Adobe Creative Suite 5 review

So here it is. Some 18 months after its last release, Creative Suite 5 has arrived to set the benchmark for professional creatives producing work for page and screen.

With big updates to flagships and market leaders such as Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash Professional, Premiere Pro and After Effects, there’s a huge amount to get to grips with. In fact, with the introduction of yet another key application, Flash Catalyst, Creative Suite 5 sees the synchronised launch of 16 applications.

But that’s not all. There are two important support programs: Device Central CS5, for testing how content works on an ever-wider range of mobile device emulators; and the media management tool, Bridge. Adobe is also using the launch of Creative Suite 5 to move into services. Most of these weren’t running at the time of review, with the exception of BrowserLab.

Which suite to buy?

Adobe Creative Suite 5

To get your hands on all CS5 services, support apps and standalones, you’ll have to shell out for the Master Collection. At around £2,300 exc VAT it isn’t cheap, especially as Adobe again penalises UK users with a punitive dollar-sterling exchange rate. However, users of any CS4 or CS3 suite can now upgrade for around half that price.

The big problem with the Master Collection is that it’s unlikely any one user will be producing commercial print, websites, rich internet applications and broadcast video. Most users will find it makes more sense to buy one of Adobe’s targeted suite editions, while businesses would do better to buy a mix of suites using Adobe’s volume licensing schemes.

The cheapest edition and the most focused is CS5 Design Standard. This provides Photoshop CS5, Illustrator CS5 and InDesign CS5. Throw in Acrobat 9 Professional, and it’s an impressive combination made even more so by a strong round of upgrades.

For those wanting to mix print and web design, Adobe provides Design Premium CS5 and, thanks to CS5’s flat-rate upgrade pricing from any CS4 suite, it’s a bargain for existing Design Standard users. Here, the new Flash capabilities of InDesign CS5 prove central, as they provide a bridge between traditional page-based design and screen-based delivery.

Adobe Flash Catalyst CS5

Adobe also opens up another route towards Flash-based delivery with Flash Catalyst CS5. This takes artwork produced with the creative tools and converts them into interactive Flash and AIR apps. Finally, Design Premium includes the powerful new Dreamweaver CS5.

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