Adobe customers once had to buy two applications for two distinct tasks: Photoshop for print graphics, ImageReady for Web pages. Adobe Photoshop 5.5 changes all that.
The venerable image editor now includes the newly updated ImageReady 2, which will no longer be sold separately.
But after installing a prerelease copy of Photoshop 5.5 (which gobbled up a whopping 125MB of hard disk space), I had two image editors with several overlapping features on my hands. Adobe has, however, attempted some integration.
Each program, for instance, has a "jump-to" button that saves the current file and opens it in the other program. That's a good start, but not as handy as a single app for print and Web graphics.
New Photoshop tools let you erase backgrounds, easily extract and place objects before other backdrops, and display images in thumbnail form for print or Web presentation.
ImageReady 2 lets you preview compressed thumbnails next to original images in order to achieve the desired balance of graphic quality and file size. I mashed a 490KB graphic down to a 25KB file that loaded in 10 seconds via a 28.8Kbps modem.
Hopefully, Adobe will someday merge Photoshop and ImageReady into one streamlined app. For now, Photoshop 5.5 is a worthy upgrade if you need to design pages for both print and the Web.
The bottom line
Adobe Photoshop 5.5
Pros: Sophisticated image editing and compression tools.
Cons: Redundant features hog disk space; Tricky to learn; PriceyValue: Good professional image editor for print and Web use.
Price: $1495; $349 and $249 as an upgrade from Photoshop 4.0 and 5.0 respectively.
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