Monday, July 16, 2007

15-Minute Reviews :: Wondershare Photo Story Platinum v2.1.0

Hello all and welcome to another 15-Minute Review! Today’s application is Wondershare Photo Story Platinum version 2.1.0 by WonderShare Software – An application to generate a digital album for your enjoyment.

Software Description
As Giveaway of the Day states:
“Not only an Album, not only Alluring. Photo Story Platinum gives you a new way to create photo albums from preset templates. These templates contain animations, effects & even transitions that are pre-arranged into interesting story. Simply add your photos, choose the templates, add some decorations, intro/end cast movie. Then share your story on Web, iPod/iPhone video, even author your own DVD.”

Quick Pros
Interface very easy to use – Professional look
Crop, rotate and filter each image individually
Selection of image movement templates, intro and end frames, decoration and more
Large selection of output options including FTP upload, screensaver, DVD burning and more
Resulting files are very good quality

Quick Cons
No music file preview functionality EDIT: It does have preview
Website output files should be simplified in name
SWF files should have had a preload animation/screen as glorious as the intro pages
Small glitches with the SWF files on two occasions
Delete button too easy to click on in main menu’s projects

With so many people taking more photos than ever thanks to the advent of the digital camera and its ‘reusable film’ (Memory cards), people are looking for a way to present their photographs; Scrapbooks, albums, videos and more. This application fits into a few categories and provides another way to present your photographs to friends, family and the world.
The first part of this application that struck me was the professional-looking layout. It is as if the application has had years and money to throw at refining the interface. While there are a few awkward factors about the interface here and there, overall it is very smooth and easy to use.
There is a ton of features in this application – When I used this application, I found that I didn’t have to duck in and out to do chores related to the application; Granted I may still go into a photo-editing application for more advanced control of the original photos. There is control available over each individual image rather than just batch settings; Crop, rotate and a decent collection of filters can make the slide sing that much more. The more important filters are brightness, contrast and hue/saturation. The hue/saturation filter is odd for usage, but can help touch up the sky colors in your images.
There is also a large selection of image templates – IE: how they move on/off screen. There are even templates that more than one photo is used by the grouping; A good way to display a set of similar images. There is also a small selection of video intro and ending screens as well to introduce your slideshow and end it as well. With this, there are more templates available online at The author’s website.

I was surprised at the output selections. Not only can you create an SWF file for online use, you can also have it generate the HTML, or even have it upload it to an FTP site or online album site as well; there is even the ability to email it as well. You can also create an EXE file or turn it into a screensaver as well. You can also convert the file into a wide range of video formats, including presets for portable units and many more. The last one is DVD authoring and burning. With this, the application allows you to put in multiple albums you’ve created into the workplace and create a DVD, menu and all. There is even burning software built-in, so you again don’t have to step outside the application.
While the application does a lot and runs well, there is a few quirks I must touch on. First of all, there is no music file preview functionality; You’re left having to remember what songs are, and if you have a sizable collection, this may be a challenge to find the right file for your needs. EDIT: There is music file previewing available when you use the Music Setting button
As well, when the application creates the SWF and HTML files, it should simplify the names for web usage; spaces into underscores, and lowercase the name as well is what I would have done for easier handling online. Speaking on SWF files, while there is supposed to be a preloader screen, all I got was a black screen until the play button came up. I played around a bit but unfortunately could not find a fix for this and I am unsure why. I did have a glitch once where they play button didn’t want to come up when I had it on and another time that it got stuck looping the intro page.
One last note I must mention; Although the delete album function does ask you to confirm deletion of your file after you click delete, I found the delete and open buttons were a little too close to each other based on size and such and could see accidental deletion occuring still with the confirmation box.

Final Verdict
While there are little issues and that there could be more templates (The author is trying to build on the latter by offering a download page for more), this application is a really cool tool and it has ended up in my personal collection of applications. While free, I would definitely recommend picking it up; It is worth it to immortalize your images in a new form and bring life to your images. As for paying $49.95, this application is worth that much, so long as you plan on using it more than once or twice, and even then may still be worth it to many. That said, the author is offering people who download this application free from Giveaway of the Day a deal for now or down the road and available easily inside the application. You can purchase any future versions (which also offers full support) for $24.95, essentially half-price, which may well be worth it for any major improvements to the application which may come to be.

Posted by BladedThoth on Monday, July 16, 2007

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