Nero PhotoShow Express
Crippled version better left off the disc
By John Virata
Nero 7 Ultra Edition offers a lot of tools in the suite form factor that is so popular with software vendors these days. Companies tend to throw in everything in the hopes that users won't have to go outside the company's sphere of product influence to complete a task. However, users like the freedom of choice in their tools, and if they want to edit in one application, archive in another and burn in yet another, they will probably continue to do so, be it due to habit or otherwise.
Nero has interestingly given users the opportunity to install either the suite as a whole or the company's PhotoShow Express application, bypassing the rest of the tools in the suite entirely. This is noted when you install the application. The CD gives you two installation choices. You can install the full suite of 18 tools, or you can install Nero PhotoShow Express, a standalone image management and sharing tool. Because we've taken a look at how the suite works together, we will take a closer look at what PhotoShow Express is and how it works in the suite of things.
Launching the application
When you first launch PhotoShow Express, you are greeted with a simple screen that features three icons on it; Manage, Make, and Share. This is the workflow that PhotoShow Express is built on. Clicking on the Manage icon brings up the manage window, which is comprised of two windowettes, one which details the images and shows and where they are located on your hard drive, and one which shows the actual digital images in a explorer-style browser. From Manage you can import more images from other locations.
Make offers a lot of the functionality of an online photo sharing site. In fact, Snapfish and Shutterfly are the two online vendors in which you can order prints directly from PhotoShow Express. Here you can make photo gifts such as shirts and mugs and calendars, order prints and DVDs of your images from Snapfish or Shutterfly photo websites, create musical slide shows, video CDs, screen savers, and desktop pictures.
Creating a Show With PhotoShow Express you can create a photo show complete with sound and a show style. The available show styles include music, music video, old film, black and white, and manual slide show. Grayed out styles which are available if you upgrade, include birthday, wedding, Christmas, and party, some of the more popular themed styles of any slide show creation tool. In this case the elite upgrade costs start at $39.99. Additional extended download services cost a bit more, but you are included in any future content upgrades. Your sound track options are also limited, as you are limited to two soundtracks that come with the application. If you wish to use your own MP3's, you'll have to upgrade to the elite version as well.
Share a few ways in which you can share your photo creations. These include the opportunity to upload your photos to photoshow.net and then send an email link to those on your list to view the images, upload to Photo Community, which offers access to photo sharing sites on the Internet, make a CD-ROM for disc media distribution, and make a Video CD for playback on many newer style DVD players. There is also an option to upload to a personal website, but that is grayed out, so you'll have to upgrade to access this feature.
Nero has stealthily added a "come on" application to the suite CD. Because PhotoShow Express is not part of the suite and is in fact a separate install, I was curious as to what the application is and how it might help you create projects out of your images. Instead of liking PhotoShow Express, I really disliked it, because most of the functionality is grayed out. Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade is found throughout the Manage, Make, and Share windows.
Want to add your own MP3s to a photo show? You are going to have to upgrade. Access to more styles? Upgrade. Even the interface is non-standard. Although you can create shows and Video CDs and the like out of your images, a lot of the functionality required to make the projects truly interesting requires an upgrade to get the full benefits of what Nero is trying to do with the application. While the upgrade cost is just $39, the tease is just that, a big tease that I don't think should even be on the Nero 7 Ultra Edition disc. For more information, visit www.nero.com