Adobe Creative Suite 2

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The best way to get your hands on Adobe’s graphics and publishing power for most users.

The advantages of buying one of the two Creative Suite editions rather than the separate applications are obvious. All the applications are designed to work together towards the same end: producing high-quality, high-impact design as efficiently and reliably as possible. And the cost of both suites is significantly lower than the combined cost of their component apps.

Reinforcing these benefits, Adobe Creative Suite 2 sees major advances on all fronts: a more powerful and more consistent shared interface highlighted by Illustrator CS2’s new Control Palette; a more integrated workflow highlighted by the new ability to select layer comps in placed PSD files; a tighter underlying architecture highlighted by the new centralized PDF export and colour management; and bringing everything together an entirely new graphics file manager Adobe Bridge (see Photoshop CS2 review) designed to partner each of the applications but also to act as a front end for the suite as a whole. And to top it all Adobe has even reduced the price, especially of the Standard Edition.

Adobe Bridge provides a new front end for the Creative Suite

It’s impressive stuff but think hard before you get out your credit card. To begin with, there are two suites to choose between: the Standard Edition offering Photoshop/ ImageReady, Illustrator and InDesign and the Premium Edition which adds GoLive and Acrobat Professional. The applications in the Standard Edition are natural partners with Photoshop handling bitmaps, Illustrator vectors and InDesign bringing them together to produce the end publication. More to the point each of these applications is best-of-breed and each CS2 upgrade is a major boost to both productivity and creativity.

With the Premium Edition it’s a very different story. As each CS design application exports directly to PDF, having the latest Acrobat software is no longer essential and Acrobat 7.0 Professional isn’t a clear must-have upgrade. The case for GoLive is even harder to make. Its focus on web authoring is semi-detached from the suite’s core print-oriented functionality and this is a seriously underpowered upgrade. More to the point GoLive is the one CS application that is clearly not top of its class.

Overall there’s no doubt that both editions of the Creative Suite offer extraordinary power and value; but additional power only becomes valuable when you use it. As such you need to weigh both suites against your individual requirements: some users will benefit from the full power of the Premium Edition; others will be better off sticking to a single core application. For the majority, the Adobe Creative Suite 2 Standard Edition offers the best mix of wide-ranging but integrated design power at an unbeatable price.

Ease of Use
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System Requirements: 512MB RAM ; 2.4GB free hard disk space; Windows 2000 onwards.

Tom Arah

April 2005

Full Photoshop CS2 review
Full Illustrator CS2 review
Full InDesign CS2 review
Full GoLive CS2 review
Full Acrobat Professional 7 review
Full Creative Suite 2 review

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