When it comes to looking at buying Adobe’s Creative Suites, there really are a lot of things to consider.
It’s undeniable that Adobe’s products have really made a name for themselves as being the elite in whatever field they function in – to such a point that “photoshop” has become a bona fide verb.
What really sets Adobe products apart from the rest is how the Creative Suites encompass pretty much everything you’d need as a creative, and then some.
So what’s the deal with version 5.5? If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll realise that something is amiss here. Indeed, this is the first ever release of a “.5” of an Adobe Creative Suite, which marks one of the many new firsts that accompany this update.
Fittingly, CS5.5 comes to us in half of the time interval at which the full updates usually arrive (which is about every 2 years); and frankly, depending on what you’re expecting, it delivers half the value, too.
Firstly, there don’t seem to be any significant updates or changes to many of the applications in the Suite; with Illustrator, Photoshop and Fireworks not even making the leap to the “5.5” label.
Soundbooth is now gone and replaced with Audition, which has changed quite significantly from the previous version (Audition 3) having been built from the ground up; so you’ll have to learn how to use it again.
It seems that the main purpose of CS5.5 is to cater for content creators who have an anchor in smartphones and mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads; with the biggest updates moving along those lines.
Here’s a brief look at a few of the most significant package updates:
Adobe After Effects 5.5, probably feeding my bias, has taken an already-amazing piece of software and made it even better – with added filters, like the Warp Stabilizer, better 3D rendering and the ability import swf files and export to Real Media; just a few of the changes that make this update one of the most significant for generating content for web.
Adobe InDesign 5.5 gets updates to its layout and content management systems that make things a lot easier for publishing e-books and e-zines. It also introduces the Digital Publishing Suite – a platform that, after a bit of research, sounds pretty ridiculous; charging publishers of electronic content for every reader that accesses their publication through it.
Adobe Dreamweaver 5.5, keeping with the theme of updating for web and mobile devices and tablet PCs, gets a boost to its compatibility with many web developments like HTML5 and CSS3; interactions with content management systems (CMS) are improved; and the WebKit render engine is updated to be on par with current browsers. (RRP R4,899.00)
Adobe Premiere Pro 5.5 gains a few new features and technical tweaks such as renaming menu labels and other minor changes. Admittedly it’s not my editing software of choice, so it’s entirely unfamiliar to me – but the update does give it compatibility with RED HD Cameras (which go for about R1 million each, if you’re interested), as well as smoother integration with Nvidia GPUs.
Adobe Acrobat Pro X takes the drudge out of formatting and structuring dozens of individual PDF documents by adding an “actions” feature – similar in function to the Photoshop feature of the same name, where you lay out a set of instructions which are then executed in sequence. Oh, and you can finally export Adobe PDFs into Microsoft Excel and Word without issue. (RRP R5,999.00)
To give each product in the Master Collection a fair, full review would take months of intense use – something which the 30 day trial we received would simply never allow.
What it’s all about
The point of this review, however, isn’t to tell you how wonderful or broken each individual application is – but rather to put the package, as a whole, into perspective. Having said that, there are a number of things to consider:
First – the Master Collection 5.5 is an expensive, high-end product, aimed directly at people who work in the industry of comprehensive content creation; as such, it’s easy to assume that if you’re in that industry, your software is pretty up-to-date already, and you likely have the finances to afford these packages.
Second – Costs. Assuming that you’re buying the stand-alone product as a first-time buyer – and are not in the above category – it will likely bankrupt you at a price-tag of R32,999. Upgrading your current Creative Suite to the latest usually works out cheaper, but the older your versions, the more you’ll pay.
Third – Adobe Creative Suite 6 is likely to be dropping sometime in 2012, hopefully bringing with it the noticeably absent updates for the other half of the applications in this package – so maybe it would just be better to hold out for that.
So let me spell it out for you:
- If you’re running Adobe CS5, and are rooted in content creation for mobile and web – pay the piper and get a super-helpful update to make your life a lot easier.
- If you’re running Adobe CS5, and have no ties to mobile or web, or are getting by fine as is – save yourself some cash and go buy something nice, or save up for CS6.
- If you’re running anything else (CS4 or below) – then I hope you have some money tucked away.
- If you’re a first-time buyer – I wish you good luck.
Adobe subscription service
If forking over buckets of money makes you feel a bit nauseous, Adobe have also started implementing a subscription plan. Through it you can “rent” certain applications or entire suites on a month-to-month or annual basis.
This payment option would be more appealing for freelancers who only need certain applications for certain periods of time – but I can assure you, the prices will add up if you don’t weigh in the times and costs intelligently.
You’ll still be forking over buckets of money, but in smaller bits.
Adobe are trying something new, and for that, I commend them.
Technologies advance at a rapid rate, and often the need arises for content creators to have access to tools that can keep up with those advances – in many ways, the new “.5” release structure will answer those calls.
The problem here is that Adobe is charging a full price for what is essentially only half an update, filled with features that could have been easily patched in. Some even for free.
It’s all about perspective and need – web developers and mobile content producers will see a lot of shiny new things they want in the 5.5 Master Collection; while everyone else will wonder what the fuss is all about.
In the end, you must weigh your own needs, and find out where you stand.