Adobe offers Creative Suite 4 professional software in five editions. Among them, the $1,399 Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Standard package is built with print designers in mind. It offers InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator, but excludes most tools for developing online layouts. Upgrading to the new version costs between $599 to $799. We find the $1,799 Design Premium package a far better bargain for throwing in Dreamweaver and Fireworks for Web design, plus Flash for animation. The charts below detail the contents of and pricing for this and other CS4 suites. You can click on the images of individual applications to learn more about them.
Setup and interface
The Web abounds with complaints about Adobe's installer and updater, and most are justified. Every Windows application installer suggests you close any running applications, but you can usually ignore it, and 99 percent of the time, everything works out fine. Adobe forces you to close your browser and all Microsoft Office applications, because many of the programs in the suite--primarily Acrobat--spread octopus-like tentacles throughout your working environment. That's appalling in and of itself, but in addition to wasting a large chunk of time installing, you can't do anything else but play Solitaire while it's happening. And as before with the updater, you'll get to relive this delightful close-your-applications-or-else experience on a regular basis. Plus, the installation "progress" bar bears no relation to reality whatsoever, with its two steps forward and one step back movement.
Unfortunately, it took us nearly 2 hours to install the Adobe Master Collection CS4 on Windows Vista and XP machines (we didn't test CS4 thoroughly on a Mac), but still less time than with CS3. However, the smaller Design Premium would certainly take much less time to load. Adobe's custom installation still lets you pick and choose which components to embrace or reject, but there's no mechanism for migrating your settings and all your custom tools.
To install Creative Suite 4 Design Standard, PC users need at least Windows XP SP2 or Vista and a 2GHz or faster processor. The necessary available disk space is 9.3GB, perhaps more during installation. Mac users will need a PowerPC G5 or Intel-based system with at least Mac OS X version 10.4.11, as well as 1GB of RAM and 10.3GB of available disk space. For either Windows or Macs, installation comes via a DVD. The display must support a 1,024x768-pixel resolution, although 1,280x800 is recommended, with a 16-bit video card. Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0 may also be necessary. These system requirements are less stringent than for those suites involving video, such as Production Premium and the Master Collection.