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Review: Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements 7
Adobe's Elements 7 bundle is an easy-to-use Windows platform, though it couldn't convince our reviewer to abandon his MacBook.

Figure 1

Those of us who use Macs on a regular basis are prone to pointing out that the built-in image and video tools (iPhoto and iMovie, respectively) are much better at completing their tasks than the built-in tools that come with Windows XP or Windows Vista, such as Movie Maker.

Yet over the last few months, I’ve been working with an inexpensive set of Windows tools from Adobe (a “lite” bundle called Photoshop Elements 7 and Premiere Elements 7) that matches or exceeds what the iLife applications on a Mac can do.

Adobe has been putting out “lite” versions of Photoshop for years, essentially adding features to Elements that are two to three versions behind its flagship Photoshop application. The company has also provided a previous version of Premiere Elements, but it was less than impressive.

That’s changed with Elements 7, as Adobe has added the ability to handle tapeless workflows, an aggregated organisation tool that is somewhat akin to Adobe Bridge for its more expensive Creative Suite bundle, and the ability to tie both images and videos into popular social media sites and Adobe’s own Photoshop.com site.

The Elements 7 bundle comes on two DVDs: one for Photoshop Elements 7 and another for Premiere Elements 7. It would be helpful during initial installation to mount one DVD and have it prompt for loading only Photoshop, Premiere, or both, as this would eliminate the need for two setups, as well as the need to go through the initial Photoshop.com login twice.

Let’s take a look at a few of these features, particularly ones that are of note for streaming media professionals who might find the tools useful for small-scale jobs.

Photoshop.com

At initial launch, both Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements prompt for Photoshop.com membership information. One need not have a Photoshop.com membership, but this initial step provides an Elements user with a free 2-gigabyte account.

Besides providing online storage, Photoshop.com makes it quite easy to share content with friends, as well as to synchronise photos and videos between the desktop and the Photoshop.com server. Recent additions to Photoshop.com include the ability to import Google Gmail, MSN Hotmail, and Yahoo! Mail address books for fast photo distribution to friends and family, a feature that notifies you if friends publicly post new photos, and an Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) Uploader to automatically keep photos synced between Photoshop.com and your computer.

The biggest iLife-like feature, though, is the ability to upload multiple images or videos to the site with one click, creating instant albums that can be shared with others; the albums also act as a backup for important images. On the video side, the ability to upload video files that can be streamed makes Photoshop.com a nice alternative to YouTube, especially for those who want to keep the focus on their own videos rather than competing against a group of alternative videos that YouTube suggests.

For those who buy Elements and plan to use it to host video and more than just a basic set of photos, an upgrade to a 20-gigabyte, 40-gigabyte, or 100-gigabyte yearly account is recommended, as the 2-gigabyte free membership can fill up quickly.