a few significant enhancements and new features. Support for HD video projects is the biggie here, as more users are investing in fancier digital cameras and in high-def computers and TV screens.

Shutterbugs will also appreciate the new RAW feature (called the RAW Lab), which is a specialized editor for processing RAW images. It's a feature similar to those found in Adobe's Photoshop Elements and Photoshop Lightroom.

Corel has also acknowledged an uptick in the popularity of social networks by baking in more sharing options, specifically for Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube. In addition to sprinkling some new editing tools into PaintShop Photo Pro X3, Corel has turned on the capability to import and export HD videos. The multimedia photo editor contains templates for photo projects found in other Corel products, like Corel Digital Studio 2010. Though the templates offer simple, visually exciting ways to get started on a photo book or a slide show, those who dip into them often will find themselves limited to the same handful of designs.

It's clear that PaintShop Pro X3 is aimed at enthusiast-level photographers who prefer a clean, all-in-one app to not just edit but also process their photos onto a disc, an online album, or a photo project like a slideshow. Pros who prefer to get into the nitty gritty details of image editing should look elsewhere, but others would benefit from downloading PaintShop Pro's trial software.

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