Adobe CS4 Master Collection review

Price when reviewed

The power and range offered across the board in Adobe’s new Creative Suite 4 is undeniable, but what about the value? Here it’s difficult to see past the UK pricing rip-off.

But if you can overlook the huge discrepancy between US and UK pricing, then the CS4 Master Collection certainly offers the best value of the suites on paper. It lets you buy all the applications at a fraction of their combined standalone cost.

And when you think about what you’re getting for your investment, then £1,969 (exc VAT) starts to look more reasonable than at first glance.

Adobe is naturally keen to push the benefits that buying everything at once offers. And it’s true that these are many. With the Master Collection, for instance, you can create a video composition in After Effects and import the resulting MOV file into InDesign for offline PDF delivery, or the resulting FLV into Flash Professional for online SWF delivery.

In this CS4 release you can also take an InDesign publication or After Effects composition and output it to the new XFL format, which can be directly opened in Flash CS4 Professional. And if you’re looking for a bundle that includes InDesign, After Effects and Flash Professional all together, the Master Collection is the only choice you have.

Such interworking is undoubtedly going to be more common as the web becomes ever more interactive, but it’s still early days. Perhaps most critically, Adobe still has work to do on this front, as the current integration is by no means seamless. Without FLV video support in InDesign, for example, the circle isn’t closed yet.

What’s more, for some time to come, most designers will continue to specialise in a few areas of expertise.

In fact, it’s difficult to imagine many users ever using all 13 Master Collection apps, especially when each is so mature and offers such a huge range of capabilities. And unless you’re actually using an application, its paper value is meaningless.

The CS4 Master Collection is a formidable achievement, then, but most designers will still be interested in a few core applications rather than the full set.

As such, especially with the current UK pricing, the best way to get your hands on the power you need is through one of the five CS4 suites: Design Standard or Design Premium CS4, Web Standard or Web Premium or the video-oriented Production Premium.

Click below for the reviews in full:

Adobe CS4 Master Collection

Adobe CS4 Design Standard/Premium

Adobe CS4 Web Standard/Premium

Adobe CS4 Production Premium

Adobe Photoshop CS4

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended

Adobe Illustrator CS4

Adobe InDesign CS4

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4

Adobe Flash CS4 Professional

Adobe Fireworks CS4

Adobe Contribute CS4

Adobe After Effects CS4

Adobe Premiere Pro CS4


Software subcategory Graphics/design software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes

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